NHL Rink Wrap: Hurricanes dominate again; Wild, Lightning, Oilers get even

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• The Boston Bruins have no answer for the Carolina Hurricanes again.

• Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Edmonton all get even in their first-round series with wins on Wednesday night.

• Another major goalie injury in the NHL as Antti Raanta leaves Game 2 for the Hurricanes. 

Game 2: Carolina Hurricane 5, Boston Bruins 2 (Hurricanes lead series 2-0)

Another one-sided game in this season series. The Hurricanes dominated the Boston Bruins (again) on Wednesday night, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead with a 5-2 Game 2 win. Carolina is now 5-0 against the Bruins this season (including playoffs), outscoring them by aa 26-4 margin. Wednesday’s game was intense and extremely physical, with scrums and altercations after almost every whistle and some extremely big hits and collisions that resulted in multiple injuries. Carolina lost another goalie as Antti Raanta had to leave the game after he was hit by David Pastrnak, while the Bruins lost defenseman Hampus Lindholm to a crushing (but legal) hit from Andrei Svechnikov.

Game 2: Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (Series tied 1-1)

Tampa Bay’s stars were shining on Wednesday night after a sluggish start to the series on Monday. Victor Hedman had four points, Andrei Vasilevskiy was outstanding in goal, and Nikita Kucherov had three points for the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. Special teams were the big difference in this game asa Tampa Bay’s power play feasted on its opportunities, taking advantage of a lot of poorly timed penalties by an overly aggressive Maple Leafs team.

Game 2: Minnesota Wild 6, St. Louis Blues 2 (Series tied 1-1)

Huge bounce back win for the Wild that featured a quick start and the first career postseason hat trick for Kirill Kaprizov. Joel Eriksson Ek also scored a pair of goals for the Wild who jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to a pair of power play goals. Marc-Andre Fleury got the Game 2 start (head coach Dean Evason said it was an easy call) and he bounced back with a 32-save on 34-shot performance.

Game 2: Edmonton Oilers 6, Los Angeles Kings 0 (Series tied 1-1)

Speaking of big bounce back games, Mike Smith shook off a tough Game 1 that included a late, game-deciding turnover by recording a shutout for the Oilers as they evened their series with the Los Angeles Kings in a 6-0 win. This felt like a near must-win game for the Oilers as they were facing the prospect of dropping the first two games of the series on home ice, something that would have almost certainly upped the already intense pressure on them. But they scored two power play goals and a shorthanded goal on their way to a convincing win. Evander Kane had two goals and an assist in the win, while Connor McDavid had a pair of assists.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

Three Stars in NHL for Wednesday (third day of playoffs)

1. Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov was one of the biggest offensive stars for the Wild in their 6-2 win over the Blues, scoring three goals, including two in less than two minutes in third period to help put the game away. Kaprizov is coming off a magnificent sophomore season that saw him score 47 goals and 108 points, making him the first 100-point player in Wild franchise history. He has been a franchise-altering player from the moment he arrived and has helped transform the team into one of the most exciting offensive teams in the league. He was one of the best players on the ice on Wednesday, scoring three goals on five shots for the Wild.

2. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Hedman has always been one of the most important players on the Lightning and one of the driving forces behind their success, and he was brilliant on Wednesday when the Lightning needed him to be. He had a goal, three assists, and blocked four shots in nearly 24 minutes of ice-time to help the Lightning even their series with the Maple Leafs. His goal was a beautiful display of patience as he scored with just over a second remaining in the first period to break a scoreless tie and steal all momentum away from Toronto, quieting a raucous Maple Leafs crowd.

3.Pyotr Kochetkov, Carolina Hurricanes

With Frederik Andersen already out of the lineup and Antti Raanta leaving early in the first period, the Hurricanes had to turn to Kochetkov in Game 2 of their series against the Bruins. He was outstanding, stopping 30 out of 32 shots to help lead Carolina to another dominant win over Boston. He was 3-0 in his three appearances during the regular season, and is the second third string goalie to help lead a team to victory in the first three days of the playoffs. There is no timetable on when Andersen will be ready to return, and no update on Raanta’s status for Game 3, so it remains possible that Carolina could have to turn to Kochetkov again on Friday when the series shifts to Boston.

Thursday’s NHL Playoff Schedule

Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (PIT leads 1-0), 7 p.m. ET — TNT
Game 2: Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers (WSH leads 1-0), 7:30 p.m. ET — TBS
Game 2: Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche (COL leads 1-0), 9:30 p.m ET — TNT
Game 2: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames (CGY leads 1-0), 10 p.m, ET — TBS

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Blues vs. Wild
• Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
• NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres agreed to terms with forward Dylan Cozens on a seven-year extension worth $49.7 million.

The team announced the contract. Cozens will count $7.1 million against the salary cap through the 2029-30 season.

Cozens, who turns 22, is the latest core player the Sabres have extended over the past six months. Buffalo signed All-Star forward Tage Thompson for $50 million over seven seasons in August and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.

Rasmus Dahlin, the top pick in 2020 who’s a Norris Trophy candidate and filled in for Thompson at NHL All-Star weekend, figures to be next for a big contract. He’s signed through next season and can begin talking about an extension this summer.

Cozens, who was set to be a restricted free agent, has already set career highs with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points – with 30 games left in the season. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens has 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 regular-season NHL games, all with Buffalo.

The Sabres, led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, are contending to make the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought dating to 2011 is by far the longest in the league.

Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

“Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

“He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

“I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

“I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

“I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

“It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

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SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

“Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

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The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

“I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.