NHL Rink Wrap: Shesterkin injury scare; Scheifele, Jets wake up

NHL Rink Wrap: Shesterkin injury scare; Scheifele, Jets wake up
Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images
1 Comment

Top players from Friday in the NHL

Mark Scheifele, Jets

Heading into Friday’s NHL games, the Jets were struggling to score, and Mark Scheifele wasn’t immune to those issues. A player who has averaged over a point-per-game since 2016-17 only managed eight points through 16 contests.

This might not signal the end of the Jets’ struggles, but maybe Scheifele is back. He generated a hat trick and an assist for four points as the Jets dismantled the Devils.

In an 8-4 game, it’s not surprising that Scheifele wasn’t the only Jets scorer enjoying a big night. Blake Wheeler (generally even colder than Scheifele) collected three assists. Nikolaj Ehlers scored two goals and Pierre-Luc Dubois nabbed two assists. Obviously, not a perfect game by Winnipeg, but it’s important for them to occasionally win without Connor Hellebuyck being all-world.

Highlights from four NHL games on Friday

Had to feel good for Adam Larsson to score a goal against the Oilers, his former team. Nice moves, too.

That said, Larsson’s own Kraken teammate Colin Blackwell scored an even better goal.

As you can see, Mark Scheifele collected his fourth career hat trick during Friday’s NHL action.

 

From Matthew Tkachuk‘s shootout move to an array of splendid passing plays, there was a lot to enjoy in Flames – Ducks. So why not soak in the full Flames – Ducks highlights, then?

Friday’s NHL takeaways

Rangers get an injury scare with Igor Shesterkin

Despite downright alarming underlying numbers, the Rangers keep cooking this season. They won their fifth game in a row by shutting out the Sharks on Friday. Ultimately, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev combined for the shutout, however. That’s because Shesterkin caused some nervous sweating at Madison Square Garden when he left with a lower-body injury.

At least the early word is optimistic.

After the Rangers’ win, Gerard Gallant said he was told that Shesterkin’s injury isn’t as bad as it looked. It’s currently viewed as a minor lower-body injury.

Now, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Could “not as bad as expected” mean weeks instead of months? Just day-to-day (and in the less torturous way than some day-to-day injuries can play out)? The Rangers may know more about Shesterkin’s injury status sometime this weekend.

Losing the so-far-elite goalie could test the very good thing the Rangers have going.

Was it a trip? A slew-foot? Either way, P.K. Subban was at it again

So, uh, P.K. Subban sure has developed a … uh, habit of this stuff, huh? Nikolaj Ehlers was not happy with this trip/slew-foot/whatever you’d like to call it.

Slew-footing vs. tripping has bubbled up as a topic of debate lately. In Brad Marchand‘s case, he received a suspension for slew-footing Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The league emphasized a couple of things while explaining Marchand’s suspension. One was the speed both players were traveling at. The other is a key distinction (for the NHL) between slew-footing vs. tripping. They believed that Marchand’s use of both his upper and lower-body made the difference.

Meanwhile, P.K. Subban’s skated by with fines instead of suspensions based on that slew-footing/tripping distinction. Will there be any fine or suspension for Subban’s trip (or was it a slew-foot?) on Ehlers? At some point, you wonder if the league might want to more broadly crack down on dangerous trips, even ones that don’t technically qualify as slew-footing. Either way, it’s been dangerous to engage with Subban lately.

Saturday’s big story

Wild vs. Maple Leafs: a showdown of two red-hot teams ranking high in standings

Neither the Wild nor the Maple Leafs have enjoyed much playoff success in quite some time. Judging by their rabid fans, if you’re in Toronto or Minnesota with any regularity, you’ve probably heard all about it.

While the Maple Leafs’ angst has been more operatic, the Wild also might have a “believe it when we see it” feel to most levels of success.

So, maybe these two teams will brush of hype, but Maple Leafs – Wild is hype-worthy on Saturday. Both teams are riding five-game winning streaks. Each team has been hot beyond that (in their last 10 games, the Maple Leafs are 9-1-0, while the Wild are 7-2-1).

