NHL Rink Wrap: 5 assists for Gaudreau; Fleury wins Minnesota debut

NHL Scores
Bruce Kluckhohn, Getty Images

Top player in the NHL on Saturday

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

What an incredible, amazing year for the Calgary Flames, and especially their top-line duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuck. They both had monster games in the Flames’ 9-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, with Tkachuk finishing with two goals and two assists while Gaudreau had five assists. He is now up to 90 points on the season, good enough for third place in the entire NHL. His career year is coming at a perfect time as he is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season and is playing his way to an absolutely massive contract for somebody. Tkachuk is sixth in the NHL scoring race with 82 points. The Flames continue to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division with the win. All nine of the Flames’ goals on Saturday were scored during 5-on-5 play.

Highlights from around the NHL on Saturday

Evgenii Dadonov keeps rolling for the Vegas Golden Knights to keep their playoff chances going after they tried to trade him earlier this week.

Auston Matthews matches his career high of 47 goals. It took just 36 seconds on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens would go on to win the game, 4-2, though.

Timo Meier records his third career hat trick for the San Jose Sharks in their 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Saturday

Lightning offense slumping, but power play comes through

While the Boston Bruins have been climbing the standings, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been in a bit of a rut lately, especially offensively. Some of their top players have been going through lengthy goal droughts and they entered Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings having lost six of their previous eight games, scoring just 15 goals during that stretch. The offense struggled again on Saturday, but the power play did just enough to lift them to a 2-1 overtime win. Steven Stamkos tied the game on a late third period power play goal to send it to overtime, where Brayden Point scored the game-winning goal on another power play. This recent stretch should not be too much of a concern right now. Extended scoring slumps for individual players, even star players, are common throughout the course of an 82-game season. The Lightning had their share of them a year ago and were just fine in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is still one of the league’s elite teams and they will eventually start scoring goals like we are used to them scoring goals.

Marc-Andre Fleury wins debut with Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild were 3-2 overtime winners against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night thanks to Jared Spurgeon‘s game-winning goal. The big story here though is Marc-Andre Fleury making his debut with the Wild, stopping 23 out of 25 shots in the win. The Wild have now won five games in a row and are 3-0-0 since the trade deadline on Monday.

Western Conference Playoff race update

The Vegas Golden Knights got a huge win and temporarily moved into a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, taking a one point lead over the Dallas Stars who lost to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-1, on Saturday. The problem for the Golden Knights is that Dallas still has four games in hand. The Golden Knights also closed to within one point of the Oilers, who were 9-5 losers to the Flames, for the third spot in the Pacific Division. The Oilers still have two games in hand in that race. Vegas still has a lot of work to do and needs a lot of help. The Canucks are still trying to hang in that race. The Los Angeles Kings also continued to strengthen their playoff position with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Kraken. They remain in a good spot for second place in the Pacific Division and potential home ice advantage in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sunday’s big story

There are two really good divisional matchups on Sunday, with the Florida Panthers visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche taking on the Minnesota Wild. Colorado and Florida are two of the league’s best teams, while Toronto and Minnesota are on that second tier of contenders that are still capable of making a lot of noise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both of these games could be really good potential second round matchups in the playoffs.

Saturday’s NHL Scores

Boston Bruins 6, New York Islanders 3
Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Detroit Red Wings 1 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4 (OT)
Vancouver Canucks 4, Dallas Stars 1
Montreal Canadiens 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Florida Panthers 4, Ottawa Senators 3 (SO)
Washington Capitals 4, New Jersey Devils 3
Carolina Hurricanes 7, St. Louis Blues 2
Minnesota Wild 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2 (OT)
Calgary Flames 9, Edmonton Oilers 5
Los Angeles Kings 4, Seattle Kraken 2
San Jose Sharks 4, Anaheim Ducks 1



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    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
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

    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.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.