The Buzzer: Surging Saros, Brady Tkachuk vs. Weber (Saturday in the NHL)

The Buzzer: Surging Saros, Brady Tkachuk vs. Weber (Saturday in the NHL)
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3 Stars for Saturday in the NHL

1. Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators

Everyone, slow-starting Juuse Saros has transformed into second-half Saros. Or something like that.

For most of us, it was getting challenging to latch onto memories of Saros rebounding late in seasons during recent years. Through February (12 games), Saros was 5-5-0 with a troubling .898 save percentage. As much as the Predators wanted to let the 25-year-old take the torch from 38-year-old Pekka Rinne, they were running out of time.

(And, depending upon how you read into drafting a goalie with their 2020 first-rounder, maybe they already were out of patience for Saros. To an extent.)

Well, snooze-alarm Saros (can we get a verdict on a nickname for this quirk?*) woke up.

After generating a tremendous .963 save percentage in March, Saros shook off a Thursday loss to pitch a 41-save shutout vs. the Blackhawks to earn the No. 1 star of Saturday in the NHL. While the Stars complicate the race for the fourth and final Central Division spot, this Saros-centric win gave the Predators a full two-point advantage over Chicago.

Is this the sort of surge that might even prompt the Predators to pump the brakes on trading someone like Mattias Ekholm? That might be a stretch — unless Saros stays hot. If so, then who really knows? Goalies, everyone. Goalies.

* – Yes, yes, some call him “Juice.” But that doesn’t address this part of his game, whether it’s a coincidence, a Craig Anderson rotation thing, or somehow legit.)

2. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

The biggest NHL stars of Saturday came out before actual stars appeared in the sky. (At least, depending upon where you were watching the games/sky/games and sky.)

Really, it’s a judgment call if you believe Marchand or Saros should take the imaginary crown as the to star for Saturday in the NHL.

Either way, stars produced in a big way during that matinee between the Bruins and Penguins. Brad Marchand took the cake with a hat trick plus an assist. He’s now on a three-game point and goal streak (5G, 2A). We’ve kind of come to expect dominance from Marchand, and that’s what we’re getting, with 41 points in 32 games.

David Pastrnak wasn’t far behind Marchand, collecting two goals and one assist. Marchand likely enjoyed getting the best of his training partner Sidney Crosby, who produced a pair of helpers in defeat. Those other goalies didn’t quite enjoy the afternoon Saros did, eh?

3. Alexander Wennberg and Sergei Bobrovsky spite the Blue Jackets for the Florida Panthers

John Tortorella already made waves in the NHL by making Jack Roslovic a stunning healthy scratch on Saturday. Perhaps such a bold move angered The Ghosts of Blue Jackets Past.

Alexander Wennberg earned the best claim to a three star nod, collected the first hat trick of his career. (It feels a bit like cheating with an empty-netter, but only when you’re splitting hairs.) While Wennberg isn’t going to be the top reason cited if Torts and/or Jarmo Kekalainen get fired after this season, he’s had a nice rebound. Those of us who get excited about fringe moves can feel a tinge of joy at Wennberg’s solid 19 points in 38 games.

On the opposite end of the good/terrible Panthers move spectrum, we see someone who will probably always (privately?) delight in tormenting Torts. That’s Sergei Bobrovsky. With 44 saves on Saturday, he played a big role in making Tortorella grumble even more than usual.

Pretty funny.

Honorable mentions: Anisimov, still an NHL player, still one who can score

  • Considering how his contract fits into the, erm, budget-conscious puzzle in Ottawa, it’s sometimes easy for Artem Anisimov to get lost in the shuffle. Frankly, it’s also kind of easy to forget that he’s merely 32. He reminded us of his presence on Saturday, collecting three assists as the Senators beat (and frustrated, and fought) the Canadiens. Yes, Anisimov boasts a strong argument to make the top three stars of the NHL on Saturday.
  • The rest are a clearer step or two behind. Josh Anderson and Evgenii Dadonov both scored goals in that Habs – Sens game. Artemi Panarin, Claude Giroux, and Anthony Beauvillier scored two goals apiece, too. Several goalies enjoyed strong outputs, just not Saros-strong.

Surprisingly even fight: Brady Tkachuk vs. Shea Weber

Even for someone of the Tkachuk lineage, it is kind of surprising just how seamlessly Brady Tkachuk transitioned into becoming a net-front demon. Brady’s brother Matthew Tkachuk shows a proclivity for that kind of play, too, but 21-year-old Brady might be even better.

Of course, to thrive in that area, that means you need to be willing to take a beating. It doesn’t hurt if you can show that you can dish one out, either.

Brady Tkachuk removed much/all of that doubt with a startling fight against Shea Weber. Maybe most startling: the most common debate would be if Brady Tkachuk fought Shea Weber to a draw, or won the brawl outright. (See the Hockey Fights poll for one example.)

Do you think Brady Tkachuk won his fight with Shea Weber?

Tkachuk scored a goal on Saturday, but couldn’t get the assist to make it a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.” Bah!

Highlights for Saturday in the NHL

Let’s circle to the three stars of Saturday in the NHL and look at two hat tricks. Again, Brad Marchand supplied the hat trick plus an assist:

Meanwhile, Wennberg got that spite hat trick vs. Tortorella and his former Blue Jackets:

Medium-hot take: the real highlight would be the Panthers bringing those duds back. The austere cat in their current design just lacks that spunk (and a belly you probably shouldn’t pet, yet …).

Rumblings about a playoff bubble; Canucks COVID updates

As you may have heard, the Canucks now have 14 players in COVID protocol, and it’s likely that number might climb. Pierre LeBrun reports that 16 players and three coaches have been affected.

LeBrun also put out some potential larger NHL ramifications regarding the Canucks’ situation with COVID on Saturday:

During the latest Saturday Headlines segment on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman reports that the NHL has at least discussed the possibility of another playoff bubble. Friedman emphasizes that it’s absolutely not what is wanted, but it’s understandable that the league would at least consider Plan B-type situations after what the Canucks have experienced.

(Again, none of this means a playoff bubble would be likelyAs with most things COVID-related, a lot can change.)

Here are the 14 Canucks currently listed in COVID protocol, via the NHL:

Travis Boyd, Thatcher Demko, Alex Edler, Adam Gaudette, Travis Hamonic, Jayce Hawryluk, Braden Holtby, Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, Zack MacEwen, Tyler Motte, Tyler Myers, Antoine Roussel, and Brandon Sutter.

Saturday’s NHL scores

Bruins 7, Penguins 5
Lightning 2, Red Wings 1
Predators 3, Blackhawks 0
Sabres 3, Rangers 2 (SO)
Islanders 3, Flyers 2 (SO)
Stars 3, Hurricanes 2
Panthers 5, Blue Jackets 2
Senators 6, Canadiens 3
Avalanche 2, Blues 1
Wild 2, Golden Knights 1
Sharks 3, Kings 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

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    NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

    Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

    Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

    “The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

    The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

    A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

    “We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”

    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle but is set to return Friday.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

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    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

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    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.