NHL Rink Wrap: Flames with dominant 62-shot game; Avalanche win again at home

NHL Scores
Michael Martin, Getty Images

Top players in the NHL on Wednesday

Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche just keep on winning at home. They extended their home winning streak to 17 consecutive games on Wednesday night with a 4-3 overtime win against the Boston Bruins. The Avalanche were less than 40 seconds away from seeing that home winning streak end until Gabriel Landeskog tied the game with 38 seconds to play in regulation to send the game to overtime. In overtime it was Cale Makar scoring the game winning goal in overtime for his 17th goal of the season, by far tops among all other defenseman. The Avalanche overcame a 3-1 third period deficit with less than 10 minutes to play to get the win. Makar had a goal and an assist in that rally for the win.

Highlights from around the NHL on Wednesday

Dylan Strome‘s second goal of the game for the Chicago Blackhawks was an absolute rocket of a shot off of a slick spinning pass from Patrick Kane.

San Jose Sharks forward Nicolas Meloche scores his first NHL goal against the Washington Capitals.

Elias Lindholm gets the goal here for the Calgary Flames but Johnny Gaudreau makes this play happen with an incredible end-to-end rush.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Wednesday

Flames put on a clinic against Columbus

It might be difficult to find a more one-sided game in the NHL this season than the one in Columbus on Wednesday night. Not only did the Calgary Flames beat the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 6-0 margin, they also outshot them be a 62-23 margin. Domination does not even begin to do this performance justice on the part of the Flames. Calgary reached the 50-shot on goal mark with still more than 12 minutes to play in regulation. After a little bit of a slump the Flames have now won three out of four games in very impressive fashion. This is the first time in nearly 30 years that a team recorded 60 shots on goal in a regular season game.

Blackhawks offer update on general manager search

While the Vancouver Canucks introduced their new general manager (Patrik Allvin) on Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks offered an update on their search. The Blackhawks said in a letter to fans that following a six-week discovery and research process they are ready to begin interviewing potential candidates. The key piece of information from the Blackhawks is that the new general manager will be the highest ranking hockey executive in the organization, indicating they will not be hiring a director of hockey operations. The new general manager will report directly to chief executive officer Danny Wirtz.

Capitals slump continues

After a great start to the regular season the Washington Capitals are now stuck in quite a slump. It is also starting to extend beyond just a slump. With Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks they are now just 9-9-4 in their past 22 games, while their offense and power play has been off for weeks. They have gone from one of the top spots in the NHL to the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference in a very short period of time. The good news? This is the first time this season they have lost back-to-back games in regulation. The bad news? They still have lost a lot of games recently.

Thursday’s big story

The best matchup of the day on Thursday is in Florida between a couple of Stanley Cup contenders when the Panthers play host to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Panthers have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the past month (and one of the best teams in the league all season) while Vegas is trying snap out of a little slump that has seen it lose six of its past nine games. The New York Islanders will also be trying to continue their recent strong play in an effort to climb back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

Wednesday’s NHL Scores

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Anaheim Ducks 3 (SO)
San Jose Sharks 4, Washington Capitals 1
Calgary Flames 6, Columbus Blue Jackets 0
Chicago Blackhawks 8, Detroit Red Wings 5
Colorado Avalanche 4, Boston Bruins 3 (OT)

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    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.