NHL Rink Wrap: DeBrusk asks Bruins for trade; Jets can’t beat Vejmelka

NHL Rink Wrap: DeBrusk asks Bruins for trade; Jets can't beat Vejmelka
Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Monday in the NHL

Karel Vejmelka, Coyotes

You don’t see a goalie steal a game like this every night. Or every week, even.

The Jets fired 46 shots on goal against the Coyotes, while Arizona only managed 15 SOG and one goal in support of Karel Vejmelka.

That was all “Veggie” needed to steal that game.

This marks the first shutout of Karel Vejmelka’s young career. The 25-year-old rookie has been a thankless-workhorse for the (clearly tanking) Coyotes, appearing in 14 games with a 2-9-1 record. After this 46-save shutout (and stopping 37 out of 38 games to beat the Kings in his last start), Karel Vejmelka pushed his save percentage to a respectable .916.

Some quick Karel Vejmelka facts:

As a rebuilding team, maybe the Coyotes look at Vejmelka as something of a “sacrificial lamb.” It would be a nice story if he could make a career of this, though. Monday’s NHL action inspires a certain level of hope.

Highlights from four NHL games on Tuesday

With four NHL games on Tuesday. why not just enjoy full highlights?

The Kraken were expected to be defensive stalwarts this season, but games like these show they can light up the scoreboard here and there.

The team that lost its GM (Canadiens) fell to the team whose GM is on a very hot seat (Canucks).

Karel Vejmelka thwarts the Jets’ offense (video version).

Finally, the Flames held off the Penguins after a lengthy shootout.

Tuesday’s NHL takeaways

Canadiens’ GM/president replacement team will face a serious challenge

A day after Marc Bergevin’s firing, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson expanded upon the GM/front office changes ahead. In short, a GM will join Jeff Gorton, who joined the Canadiens as their president of hockey operations.

Obviously, it’s crucial for Montreal to get this search right. Perhaps the Canadiens will learn some lessons from Marc Bergevin’s ups and downs as a GM?

Merely look up and down the Canadiens’ Cap Friendly page, and you’ll probably notice that this won’t be the easiest job. While Bergevin is out as Canadiens GM, some of his fingerprints will be easier to remove than others.

This is a roster brimming with long-term contracts. Even if Shea Weber‘s career is over, Gorton and the Canadiens’ next GM won’t exactly have a clean slate. That said, it’s absolutely better to make this move sooner, rather than later. Would you really want a desperate Bergevin trying to save his job with ill-advised 2022 NHL Trade Deadline moves?

Whether the Habs make wise moves or not, it’s definitely a situation to watch.

Marchand suspended three games; DeBrusk asks Bruins for trade

Quite a day for the Boston Bruins.

First, the NHL suspended Brad Marchand three games for slew-footing Oliver Ekman-Larsson. It marks the seventh suspension of Marchand’s career (and the second for slew-footing, alone).

Then, multiple reports indicate that Jake DeBrusk asked the Bruins for a trade.

Year after year, there have been rumours about the Bruins possibly trading DeBrusk. But DeBrusk actually formally asking for one? Quite a development. DeBrusk, 25, has one year remaining on his contract with a $3.675M cap hit. Would a DeBrusk trade involve the Bruins merely getting futures, or would it be a dual “change of scenery?” If the latter, who would make sense for the Bruins’ end of a DeBrusk trade? Maybe the answers will surface soon.

(A trade seems like it would make sense for both the Bruins and DeBrusk, though, right?)

Evander Kane clears waivers

The AHL’s San Jose Barracuda are saying all the right things about Evander Kane possibly joining their team after clearing waivers. If Evander Kane plays in the AHL, the impression is that it will merely be a temporary thing after clearing waivers. We’ll find out (soon/eventually) if an Evander Kane trade happens, or if this situation lingers.

Should Jets be worried about a lack of offense?

When the Jets beat the Flames 4-2 on Saturday, the hope was that Winnipeg worked its way out of a funk. After all, the Jets ended a five-game losing streak, and Kyle Connor scored two goals.

Perhaps it was only a brief reprieve.

