NHL Rink Wrap: Marner, Maple Leafs survive 10-7 stunner vs. Red Wings

NHL Rink Wrap: Marner, Maple Leafs survive 10-7 stunner vs. Red Wings
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Saturday’s top NHL players

Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs win wild 10-7 game vs. Red Wings

Apologies to the 2022 Stadium Series, but a zany 10-7 Maple Leafs – Red Wings game stole the show.

In a game where just about everyone not named John Tavares joined in the fun, Mitch Marner shined brightest. Marner didn’t stop at his first career hat trick. Instead, Marner generated new career-highs in goals (four) and points (six).

This pushes Mitch Marner’s latest point streak to three games (4G, 4A). It’s hard to believe, but earlier this season, Marner was relatively cold. In October, he only managed three points in nine games.

Since Nov. 1, Marner’s generated a resounding 51 points in his last 34 games. Fittingly, Marner’s linemate Auston Matthews leads all scorers during that timeframe (66 points in 43 contests). Impressively, their frequent linemate Michael Bunting is backing up a solid 2020-21 showing with Arizona, collecting 40 points in 52 games this season. Some might grumble that Bunting could be a Calder Trophy candidate at age 26, but there’s little sense denying his contributions to Toronto. For all the hand-wringing about the Maple Leafs and salary cap management, consider that Bunting is on the books for $950K through 2022-23.

As much as the Maple Leafs want better goaltending and more support (can someone wake up John Tavares?), Marner + Matthews is a red-hot combo. Actually, call it a red-hot trio with Bunting being a seamless addition.

Saturday NHL highlights

Really, you can’t go wrong with full highlights of that stunning Mitch Marner performance, and everything else that happened in the Maple Leafs’ wild 10-7 win over the Red Wings.

Don’t forget about the 2022 Stadium Series between the Predators and Lightning, though. It was certainly easy to see that these two teams don’t like each other.

Speaking of Marner and the Maple Leafs stealing someone’s thunder, Derek Ryan normally would’ve been the player of the night with his first career hat trick. He’ll settle for being the difference in the Oilers’ win against the Panthers:

This is not how Cal Clutterbuck wants his last name to be modified (Ex: “Clutterbucking it into your own net”).

With the Golden Knights looking shaky, a clash with the Avalanche is slightly less thrilling. Still, it’s worth watching the Golden Knights – Avalanche highlights. Maybe Vegas can get it together and build this into a rivalry?

While Avalanche – Golden Knights was close, the Flames handled the Wild during the Saturday NHL action. Watch the highlights:

Here’s hoping Oliver Kylington is OK after a very scary moment in that Flames – Wild game.

The Sharks received an injury scare, too, as Mario Ferraro tangled up with Taylor Hall.

Saturday NHL Takeaways

No, not a typo. Marner and the Maple Leafs survive Red Wings 10-7

Head here for the lowdown on that strange, strange game.

Lightning beat Predators in testy 2022 Stadium Series game

In that same post, you can read about the Lightning beating the Predators 3-2 at the 2022 Stadium Series.

The short version is that a Ryan Johansen hit on Erik Cernak really set the tone of nastiness. Special teams loomed large over a game that the Bolts ultimately won. Increasingly, it’s looking like the Lightning have a chance to win the Atlantic Division. The Predators, meanwhile, are at risk of slipping out of playoff contention.

Oilers lose RNH, but win against Panthers

Speaking of the Panthers, they lost their third in a row via a narrow loss to the Oilers.

After winning their first five games under Jay Woodcroft, the Oilers dropped games to formidable opponents in the Wild and Lightning. Saturday began a tough back-to-back set, as the Hurricanes represent another test for the Oilers on Sunday.

Getting a Derek Ryan hat trick was a welcome, unexpected development for the Oilers. Losing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to injury is a big concern, however. It’s not yet clear how long the Oilers might lose RNH.

Sunday’s big story

That test for the Oilers vs. the Hurricanes

With or without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers are in for a real test against the Hurricanes.

Broadly speaking, the Oilers look improved under Woodcroft. If the Hurricanes perform like they usually do, it may not be easy to see the Oilers’ positive steps.

Carolina’s absolutely a buzzsaw, with a four-game winning streak creating distances between the Hurricanes and the rest of the Metro. It’s unclear if they’ll slow down much with Tony DeAngelo injured, either.

Under normal circumstances, the Hurricanes would already be favorites against the Oilers. Carolina has the rest advantage, so that tilts things in their favor that much more. Edmonton deserves kudos if they squeeze out a win here.

They might even earn some respect by merely securing a “charity point.”

Saturday NHL scores

Oilers 4, Panthers 3
Flyers 2, Capitals 1
Penguins 1, Rangers 0
Canadiens 2, Senators 1
Lightning 3, Predators 2
Maple Leafs 10, Red Wings 7
Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 2
Flames 7, Wild 3
Bruins 3, Sharks 1
Kings 5, Islanders 2

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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    Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension

    Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres agreed to terms with forward Dylan Cozens on a seven-year extension worth $49.7 million.

    The team announced the contract. Cozens will count $7.1 million against the salary cap through the 2029-30 season.

    Cozens, who turns 22, is the latest core player the Sabres have extended over the past six months. Buffalo signed All-Star forward Tage Thompson for $50 million over seven seasons in August and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.

    Rasmus Dahlin, the top pick in 2020 who’s a Norris Trophy candidate and filled in for Thompson at NHL All-Star weekend, figures to be next for a big contract. He’s signed through next season and can begin talking about an extension this summer.

    Cozens, who was set to be a restricted free agent, has already set career highs with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points – with 30 games left in the season. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens has 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 regular-season NHL games, all with Buffalo.

    The Sabres, led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, are contending to make the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought dating to 2011 is by far the longest in the league.

    Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

    avalanche injuries
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    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

    Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

    These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

    In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

    “Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

    Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

    “He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

    Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

    “I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

    Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

    “I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

    Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

    “I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

    Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

    The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

    One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

    “It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

    Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

    Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

    Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

    “Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

    The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

    Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

    Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

    Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

    Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

    The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

    General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

    The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

    Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

    Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

    “I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

    Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

    “Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

    After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.