NHL Rink Wrap: Hockey world mourns Melnyk’s passing

NHL Rink Wrap: Hockey world mourns Melnyk's passing
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Monday’s top NHL players

Strangely, several two-goal, one-assist performances

Was there some sort of secret planned theme to the top NHL scorers from Monday?

  • As part of the Hurricanes’ lopsided win over the Capitals, Martin Necas scored two goals and one assist. Maybe the 23-year-old’s gotten lost in the shuffle a bit (35 points this season after 41 points in just 53 contests in 2020-21). He’s still highly promising, and part of makes them so deep.
  • Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals and one assist, too. By collecting those three points, Tarasenko reached 500 career points in 589 regular-season games played. Tarasenko also reached exactly a point per game this season (58 in 58).
  • Just 1:21 into the second period, the Blackhawks increased their lead over the Sabres to 4-0. Victor Olofsson generated two goals and one assist to help the Sabres rattle off a big comeback to beat Chicago 6-5.
  • Riley McLeod produced (wait for it) two goals and one assist as the Oilers roasted the Coyotes. Come on, that’s kind of spooky.
  • All but one game featured a two-goal, one-assist performer. The Kraken didn’t feature one, but they did dominate the Kings 6-1. So, four out of five games were decided by at least three goals, while four of five games involved a 2G, 1A performance. This Monday in the NHL: unusual.

Monday NHL highlights

Here is how Riley McLeod scored one of those three points:

Connor McDavid shakes so fast, yet he can slow things down and process them so well:

Sure, it would have been even better if Jonathan Toews pulled this off in game 1,000, but maybe he has something in store after this beauty in game 999?

The Hurricanes were seething after their win over the Capitals, despite the score. That’s because of a Lars Eller hit late in the game that may have injured Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Monday NHL Takeaways

Hockey fans mourn Eugene Melnyk’s passing at age 62

Late on Monday, the Senators announced that owner Eugene Melnyk died at age 62. You can read the team’s statement, comments from Gary Bettman, and more here.

Despite the highs and lows that come with being a team owner, Senators fans shared their appreciation for Eugene Melnyk, particularly for saving the team from bankruptcy in 2003.

People also pointed out that it’s a shame that he won’t get to see the rebuild play out.

Sad news for Melnyk, his family, friends, and the Senators organization. RIP.

Boston Pride beat Connecticut Whale 4-2 to win 2022 Isobel Cup

By rallying for a comeback win against the Connecticut Whale, the Boston Pride are repeat Isobel Cup champions. It’s also their third title.

Taylor Wenczkowski scored the game-winner a mere 17 seconds after the Pride tied it up.

A sad finish for the Connecticut Whale.


NHL GM Meetings Day 1

It sounds like officiating was the main focus of the first day of the latest NHL GM Meetings. Stay tuned at PHT, as Tuesday’s meetings may be juicier. (Could there be a focus on a playoff salary cap, possible overcorrection or not?)

Hurricanes blow out Capitals

If Monday provided a playoff preview, the Capitals better have things clicking at a higher level once they face the Hurricanes in a potential first round squabble. (At least the 5-on-5 high-danger chance battle was reasonably close?)

After earning a 2-0 edge through the first period, the Hurricanes ratcheted things up even more in the second. By the end of that middle frame, Carolina was already up 5-1, eventually adding a 6-1 tally in the third.

Could this be the sort of game that adjusts expectations? That’s a little extreme.

This may be a signal to pick their spots, however. For an older team — one without much of a chance to climb out of the wild card — perhaps they should rest the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and others? NHL teams seem allergic to strategic resting, so maybe not. But it sounds smart to me.

Todd McLellan coaches 1,000th game

By coaching the Kings against the Kraken during the NHL action on Monday, Todd McLellan coached his 1,000th game at this level. He’s merely the 31st NHL coach to reach the 1,000 games milestone.

Already this deep into a coaching career, what’s McLellan’s legacy? Honestly, it’s kind of tough to say. That said, there’s a skill in hanging in there, and being enough of a GM whisperer to keep getting gigs.

If you include coaches who were fired or resigned in-season, quite a few other active NHL coaches have been behind the bench for 1,000+ games. Here’s the list, with their wins, points percentages, and games coached:

Note: for the sake of simplicity, these stats are from before the NHL games on Monday. Boudreau and McLellan were among coaches whose teams played, so their percentages etc. will be slightly different following those contests. Hockey Reference is a great resource for coaching information like this.