Yes, Coyotes rookie Karel Vejmelka stole that one from the Jets. Clearly, Winnipeg carried the play.

This upset loss only stirs more concerns about the Jets’ offense. During Monday’s NHL action, the Jets’ power play went 0-for-6. Despite beating the Flames on Saturday, the Jets’ offense sputtered at times on the PP there, too. They couldn’t score after Milan Lucic was whistled for a major penalty.

In going 0-4-1 during that recent five-game losing streak, the Jets offense really sputtered (five goals). They’ve now gone 1-5-1 in their last seven games.

This game against the Coyotes began a four-game homestand for the Jets, so maybe this is a chance to get back on track. That said, after facing the Devils, the Jets then host the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

Overall, it’s fair to wonder if the Jets are as improved as they looked to start the season. The excuses remain a bit lacking.

Flames are really good — but a lot’s going their way

Whether you prefer standings, analytics, “the eye test,” or some combination, the Calgary Flames look great this season.

That said, it’s only natural to ask: how good are they, really? Don’t forget, this is a team that missed the playoffs in 2020-21.

For the most part, signs point to the Flames being for real. However, there are areas where you should expect the Flames to cool off. Coming into Monday’s NHL games, the Flames easily topped all teams with a 95.04 save percentage at 5-on-5. No other team’s 5-on-5 save percentage was even at 94 (the Maple Leafs rank second at 93.84).

Among other things, you’d expect a Darryl Sutter team to be strong with a lead. That’s an area where the Flames are likely cool off, too.

Including Monday’s game against the Penguins, the Flames scored the first goal an NHL-leading 18 times (in just 22 games).

Before Monday’s NHL games, the Flames had those 17 games where they scored first, compared to second-place Washington (15). Last season, the Avalanche and Golden Knights tied for the most with 36 in 56 games. Since 2015-16, seven teams scored the first goal of a game 50+ times. (The 2016-17 Capitals lead the pack with 58. That’s also the most since the full season lockout.)

While Jacob Markstrom could end the season with a Vezina nomination, he’s unlikely to combine with Dan Vladar for goaltending this great the whole way. And the Flames might give up the first goal more than four out of every 22 games over the long haul.

All of that said, though, the Flames indeed look incendiary so far. They’re also now 13-2-3 when scoring first.

Tuesday’s big story

Hurricanes give the Stars’ surge a real test

Really, Tuesday’s big NHL story (on the ice) probably involves a clash between the Capitals and Panthers. Folks, their last two meetings served as those days’ big stories, though. Let’s mix it up?

(Or consider Panthers – Capitals the big game of Tuesday’s NHL games. That’s cool, too.)

For the sake of variety, an interesting test. For some of this season, things looked dicey for Dallas. Rick Bowness even got coffee and a hat and was a big-eyed dog surrounded by fire for a minute.

Well, maybe things are fine. The Stars enter Tuesday’s test against the Hurricanes on a four-game winning streak. Further, Dallas has also won six of its last seven games. Increasingly, the Stars look like they have a shot at a playoff berth. Beating the Hurricanes would be that much more convincing.

Monday’s NHL scores

Canucks 2, Canadiens 1
Coyotes 1, Jets 0
Kraken 7, Sabres 4
Flames 2, Penguins 1 (SO)

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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    Golden Knights reach second Stanley Cup Final after Game 6 win over Stars

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    DALLAS – William Karlsson, William Carrier and Jonathan Marchessault are finally getting another chance in the Stanley Cup Final, after the first one that came so quick for the Vegas Golden Knights.

    They are going back after making sure they didn’t need another game against the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final.

    Karlsson scored two goals and had an assist while Carrier and Marchessault also scored for the Knights in a 6-0 rout Monday night over the Stars, who had extended the West final to six games after losing the first three.

    “We’ve worked hard as a group. That was the goal since year one, to come back here,” Marchessault said. “Our best game is yet to come. That’s the mentality we need to have.”

    Reilly Smith, Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore were also part of that inaugural 2017-18 Knights season that ended in a Cup Final, when they won Game 1 against the Washington Capitals before losing four in a row.

    “That first year was a whirlwind and we maybe took it for granted,” said Karlsson, who like Marchessault and Smith has played in all 83 playoff games for the franchise.

    Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio each had a goal and an assist for Vegas, which hosts Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Florida on Saturday night.

    The Knights led the Western Conference in the regular season with 51 wins and 111 points. The Panthers completed a four-game sweep of Carolina in the East final last Wednesday, but their 40 wins and 92 points in the regular season were the fewest among the 16 teams that began these NHL playoffs.

    Adin Hill stopped 23 shots for his second career playoff shutout – both against the Stars. The other was 4-0 in Game 3 last Tuesday, when the Knights were already within one win of clinching the series before Dallas overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in both Games 4 and 5.

    “We kept them to the outside almost all night,” Hill said. “It was probably my easiest game of the playoffs so far tonight.”

    Instead of having to face a do-or-die Game 7 at home against the Stars, coach Bruce Cassidy and the Knights got off to another fast start and never left any doubt about the outcome of this series that included three overtime games. They already had 16 of their 29 shots and a 3-0 lead after the first period.

    “It was definitely our best game of the playoffs and it came at the right time,” Cassidy said. “You don’t want to let a team off the mat. After getting a 3-0 lead, there was some chatter about that.”

    It was the most lopsided playoff loss for the Stars since the franchise moved south from Minnesota before the 1993-94 season.

    “You just expect more from yourself in a game like this,” said Stars forward Joe Pavelski, the 38-year-old veteran still without a Stanley Cup after 17 seasons.

    The Stars got captain Jamie Benn back after his two-game suspension for a cross-check to the neck area of Vegas captain Mark Stone early in Game 3. But Benn got only one shot on net in his 12 1/2 minutes and was on the ice for two of Vegas’ first three goals.

    The Knights led for good when Carrier scored 3:41 into the game after a puck poked from behind the net in the vicinity of three Dallas players. Carrier skated across the front of the crease and put a backhander in the net, the ninth time this postseason the Knights scored in the first five minutes of a game.

    Karlsson’s power-play goal came midway through the first period made it 2-0, and after a penalty that likely had prevented him from scoring.

    Nicolas Roy took a shot that deflected off Jake Oettinger’s glove and popped up in the air behind the goalie. Karlsson was charging into the crease when Stars defenseman Esa Lindell raised his stick and swatted the puck out of play, drawing a delay of game penalty.

    With the man advantage, Smith took a shot from the circle to the left, which was deflected in front by Roy and then off Oettinger’s extended skate before Karlsson knocked in the rebound. Karlsson’s franchise record 10th goal for a playoff series extended the lead to 5-0 only two minutes into the third period.

    “Real disappointed for our group for the way our season ended,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “It was a case of Vegas going to another level.”

    Notes: Oettinger had been 3-0 when the Stars were facing elimination this postseason, including Game 7 in the second round against Seattle before stopping 64 of 68 shots the past two games against the Knights. That was after Vegas had scored three goals on five shots in the first 7:10 to chase him from Game 3. … Dallas was only the fifth team to force a Game 6 in an conference final or NHL semifinal after being down 0-3, and the first since the Stars lost to Detroit in a sixth game in 2008. Only two teams got to a Game 7, which both lost – the New York Islanders to Philadelphia in 1975; and the New York Rangers to Boston in 1939.

    Dellandrea scores twice in 3rd, Stars stay alive with 4-2 victory over Golden Knights

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS — With Dallas’ season on the line, the Stars got two critical goals from a player who was a healthy scratch the first two games of the Western Conference Final.

    Ty Dellandrea‘s goals came within a 1:27 span midway through the third period, and the Stars beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final to face the Florida Panthers.

    “He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with,” said Stars goalie Jake Oettinger, who made 27 saves. “He deserves every opportunity he gets, and there’s no one happier for him than the guys in this room. It shows how special you are when you get taken out. He didn’t make it about him. He needed the opportunity to step up, and that’s what he did.”

    The Stars escaped elimination for the second game in a row and head to Dallas for Game 6 down 3-2. Dallas is attempting to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after being down 3-0.

