NHL Rink Wrap: Flyers, Yandle tie very different record streaks; Kreider first to 30

NHL Rink Wrap: Flyers, Yandle tie very different record streaks; Kreider first to 30
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Top players from Monday in the NHL

Matthew Tkachuk, Flames

With the Flames teetering a bit lately (4-6-0 in their last 10, even after this win), it was hard to see this 7-1 shellacking of St. Louis coming.

Then again, maybe Matthew Tkachuk takes it to a higher level against the team his dad starred for? Whatever the explanation might be, Tkachuk was transcendent in this one, collecting five assists.

Thanks to those five assists, Tkachuk now sits comfortably above a point-per-game this season (42 points in 37 games). He’s already scored more goals this season (18) than he did in 2020-21 (16), and Tkachuk finished with 43 points in 56 games last year.

There’s a very real chance that Matthew Tkachuk might set a new career-high, though it’s not a guarantee, being that he generated 77 points in 2018-19. (His second-highest total is 61, while he finished 49 points or below in three other campaigns. Or four, if you include this one.)

About the only bit of bad news for the Flames is that Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau (48 points in 37 games) are tearing it up during contract years.

Robin Lehner, Golden Knights

Here’s something that snuck up on me a bit: Robin Lehner’s really just having a so-so season so far. With their good-enough record and other stats you’d expect, it might slip under the radar that Lehner might grade out close to “meh.”

After posting a .913 save percentage while Marc-Andre Fleury won the Vezina last season, Lehner came into the NHL action on Monday with .903 save percentage, barely ahead of backup Laurent Brossoit (.900).

By pitching a 34-save shutout, Lehner is now at a .907 save percentage with a 17-11-1 record. Hmm.

While this Hockey Viz chart likely predates Lehner shutting out the Capitals, it highlights that he’s allowed more goals than expected so far this season:

NHL Rink Wrap: Flyers, Yandle tie very different streaks; Kreider first to 30 goals Lehner shutout
via Hockey Viz

Lehner’s larger body of work (.917 career save percentage) inspires confidence that he’ll figure it out.

Or … maybe this Golden Knights team plus Jack Eichel would be able to take care of business even if Lehner struggles? Either way, the Golden Knights definitely leaned on Lehner to shut out the Capitals (Vegas only managed a single goal).

NHL highlights from Monday

While Chris Kreider reached the 30-goal mark, Adam Fox made the ultimate difference for a Rangers shutout win:

Connor Dewar really put some scotch on the puck for his first NHL goal:

A fantastic bit of deception by Troy Terry for his 23rd goal of the season, which also stands as his sixth GWG.

Monday NHL Takeaways

Canucks hire first woman assistant GM in franchise history, second in NHL in Émilie Castonguay

With racist incidents being disturbingly abundant in hockey lately, the sport’s culture still clearly has a long, long way to go before hockey can feel truly inclusive. Some promising hirings don’t erase that feeling.

That said, kudos to the Vancouver Canucks for opening some doors lately — even if it’s a bit embarrassing that those doors were shut for so long.

On Monday, the Canucks announced the addition of Émilie Castonguay as their first woman assistant GM in franchise history, and just the second in NHL history. Castonguay also continues a small trend of former player agents taking on prominent NHL front office roles.

If you want a tearjerker of a moment, consider this story Castonguay shared:

Last week, the Canucks received rave reviews for adding Rachel Doerie to their staff.

The Athletic’s Thomas Drance also noted that “there are additional women in consideration for front office jobs.”

Again, the NHL specifically and sport in general must improve to truly live up to the “hockey is for everyone” mantra. These are steps in the right direction, rather than dramatic leaps. Yet the Canucks made some heartening decisions, and maybe even admitted that they need a breath of fresh air after years of being run solely by some of the fabled “200 Hockey Men.”

Flyers tie franchise record with 12-game losing streak; Yandle ties Jarvis for NHL record ‘ironman’ streak

If you were hoping that a Flyer/the Flyers tied a streak during the NHL games on Monday, you might have wished you were more specific.

