NHL Playoff Buzzer: Habs hobble Jets, Avs outlast Vegas on Wednesday

NHL Playoff Buzzer: Habs hobble Jets, Avs outlast Vegas on Wednesday
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  • The Jets and Canadiens began their Second Round series, with Montreal coming out on top.
  • That said, the joy of that Game 1 win was tampered for the Canadiens thanks to a brutal Mark Scheifele hit on Jake Evans.
  • While the Golden Knights shook off that Game 1 blowout, the Avalanche still prevailed in OT in Game 2.
  • Congrats to the Buffalo Sabres for winning the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery.
  • Game 1: Canadiens 5, Jets 3 (MTL leads series 1-0) — series livestream

    Was this all about rust? The Jets have to hope so, as the Canadiens got off to a hot start in Game 1. For the most part, Montreal controlled play when things slowed down, too, so we’ll see. No doubt, the Mark Scheifele hit on Jake Evans will factor into things, including a possible suspension. You can read some immediate reactions here, while time will tell what kind of repercussions there will be beyond Canadiens – Jets Game 1.

    Game 2: Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 2 (COL leads series 2-0) — series livestream

    Above, there was some talk of rust. But Game 1 of Golden Knights – Avalanche might have boiled down to the power of rest. Game 2 added credence to that, as the Golden Knights played much better, often taking it to the Avalanche. It wasn’t enough to tie the series, though, as Colorado found a way to win in overtime. This one has to really sting the VGK as the series swings to Vegas.

    [NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]

    Three Stars for NHL playoff action on Wednesday

    1. Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche

    Understandably, people joke about the Golden Knights when they talk about quantity-over-quality. It’s something that the Canadiens and Hurricanes endure at times, too. Sometimes it’s justified.

    But in Game 2, the Golden Knights generated some serious quality to go along with that overriding quantity. So don’t scoff at Grubauer making 39 saves to help the Avalanche take Game 2 over the Golden Knights. He put in some serious work shortly after being named one of the Vezina finalists.

    (Fellow Vezina finalist Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t have it easy in Game 2, either.)

    2. Joel Edmundson, Jeff Petry, and the Montreal Canadiens defense

    Frankly, this has been, at times, a surprising season for NHL defensemen. Dmitry Kulikov quietly put together a sound defensive year. At times, Victor Hedman‘s looked less than superhuman. And Joel Edmundson’s been much better than many expected (myself included).

    But even by those standards, Edmundson was great for the Canadiens vs. the Jets in Game 1.

    Over a stout 24:44 TOI, Edmundson collected two assists, a +2 rating, five shots on goal, two hits and three blocked shots. It was a big Game 1 for the Canadiens’ defensemen in general, with Petry also chipping in two assists. Look at the “fancy stats” and you’ll notice how well Edmundson, Petry, Shea Weber, and others limited high-danger chances against while helping to create offense for Montreal.

    3. Samuel Girard, Colorado Avalanche

    Interestingly, there were a handful of standout NHL defensemen with two-assist nights on Wednesday. Again, Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry pulled that off for the Habs. In defeat, Shea Theodore assisted on both Golden Knights Game 2 goals.

    Samuel Girard collected two primary assists of his own, reminding the hockey world that the Avs’ defensive might extends beyond Cale Makar. (And, Devon Toews, too. Yeah, Colorado is loaded.)

    Feel free to mix in other choices. Maybe you prefer Carey Price, although the Habs protected him well on a 27-save night. Mikko Rantanen deserves credit, especially for the OT-winner. And Eric Staal quietly scored two points of his own (1G, 1A).


    Sabres win 2021 NHL Draft Lottery

    As bad as 2020-21 was to the Buffalo Sabres, at least they won the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery, and thus the first pick. (Feel free to give Taylor Hall another lottery draft credit.) While the Sabres pick first, the Seattle Kraken won the other 2021 NHL Draft Lottery drawing to select No. 2 overall.

    Catch up on where the 15 NHL teams ended up in the 2021 NHL Draft pick order here.

    Scheifele hit on Evans

    No doubt, Mark Scheifele’s hit on Jake Evans cast a shadow over Game 1 between the Canadiens and Jets. Read up on the reactions here. The good news is that, as of Wednesday night, Evans reportedly didn’t need to be hospitalized.


    Game 3: Bruins at Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET (Series tied 1-1) – NBCSN (livestream)
    Game 3: Hurricanes at Lightning, 8 p.m ET (TB leads 2-0) – USA (livestream)

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

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

    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    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.


    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

    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.


    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).


    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

    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

    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.