NHL Power Rankings: Panthers on top; Maple Leafs improving

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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings the Florida Panthers regain the top spot after a convincing win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, pushing their early season record to an incredible 10-0-1, the best start in franchise history.

They boast a deep, talented team across the board and are getting a huge bounce back performance from Sergei Bobrovsky in goal to really put them over the top.

Elsewhere around the league the Toronto Maple Leafs finally start to look like the team they should be thanks to a five-game winning streak, while Jacob Markstrom keeps the Calgary Flames in the top-five.

On the other end of the spectrum, reality is starting to set in for some teams that had surprising starts.

We take a look at all of that and more.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Florida Panthers (Last week: 2). Sergei Bobrovsky’s bounce back has been one of the more underrated storylines in the league this season. That continues and this team will be a major contender. If it does not continue? Spencer Knight is still there.

2. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 1). Florida got the best of them in their prime matchup on Saturday, and the upcoming schedule is really tough. Good early season test for the Hurricanes ahead.

3. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 4). Zach Hyman has seven goals in 10 games on a 22 percent shooting percentage. How many goals will he finish the season with?

4. Calgary Flames (LW: 5). Jacob Markstrom has four shutouts in nine games. He is carrying this team right now.

5. St. Louis Blues (LW: 3) Great start to the season, but a tough west coast road trip saw them drop games in Los Angeles and Anaheim.

6. Minnesota Wild (LW: 17). They are making a habit out of come-from-behind wins. It works for now, but not really a habit you want to get into.

7. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 9). Even without Nikita Kucherov their lineup is still capable of scoring four or five goals every night. Scary talent here.

8. New York Islanders. (LW: 8). Semyon Varlamov made his first start of the season on Sunday and played okay, but I would not be going away from Ilya Sorokin right now.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 19). They have won five in a row after a slow start and starting to finally look like the team they are supposed to be.

10. Philadelphia Flyers (LW:11). They are proving what everybody believed about them in the offseason. If the goaltending is good, they will be good. The goaltending has been very good. From both Carter Hart and, more shockingly, Martin Jones.

11. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 16). The Jets are off to a really good start overall and Connor Hellebucyk has not really played all that great yet this season. When he gets rolling again this could be a sneaky contender.

12. Washington Capitals (LW: 7). The Capitals have an overtime problem, currently sitting 0-4 in games that go beyond regulation this season.

13. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 18). Losing Patrik Laine is going to be a problem. Elvis Merzlikins has been fantastic to help bail them out.

[Related: Patrik Laine out 4-6 weeks]

14. New York Rangers (LW: 6). Little inconsistent right now. Igor Shesterkin has masked some flaws so far. A goalie masking flaws on the Rangers? Sounds familiar.

15. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 12). They are playing fine given the fact half of their lineup has been out at various times this season. They really need players back, though.

16. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 15). They will be great when they get Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, and Jack Eichel back in the lineup at the same time. Need to stay competitive until then.

[Related: Golden Knights still have questions to answer after Jack Eichel trade]

17. Boston Bruins (LW: 10). Forget being a one-line offense right now, they are a one player offense (Brad Marchand) right now.

18. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 13) Time to show they are one of the most talented teams in the league and stack some points over the next couple of weeks.

19. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 21). Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider look great, they have salary cap space to play with this offseason, and are starting to make real progress.

20. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 29). They have won four in a row, with the most impressive win coming on Sunday against St. Louis. Troy Terry has an 11-game point streak right now. Bet you did not expect that at any point this season.

21. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 27). Anze Kopitar remains a top-tier player. Hall of Fame resume there? You can make a strong argument based on who is already in there.

22. New Jersey Devils (LW: 14). Being without Jack Hughes and Dougie Hamilton is a lot to overcome when those two players were expected to account for so much of their offense this season.

23. Nashville Predators (LW: 23). Juuse Saros is the key here, but Roman Josi is having a big year offensively and Matt Duchene is off to a surprisingly fast start.

24. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 26). They need Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser to get going offensively a little more. There are signs that is happening.

25. Dallas Stars (LW: 25). Not sure what else to say except this has been one of the more disappointing starts in the league.

26. San Jose Sharks (LW: 22). They are 2-4-1 since that 4-0 start, with the only regulation win during that recent seven-game stretch coming against Buffalo. Reality is setting back in.

27.  Buffalo Sabres (LW: 20). They are 2-4-2 since that 3-0-0 start. Reality is setting back in. The Jack Eichel era is also over, closing the book on another failed rebuild.