  • On the bright side, Keith Yandle played in his 964th consecutive game, tying Doug Jarvis for the NHL’s all-time record for an “ironman” streak. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall notes that Yandle last missed a game in March 2009, when his defense partner Cam York was eight years old. (Makes an old man noise in protest of this factoid.)

“I remember Ray Whitney said to me when I was young, as long as there’s an NHL symbol on your jersey, that means you’re having a good day,” Yandle said on Sunday, via NHL.com. “So I haven’t taken that for granted, that we play in the best league in the world with the best guys. It’s truly a blessing to put on an NHL uniform every day.”

  • On the deeply grim side, the Flyers saw their losing streak swell to 12 losses in a row, tying a dubious franchise record. The Flyers scored just under two goals per game (23) while allowing 46 during that 12-game losing streak.
  • It won’t be a long turnaround to see if those two records get broken. Keith Yandle can stand alone with the NHL “ironman” streak record at 965 if he plays against the Islanders on Tuesday, while the Flyers aim to avoid breaking that tie for the franchise record with a 13th loss in a row. The Islanders are already responsible for two of the Flyers’ 12 losses during this streak.

Chris Kreider beats Ovechkin, rest of the NHL to 30 goals this season

This isn’t just the first time Rangers winger Chris Kreider reached 30 goals during his NHL career. Kreider’s also the first player in the NHL to reach 30 goals during the 2021-22 season.

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals couldn’t score a goal against the Golden Knights on Monday, so Ovechkin sits in second place at 29 goals, one behind Kreider’s NHL-leading 30. Leon Draisaitl sits at 28 after helping the Oilers end their losing streak, while Auston Matthews ranks fourth with 25 goals.

As of this writing, 14 players have reached the 20+ goal mark so far this season.

Kreider turned 30 on April 30, so he’s in rare company among players who didn’t score 30+ goals until they turned 30 or older. Though rare, it’s pretty good company to keep, including a slight surprise in Claude Giroux:

Tuesday’s big story (beyond Yandle and Flyers streaks)

Golden Knights – Hurricanes in a battle of teams with big ambitions

While the Golden Knights hold a reasonably firm grip on the Pacific Division’s top spot, you could argue that they haven’t been as impressive as they likely hoped coming into the season. With a .619 points percentage, the Golden Knights lag a bit behind the cream of the Central Division crop. (To say nothing of the beasts of the East.)

On the other hand, the Hurricanes have been even better than most expected. Instead of causing slippage, changes in net and replacing Dougie Hamilton (essentially) with Tony DeAngelo and Ethan Bear has been a smash success. Most nights, Carolina looks like the relentless force Vegas pictured itself to be.

The Hurricanes also will be the more rested of the two teams on Tuesday, as the Golden Knights scrapped their way to that shutout over the Capitals on Monday. Will the Golden Knights churn out a tough win under difficult circumstances, or will the Hurricanes flex their muscles?

NHL scores from Monday

Ducks 5, Bruins 3
Rangers 3, Kings 2 (SO)
Stars 3, Flyers 1
Golden Knights 1, Capitals 0
Wild 8, Canadiens 2
Avalanche 2, Blackhawks 0
Flames 7, Blues 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.

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    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

    Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

    Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

    Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

    L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

    Kris Letang Penguins
    Getty Images

    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

    For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

    The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

    “I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

    The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

    Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    “He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

    Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

    “I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

    Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

    “First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

    Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

    The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

    “The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

    Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

    “It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

    Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

    Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

    Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

    “It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

    Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

    Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

    “Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

    “I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

    Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

    Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

    “On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

    The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

    “It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

    It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

    “(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

    Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

    “It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

    NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.


    Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

    Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.

    Deal for Coyotes’ proposed arena approved by Tempe council

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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    TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe City Council has unanimously approved a proposal for a new Arizona Coyotes arena and entertainment district, clearing the way for a public vote on the project next year.

    The City Council approved the proposal 7-0 after a lengthy meeting that included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

    The $2.1 billion project would include a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Approval of the project was the final step before it goes to referendum on May 16.

    The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

    The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.