The Buzzer: Merzlikins comes up big vs. Tampa; Predators keep rolling

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THREE STARS

1. Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus goaltender picked up his third win in his last six starts after stopping 37 of 38 Lightning shots during a 3-1 win. The 37 saves, which included 20 in the second period, were a season-high for the 26-year-old. Tampa has now lost three in a row for the first time since Feb. 2020.

2. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

The Bread Man had a big night in New York’s come-from-behind 5-2 win over the Capitals. Down 2-0 after only 4:22, the Rangers fought back scoring four times in the third period. Panarin assisted on Kaapo Kakko‘s tying goal and Adam Fox‘s go-ahead goal, while later adding an insurance marker to help seal the win.

3. Eeli Tolvanen, Predators

The Nashville rookie extended his point streak to six games with a goal and an assist during their 3-2 overtime win over the Stars. Tolvanen’s goal came at the most important time of the game — in overtime:

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES FROM TUESDAY

Carter Verhaeghe scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 35 shots during a 4-1 Panthers win over the Red Wings.

Carey Price needed only 16 saves to beat Edmonton and record first shutout of the season and the 49th of his NHL career.

Kevin Lankinen made 31 saves and won for the third time in four starts as the Blackhawks topped the Hurricanes 2-1.

David Savard scored a goal in the Blue Jackets’ win. It was significant because his last goal came exactly two years ago — March 30, 2019.

Craig Smith and David Krejci each had three assists as the Bruins came back to beat the Devils in a shootout, 5-4.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NIGHT

• Fox’s go-ahead goal was of the highlight-reel variety:

Brad Marchand, off the COVID list due to a false positive, was out making friends tonight:

• Meanwhile, Tom Wilson was doing Tom Wilson things:

• Bad news keeps coming for the Panthers. Two days after losing Aaron Ekblad for the season, the Cats will be without Anthony Duclair for the next 7-10 days after this crash into the end boards:

STATS OF THE NIGHT

SCORES
Blue Jackets 3, Lightning 1
Panthers 4, Red Wings 1
Rangers 5, Capitals 2
Canadiens 4, Oilers 0
Bruins 5, Devils 4 (SO)
Blackhawks 2, Hurricanes 1
Predators 3, Stars 2 (OT)

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.