NHL Rink Wrap: Canucks, Predators extend winning streaks

NHL Rink Wrap: Predators extend winning streak, end Avs' run
John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Maybe the key to getting more out of Jonathan Quick as a veteran starter was to threaten his status as a No. 1 goalie? Understandably, the Kings are working toward making Cal Petersen their top guy, especially of the future. (Also, the plan was, kind of the present, too.)

So far, Jonathan Quick is playing some of his best goalie in response. Quick stopped 41 shots on Thursday, narrowly beating Semyon Varlamov (40 saves, both allowed one goal) for NHL goalie of the night.

While Quick’s 8-5-4 record is modest (and likely obscures his strong play), the Kings goalie improved his save percentage to .935 for this season.

That’s quite the contrast from last season, when he languished with an abysmal .898 save percentage. During the previous three seasons, Quick was performing more like a backup. This .935 save percentage would mark a career-high, which is saying something when you recall his peak years. At minimum, this represents his best work since 2017-18, when Jonathan Quick went 33-28-3 with a .921 save percentage.

It makes you wonder. If a team called hoping to trade for Jonathan Quick, what kind of offers would they dangle? What would be an enticing trade package for Jonathan Quick, from the Kings’ perspective? Something to think about in the likely event that Los Angeles slips out of reasonable playoff position.

J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks

What a difference a coaching change makes? The Canucks won their sixth straight game under Bruce Boudreau with a 5-2 win over the Sharks. Miller was one of the stars of the win with a goal and two assists.

Since replacing Travis Green with Boudreau, the Vancouver offense has surged. The Canucks are averaging 3.17 goals per game with a power play clicking at 31.3% and 32.2 shots per game. Miller (9 points), Brock Boeser (7), Bo Horvat (6), and Quinn Hughes (6) have led the way. Thatcher Demko has helped between the pipes with a .959 save percentage.

Highlights from NHL games on Thursday

Dustin Brown became an effective player by will as much as anything else. Sometimes, that translates to more boring things. In his case, that can mean annoying moments, like drawing penalties. But that desire can show up in pretty plays, as this goal might make you say “Wow, Dustin Brown, I didn’t know you still had that in you.”

Really nice way for Jack Drury to score his first NHL goal. Nice setup from Jesperi Kotkaniemi, too.

That wasn’t the only first NHL goal (with a slick setup) from Thursday. Jonathan Huberdeau set up Max Kiersted for his first NHL goal, which he completed thanks to some bold backhand work.

Thomas Chabot scored the sort of goal that makes it easier to understand why he’s making $8M per year.

Steven Stamkos reached 900 career points in the Tampa win:

NHL takeaways from Thursday

COVID looms over NHL games on Thursday, and probably warrants a caveat

In upcoming sections, we’ll note the end or continuation of streaks good and bad. Sometimes, in discussing losing streaks in particular, there might be a vibe of condemnation.

That really shouldn’t be the feeling. But that impression is understandable enough.

Let’s throw an extra caveat blanket over this one, though. Truly, COVID has disrupted the NHL season again, in a way more extreme than we’ve seen so far during the 2021-22 season. Read about the latest NHL COVID updates from Thursday, including the Canadiens hosting the Flyers without fans in attendance, in this post.

[That disruption extends into worries about COVID quarantines during the Olympics]

Honestly, in most cases, athletes have other things going on in their lives that might make it more difficult to perform. Sometimes they’re dealing with a more typical flu, or a nagging injury. Perhaps there are off-the-ice concerns.

Yet, even considering those standards, this is a time when it can’t be easy to excel. Some teams are playing without key players. A few are depleted of stars and supporting cast members. The results still count in the standings, though, so we must at least note what happens.

Just be that much more cautious about using anything that happens to paint a player or team with a cruel brush.

Predators end Avalanche’s five-game winning streak, push own run to six straight wins

Heading into Thursday, the Predators and Avalanche ranked among the hottest teams in the NHL, riding matching five-game winning streaks.

As cool as it was to see two hot teams square off, it’s caveat time.

Uncomfortably, the Avalanche saw their winning streak end against the Predators while they were short-staffed. The Avs rolled out 11 forwards, five defensemen, and one NHL-ready goalie. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh reports that the Avalanche decided to play Thursday’s game against the Predators after a team vote.

Now, the Predators didn’t have it easy, either. They had zero NHL coaches on their bench, and plenty of players in COVID protocol. Under these circumstances, it wouldn’t have been shocking if Avalanche – Predators got postponed.

Instead, they forged on. Filip Forsberg (2G, 1A), Tanner Jeannot (1G, 1A) and Juuse Saros (24 saves) helped the Predators push their winning streak to six games with that victory.

Check out PHT’s early picks for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game

The current NHL All-Star Game format just demands snubs. You’ll notice that in PHT’s staff picks for the 2022 NHL All-Star Games. You’ll also notice it if you try to make picks and actually follow the rules (picking All-Star Coyotes and Canadiens — not so easy this season).

Friday’s big story

Golden Knights face Gallant, Rangers at MSG

OK, you could argue that the Golden Knights make so many big changes so often, that maybe Gerard Gallant feels like this is only sort of the team he coached not that long ago. Especially if the roster is affected by a mixture of injuries and COVID absences.

Still, Gallant gets to coach his Rangers against the Golden Knights, hoping that he can achieve even bigger things in New York than he did with Vegas.

While the Golden Knights have been up-and-down this season, they’re heating up. Vegas has won three in a row, and six of their last seven contests. With the Rangers also looking sharp lately (7-3-0 in their last 10 games), this should be a good test for both teams. Maybe Ryan Reaves will fight a former teammate or two?

Thursday’s NHL scores

Canadiens 3, Flyers 2 (SO)
Lightning 2, Senators 1
Kings 4, Panthers 1
Golden Knights 5, Devils 3
Hurricanes 5, Red Wings 3
Islanders 3, Bruins 1
Predators 5, Avalanche 2
Sabres 3, Wild 2 (SO)
Oilers 5, Blue Jackets 2
Canucks 5, Sharks 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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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.