NHL Rink Wrap: Campbell leads Maple Leafs; Some life from Predators

NHL RInk Wrap: Campbell leads Maple Leafs; Some life from Predators
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Top players from Wednesday in the NHL

Kevin Fiala, Wild

Look, Jack Campbell probably ranks as the actual top star for Wednesday in the NHL. You can scroll and read plenty about his season, and general impact on the Maple Leafs, though. Let’s give someone else a moment in the spotlight, too.

After Wednesday’s NHL action, the Wild sit atop the Central Division with 18 standings points in 12 games (9-3-0). They got there after clobbering the Coyotes, who may view any narrow win as a miracle at this rate.

Despite a modest ice time of 14:03, Kevin Fiala scored a goal and two assists on four shots on goal.

I’d wager Fiala, the Wild, Fiala’s agent, and his accountant all hope this begins a hot streak. After scoring three points in as many games to start the season, Fiala went pointless in seven of his last eight games. (He enjoyed a two-assist game vs. the Senators during that slump.)

The 25-year-old can be frustrating, but also dazzling. And he’s very much a player to watch — not just for the Wild.

His $5.1M cap hit merely serves as a stopgap and another contract year. With the Wild eyeing a serious cap crunch from the Ryan SuterZach Parise buyouts, it’s possible Fiala just won’t be affordable. Maybe that hinges on how hot or cold he can get this season?

NHL news: Bob Murray resigns, tough injury update for Avs

Highlights from Flyers – Maple Leafs, Wild – Coyotes, Predators – Stars

With three games on Wednesday’s NHL slate, enjoy highlights from each contest.

Jack Campbell and William Nylander powered the Maple Leafs’ win over the Flyers:

Scroll for more on the scrappy Predators, who beat the Stars:

Finally, it almost felt like the Wild could name their score in a win against the lowly Coyotes.


Wednesday’s NHL takeaways

Believe it or not, the Maple Leafs find occasional bargains

When the Maple Leafs traded for Jack Campbell, it seemed like a solid bet on a potentially above-average backup. It was unusual, too, since the Kings already extended Campbell for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons for a $1.65M cap hit. Back then, it seemed like a decent bit of speculation.

Instead, it’s increasingly looking like one of Kyle Dubas‘ best moves as Maple Leafs GM.

With Frederik Andersen injured and inconsistent last season, Jack Campbell was a revelation for the Maple Leafs. He managed a fantastic 17-3-2 record with a sparkling .921 save percentage.

Once again, Campbell’s delivering while a would-be starter can’t stay healthy. The outlook for Petr Mrazek is grim, but Campbell’s playing so well, the Maple Leafs probably wish they could just give Mrazek’s contract to Campbell. With a 36-save shutout on Wednesday, Campbell stands as one of the NHL’s best goalies this season at 7-3-1 with a marvelous .936 save percentage. He’s probably already paid for his $1.65M cap hit through one month.

[Where the Maple Leafs and other NHL teams stand in the Power Rankings]

The bargains aren’t always of the buy-low, hope-for-the-best variety. For all of the hand-wringing about William Nylander’s holdout, getting the sorely underrated star under contract for a touch less than $7M per year through 2023-24 was deft work. (Sure, it meant a strangely lopsided contract, but that’s why you hire capologists.)

No doubt, it’s huge for the Maple Leafs to see Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews shaking off their funks. But Nylander’s simply been delivering. With two goals on Wednesday, Nylander’s not far off of a point-per-game (13 points in 14 games).

So, don’t say the Maple Leafs can’t find any bargains. You can definitely claim that they can’t find enough of them, but plenty of other NHL teams can relate.

Signs of life from the Predators

Overall, the Nashville Predators haven’t accomplished enough to totally change the narrative. They still feel like an expansive team with budget talent.

But being uninspiring doesn’t always translate into cellar-dwelling. After a grim 1-4-0 start (with four of five games at home), the Predators look like players in the Central Division at 7-5-1. Through the first five games of a six-game road trip, the Predators managed a 3-1-1 record. That included Wednesday’s tight win over the Dallas Stars.

Even with that road trip ending against the Blues on Thursday, the Predators could still wobble. Their upcoming slate is an interesting mix of challenges (counting that visit to St. Louis, four of their next five games on the road) and opportunities (games against the Coyotes, Senators, and Canadiens).

Truly, at least a partial rebuild might be the wisest idea. That doesn’t seem likely, though, so at least they’re hanging in there.

