10-7 Maple Leafs – Red Wings game upstages 2022 Stadium Series

At the 2022 Stadium Series, the Predators hosted the Lightning with country music stars, jerseys that looked better on TV, a surprising helping of hatred, and some good action. There was even some unintentional comedy. Yet the hockey world had little choice but to shift its attention to an absolutely wild game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.

Let’s take a look at both spectacles, which overlapped at times on Saturday.

Predators Lightning 2022 Stadium Series

One of the most memorable moments of the 2022 Stadium Series happened before the Red Wings and Predators got going.

Not long after the Predators retired his number 35, Pekka Rinne joined some Titans players (including … a punter?) to get the action going. At one point, Rinne threw a catfish, and hilarity ensued.

Why it’s always important to have multiple camera angles:

Perhaps sensing Corey Perry‘s presence in a Predators-related outdoor game, the 2022 Stadium Series began with a controversial hit. Ryan Johansen saw a major turn into a minor penalty for an iffy hit on Erik Cernak:

If this was a typical game, would Ryan Johansen have received a major or minor penalty? Cernak returned to the contest, but eventually left during the second period, and did not return.

For a portion of that game, bitter feelings carried over. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare dropped the gloves with Johansen following that hit on Cernak:

Through the first period, rising Predators rookie Tanner Jeannot scored the only goal. That tally happened on a power play, but Tampa Bay’s special teams eventually shifted the balance.

Truly, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point put on a clinic in the second period. Each star player scored on the man advantage in the middle frame, showing striking skill.

Ultimately, both the Predators and Lightning scored two power-play goals during the 2022 Stadium Series. Steven Stamkos was the only play to score at even-strength, and that ended up being the game-winner.

The Bolts won 3-2.

But, for all the fireworks — literal and figurative — the 2022 Stadium Series got upstaged by a baffling game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. (At least Red Wings – Maple Leafs ended with about a period of Predators – Lightning remaining.)

Maple Leafs beat Red Wings 10-7 in a nightmarish night for goalies

If the Maple Leafs weren’t already pondering a goalie upgrade at the trade deadline, the Red Wings may have given them an extra push.

Through the first two periods of Maple Leafs – Red Wings, the story was Mitch Marner and his hot line with Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting. Overall, Marner stood out as the biggest star. He didn’t just generate his first hat trick in that game. Marner ended up with four goals and six points for the first time in his prolific NHL career.

But people weren’t making a ton of jokes and dropping their jaws at Marner setting career-highs.

Entering the third period, the Maple Leafs built a 7-2 lead against the Red Wings.

In just 5:21 of that third period, the Red Wings scored four goals, shrinking the Maple Leafs’ lead to 7-6. About a minute-and-a-half later, Ilya Mikheyev made it 8-6. That wasn’t much solace, though, as Lucas Raymond scored about 45 seconds after Mikheyev, pushing the game to within a goal (8-7).

It wasn’t until Ondrej Kase‘s shorthanded goal (the 9-7 tally) that the Maple Leafs likely felt reasonably safe against the Red Wings again. Fittingly, Marner’s fourth goal added that last bit of insurance.

Honestly … just breathe all this wild stuff in:

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As the smoke cleared, there were some staggering numbers and plenty of jokes. Consider a few tidbits:

  • The Maple Leafs scored those 10 goals against the Red Wings without receiving a power-play opportunity.
  • Ice-cold John Tavares ended up pointless despite Toronto scoring 10 goals.
  • No surprise that it’s been more than a decade since we’ve seen an offensive onslaught like this:

So, no shame for the Lightning, Predators, and NHL in pulling off that 2022 Stadium Series. Sometimes (OK, one time) the Maple Leafs and Red Wings just combine for 17 goals.

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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    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
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    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

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    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

    caufield surgery
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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.