NHL Rink Wrap: Big Canucks changes; Islanders, Flyers can’t end streaks

NHL Rink Wrap: Big Canucks changes; Islanders, Flyers can't end streaks
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Top player from Sunday in the NHL

Brian Elliott, Lightning

How cruel is it that the Flyers suffered one of their lowest moments during an eight-game losing streak against former goalie Brian Elliott?

Now, you can only sugarcoat a 7-1 loss so much. Especially when you’re desperate like the Flyers increasingly look. But Brian Elliott had to work for his spiteful loss of his former cronies. The aging backup made 38 saves to make a rough loss look even worse for Philly.

Highlights from NHL games on Sunday

In the Kings’ dominant win over the Oilers, Connor McDavid was ejected for his hit on Adrian Kempe. Could McDavid face a suspension?

The Jets and Maple Leafs combined for 52 penalty minutes in a nasty game.

On the lighter side of that Maple Leafs – Jets game, Blake Wheeler enjoyed a nice moment and milestone.

Sometimes, Marc-Andre Fleury can be an adventure. Sometimes, that’s in a good way, though.

Sunday’s NHL takeaways

Canucks fire Benning and Green, hire Boudreau

Phew, what a weekend for the Vancouver Canucks.

Late on Sunday, the Canucks made huge NHL news official. Bruce Boudreau replaced Travis Green as Canucks head coach. Similarly, it’s clear that the Canucks also fired GM Jim Benning. Follow those links for more on each facet of big structural changes for the Canucks.

Islanders still can’t win, losing streak extends to 11 games

Maybe the Isles should’ve tried a little harder to score in 3-on-3 overtime? Instead, Islanders – Blackhawks went to a shootout, and the Isles’ losing streak grew to 11 games. Here’s an updated recap of the Islanders’ losing streak:


Nov. 7: 5-2 to loss to the Wild in Minnesota. Closed off a back-to-back set (they beat the Jets on the road in the previous game).

Nov. 11: 4-0 loss at the Devils.

Nov. 15: A brutal Florida back-to-back set begins with a 4-1 loss in Tampa Bay.

Nov. 16: The Panthers are even less gracious as hosts, beating the Isles 6-1.

Nov. 20: Yay, the Islanders end their 13-game road trip. Less yay: the Islanders continue their losing streak, and don’t exactly open their new home arena very smoothly. First, they lost 5-2 to the Flames.

Nov. 21: A day later, the Maple Leafs beat them 3-0. Many John Tavares jokes were made; none were very nice.

Nov. 24: The hated Rangers did much like the hated Devils, beating the Isles 4-1.

Nov. 26: A 1-0 loss to the Penguins, continuing a fruitless homestand.

[The misery of the losing streak includes some COVID postponements.]

Dec. 2 (Thursday): Another home loss, but the Islanders gain their first point of this losing streak (plus their first point in their new home arena). That Karlsson OT goal pushed the Islanders’ streak to nine games.

Dec. 4 (Saturday): The Islanders factored into Saturday’s OT/shootout barrage of NHL games. So, they got a point again, but they lost. At least the Islanders scored some goals.

Dec. 5 (Sunday): Notice a pattern within a theme (wrapped in an enigma, maybe)? The Islanders earned a standings point for a third straight game, but lost to the Blackhawks, extending their losing streak to 11 games.


Oof.

Now, this isn’t the worst losing streak in Islanders’ history, let alone NHL history. The league record is 17 games, shared by two teams. At 12 games, two Islanders teams (1972-73 and 1988-89) have suffered longer losing streaks.

On paper, Tuesday’s game against the Senators in Ottawa provides the Islanders with a Grade-A chance to end their losing streak. If not, they’ll try to avoid dubious franchise history with a 13-game losing streak by beating the Predators at home on Thursday.

Not far behind, the Flyers see their losing streak extend to eight games in ugly loss

As angsty as it looked in Philly before, things got even worse during Sunday’s NHL games. Where the Islanders suffered a narrow loss, the Lightning beat the Flyers 7-1 to extend Philly’s losing streak to eight discouraging games.

To be fair to the Flyers, their eight-game losing streak is littered with tough matchups, including three losses to the Lightning. Let’s give the Flyers eight-game losing streak that treatment, too.


Nov. 18: Flyers’ losing streak begins with 4-3 shootout loss at home to the Lightning.

Nov. 20: After that, they dropped a 5-2 loss at home against the Bruins. Memories of Carter Hart‘s strong start begin to fade.

Nov. 23: Uh oh, those Bolts again. In that case, it was a 4-0 loss to the Lightning in Tampa Bay.

Nov. 24: A back-to-back set in Florida isn’t an easy task. After falling to the Lightning, the Flyers saw their losing streak extend in a 2-1 OT loss to the Panthers.

Nov. 26: Another tough one against a challenging opponent. They dropped a 6-3 loss at home vs. the Hurricanes.

Nov. 28: Never feels great to lose by a nearby rival. That happened in the Flyers’ 5-2 loss to Devils in New Jersey.

Dec. 1: The Flyers dropped a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Dec. 5 (Sunday): big loss at home vs. Lightning.


With a Monday game against the deadly Avalanche, the Flyers will need to work hard to end their losing streak at eight games. With the Canucks and Canadiens making prominent coaching and/or GM changes lately, it’s fair to wonder if every key Flyers front office member will remain employed through this discouraging losing streak.

No Lehner at the Olympics

After the Golden Knights’ narrow win over the Flames, Robin Lehner announced that he won’t play for Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Monday’s big story

Edler returns to Vancouver while Canucks are in disarray

It was always going to be a heavy, emotional return for Alexander Edler (now of the Kings) when he faced his former team, the Canucks, in Vancouver.

Edler played 15 largely underrated seasons for the Canucks, appearing in 925 regular-season contests and 82 playoff games. So far, Edler’s played 22 games for Los Angeles.

But, for Edler to return in the first game after the Canucks reportedly fired Travis Green and Jim Benning? Kind of wild. It’s unclear if Bruce Boudreau will be able to slide behind the Canucks’ bench as soon as Monday, but either way, it’s a turning point for a franchise so familiar to Edler.

Sunday’s NHL scores

Lightning 7, Flyers 1
Blue Jackets 6, Sharks 4
Blackhawks 3, Islanders 2 (SO)
Jets 6, Maple Leafs 3
Kings 5, Oilers 1
Golden Knights 3, Flames 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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    Mitch Marner extends Maple Leafs-record points streak to 21 games

    Mitch Marner
    USA Today
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    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
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    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

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    Russell LaBounty/USA TODAY Sports
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    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

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    Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports
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    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.