Vets Pietrangelo, Perry contributing for Vegas, Montreal

LAS VEGAS — Alex Pietrangelo and Corey Perry had very different free agent experiences last offseason.

Pietrangelo got a private plane trip to Vegas for an in-person meeting with the Golden Knights when the market opened and got a long-term contract worth over $61 million. Perry waited until December to sign a one-year deal just above the NHL veteran minimum.

Each veteran with Stanley Cup-winning experience has played a key role in helping his team reach the semifinals, a series the Golden Knights lead going into Game 2 at home against the Canadiens on Wednesday.

Coach Peter DeBoer and general manager Kelly McCrimmon called Pietrangelo — whom the Golden Knights made no secret was their top target — the best player during the team’s second-round series against Presidents’ Trophy-winning Colorado, mainly for the work not seen on the stat sheet.

“He played extremely well,” McCrimmon said. “Played big minutes every night. Maybe one of the things that’s not visible to people just watching the game is the poise, confidence, calmness he brings to a team is really valuable.”

Those are attributes that DeBoer and McCrimmon said stem from his longevity in St. Louis, where he captained the Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019.

But the transition wasn’t as smooth as the veteran would have liked.

“When you play somewhere a long time and you play a certain style with the same players, it becomes second nature,” Pietrangelo said. “When you go somewhere else, you have to relearn the way guys play and think on the ice. It’s an adjustment. It didn’t always go the way I wanted in the beginning here, but I knew there was the opportunity to continue learning from the coaches and players and to get more comfortable.”

Comfortable enough to bolster the blue line and lead the team during the regular season averaging 24:26 of ice time. He’s kept pace in the postseason with a team-high 24:06 a game.

Pietrangelo is also tied for third on the team with eight points in 14 playoff games, including his first goal of the postseason that broke a tie late in the second period of Game 6, helping Vegas eliminate Colorado.

“This year, point-production number, people focused on too much,” DeBoer said. “His analytics were excellent. When you dug down below the actual stat line — goals, assists, points — his analytics were great. His defensive and offensive metrics were all really good compared to the previous year. We knew there was a real good foundation for his game: the pucks just weren’t going in.”

The puck is going in for Perry this playoffs. He has three goals and four assists to tie for third in scoring on the Canadiens.

But for Montreal interim coach Dominique Ducharme, much like DeBoer with Pietrangelo, it’s more than stats and analytics. It’s the passion, and experience, and leadership that Perry exudes to teammates.

Ducharme said it’s nice to have the 36-year-old to bounce ideas off of, somewhat of an extension of the coaching staff.

“Guys like him, quite often when we talk together, we talk a lot about the mindset of our team, where we’re at, the way we’re thinking, the way we’re reacting,” Ducharme said. “It’s more mental when we talk about things with Corey, Shea (Weber), and those guys when we sit down together. It’s more about those kind of things than really X’s and O’s.

“There’s a reason why he’s been a part of so many teams that won championships. He was a big factor in those things because he can be a difference-maker at the right time.”

Perry was on the Dallas Stars that beat Vegas in the Western Conference final in last year’s playoffs in the bubble. After 14 years in Anaheim, during which he hoisted the Cup in 2007 and won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2010-11, free agency in Perry’s mid-30s wasn’t easy.

“I didn’t have anything and didn’t know what was going to happen, didn’t know where the future was going to go,” Perry said. “Some things, you just have to wait your turn. And good things happen to people who wait. I was fortunate enough to get the call.”

The call the 16-year veteran got was that he might spend some time on Montreal’s taxi squad. He did, bided his time and put up 21 points on nine goals and 12 assists in 49 games, becoming a regular for a team that has made an improbable run.

“I said, ‘No problem, I’ll do whatever I have to do,’” Perry added. “It’s just a matter of waiting your turn.”

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    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.

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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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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