NHL Rink Wrap: Thursday blowouts; Ducks’ streak ends

NHL Rink Wrap: Thursday blowouts; Ducks' streak ends
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Kirill Kaprizov, Wild

By Kirill Kaprizov’s lofty standards, he’d been off to a mildly underwhelming start. (At least if you can set standards in a runaway Calder Trophy-winning season that was, nonetheless, truncated.)

Heading into Thursday’s NHL action, Kaprizov was limited to three goals and 11 points in 15 games. Strong by most players’ standards, but then again, there’s that “standards” business again. With his immense skill, Kaprizov already set expectations high. Haggling to get a $9M cap hit only raised the bar.

So, this must have been a heartening development. On a night with multiple blowouts, Kaprizov sparked a lopsided Wild win over the Stars by scoring a goal and three assists. Just like that, he’s a hair away from being a point-per-game player (15 in 16) this season.

Don’t count Kaprizov and the Wild out in the Central Division title race.

Highlights from NHL on Thursday

Really nice shots of Claude Giroux showing off his really great hands for a really nice goal. Giroux also scored a goal in the dying seconds of regulation to send this game to OT. The Lightning won, but Giroux helped the Flyers secure a point.

Nice bit of passing to set up Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the season. By the way, it makes sense to mush Crosby and Giroux highlights together, because they’re best friends.

Circling back to Flyers – Lightning, their overtime period included zero stoppages. (Gets out of breath just thinking about it.)

Might as well soak in that Kaprizov-fueled Wild win:

Thursday’s NHL takeaways

Hurricanes end Ducks’ winning streak at eight games

The Ducks came into Thursday’s NHL action with some impressive streaks: eight consecutive wins, and 10 games with at least a point. Both of the Ducks’ streaks ended against the Hurricanes, but that doesn’t mean Anaheim stopped turning some heads.

In particular, the Ducks impressed during the first period. That’s not just because Troy Terry scored his 12th goal of the season, pushing his point streak to a ridiculous 16 games. (Only Corey Perry [19 games] and Teemu Selanne [17] own longer streaks in Ducks history than Terry. Also, we barely missed Perry and Terry being a thing. For more than 57 minutes and 21 seconds.)

Anyway, the Ducks were right there with the dominant Hurricanes, and not just on the scoreboard. Through the first 20 minutes, the Ducks dominated high-danger chances, besting the Hurricanes 8-3 in the first period. As the game went along, that battle evened out, but managing a virtual draw as Carolina is a win in itself.

In defeat, the Ducks impressed almost as much as they did during that eight-game winning streak.

Plenty of blowouts, or at least one-sided NHL games, on Thursday

Sheesh, some teams weren’t messing around. The Flames clobbered the Sabres 5-0, and the Penguins were even harsher (6-0) to the Canadiens. Call it revenge for relocation, but either way, the Wild really handed it to the Stars (7-2). There were also some 4-1 games, though the Devils kept Spencer Knight busy enough that a blowout probably doesn’t apply there.

As we go deeper into the 2021-22 season, it’s possible we may see more “rich gets richer” nights. Some teams are really getting on the same page. Fatigue is setting in. Injuries and COVID can also widen the gaps between two opponents.

Of all the NHL teams that were blown out on Thursday, the Canadiens may feel the worst. The Penguins doubled the Canadiens in high-danger chances at even-strength (12-6). That disparity was a little worse if you count special teams (15-6).  Just about every meaningful metric favored Pittsburgh. And, of course, there was that 6-0 final score.

It’s the sort of loss that gets your head coach trending for dubious reasons.

Consider Markstrom a leading Vezina candidate

On one hand, there were signs that the Flames were improving defensively under Darryl Sutter. On the other hand, that defense didn’t exactly look like a lockdown, elite group.

So, while Jacob Markstrom lingered as a potential Vezina Trophy dark horse, few penciled him in as a favorite. He’s undeniably on the radar as December approaches, however.

Granted, people who only look at records might not get it yet; Markstrom’s a pedestrian 6-3-4. All of the other numbers are glowing, though. In just 13 games played, Markstrom already boasts five of the Flames’ six shutouts.

That already easily marks Markstrom’s most shutouts in a single season. Last year’s three shutouts marked a previous career-high, and he came into this season with a mere eight.

At times with the Canucks, Markstrom looked elite. Voters love shiny objects like shutouts, so if he can get some wins and not let that save percentage (.942) droop too much, Markstrom may earn some hardware this season.

Friday’s big story

Another rough Canucks home game?

In a recent NHL Rink Wrap, we wondered if a home loss to the Avalanche would make the seats even hotter for Canucks GM Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green. For fans, the temperature boiled over more than once. During that loss to the Avs, there were indeed “Fire Benning” chants from Canucks fans.

Benning admitted he found that “upsetting,” but as of this writing, the Canucks’ GM and head coach remain installed. In speaking to the press on Thursday, Benning and Green acknowledged that the Canucks are frustrated, yet mostly pumped up staying the course.

This situation presents a tug-o-war.

On one side, you have the immediate pressure from fans, getting stronger with every loss — especially when they can voice their displeasure at home. Facing a Jets team closing off a back-to-back set, the Canucks only have so many excuses if they lose on Friday.

That said, there’s that other side pulling away. While Benning’s in his eighth year as GM, plenty have called for his ousting before. Time and time again, Benning dodged those bullets. If the Canucks keep losing and he stays put, we might need Benning to get a leather jacket, because this would be Neo-level stuff.

Thursday’s NHL scores

Flames 5, Sabres 0
Maple Leafs 2, Rangers 1
Penguins 6, Canadiens 0
Panthers 4, Devils 1
Blues 4, Sharks 1
Lightning 4, Flyers 3 (SO)
Wild 7, Stars 2
Oilers 2, Jets 1 (SO)
Blue Jackets 5, Coyotes 4 (SO)
Golden Knights 5, Red Wings 2
Hurricanes 2, Ducks 1

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.

Scroll Down For:

    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle but is set to return Friday.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

    flyers wild
    Len Redkoles/Getty Images
    1 Comment

    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 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.

    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.