Rest assured, Avs and Bruins relish long gap between series

DENVER — Devan Dubnyk debunked the whole rest-or-rust debate.

Rest always trumps potential rust, the Colorado Avalanche backup goaltender said, because rust may at most spill into the opening minutes of Game 1 — if at all.

The Avalanche are certainly well-rested. Same goes for the Boston Bruins.

Both teams made quick work of their first-round opponents, which was rewarded with some valuable downtime. The Bruins will play the New York Islanders starting Saturday — a full five days off between games.

The top-seeded Avalanche face either Minnesota or Vegas, who play Game 7 of their grueling series Friday night in Las Vegas. The winner travels to the Mile High City to begin a second-round series with Game 1 set for Sunday. That’s a six-day break for Colorado.

“It’s a real advantage to have the rest we have,” said Dubnyk, whose team finished a sweep of St. Louis on Sunday.

Because the alternative is not that appealing — a long, grinding series where anything can happen, including going home.

“You always want to close out a series as quickly as you can. It just takes away any stress,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team eliminated Washington in Game 5 on Sunday. “Guys get to rest up a little bit. So I’m OK with it. We’ll try to do whatever we can.”

The Bruins experienced a similar sort of layoff during their 2019 Stanley Cup chase. They completed a sweep of Carolina in the Eastern Conference final on May 16 and then had to wait for the Blues to eliminate San Jose in six games on May 21.

The Cup Final between the two didn’t begin until May 27, with Boston going 11 days between games.

St. Louis captured the Cup in seven.

“I think guys have their eye on the prize, so to speak, and they’ll be fine,” Cassidy said of the break.

The Avalanche have taken a low-key approach to a week of practice sessions. If a player feels like taking the ice, they take the ice. If they don’t, they don’t.

“Every individual is different,” Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky said. “So do whatever it takes to get prepared.”

The Avalanche have shown to be a resilient bunch with time on their hands. Twice they were paused due to coronavirus-related issues this season, but they still captured the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record.

Much like Boston, Colorado is no stranger to the playoff waiting game. In 2019, the Avalanche knocked off Calgary in five games, clinching their first-round series on April 19. They waited until April 26 to open a second-round series against San Jose, which the Avalanche lost in seven.

For coach Jared Bednar, this is a perfect chance to tighten up some areas.

Asked which particular ones, Bednar cracked: “All of them. That would be my answer. … We’ll brush up on everything.”

Admittedly, Burakovsky doesn’t watch much hockey in the regular season. He’s tuning in now to catch the Wild and Golden Knights. The Avalanche went 5-2-1 against Minnesota in the regular season and 4-3-1 vs. Vegas.

“It’s good to see what kind of style they’re playing now in the playoffs and where you can expose them,” Burakovsky said.

The Avalanche are steadily healing, too. Most notably, young defenseman Bowen Byram, who hasn’t played since March 25 against Vegas due to an upper-body injury.

“I’m just happy to be feeling 100% again,” Byram said. “It’s definitely a tough thing to go through and it was frustrating being out for so long.”

The injury bug besieged the Bruins’ blue line with defensemen Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril and Kevan Miller all sidelined. Lauzon returned to practice Wednesday in a non-contact jersey, with Cassidy saying he’s “trending very well.”

“Our group has enough experience to understand the time off, how to use it to the best of their abilities as far as getting rest and recovery,” Bruins president Cam Neely said. “It’s very important. Especially if you hope to have a long run, I think these days off are going to be very beneficial moving forward.”

Because the road only gets tougher.

“We just need to stay sharp,” Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said. “Whatever the guys need to do now, whether it’s getting on the ice or not or making sure their bodies are recovered is important.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready and not too much time off where we’re getting out of that winning mindset.”

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    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.