Canadiens’ coach Ducharme symptom-free; hopes to return in days

MONTREAL — Canadiens interim coach Dominique Ducharme on Sunday said he remained symptom-free two days after testing positive for COVID-19, and hoped to be back behind the bench during Montreal’s Stanley Cup semifinal series against Vegas.

Wearing a dark blue collared Canadiens shirt, with his white hair spiked and a familiar short stubble on his chin, Ducharme spoke from an undisclosed location during a 12-minute video conference call with reporters, his first comments since entering mandatory isolation.

“I wish I could be at the rink right now. I don’t feel different than a week ago,” Ducharme said as the Canadiens prepared to host Vegas in Game 4 later in the day.

Montreal has a 2-1 series lead, with Game 5 at Vegas scheduled for Tuesday. If necessary, Game 6 will be in Montreal on Thursday and Game 7 at Vegas on Saturday.

Ducharme was asked if he’ll be required to spend 14 days in isolation.

“I’m confident I’ll be back before that,” he said.

Ducharme said he is fully vaccinated for the coronavirus and will clear the 2-week waiting period following his second shot on Wednesday.

It’s unclear whether the 48-year-old Ducharme will be able to return at that point.

“Nothing’s confirmed as far as that. The organization remains in communication with the authorities. It’s a unique situation. We’ve been isolated since December,” Ducharme said in French.

Ducharme said no one he’s been in contact with, including his girlfriend, has tested positive. He said he followed NHL COVID-19 protocols when the Canadiens traveled to Vegas last week to open the series.

The Canadiens were limited to only certain areas of their hotel in Vegas, and required to travel by bus to and from the rink.

Montreal, a member of the NHL’s all-Canadian North Division, was the first team to cross the border this season after teams were limited to inter-division play through the second round of playoffs.

“It’s frustrating because I’ve been doing everything that they’ve asked us to do. I never exposed myself. I got that bad luck,” said Ducharme, who remains in daily contact with his team and staff via phone and video calls.

This marks the second consecutive postseason in which Montreal assistant Luke Richardson has been required to step in on an emergency basis. Last summer, Richardson and former assistant coach Kirk Muller shared the coaching duties after Claude Julien was hospitalized with chest pains following Game 1 of Montreal’s first-round series against Philadelphia.

Julien missed the remainder of the playoffs, and resumed coaching this season before being fired on Feb. 24 and replaced by Ducharme.

For Ducharme, it was difficult watching from isolation as the Canadiens rallied from two one-goal deficits in a 3-2 overtime win in Game 3 on Friday.

“You feel helpless watching and hoping for the best. It’s a weird situation,” Ducharme said. “Kind of a special situation, but it’s been a special year. We’ve been through a lot. And we’ll get through that.”

The Canadiens had the worst record of the NHL’s 16 playoff qualifiers before upsetting Toronto and Winnipeg in the first two rounds.

The Golden Knights have already seen this scenario play out in this postseason. Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar missed a morning skate because of a COVID-19 testing irregularity. He was cleared in time to coach in Game 6 of the second-round series against Vegas.

CANADIENS VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (MTL leads 2-1) – series livestream link

Game 1: Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
Game 3: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 4: Sun. June 20
: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 5: Tues. June 22: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 6: Thurs. June 24: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
*Game 7: Sat. June 26: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 8 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)

*if necessary

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    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.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.