Ducks should turn the page after Bob Murray resigns

Quite frankly, it’s been puzzling to see the Ducks’ one (webbed) foot in, one foot out approach to a rebuild. They had the opportunity to trade diminishing assets like Josh Manson at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline. After allegedly setting the price artificially high, they instead basically stayed put.

For every gesture toward rebuilding (shrewd picks like Trevor Zegras, selling high on Ondrej Kase), it feels like there’s at least been one stubborn stab at fighting reality.

Perhaps Jeff Solomon can make an impression by unabashedly pushing for a Ducks rebuild. Somehow, Cam Fowler is already 29, and Jakob Silfverberg is already 31. Defensemen in contract years like Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson should be trade deadline fodder.

[Statements from NHL, Ducks, Bob Murray]

Frankly, this team’s window for success simply might not match up with John Gibson‘s prime at age 28. By the time they get their act together, it’s uncomfortably plausible that Gibson’s confidence could be shot.

In a piece worth reading (sub required), The Athletic’s Eric Stephens calls for Ducks ownership to emerge from relative obscurity following Bob Murray’s resignation. That’s a worthy argument, but if the Ducks’ owners want to stay in the shadows, they should at least empower Solomon to tear things down — however tenuous his position might be.

From the sound of things, the Ducks’ culture change has been a long time coming.

Even just on the ice, their rebuild is also long overdue.

Expect even more on the Ducks’ future later this week.

Thursday’s big story

Please let the mega powers collide in Bruins – Oilers

So far, at five-on-five, the Oilers line up Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl with each other slightly more often (95:43 minutes) than not (89:49). There are a lot of strategic reasons to split them up. After hit-or-miss stretches, Draisaitl’s proven he can carry his own line. In particular, you might want to split the two up on the road.

I say hogwash to that on Thursday.

The past month-and-change has been grueling for fans of the sport. With that in mind, the Oilers and Bruins should be fined if we don’t see Draisaitl + McDavid + someone lucky vs. the Bruins mega-line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.

There are plenty of enticing NHL games on Thursday, yet watching those two lines battle it out would take the cake. (So force the coaches to match them up, too. Surely this will be easy.)

Click here for more on Draisaitl and McDavid once again driving the Oilers to success.

Wednesday’s NHL scores

Maple Leafs 3, Flyers 0
Predators 4, Stars 2
Wild 5, Coyotes 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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    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avs 5-2

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Wednesday night.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.

    Report: Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed jerseys

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver because of security concerns involving a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country.

    The decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.

    The Blackhawks have worn Pride warmup jerseys previously and donned special warmup jerseys on some other themed nights this season. There had been ongoing conversations about a Pride jersey with the players, according to the person who talked to the AP, but the organization made the decision to hold Pride Night without the jerseys this year.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country. Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country.

    The decision by the Blackhawks comes after San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys. The New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    Russians Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov wore the Pride-themed jerseys for the Sharks on Saturday.

    While Chicago will go without Pride warmup jerseys this year, the team has planned a variety of activities in conjunction with Sunday’s game. DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.

    Teravainen scores late, Hurricanes rally to beat Rangers 3-2

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    NEW YORK – Teuvo Teravainen scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period, Frederik Andersen stopped 29 shots and the Carolina Hurricanes rallied to beat the New York Rangers 3-2.

    Jalen Chatfield and Stefan Noesen also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes, who won for the third time in four games.

    With the comeback win, the Hurricanes became the second team – following Boston – to reach the 100-point mark this season as Carolina increased its Metropolitan Division-lead over second-place New Jersey to two points and the third-place Rangers to eight.

    “That was a great effort. All 20 guys contributed and we got what we deserved,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “If we play like that, we’ll be in good shape. This time of year it gets tougher and tougher.”

    Tyler Motte and Kaapo Kakko scored for the Rangers, who had won four straight were 6-0-1 in their last seven. Igor Shesterkin finished with 36 saves as the Rangers played their third game in four nights – the previous two shutout wins at home.

    “Igor kept us in there as long as he could and we just didn’t have enough in the tank,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. ”They won more battles and played a hard game.”

    Teravainen scored his 11th goal with 2:33 left on a pass from defenseman Brent Burns, redirecting the puck past Shesterkin. The Hurricanes, who trailed 1-0 and 2-1.

    “Somehow they left me open in the back side, great pass by him,” Teravainen said of the winning-goal pass to him in the slot. “We knew this would be a tough night. They have a good team. We knew we had to battle to win this game.”

