Canadiens draft pick Sergachev now thriving for Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Mikhail Sergachev put on a Montreal Canadiens jersey when they chose him with the ninth pick in the 2016 draft, then wore one in a game just four times before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That was not enough time for Sergachev to imagine lifting the Stanley Cup with Montreal’s iconic “CH” logo on his chest.

“I was still too young, but getting drafted was pretty cool,” the 23-year-old Russian recalled. “My parents were happy. I was happy. And getting traded: Obviously it was great getting traded here.”

Four years since the trade, Sergachev is trying to go back to back with the Lightning by beating the team that picked him and sent him packing. The bruising defenseman known for his offensive acumen has added some snarl, physicality and sacrifice to his game to become a complete player.

“He wants to work at being a 200-foot, all-around defenseman, and he’s definitely coming into his own,” veteran teammate Ryan McDonagh said. “The thing I love about him is his willingness to get better in all areas and taking a lot of pride in being tough to play against: being physical, blocking shots, just taking a lot of pride and keeping the puck out of his own net.”

Sergachev has only three assists in 19 games this postseason, but he is doing so many of the other important things needed to win at this stage of the playoffs. He blocked two shots in the waning minutes of Game 7 of the semifinals against the New York Islanders and was huffing and puffing on the bench after being on the ice for 2:25 — more than double the longest average shift in the NHL.

“All that mattered for me (is) that we won,” Sergachev said. “I’m trying to be in the right spot all the time — not get out of a position, so I can block a shot or be in a lane or have a good stick. Obviously my compete level is high.”

Lightning coach Jon Cooper recalls Sergachev taking plenty of long shifts as a junior star because of his talent. When Sergachev joined Tampa Bay, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder also had a bad habit of playing with one hand on his stick and struggled with the defense part of being a defenseman.

“He just had some things to learn,” Cooper said. “It was really hurting his defending. And he could use his legs to get out of trouble, but he had to use that big frame and it just took time.”

Sergachev used his time wisely, learning from McDonagh, Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman and other more experienced defensemen. He wanted to be more like them, talks to them every day about what he can do better and became committed to rounding out his style of play.

“I want to be a leader on the team and I’m trying to do the same as they do on the ice: blocking shots and playing heavy when I need to be, bringing offense when I need to bring offense,” Sergachev said.

He had 10 points in Tampa Bay’s 2020 championship run and assisted on one of Nikita Kucherov’s two goals in Game 1 against Montreal. Perhaps more important, he blocked a couple of shots and wasn’t afraid to lay the body — between the whistles and after — on Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher.

“He’s a good player for them, logs some heavy minutes and plays some power-play time,” Gallagher said Wednesday, still sporting the scars from Sergachev’s takedown. “I think everyone knew he was going to be a good player and that’s what he turned out to be. ”

The elements of hockey that were lacking in Sergachev’s game are now front and center, and it’s a big reason the Lightning are inching toward another title.

“Boy has he ever gravitated to it now and takes pride in it,” Cooper said. “There could be some players that, they’ll ‘yes’ you to death and go out there and want to keep doing it their way. Sergy really bought into becoming a well-rounded defenseman and it’s been fun to watch him work because that kid’s got a bright future and a long one ahead.”

Scroll Down For:

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

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
    2 Comments

    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
    0 Comments

    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
    0 Comments

    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
    0 Comments

    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.