In the cases of both the Maple Leafs and Wild, there are some elements of “what goes up, most come down.” Toronto could teeter if Jack Campbell stops performing as the world’s cheapest Vezina Trophy candidate. Minnesota probably can’t keep scoring at this pace.

Yet, from a big-picture standpoint, the Maple Leafs and Wild look legit. Delightfully, these are two teams who are red-hot, but could also keep delivering. It should be a treat to see them duke it out.

Friday’s NHL scores

Golden Knights 7, Coyotes 1
Jets 8, Devils 4
Kraken 4, Oilers 3
Rangers 1, Sharks 0
Flames 4, Ducks 3 (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.

Mitch Marner extends Maple Leafs-record points streak to 21 games

Mitch Marner
USA Today
0 Comments

TORONTO — Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record points streak to 21 games with a second-period goal and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-0 on Thursday night.

Marner gave Toronto a 4-0 lead with his 11th goal of the season, scoring on a slap shot after a Los Angeles turnover inside its blue line.

Marner became the 10th player in the past 35 years to string together a streak of 21 or more games. He has 10 goals and 16 assists during the run.

Auston Matthews, Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander also scored for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout with the Maple Leafs and the seventh of his career.

Toronto has won seven of eight to improve to 17-5-6.

Los Angeles dropped to 14-11-4 with its seventh loss in 10 games. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 36 saves.

Penguins’ Kris Letang returns to practice 10 days after stroke

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to practice with his teammates just 10 days after suffering the second stroke of his career.

The 35-year-old Letang remains out indefinitely, with the club describing him as “day to day.”

Letang said he felt “pretty good” after being greeted by stick taps from his teammates when he skated onto the ice at the team’s practice facility. Still, the married father of two called the experience “scary,” particularly for his family.

“My kids, they don’t care if I’m a hockey player or not,” he said. “They care about having a dad. Same with my wife. She could care less about hockey. She knows there’s so much more. After hockey, there’s a long time and you want to be able to enjoy those moments with your family, with your kids.”

Letang missed more than two months in 2014 after his first stroke, which was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. The condition also led to the second stroke, which Letang suffered on Nov. 28 after dealing with a series of debilitating headaches.

This time, the symptoms have resolved themselves much more quickly, according to team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, who described this stroke as “smaller” than the one Letang endured in 2014.

Letang began skating on his own just two days after the diagnosis and was cleared to return to practice on Thursday though both Letang and Vyas stressed they are in no rush for him to play in games.

“We don’t think this is accelerated in any way,” Vyas said. “We are taking all the right precautions to make sure that it is safe to go out and play and when that time comes we’ll let him go back to playing his sport.”

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said it was a “relief” to see Letang back at work.

“It’s a great visual that he’s making progress,” Sullivan said. “Our medical team that has monitored him extremely closely feels comfortable with some of the progress that he’s making and the steps he’s taken. Everyone was excited for him to join the group.”

Letang signed a six-year contract extension over the summer that will carry him into his 40s if he decides to play that long. Vyas said the data around strokes is “evolving” though it is unclear if Letang is now more susceptible to having additional strokes now that he’s had a second one.

The six-time All-Star is cautious but optimistic.

“We’ve been through this,” Letang said. “Me and Dharmesh have a clear understanding that we’re going to take all the time we need and make sure the research is possible and it’s no danger for me to keep going.”

The Penguins are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games and have won three straight heading into a home-and-home series with the Sabres. They’re also eager to have Letang’s familiar No. 58 back in the lineup, but only when he’s ready.

“He’s been here for a long time and his experience and everything that he brings on and off the ice, the way he competes (is important),” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “But I think in the (locker) room, (he has) poise and (he’s) somebody who’s been around a long time and whose experience you feel when he’s around.”

Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

buffalo sabres
Russell LaBounty/USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

“It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

“That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

“We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.

STREAKING

Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.

UP NEXT

Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

washington capitals
Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.

UP NEXT

Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.