NHL Rink Wrap: Huberdeau, Panthers dominate again; Price returns

NHL Scores Jonathan Huberdeau Panthers
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Top player in the NHL on Friday

Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers

Another night, another dominant showing for Jonathan Huberdeau and the Florida Panthers offense. Huberdeau scored two goals and added an assist in the Panthers’ 6-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, increasing their lead in the Atlantic Division. Huberdeau is now up to 108 points for the season (second highest in the league, just two points behind Connor McDavid) while the Panthers continue to average more than four goals per game. This win on Friday is the 16th time they have scored at least six goals in a game this season. Just an unbelievable offense.

Highlights from around the NHL on Friday

Carey Price has his return spoiled by the New York Islanders.

Gustav Forsling also scored a pair of goals for the Panthers on Friday night.

Zach Parise with the game winning goal for the New York Islanders.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Friday

Carey Price returns

A welcome sight for Montreal Canadiens fans on Friday night as Carey Price was finally back on the ice to make his 2021-22 season debut. The Islanders spoiled his return with a 3-0 win, but Canadiens fans were still thrilled to see Price back on the ice for the first time since he helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final. The Canadiens mostly insulated him on Friday and pretty much outplayed the Islanders, but they were unable to solve Ilya Sorokin while the Islanders struck for two quick goals in the third period.

Ilya Sorokin the bright spot for the Islanders this season

The New York Islanders have not had the season they wanted or expected, but you can not fault Ilya Sorokin for that. He has been one of the best goalies in the league this season and was sensational on Friday night, stopping all 44 shots he faced for his seventh shutout of the season. He now has a .928 save percentage for the season and is quickly establishing himself as an elite, upper-tier goalie. He is a big reason why the Islanders should be a factor in the playoff discussion next season.

Tristan Jarry injury is worth watching

Tristan Jarry has had a great bounce back season for the Pittsburgh Penguins and been a big part of their 16th consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He is also probably their biggest X-factor in the playoffs given the way his postseason appearance went a year ago. That is why the news that he is dealing with a lower-body injury that he suffered in Thursday’s playoff clinching victory over the New York Islanders is such a significant deal. He is not making the trip with the team to Boston for Saturday’s game, while Casey DeSmith will get the start for the third time in the past four games. The Penguins do not play again until Thursday after Saturday’s game (also against Boston) so he does have a few days, and there are still a a couple of weeks before the playoffs begin to give him some time. It is still something to monitor given how good he has been this season and how unproven DeSmith is as a starter. In the short-term the Penguins are very low on salary cap space to even make a recall if Jarry has to miss any additional time.

Saturday’s big story

The Pacific Division playoff race has a huge day as the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Edmonton Oilers while the Los Angeles Kings host the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Golden Knights and Kings enter the day separated by just  a single point while the Golden Knights still have an important game in hand remaining on the Kings. That puts them just barely ahead of the Kings based on points percentage. Los Angeles is fading fast in that race while the Golden Knights are on a roll and finally getting healthy. That Golden Knights-Oilers game is a potential First Round matchup if Vegas makes the playoffs. That would not be fun for Edmonton.

Friday’s NHL Scores

New York Islanders 3, Montreal Canadiens 0
Florida Panthers 6, Winnipeg Jets 1

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
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    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

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    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

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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.

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

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    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.