NHL Rink Wrap: 1,000th game could be Giroux’s last with Flyers

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Thursday’s top NHL players

John Klingberg, Stars

Should the Dallas Stars trade John Klingberg, knowing that he’s likely to leave via free agency? Should the Stars instead treat Klingberg as their “own trade deadline rental,” keeping him for this run?

Miro Heiskanen being out gave the Stars extra incentive to keep, not trade Klingberg. A game like this could provide another nudge in that direction.

John Klingberg scored the goal that sent the Stars’ game against the Canadiens to overtime. Klingberg then scored the OT game-winner, finishing the night with three points (2G, 1A).

Ever since Heiskanen rose to prominence, Klingberg’s role — and offense — really started to shrink. Maybe he’ll heat up without Heiskanen, and with a ton of incentive to earn that next contract? During the past five games, John Klingberg collected eight points (3G, 5A). He generated a point in all but one of those five contests. He’s fired six SOG twice during this five-game surge, including on Thursday.

Could be the sort of run that really bumps up Klingberg’s perceived value. Maybe the Stars are wise to ride that wave? We’ll find out soon enough.

Roman Josi, Predators

Like Klingberg, Roman Josi collected three points (3A) on Thursday. Remarkably, Josi might be on an even hotter streak than Klingberg right now.

With those three points, Josi scored 10 points (2G, 8A) in the last three games alone. He’s riding an eight-game point streak, collecting an outrageous 19 points (3G, 16A). On the season, Roman Josi is at 72 points, easily a career-high for a defenseman who already has a Norris Trophy to his name.

Thursday NHL highlights

The Flyers shared the eight-minute ceremony celebrating Claude Giroux‘s 1,000th game with the team. More on that in a moment.

John Klingberg chased his own rebound to win it for the Stars in overtime:

Filip Forsberg scored an impressive goal on one of Roman Josi’s three assists.

Leon Draisaitl reached the 40-goal mark during the NHL action on Thursday:

And so did Chris Kreider:

Tremendous save by Ilya Sorokin, who is having a sneaky-strong season.

Tough night for Craig Anderson, but he didn’t offer this save.

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Giroux plays 1,000th game with Flyers, trade looming?

Multiple reports indicate that Claude Giroux isn’t leaving Philadelphia for the team’s next game, and it’s not just because he’s celebrating 1,000 games (all with the Flyers).

Crossing Broad’s Anthony SanFilippo reports that the Flyers are putting the “finishing touches” on a trade that would send Claude Giroux to the Panthers. Others contend that the Panthers are frontrunners for a Giroux trade, but not guaranteed to land him.

Time will tell. It’s worth remembering that sometimes a trade can look just about done, only for something to change. (There are rumblings that Owen Tippett could be involved in a Panthers – Flyers trade revolving around Giroux.)

Either way, Giroux and the Flyers celebrated him reaching the 1,000 games played milestone. You can watch that above. Neatly enough, Giroux scored 900 points (291 goals, 609 assists) in 1,000 games with the Flyers.

Through ups and downs for the Flyers, there had been occasional rumblings about a Giroux trade. It never happened, allowing Giroux to enjoy a resurgence in part due to moving to the wing.

The Panthers already sent a first-rounder to the Canadiens for Ben Chiarot, so they’re really going for it if they trade for Claude Giroux. Stay tuned.

Golden Knights win to end streak at five games, but lose Eichel to injury

In what was a back-and-forth, exciting game, the Golden Knights ended their losing streak by beating the Panthers. It would have been a really great story if Jack Eichel didn’t get injured during the win.

At the moment, the extent of Jack Eichel’s injury is unclear. He wasn’t able to return to play after hurting his arm/hand on a blocked shot.

How would a significant Eichel injury affect the Golden Knights’ trade deadline plans. It’s tempting to joke about Eichel going on LTIR, allowing the Golden Knights to pull even more salary cap skullduggery. Practically speaking, though, would this push them toward selling a bit? Move Reilly Smith out, suddenly absorb cap hits to broker deals for others, and just see what happens? Perhaps you use cap space to try to plug in some injury holes?

It’s dizzying to think about, while every win and loss could alter the balance. Beating the Panthers is a pretty nice triumph, even if it makes that five-game losing streak (four losses to non-playoff teams) that much more puzzling for the Golden Knights.

Erik Källgren delivers for Maple Leafs once again

Who is Erik Källgren? You can get soak in a snapshot of the supposedly smiling Swedish goalie in a previous NHL Rink Wrap.

Through these two starts, Källgren won two games for the Maple Leafs, stopping 69 out of 71 shots. In his debut, Källgren pitched a shutout.

Impressively, each win came against good-to-great teams with reasons for urgency. The Stars got blanked by the netminder with a lot on the line, and the Hurricanes are always a big threat. It’s a seriously small sample size, but the Maple Leafs will take a brief goaltending bump when they can get it.

Thursday NHL injury news/rumors

  • Thomas Chabot‘s season appears to be over due to a broken hand. Maybe he could play a couple games, but why risk it if you’re Ottawa?
  • Speaking of fractures, is Robin Lehner dealing with a fractured kneecap, or something similar? Reports indicated as much, but Lehner denied that was the nature of his injury. Either way, it’s a murky situation for the Golden Knights, as Lehner’s return seems touch-and-go. With Eichel suffering an injury during the NHL action on Thursday, this is quite the situation for the Golden Knights.

Friday’s big story

One last push for the Ducks to embrace selling at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline

By trading Josh Manson, the Ducks already showed some interest in being sellers at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Relatively speaking, that was the easy decision, though.

Will the Ducks really make the plunge by trading Rickard Rakell, and most prominently, Hampus Lindholm? Winning or losing against the Panthers shouldn’t make that much of a difference for the Ducks, as these are decisions that reverberate for years. Also: one win wouldn’t suddenly make a playoff run that much more likely for Anaheim.

That said, NHL teams clearly are stubborn about rebuilding at times, so maybe Friday’s Ducks – Panthers game may make a difference.

The two teams also own the sort of offensive weapons that could make it a fun game, too.

Thursday NHL scores

Maple Leafs 3, Hurricanes 2
Stars 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Flyers 5, Predators 4
Capitals 7, Blue Jackets 2
Islanders 2, Rangers 1
Penguins 3, Blues 2 (SO)
Oilers 6, Sabres 1
Red Wings 1, Canucks 0
Kings 3, Sharks 0
Golden Knights 5, Panthers 3

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.

LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

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

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.


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.