Barry Trotz: 1,794 games coached (second all-time to Scotty Bowman’s 2,141); 905 wins; .568 points percentage.
Joel Quenneville: 1,768 GC (third most); 969W; .612%
Paul Maurice: 1,685 GC (fourth); 775W; .528%
Lindy Ruff: 1,615 GC (fifth); 779W: .549%
Darryl Sutter: 1,380 GC (13th); 689W; .569%
Alain Vigneault: 1,363 GC (14th); 722W; .585%
Peter Laviolette: 1,333 GC (15th); 710W; .594%
Dave Tippett: 1,285 GC (18th); 648W; .567%
Bruce Boudreau: 1,026 GC (25th); 591; came into Monday with .635%
Peter DeBoer: 1,001 GC (29th); 506W; .565%
Todd McLellan: 999 going on 1,000 GC (tied with Roger Neilson for 30th); 520 wins, came into Monday with a .577%

Interesting stuff overall, right?

[Check out where the Kings end up in the latest PHT Power Rankings]

Todd McLellan went from a Red Wings assistant (2005-06 through 2007-08) to become Sharks head coach. Your view of his work in Sharks may hinge based on how much you weigh continued regular season dominance vs. the teams painful history of (mostly) falling short in the playoffs. Three of his Sharks teams fell in the first round, yet they also reached two conference final series and won a single playoff series in another run. He ended up coaching the Sharks for seven seasons, before there was a “mutual” breakup after they missed the playoffs in 2014-15.

During his stint with the Oilers, McLellan rarely found much success in the regular season or playoffs (when Edmonton even made it.)

With that in mind, Kings fans likely were scintillated when McLellan received his third head coaching job (all in the Pacific Division).

After two seasons of missing the playoffs, McLellan and the Kings look like they have a nice chance of breaking their respective postseason droughts. The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman notes that the Kings have endured a bunch of injuries this season, particularly to their defense (and most prominently with Drew Doughty).

Combine injuries with the narrative that the Kings are ahead of schedule in their rebuild, and McLellan could earn some Jack Adams buzz. Interestingly, we may not see his signature coaching season until he’s passed this milestone.

If you think his best work was with the Sharks, then this at least qualifies as the best example of him coaching something of an underdog.

Tuesday’s big story

A loaded night of NHL action

Truly, hockey fans have a ton of intriguing NHL games to choose from on Tuesday.

  • The Maple Leafs and Bruins battle, which is almost always fun, even outside of context. Then sprinkle in their matching 41-19-5 records, and it gets more fun.
  • At 7 p.m. ET, you could instead choose another battle between powerhouses in the Lightning vs. the Hurricanes.
  • Can the Penguins avenge a blowout loss to the Rangers? Perhaps Pittsburgh can find a happy medium between getting blown out and scoring 11 goals on an opponent.
  • Finally, there’s a feud between the two top teams in the Western Conference in the Avalanche and the Flames. (Stars vs. Ducks has some late-night appeal, too, really.)

Naturally, you should watch hockey all the time (tsk tsk, talk of other hobbies/real-world responsibilities). That said, if there’s a night to dominate the TV and/or multiple screens, Tuesday might be it.

Monday NHL scores

Hurricanes 6, Capitals 1
Blues 4, Canucks 1
Sabres 6, Blackhawks 5
Oilers 6, Coyotes 1
Kraken 6, Kings 1

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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    Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

    Andrei Kuzmenko
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

    The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

    The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

    Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

    His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

    Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

    He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

    He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

    A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

    Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.

    Hurricanes top Stars in OT to win matchup of 1st-place teams

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
    1 Comment

    DALLAS – Martin Necas scored 1:34 into overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars in a matchup of division leaders Wednesday night.

    Sebastian Aho had a short-handed goal and Brent Burns also scored for the Hurricanes, who lead the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference. The game-winner was Necas’ 19th goal this season.

    Dallas is still atop the Western Conference, and the Central Division, after its second consecutive 3-2 overtime loss at home. Jason Robertson scored his 33rd goal for the Stars, and 19-year-old rookie Wyatt Johnston got his 13th.

    Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen didn’t return after the first intermission because of an upper-body injury, soon after a strange sequence that ended with Robertson scoring on a shot from what seemed to be an impossible angle.

    The puck was bouncing on the ice behind Andersen and settled against the post after Tyler Seguin‘s shot before the goalie was able to swipe it away to his right. Robertson then shot from behind Andersen, and the puck apparently ricocheted off him and into the net for a 2-1 Dallas lead. Robertson’s 33rd goal matched his assists total.

    Antti Raanta replaced Andersen and stopped all 15 shots he faced – none in overtime – after the starter had four saves. Raanta had to shake off getting struck in the head by Mason Marchment‘s stick when the Stars forward was behind the net fighting for the puck midway through the third period.

    Stars goalie Jake Oettinger stopped 22 shots, including a glove save of Andrei Svechnikov‘s wrister with just more than five minutes left in regulation.

    Aho’s 200th career goal put Carolina up 1-0 midway through the first period. The Stars got even just more than two minutes later when Johnston scored unassisted after a faceoff.

    Johnston also had a shot ricochet off the post with just under six minutes left.

    In between the first two goals, Oettinger went into a fully extended split, with his right skate against the post, to deny Paul Stastny‘s attempt to knock in a loose puck.

