NHL Rink Wrap: Panthers hand Hurricanes first loss; Coyotes win

NHL Rink Wrap: Panthers hand Hurricanes first loss; Coyotes win
Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Saturday in the NHL

Anthony Duclair, Panthers

Not that long ago, it seemed like Anthony Duclair’s NHL career was hanging by a thread. Luckily, he bet on himself, and it paid off. Both for Duclair, and the Panthers.

The Panthers drew NHL headlines on Saturday by handing the formerly-undefeated Hurricanes their first loss. To Florida’s delight, it was as decisive as a cat toying with a mouse.

Duclair was at the forefront, scoring two goals and two assists. It’s early, but this season sure does feel affirming for Duclair as a splendid talent. He’s up to 12 points in just 11 games.

In a larger market, Duclair and the Panthers beating the Hurricanes would be a big deal. Or at least draw sellout crowds. Even in a Florida market that may need some convincing, it wouldn’t be surprising if word of mouth picked up.

(Especially since Duclair and the Panthers are so fun to watch.)

Tyler Bertuzzi, Red Wings

Perhaps Bertuzzi’s offense is going to come in surges.

To start the season, Tyler Bertuzzi scored four goals. He’d end up with six points in a season-opening three-game point streak, and nine points in five games. Then he went pointless in three games, and had been without a point in four of five.

On Saturday, Bertuzzi also scored two goals and two assists. He now has 13 points in nine games. At this rate, there will be less vaccination talk and more discussion of his contract ending after 2022-23.

Consider Matthew Tkachuk and Mitch Marner among honorable mentions with one-goal, three-assist nights.

Highlights from Saturday in the NHL

Check out Duclair’s four-point night and the Panthers convincingly handing the Hurricanes their first loss:

Speaking of that game, Antti Raanta was shaken up after a hard collision with Ryan Lomberg. That said, many believed Lomberg couldn’t avoid that collision with Raanta, and thus didn’t deserve a match penalty.

Then enjoy Tyler Bertuzzi’s four-point night, and Moritz Seider‘s OT-winner. Those young Red Wings are coming along quite nicely.

Kasperi Kapanen‘s first NHL hat trick wasn’t enough for the Penguins to beat the Wild. Jason Zucker‘s pass on one of those Kapanen goals should be enough to improve your day if you’re a Penguins fan, however.

Sometimes it feels like hockey players are wrestlers or fighting game characters with special moves. For Andrei Svechnikov, it’s the lacrosse goal. With Matthew Tkachuk, it also feels like his between-the-legs goals should come with a “get over here!”


Saturday’s NHL takeaways

Panthers hand Hurricanes their first loss of the season

If shootouts and overtime losses bother you, then you might have felt compelled to say that Hurricanes – Panthers featured “two” undefeated teams. Technically, though, there are now no more undefeated teams in the NHL.

The Panthers improved to 10-0-1 on the season, tying a record for their best 11-game start in franchise history. (They also became one of three teams to generate 21 standings points through its first 11 games.)

While the Panthers made that history, they denied the Hurricanes (now 9-1-0) the chance to become just the third team to begin a season 10-0-0. Truly, the Hurricanes and Panthers are still off to resounding starts — and not “just for the Hurricanes and Panthers.”

Perhaps the next step, then, is to make sure casual sports fans realize that the Panthers and Hurricanes are a pretty big deal? (Or at least get that word out in the greater Miami area.)

We may find out how much Blackhawks’ blueline blunders are about coaching

When the Blackhawks promoted Jeremy Colliton to head coach in November 2018, the most common response was: ” … Who?” You could argue that, to an extent, we only know so much about Colliton now.

After all, the Blackhawks were really starting to slip when they fired Joel Quenneville and hired Colliton. With that in mind, it was tough to tell how much blame should be placed on Colliton vs. Stan Bowman, the person putting those teams together.

(Bluntly, Bowman resigned for off-the-ice reasons, but he’s largely responsible for the team going from “win at all costs” to “lose at a great cost.”)

[More on Blackhawks firing Jeremy Colliton]

It’s not a 1:1 situation. Frankly, the Blackhawks are almost bound to be a little better, at least compared to their ghastly 1-9-2 record. Few teams who try to win are that bad through 82 games. Plenty of people expected Chicago to struggle. Only the most cynical skeptics expected it to be this bad.

But we may get at least some idea of how much their frazzled defense was about Colliton. It’s unclear if even a brilliant coach could actually steer the 2021-22 Blackhawks to a playoff berth, though.

Coyotes beat Kraken for first win

It turns out Saturday was a night of first, and last-first, for the 2021-22 NHL season.

As you saw above, the Hurricanes became the last team to lose their first game of the season. The Coyotes flipped that, becoming the last team in the NHL to finally win a game. They did so against the NHL’s latest expansion team.

Luckily, they don’t award different points for less-impressive wins, because this was “bowling shoe ugly.”

During the first period, the Kraken built 2-0 and 3-1 leads over the Coyotes. The Coyotes shaved one off in the second, then briefly built a 4-3 lead in the third. Then, 18:42 into that final frame, Mark Giordano tied it back up.

Just 13 seconds later, Lawson Crouse scored the first-game winner of the Coyotes’ season. If this first win is a sign, then the Coyotes may not earn more of these. Then again, they didn’t give up, so perhaps they can at least restore a little dignity to their season?

Sunday’s big story

Zach Parise faces Wild in Minnesota

In discussing his return to face the Wild in Minnesota as a member of the Islanders, Zach Parise said he’s moved on. Yet, his comment to the New York Post still rings true.

“It’s gonna be a little weird,” Parise said earlier this week, via Ethan Sears. “A lot of different feelings and emotions going in there as an Islander.”

How could it not?

For nine seasons, Parise suited up for the Wild. The 37-year-old didn’t make the call to cut ties with the Wild. Instead, Bill Guerin & Co. decided to buy out Parise (not totally surprising) and Ryan Suter (far more surprising) during the Wild’s offseason. The two signed those matching 13-year, $98 million contracts on the same day. The last four years of those deals were also bought out in stereo.

It’s not a clean break, though.

Most obviously, the Wild will pay dearly for the Suter – Parise buyouts, particularly from 2022-23 to 2024-25.

Naturally, there’s the human element. Parise was born in Minnesota. As a free agent, he chose the Wild after seven seasons with the Devils. At the time, the Suter – Parise contracts felt like hockey’s (fittingly milder) version of NBA superstars forming super-teams. It never quite worked out that way, and that likely leaves Parise with bittersweet feelings heading into Sunday.

So far with the Islanders, Parise has two assists in nine games, logging modest minutes. Wouldn’t it be sweet if Parise scored his first goal of the season on Sunday.

(For Wild fans, it might just be bitter.)

Saturday’s NHL scores

Coyotes 5, Kraken 4
Flames 6, Rangers 0
Devils 3, Sharks 2 (SO)
Lightning 5, Senators 3
Panthers 5, Hurricanes 2
Islanders 2, Jets 0
Red Wings 4, Sabres 3 (OT)
Maple Leafs 5, Bruins 2
Golden Knights 5, Canadiens 2
Wild 5, Penguins 4 (SO)
Flyers 2, Capitals 1
Blue Jackets 4, Avalanche 2

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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