NHL Rink Wrap: Blues win streak ends; Another year for Fleury?

NHL Scores
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Top player in the NHL on Tuesday

Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers ran their NHL best winning streak to 11 consecutive games with a come-from-behind win against the New York Islanders, winning 3-2 in overtime. Barkov scored all three Panthers goals in the game for his first hat trick of the season. Jonathan Huberdeau assisted on all three goals to take over the NHL’s scoring lead for the time being, but Barkov gets top star honors for the night thanks to this three goals including the overtime winner. The Panthers are now tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the best record in the NHL with 116 points.

Highlights from around the NHL on Tuesday

Matt Boldy and Kevin Fiala have given the Minnesota Wild a second dominant scoring line, and they have been outstanding together this season. They continued that on Tuesday by teaming up for a pair of goals in the Wild’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens who have still yet to score a goal for starting goalie Carey Price in his return to the lineup. This goal from Boldy is a thing of beauty.

The Toronto Maple Leafs win without Auston Matthews, beating a hapless Philadelphia Flyers team by a 5-2 margin. This Jason Spezza goal here is the highlight of the night for the Maple Leafs.

Matt Duchene scores to become the first Nashville Predators player to ever score 40 goals in a single season. Filip Forsberg scored his 39th goal in this game and is close to joining that group. The Predators were 3-2 winners over the Calgary Flames in a shootout. It is also the first 40-goal season of Duchene’s career.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Tuesday

Another shutout for Rangers

The New York Rangers recorded another shutout on Tuesday night thanks to Igor Shesterkin‘s 31-save effort in a 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets. It extended the Rangers’ shutout streak to three consecutive games, following wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings. No, these are not powerhouse opponents but the Rangers are doing exactly what a Stanley Cup contender should do against these teams. Dominate them and win easily. They are.

Blues win streak comes to an end at nine games

On the same night that the Florida Panthers’ winning streak continued, the St. Louis Blues’ win streak came to an end at nine consecutive games in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. While the winning streak is over the Blues’ point streak does still continue thanks to the point and now sits at 12 consecutive games (10-0-2 during that stretch). The Wild and Blues are rolling toward a First Round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the only thing to be determined who will have home ice advantage in that 2-3 Central Division series.

Marc-Andre Fleury wants to play another season

Marc-Andre Fleury has been a sensational addition for the Wild and he said this week that he is looking forward to playing another season in the NHL next year. While he has not yet completely matched what he did a year ago in Vegas in winning the Vezina Trophy he has looked like himself since getting away from the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and will no doubt have plenty of suitors on the open market.

Wednesday’s big story

After losing at home on Monday night to a bad New Jersey Devils team it is now  must-win time for the Vegas Golden Knights. They are not getting an easy game, either, as they host a white hot Washington Capitals team that is coming off of a big win on Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche. Right now the Los Angeles Kings (the team Vegas is chasing) is on pace for 95 points this season and plays nothing but non playoff teams the rest of the way. If we assume it would take 96 points for Vegas to make the playoffs it would need nine points in its remaining five games. That is, at minimum a 4-0-1 record. The margin for error is gone.

Tuesday’s NHL Scores

Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Philadelphia Flyers 2
Minnesota Wild 2, Montreal Canadiens 0
Detroit Red Wings 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3
New York Rangers 3, Winnipeg Jets 0
Florida Panthers 3, New York Islanders 2 (OT)
Nashville Predators 3, Calgary Flames 2 (SO)
Boston Bruins 3, St. Louis Blues 2 (OT)
Ottawa Senators 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (SO)
Los Angeles Kings 2, Anaheim Ducks 1
San Jose Sharks 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

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    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.

    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”