[Related: Jack Eichel trade closes book on failed Buffalo Sabres rebuild]

28. Seattle Kraken (LW: 24). Given the initial investment they made in defense and goaltending all of the blown leads are very disappointing.

29. Ottawa Senators (LW: 28). They sent their best goalie so far (Filip Gustavsson) to the minor leagues. Good luck convincing your fan base winning right now is the priority when you make moves like that.

30. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 30). Hopefully Carey Price can return and make a big impact for them. They need something.

31. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 32). The first game without Jeremy Colliton looked like a different team. Still a disappointing start when you consider the offseason moves.

32. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). They finally got a win after an 11-game losing streak to open the season. The schedule over the next couple of weeks is looking tough, though.

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    Malkin’s late goal lifts Penguins past Ovechkin, Caps 4-3

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    PITTSBURGH — Evgeni Malkin remains a live wire. Even now, 17 seasons into a career that is likely destined for the Hall of Fame, there’s an unpredictability the Pittsburgh Penguins star plays with that can be both endearing and exasperating to teammates and coaches alike.

    The latest proof came against Washington on Saturday.

    An untimely roughing penalty in the third period helped spark a Capitals’ rally from a three-goal deficit. Malkin made up for it by burying a breakaway with 1:20 left in regulation that lifted the Penguins to a 4-3 victory.

    “His care factor and his compete level for me is off the charts and that’s what I love about him and usually when the stakes are high that’s when he’s at his best,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “He gets a huge goal for us tonight at a key time.”

    Malkin’s 25th goal of the season – a low wrist shot to the far post – helped the Penguins avoid a potentially messy collapse. Pittsburgh appeared to be ready to cruise to victory after Jake Guentzel‘s power-play goal 27 seconds into the third period made it 3-0.

    Washington instead stormed back, with Alex Ovechkin right in the middle of it. Ovechkin scored his 42nd goal of the season and 822nd of his career from his favorite spot in the left circle with 6:42 to go in regulation. Washington drew even when Dylan Strome flipped the puck into an open net with 2:44 to go in regulation.

    Yet instead of sagging, the Penguins surged. Malkin stripped Washington’s Anthony Mantha near center ice and broke in alone on Kuemper. Seconds later, the puck was in the net and Malkin was on one knee celebrating while pumping his fists, the kind of display of raw emotion that’s become one of his trademarks.

    “It’s a huge goal for me, and two points for the team,” Malkin said.

    Pittsburgh moved three points clear of Florida after the Panthers lost to the earlier Saturday. Both teams have nine regular-season games left.

    Ryan Poehling and Chad Ruhwedel scored a little over two minutes apart in the second period for Pittsburgh. Jake Guentzel added his team-high 32nd goal early in the third before Washington scrambled back. Casey DeSmith played spectacularly at times while finishing with 31 saves.

    Tom Wilson started the Capitals’ comeback with his ninth goal of the season 5:19 into the third. Kuemper stopped 36 shots, but was outplayed by DeSmith as Washington’s hopes of making a late push for a playoff berth took a serious hit. The Capitals are six points behind Pittsburgh with only eight games remaining.

    “It’s a tough one,” Washington center T.J. Oshie said. “I don’t think that last play was the only thing that lost the game for us. I know that (Mantha) feels terrible about it, but we trust him with the puck. It just wasn’t a good enough 60 minutes against a good hockey team over there.”

    It felt like old times for much of the night for teams that usually enter late March battling for a spot near the top of the Metropolitan Division.

    Not this season.

    While the 35-year-old Crosby is averaging over a point a game as usual and the 37-year-old Ovechkin is steadily making inroads on Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record, their teams have spent most of the year skating in place.

    Pittsburgh has been wildly uneven thanks in part to goaltending that has fluctuated between solid and shaky, the main reason a 17th straight playoff appearance is hardly assured. Washington, meanwhile, appears to be pointing toward the future after injuries and a small sell-off at the trade deadline.

    Pittsburgh put itself on slightly firmer footing with DeSmith making a compelling case that he should supplant Tristan Jarry as Pittsburgh’s top goaltender down the stretch.

    DeSmith was spectacular at times, including stoning Ovechkin on a breakaway near the end of the second period in which Ovechkin deked DeSmith to his knees, only to see DeSmith extend his left leg just enough to knock the puck out of harm’s way.

    “I’m not very tall,” the 6-foot DeSmith said. “But I had that one inch that I needed.”


    Capitals: Host the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

    Penguins: Visit Detroit on Tuesday.