    Burns tied the game at 2 in the second period, getting the puck after a faceoff, then skating over the top of the circle and scoring top shelf over Oettinger’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Marchment was coming out of the penalty box at the same time Carolina made an errant pass in the second period. He had a breakaway attempt, but couldn’t get enough control of the puck to get off a quality shot. … Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce and Stars center Luke Glendening both got five-minute penalties for fighting in the second period.


    Hurricanes: Will play San Jose on Friday night in the first of three consecutive home games.

    Stars: Host the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in their last game before the All-Star break.

    Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry out until after the All-Star break

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry‘s on-again, off-again season is now off again.

    Coach Mike Sullivan said that the two-time All-Star will miss at least two games with an upper-body injury.

    Jarry was scheduled to start against Florida but reported an upper-body issue when he arrived at PPG Paints Arena. Casey DeSmith got the last-second start as the Penguins pulled out a wild 7-6 victory over the Panthers.

    Jarry is out through at least the All-Star break. Pittsburgh plays at Washington and then hosts San Jose before getting a full week off.

    The 27-year-old Jarry has played well when he’s been in the lineup, posting a 16-5-5 record with a 2.65 goals-against average in 27 games. His availability, however, has been an issue of late. He missed more than two weeks earlier this month after being injured against Boston in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

    The Penguins are not as sharp when Jarry is out. Pittsburgh is 8-10-3 with DeSmith or Dustin Tokarski in goal this season. The Penguins recalled Tokarski from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to back up DeSmith during Jarry’s absence.

    Letang scores twice in return, Penguins beat Panthers 7-6 in OT

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    PITTSBURGH – Amid a nightmarish season off the ice, Kris Letang has been searching for joy. A sense of normalcy.

    He found a little of both.

    The veteran Pittsburgh defenseman scored twice in his return from a lower-body injury, the second with 54 seconds left in overtime to give the Penguins a 7-6 victory over Florida.

    “I was just happy to be out there,” Letang said. “Be in the atmosphere of the team.”

    Letang’s 17th season with Pittsburgh has been pockmarked by health issues and a profound sense of loss. He missed two weeks after suffering the second stroke of his career shortly after Thanksgiving. He then tweaked something in a loss to Detroit on Dec. 28.

    His father died unexpectedly a few days later, and Letang spent an extended amount of time with his family in his native Montreal, with his teammates making an unexpected stop to join Letang for his father’s wake at the end of a West Coast swing earlier this month.

    The Penguins activated him off injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon. Letang responded with four points in a rollicking game that featured 13 goals, the last Letang’s one-timer from just above the left circle on the power play that gave Pittsburgh just its fourth win in 12 overtime games this season.

    “It was kind of surreal, you know?” Letang said. “I didn’t know what to think or how it was going to go. These guys supported me for the last month… it’s just great to be back.”

    The Penguins, currently in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, opened up a small bit of breathing room over the ninth-place Panthers by beating Florida for the 18th time in its last 21 trips to Pittsburgh.

    Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Danton Heinen each had a goal and two assists for The Penguins. Rickard Rakell and Drew O'Connor also scored for the Penguins.

    Casey DeSmith struggled in place of Tristan Jarry, a late scratch with an upper-body injury. DeSmith stopped 33 shots, including both he faced in overtime, to win for the third time in his last 10 starts.

    “That was a huge two points for us,” DeSmith said. “Obviously we’re battling with them in the standings. Character win at home.”

    Carter Verhaeghe scored twice for Florida, including a tying goal with 2:32 left in regulation. Aaron Ekblad had a goal and two assists. Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart each had a goal and an assist. Colin White‘s sixth goal of the season 4:10 into the third gave the Panthers the lead but Florida couldn’t hold it.

    Alex Lyon made 42 saves after getting the start when Spencer Knight was unavailable for reasons head coach Paul Maurice would not disclose. The Panthers are 7-3-2 since January 1 to surge back into the fringe of contention.

    “We’re so much more of a different hockey team than we were a month ago at this time,” Maurice said. “Rallied around each other, battled as hard as they could to get a point on the road in the circumstances that we’re in. I couldn’t be more proud.”

    Neither Lyon or DeSmith – who got the heads up he was playing less than an hour before the opening faceoff – appeared quite ready to play on short notice. They gave up a six goals – three by each team – during a frantic first period that included Letang’s first goal since Dec. 15 and Tkachuk’s 25th of the season.

    Things settled down in the second. Ekblad’s short-handed goal put the Panthers in front but Crosby knotted the game at 4-4 with a pretty backhand through Lyon’s legs with 40 seconds to go in the period to set up a hectic third in which both teams squandered one-goal leads.

    “It wasn’t pretty but you need to find ways to win sometimes,” Crosby said. “We did a good job of that here today.”


    Panthers: Host Angeles on Friday night.

    Penguins: At Washington on Thursday night.