    And look who’s back for the Stars? Captain Jamie Benn returns after a two-game suspension for his cross-check to the neck of Vegas captain Mark Stone in Game 3. That was the only game in this series that was decided early, and the Stars hadn’t even had a multigoal lead.

    “I know our group, and we weren’t happy about being in the hole we were in, and they decided to do something about it,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “And now we’re rolling.”

    The only problem for DeBoer was waiting two days to play Game 6.

    “Drop the puck,” he said.

    DeBoer said before the game if his team won, the pressure would shift to the Knights. Now it’s up to them to respond after twice being a period away from playing in the Stanley Cup Final and letting both opportunities slip away.

    “I don’t think we brought our best the last two games,” Stone said. “We were still in a good spot to win the game. We’ve got to bring a little bit better effort and start playing a little more desperate.”

    Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said “it’s a very good question” why his team didn’t play with more desperation, but he also wasn’t thrilled with the Knights’ execution.

    “We had 24 giveaways,” Cassidy said. “I’m not sure you’re beating the Arizona Coyotes in January with 24 giveaways. That’s no disrespect to Arizona, but it’s not the right way to play.”

    Dellandrea found the right way to play and put together the first multigoal playoff game of his career. Jason Robertson and Luke Glendening also scored, and Thomas Harley had two assists.

    Chandler Stephenson and Ivan Barbashev scored for the Knights, and Jonathan Marchessault had two assists to extend his points streak to four games. Adin Hill made 30 saves.

    Dellandrea scored from the right circle to put Dallas ahead, the puck deflecting off Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo with 9:25 left for a 3-2 lead. Then, Dellandrea scored from the slot with 7:58 remaining.

    Dellandrea said the older players kept him motivated when he was temporarily sidelined.

    “There’s no denying it’s hard,” he said. “I’m thankful for a good group of character guys, and you’ve just got to stay ready.”

    The teams traded goals in the first two periods.

    Jack Eichel battled two Stars players for the puck in Vegas’ offensive zone, and then Barbashev swooped in and made a fantastic move to glide past Oettinger and score with 6:24 left in the first period. The Stars wasted little time in answering when Glendening scored on a deflection less than two minutes later.

    Dallas was robbed of what looked like a sure goal when Hill snagged a point-blank shot from Roope Hintz, who then threw his back in disbelief.

    Like in the first period, the Knights had a goal in the second quickly answered by one from the Stars. Stephenson scored from the left circle at 16:40 of the period, and Robertson knocked his own rebounds 2:09 later to make it 2-2. Stephenson tied the Knights’ record with his eight playoff goal this year, and Robertson had his fifth of the series.

    Sabres sign Minnesota defenseman Ryan Johnston to 2-year rookie contract

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    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres ended a lengthy wait by signing Ryan Johnston to a two-year, entry level contract more than a month after the defenseman completed his senior college season at Minnesota.

    Johnston will report immediately to the Sabres’ American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester, whose best-of-seven Eastern Conference final playoff series against Hershey is tied at 1.

    From Southern California, Johnston is listed at 6-feet and 170 pounds and was selected 31st in 2019 draft.

    His puck-moving skills fit Buffalo’s style of play, Johnston finished his college career with nine goals and 59 points in 143 career games, including four goals and 18 points in 40 games this year. He reached the NCAA’s Frozen Four in each of his final two seasons, with the Gophers losing in the semifinals last year, followed by a 3-2 overtime loss to Quinnipiac in the championship game last month.

    He also had a goal and three assists in seven games representing the U.S. team that won gold at the 2021 world junior championships.

    Johnston, who turns 22 in July, had the option to wait until August when he would’ve become an unrestricted free agent and eligible to sign with any team. Because Johnston was first-round pick, the Sabres would’ve been compensated with a 2024 second-round selection had he signed elsewhere.

    Both sides are banking on the player’s age and college experience to enable Johnston to make the jump to the NHL within the next two seasons. The Sabres will still control Johnston’s rights as a restricted free agent once his entry-level contract expires.

    Joe Pavelski scores on OT power play, Stars beat Golden Knights 3-2 to avoid West sweep

    stars golden knights
    Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

    DALLAS — Joe Pavelski admits that he probably appreciates the big playoff goals more the later he gets in his career. But they all still feel just as good, and his latest kept the season alive for the Dallas Stars.

