NHL Rink Wrap: Eichel scores first Vegas goal; Oilers winning streak over

NHL Scores
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Top player in the NHL on Sunday

Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights acquired Jack Eichel with the hopes that he will be a game-changer in their lineup, adding to their already star-laden roster. On Sunday, he made a big impact on their 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks scoring his first goal with the team and also adding an assist. Eichel already has three points for the Golden Knights after making his debut less than a week ago. They are in a tough fight for the top spot in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division with the Calgary Flames. Assuming the Golden Knights can get fully healthy for the playoffs (meaning the return of starting goalie Robin Lehner and a healthy Mark Stone) they should still be one of the top contenders in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup.

Highlights from around the NHL on Sunday

Have a look at Eichel’s first goal with the Golden Knights.

The Carolina Hurricanes won a first place showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon, 4-3, thanks to a couple of quick goals. They scored nine seconds into the second period to take a 2-0 lead, and then also scored nine seconds into the third period to take a 3-2 lead after the Penguins had rallied to tie the game late in the second period. That early third period goal was this Jesper Fast goal scored off the rush.

The Minnesota Wild were 7-3 winners in Edmonton on Sunday night against the Oilers, and Kevin Fiala played a big role with two goals and an assist. This goal to give the Wild a 3-0 lead just seven minutes into the game was a very slick move to beat Oiler goalie Mike Smith on an odd-man rush.

Also on Sunday check out how close New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin came to scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Sunday

Oilers lose first game under Woodcroft

The Edmonton Oilers were on quite a roll after replacing Dave Tippett with Jay Woodcroft behind the team’s bench, winning five games in a row heading into Sunday’s home game against the Minnesota Wild. That winning streak came to an emphatic end against the Wild in a 7-3 decision that was never really close. Oilers goalie Mike Smith had a particularly tough game and was benched after allowing three goals on the first seven shots he faced. Things are about to get really tough for the Oilers as they started a road trip this week that will start with games in Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Florida, three of the NHL’s best teams.

Patrik Laine keeps rolling

The Columbus Blue Jackets have won seven of their past nine games and playing their best hockey of the season. Leading the way has been Patrik Laine who has been on a roll and he continued it on Sunday with another two-point game, recording two assists in a 7-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Laine has 18 points in those nine games (averaging two points per game), scoring 10 goals to go with eight assists. He has seven multi-point games over that stretch. He is definitely playing himself to a significant payroll this summer.

Stars struggle against Arizona

The Dallas Stars are a difficult team to get a grasp on. When it looks like their season is slipping away, they go on a roll to climb back into the playoff race. When it looks like they are back on track, they lose a game they should win and then go on a losing streak. They entered Sunday’s game in Arizona having won 9 of their past 12 game (9-3-0) to climb back into playoff contention in the Western Conference. Playing a Coyotes team that is among the league’s worst seemed like a great chance to continue that recent surge and climb in the standings. Then they lost a 3-1 decision on Sunday. Can not lose games like that when you are competing for a playoff spot on the playoff bubble.

Monday’s big story

The most exciting game on the Monday schedule is in the afternoon when the Boston Bruins host the Colorado Avalanche. Boston has struggled since Brad Marchand’s six-game suspension while the Avalanche remain one of the league’s best teams with the best record. Also on Monday the Montreal Canadiens go for their first three game winning streak of the season when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sunday is the first time they have won back-to-back games all season (read about that here).

Sunday’s NHL Scores

Carolina Hurricanes 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3
Montreal Canadiens 3, New York Islanders 2 (SO)
Florida Panthers 5, Chicago Blackhawks 2
New York Rangers 2, Ottawa Senators 1
Columbus Blue Jackets 7, Buffalo Sabres 3
Arizona Coyotes 3, Dallas Stars 1
Vegas Golden Knights 4, San Jose Sharks 1
Minnesota Wild 7, Edmonton Oilers 3

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    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

    Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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    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
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    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
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    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.

    UP NEXT

    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.