Sabres GM disputes disconnect between team and Eichel

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams intends to move ahead with “players who want to be here” and that — for now — includes disgruntled captain Jack Eichel.

Adams on Wednesday said Eichel has not requested a trade and disagreed with his team captain’s assessment of there being “a disconnect” with the Sabres over how to treat a herniated disk that has sidelined him since early March. In raising questions about his future in Buffalo on Monday, Eichel said he favored having surgery.

Adams spent the first five minutes of an end-of-season video conference call by stressing both sides have been in constant communication in regards to the injury, and had agreed to wait until early June to determine how to proceed. He said the surgery Eichel desires is one that has never been performed on an NHL player.

“We all want the same thing when it comes to Jack Eichel’s health. We want Eichel to be healthy and playing on top of his game,” Adams said. “He’s the captain of our team. He’s a great hockey player. I enjoy Jack. Where we go from here, nothing’s going to change for me personally.”

Adams then addressed Eichel and other veterans who questioned their futures in Buffalo by saying, he’s excited by the team’s young core, while adding: “We are going to get this right with the people who want to be here.”

[2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule]

Eichel, who has five years left on an eight-year, $80 million contract, said he has a lot to consider about his future this offseason.

“I think the most important thing is just trying to get healthy and figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year, wherever that might be,” Eichel said.

Eichel also wasn’t the only Sabres veteran expressing doubt about his future in Buffalo.

Forward Sam Reinhart was non-committal when asked about entering an offseason in which he is eligible to be a restricted free agent.

“In terms of the future, I don’t really have much for you right now. I’m going to take some time,” said Reinhart, who had a team-leading 25 goals and 40 points.

Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen said he’s open to being traded.

The Sabres continue to lurch from crisis from another following a calamitous season in which they finished last in the overall standings for the fourth time in seven years. Buffalo also extended its playoff drought to an NHL-record matching 10th season.

Eichel isn’t the only pressing issue Adams needs to address. He is also in the midst of a coaching search after Ralph Krueger was fired in mid-March with a 6-18-4 record, and the team in the midst of what would become an 18-game winless streak.

Interim coach Don Granato is a candidate to take over the job after the Sabres showed signs of having a competitive edge in finishing the season 9-16-3.

Adams praised Granato and his staff for doing “a tremendous job under challenging circumstances,” while adding he still intends to conduct a wide-ranging search.

“I think (Granato) believes he’s ready and capable of being the head coach of this team, and now we’ll go through the process,” Adams said.

Granato, who spoke before Adams, wouldn’t address Eichel’s injury concerns, but didn’t consider the captain and other players’ questions about their status as being alarming.

As for his future in Buffalo, the 53-year-old Granato said he had a brief discussion with Adams regarding the job opening on Sunday and anticipates the two will continue talks.

Buffalo’s younger players, meantime, had a different message in believing the team has a hopeful future, while also voicing their support for Granato to be retained.

Center Dylan Cozens favored the uptempo, puck-possession style Granato introduced.

“To win games, you have to score goals and he kind of based a lot of the game on offense,” Cozens said, of a team that scored 76 of its 134 goals under Granato over the final 28 games. “He was great. I know a lot of us here loved playing for him, and a lot of guys really shined under him.”

Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

“It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

“It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

“Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

“That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

“You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

UP NEXT

Capitals: At Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Devils: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.