    “Just really living in the moment,” Pavelski said. “A tremendous feeling for sure, and glad we could play another game, and go from there and try to extend it.”

    The 38-year-old Pavelski scored on a power play at 3:18 of overtime – a one-timer from the middle of the left circle to the far post – and the Stars avoided a sweep in the Western Conference Final with a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.

    Jason Robertson scored twice for his first career multigoal playoff game for Dallas, which played without suspended captain Jamie Benn.

    “We’re looking for goals and that’s kind of my responsibility I put on myself,” Robertson said. “I know these playoffs have been tough. … I was able to get the bounces that we needed tonight.”

    Jake Oettinger had 37 saves, two nights after the 24-year-old Stars goalie was pulled 7:10 into Game 3 after allowing three goals on five shots.

    The Stars had the man advantage in overtime after Brayden McNabb‘s high-sticking penalty on Ty Dellandrea. Fifty seconds into the power play, Pavelski scored on a pass from Miro Heiskanen. They won for the first time in their five OT games this postseason – Vegas won the first two games of this series past regulation.

    It was only the second Vegas penalty of the game, both high-sticking calls against McNabb. His penalty on Pavelski late in the first period set up the power play when Robertson scored his first goal with some nifty stickwork.

    Pavelski, in his 15th NHL season and still looking for his first Stanley Cup, scored his ninth goal in 12 games this postseason, but his first in five games. He has 73 career postseason goals – the most for U.S.-born players and the most among all active players.

    “He’s ageless. … I’ve seen that movie over and over again. Never gets old,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “He lives for those moments and he wants to be in those situations. Always has, and delivers almost every time.”

    Benn was suspended two games by the NHL on Wednesday for his cross-check with his stick landing near the neck of Vegas captain Mark Stone in the first two minutes of Game 3 on Tuesday night. Benn also will miss Game 5 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

    William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Vegas. Adin Hill had his five-game winning streak snapped. He made 39 saves, including a game-saver with his extended left leg without about two minutes left in regulation on rookie Fredrik Olofsson’s swiping try in his first career playoff game.

    “Our effort wasn’t good enough. Closing a series is probably the hardest game in a series, right, so it just wasn’t good enough from our group,” Marchessault said. “It was still a one-goal game in overtime. It was right there for us.”

    Karlsson and Marchessault are among six of the original Vegas players still on the team from the inaugural 2017-18 season that ended with the Knights playing for the Stanley Cup, though they lost in five games to the Washington Capitals after winning the first game.

    Vegas missed a chance to complete a sweep, a night after the Florida Panthers finished off a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.

    Vegas took a 2-1 lead midway through the second period when Marchessault, after whacking his stick on the back of Ryan Suter in front of the net, scored on a pass between the Stars defenseman’s legs from McNabb, another original Golden Knight.

    Robertson’s tying goal late in that period came on a ricochet off the back board just seconds after he had another shot hit the post. That was the fourth goal of this series, and sixth in the playoffs, after this regular season becoming the first Dallas player with a 100-point season.

    On his first goal late in the first that tied it 1-1, Robertson deflected Heiskanen’s shot from just inside the blue line up into the air. As Hill was trying to secure the puck into his glove, Robertson knocked it free and then reached around and swiped the puck into the net with his stick parallel to the ice.

    With former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and wrestling great Ric Flair both in the building wearing Stars jerseys Dallas was avoided being swept in the playoffs for the first time since 2001 against St. Louis in the second round. This was the Stars’ 21st playoff series since then.

    The Golden Knights scored first again – though not like those three quick goals in Game 3 that led to the earliest exit ever for Oettinger.

    Karlsson pushed the puck up and skated to the front of the net after passing to Nicolas Roy, whose pass through traffic went off a Dallas stick before Reilly Smith got it just inside the right circle and took a shot. Karlsson’s deflection past Oettinger only 4:17 into the game was his eighth goal this postseason.

    “There were a lot of rush chances,” said Smith, also with Vegas since the beginning. “I don’t think we did a good enough job of making it difficult on them. So we get another opportunity in two days.”