    The Rangers led 1-0 entering the third and were vying for their third-straight shutout before Chatfield tied the score at 9:49 – the first goal the Rangers allowed in more than eight periods. New York was coming off a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night with Shesterkin in goal and a 7-0 triumph over Nashville behind Jaroslav Halak on Sunday.

    Kakko then put New York back ahead 31 seconds later with his 13th goal, only to have Noesen answer right back 18 seconds later to tie it 2-2.

    Motte opened the scoring at the 17-minute mark of the first, knocking the puck past Andersen for his third goal in four games and sixth of the season overall.

    The Rangers hadn’t lost in regulation since a 4-2 defeat on March 4 at Boston.

    “Tonight we didn’t play near well enough to beat that team,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Honestly, the whole game they outplayed us. They were a lot quicker. They managed the puck real well … We didn’t play our game.”


    Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal played his 729th game with Carolina on Tuesday, tying defenseman Glen Wesley for the second-most games played in franchise history since relocation from Hartford in 1997. Staal, 34, trails only his brother Eric, who played 909 games for the Hurricanes from 2003-16.


    Hurricanes: Host the Rangers on Thursday night to finish the home-and-home set in the opener of a four-game homestand.

    Rangers: At Carolina on Thursday night to open a two-game trip.

    Ullmark’s 40 saves carries Bruins past Senators, 2-1

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    BOSTON – Linus Ullmark made 40 saves, Jake DeBrusk had the go-ahead goal and the NHL-best Boston Bruins continued their pursuit of the league’s record for regular-season victories with a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

    “I thought he was outstanding and he needed to be,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said of Ullmark. “Unfortunately we gave up a lot of good looks, a lot of odd-man rushes because of our puck management and he bailed us out like he has all year.”

    David Krejci added a power-play goal for Boston, which won its fourth straight.

    Dylan Gambrell scored for the Senators and Mads Sogaard made 33 stops.

    “We had a shooters’ mentality for two periods,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “The third period, they’ve won 54 games now, they’re not going to give you an odd-man rush, they’re not going to give you anything. You’re going to have to earn it.”

    The Bruins posted their 54th win and with 12 games left are on pace to break the mark of 62, set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96 and matched by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018-19.

    Chasing the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, Ottawa has lost six of seven following a season-high, five-game winning streak.

    Coming off a 3-2 road trip where they won the last three games by a combined score of 15-2 that included two shutouts by backup Jeremy Swayman, the Bruins converted on a two-man, power-play advantage to tie the game at 1 midway into the opening period when Krejci poked in a rebound from the edge of the crease.

    DeBrusk completed a nifty play with Brad Marchand when he collected a pass cutting down the slot at full speed, shifted and tucked a rebound past Sogaard at 15:52 of the first period for his 23rd goal.

    “It was ‘all world.’ I saw him and he fed it through a lot of guys for a breakaway,” DeBrusk said of the pass. “It was one of those passes where I didn’t know what to do. I was going to point at him (after) but I was going too fast.”

    Gambrell’s wraparound score gave Ottawa a 1-0 edge.

    “I thought I played a good game today,” Sogaard said. “I just battled and stayed with it the entire way. … These ones are tough because we were so close.”


    Ullmark stopped 22 shots in the second period with at least a dozen of them high-quality chances. During an Ottawa PP, he jumped from a crouch to make a right-shoulder stop on Alex DeBrincat’s bid from in close.

    “We talked about it,” defenseman Hampus Lindholm said of the second period. “We know we’re a good team in the third and wanted to tighten it up for him. … They got a lot of chances that were our own fault in the second.”


    The Bruins highlighted women who work and compete in the sports community, having Olympic gold medalist and Boston Pride defender Kali Flanagan accompany Bruins players during pregame walk-ins along with local high school scholastic award winners. In addition, in-arena host Michaela Johnson handled the PA for the night and they also left yellow roses at the seats of female reporters.

    NOTES: The Senators entered the game as the only team holding an advantage in their series against the Bruins this season, winning twice in three games. … Montgomery said after the morning skate that defenseman Derek Forbort would likely be sidelined with a lower-body injury at least through the rest of the regular season. … DeBrusk, playing on the top line most of the season, is four off his career-high goal total, set in 2018-19.


    Senators: Host Tampa Bay on Thursday.

    Bruins: Host longtime rival Montreal in an Original Six matchup Thursday.