NHL Rink Wrap: Predators rally past Panthers; Chabot shines

NHL Rink Wrap: Predators rally past Panthers; Chabot shines
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Tuesday’s top NHL players

Thomas Chabot, Senators

Here’s a take before the Tuesday NHL Takeaways section: the Senators often aren’t getting their money’s worth with costly players.

Most obviously, they’re dropping almost $11 million on the dubious duo of Matt Murray and Nikita Zaitsev. While I have plenty of time for Brady Tkachuk and his antics, it sure feels like he’ll need time to “grow into” his $8.33+ million cap hit.

When it comes to Thomas Chabot, the value proposition is a little fuzzier.

At times, the 25-year-old’s $8M cap hit feels a touch steep. But there are enough times where he seems worth it — maybe even a slight bargain — that the Senators don’t need to lose much sleep about his contract. (Especially since lesser defensemen are making even more after a wild offseason gold rush.)

In his 300th NHL game, Thomas Chabot nabbed player of the night honors for Tuesday with two goals and an assist. His second tally ended up being the game-winner.

Even with that three-point bump, Chabot’s pace (now 27 points in 46 games) would only translate to about 48 points over an 82-game season. Not terrible, but not a slam dunk for that $8M price tag, either. Yet he seems like the sort of net positive the Senators sorely need. Take, for instance, his RAPM chart from Evolving Hockey, which speaks to a mix of strong offense and defense that doesn’t take too much away from the table.

NHL Rink Wrap: Predators rally past Panthers; Chabot shines Evolving Hockey
via Evolving Hockey

If Chabot can improve a bit more in his end, then Ottawa may end up grinning about that $8M. As it stands, it’s at least not looking overly offensive.

Tuesday NHL highlights

Patrik Laine stayed red-hot, scoring the overtime game-winner for the Blue Jackets over the Maple Leafs:

But Mitch Marner‘s been on a tear lately, too, and this assist is something else.

This Adam Boqvist goal was nice, too, unless you’re a Leafs fan.

Soak in the many twists and turns from the Predators’ comeback win against the Panthers. For more on that Panthers – Predators game, check the Tuesday NHL Takeaways.

As mentioned before, Thomas Chabot factored heavily into the Senators upsetting the Wild. His second goal of the game ended up being the game-winner:

There’s something symbolic about this phantom puck battle between the Canucks and Kraken, right?

Tuesday NHL Takeaways

Predators end losing streak, never give up vs. Panthers

If a comeback win over the powerful Panthers ends up being a summary of this season for the Predators, then it would read “Nashville won’t quit.”

There were forces tugging and pulling them in the direction of giving up, too. For one, the Predators took a four-game losing streak into this road game against the Panthers. More immediately, the Panthers built leads of 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3. A lesser team might have buckled, possibly after what looked like a big goal was nullified by a video review. During the second period alone, the Panthers fired 20 shots on goal.

Despite plenty of signs pointing toward a Panthers win, the Predators kept rally. During the second period, they quickly turned a 3-1 deficit into a 3-3 tie. After Sam Bennett gave the Panthers a 4-3 lead, the Predators responded with a shorthanded goal less than two minutes later.

[See where Predators, Panthers stand in PHT’s latest Power Rankings]

Ultimately, special teams stood as a big difference-maker. That shorthanded goal was huge, and then Mikael Granlund scored the eventual game-winner on the power play. The Predators could only really breathe easy once Tanner Jeannot scored his second goal of the night with an empty-netter.

When we look back at this contest, it might seem like a blip on the radar. The Predators still have a lot of work to do, while the Panthers are mainly trying to maintain their hold over the Atlantic Division title. Still, it at least feels like another lesson not to count out a Preds team that came into this season with very low expectations.

Extensions instead of NHL trade deadline deals?

During a Tuesday edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun noted that new Ducks GM Pat Verbeek reached out to Hampus Lindholm‘s reps about a possible contract extension, potentially removing him as an NHL trade deadline target. That would potentially take the “No. 1” NHL trade deadline target off of the market.

In a separate piece at The Athletic (sub required), LeBrun caught up with Stars GM Jim Nill. Nill told LeBrun that it’s his “hope” to sign Joe Pavelski to a contract extension.

Crucially, the Ducks may merely be practicing due diligence with Lindholm, and the Stars might just be keeping their options open with Pavelski. It’s always wiser to take these comments with a grain of salt.

[At least PHT’s Adam Gretz is also baffled at times by the Stars]

However, it must be said that both paths could be paved with regrets. Lindholm isn’t ancient at 28, but his overall value has waned to the point that he may struggle to live up to his current $5.2M value, let alone a raise to top defenseman money. Pavelski remains shockingly effective for the Stars, but his age (37) can’t be ignored by a Stars team that’s squandered what could be his final years of peak performance.

Giving up players like Lindholm and Pavelski can be unpleasant. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, though. Look at the Stars’ history, in particular, and you’ll see a team that balked at dealing players at trade deadlines, missed the playoffs, and saw those assets leave for nothing. It happened way back with Brad Richards, and more recently with Jamie Oleksiak.

Maybe it will be worth it for the Ducks to keep Lindholm, and perhaps the Stars might ink Pavelski to a team-friendly contract extension. There are warning signs that those teams may end up doing something that hinders them in the future, though.

Wednesday’s big story

Lightning serve up an interesting test for the improving Oilers

After rattling off five straight wins to begin the Jay Woodcroft era, the Oilers suffered a sobering 7-3 defeat to the Wild. Although the end of a winning streak isn’t the end of the world, the Oilers may ask themselves if the toilet seat is going in the wrong direction again.

Because, for the most part, their schedule is shifting from winnable games to a tough trek. With Wednesday’s game against the Lightning, the Oilers set out on a five-game road trip. The first three games of that stretch could be trying for the Oilers: first the Lightning, then a back-to-back set against the Hurricanes and Panthers.

Could Edmonton follow a five-game winning streak with a four-game skid? It would almost be understandable.

At some point, the Oilers need to show that they can hang with the best of the best, and the Lightning remain among the elite. We’ll see if Woodcroft and the Oilers ace a tough test after what may have merely been a friendly warm-up.

Tuesday NHL scores

Blues 4, Flyers 1
Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Predators 6, Panthers 4
Senators 4, Wild 3
Islanders 5, Kraken 2
Ducks Sharks

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
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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.