    Devils defeat Senators 5-3, clinch playoff berth

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    NEWARK, N.J. — Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist, Mackenzie Blackwood had 25 saves and the New Jersey Devils defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-3 and clinched a playoff berth on Saturday night.

    “It means everything to the group. I went into the dressing room after the game and just said that I was proud of the work that was put in, proud of where we got to clinch tonight to be one of three teams that have an X next to their name,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “All the work that’s been put in, the adversity they face during the year. The adversity they face right at the start of the season to where we’ve got to now.”

    New Jersey could have clinched its first postseason berth since 2018 with a win, but it happened before their first intermission when the Florida Panthers lost to the New York Rangers in regulation.

    “I had a lesser role then,” said Jesper Bratt, who was a rookie for the Devils in 2017-18. “I would say at a younger age, it’s kind of like you think that just because it happened your first year that it might happen every year. And then it goes pretty fast with reality that was not the case and you got to work extremely hard for it.

    “It’s a really tough league. So this feels really good. It’s been a lot of years with struggle, not winning, and it’s just awesome coming out now playing these kinds of games and getting that.”

    Bratt, Dawson Mercer and Dougie Hamilton scored for the Devils and Tomas Tatar scored an empty netter with 42.3 seconds left to put things away.

    Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot and Mark Kastelic scored for the Senators and Dylan Ferguson had 30 saves.

    Tkachuk scored his 33rd goal of the season to give the Senators the 1-0 lead 3:14 into the first period. The Devils responded midway through the first period with Hughes’ 40th goal of the season on a breakaway, going five-hole to tie it.

    Nick Holden gave the puck away and Bratt scored his 31st goal of the season on the breakaway 2:24 into the second period to give New Jersey the 2-1 lead. Mercer’s 23rd of the season came just over a minute later.

    The Senators answered midway through the second period when Thomas Chabot scored his 11th goal of the year to cut the deficit to 3-2. They knotted things up 16:03 into the second when Kastelic scored his fifth of the season.

    “We were confident going into the third period. We felt like the game was there for our taking,” Travis Hamonic said. “They score on their chance, and that’s game.”

    Hamilton scored 3:34 into the third period to give the Devils the lead. His 19th goal breaks the franchise record for goals in a season by a defenseman, surpassing Scott Stevens – the Devils great whose number is hanging in the rafters – record of 18 in 1993-94.

    NOTES: This was the first game for the Devils backup Blackwood since Feb. 19. … Nico Hischier has a six-game point streak after recording two assists.


    Senators: Host the Florida Panthers on Monday night.

    Devils: Play at New York Islanders on Monday night. —

    AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

    Kings tie franchise mark with point in 11th straight game

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    LOS ANGELES — Viktor Arvidsson had two goals and the Los Angeles Kings matched their longest point streak in franchise history with a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon.

    Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist and Alex Iafallo netted a power-play goal for Los Angeles, which has earned points in 11 straight games for the fourth time. The last occurrence was 2013-14, when the Kings won their second Stanley Cup championship.

    Joonas Korpisalo stopped 25 shots for Los Angeles.

    Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for Winnipeg and Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves.

    Arvidsson – who has 22 goals on the season – has four in the last four games while Doughty has found the net four times in the last five games.

    Arvidsson’s first goal came 82 seconds into the game. Trevor Moore won the faceoff in the offensive zone and made a backhand pass to Arvidsson, who snapped it into the net from the back of the left faceoff circle.

    He also had an empty-net goal late in the third period.

    The Kings extended their lead to 2-0 five minutes into the second period on the power play. Phillip Danault made a great pass between Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon and Hellebuyck as Iafallo buried it into the short side of the net.

    Doughty extended the lead to 3-1 27 seconds into the third period with a wrist shot from outside the right faceoff circle near the boards after Anze Kopitar won the faceoff.


    Winnipeg got its first power-play goal in seven games with 1:23 remaining in the second period when Dubois took a cross-ice pass from Kyle Connor and scored from the left faceoff circle to get the Jets within 2-1.

    The Jets got a five-minute power play after Los Angeles’ Blake Lizotte received a five-minute match penalty for a vicious cross-check to Josh Morrissey’s face. The goal came with 33 seconds left in the man advantage.

    NOTES: Danault picked up his 300th career point and 200th assist. … Winnipeg’s Connor set a career high for most assists in a season when he got his 47th on Dubois’ goal.


    Jets: Travel to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

    Kings: Host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

    Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

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    NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

    Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

    Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

    “The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

    The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

    A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

    “We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”