NHL Rink Wrap: Makar shines; Goaltending helps Rangers, Stars get even

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Cale Makar was put on a clinic for the Colorado Avalanche as they take a commanding 2-0 series lead against the Nashville Predators. 

Jake Oettinger shuts out the Calgary Flames to help them even their series at one game apiece with the Calgary Flames.

• The Florida Panthers bounced back with a huge win against the Washington Capitals. 

Game 2: New York Rangers 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 2 (Series tied 1-1)

Igor Shesterkin stopped 39 out of 41 shots to help the New York Rangers get even in their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and two assists in the win as they took advantage of a banged up Penguins team in a 5-2 win. Louis Domingue could not repeat his overtime magic from Game 1 in the Pittsburgh net, while Shesterkin was a wall for the Rangers and made several great saves early in the third period to help protect the lead.

Game 2: Florida Panthers 5, Washington Capitals 1 (Series tied 1-1)

This is the type of offense we expected to see from the Florida Panthers. They chased Vitek Vanecek after the Capitals goalie allowed five goals on 18 shots through two period to help even the series at one game apiece. The Panthers have the league’s bet offense but were shut down a bit in their Game 1 loss. The big question for the Capitals in this series was going to be their goaltending, and Vanecek did not play anywhere near good enough on Thursday.

Game 2: Colorado Avalanche 2, Nashville Predators 1 (COL leads 2-0)

Connor Ingram did absolutely everything he could for the Nashville Predators in this game, but it was just not enough as his teammates could not generate any consistent offense or mount much of a threat against a superior Colorado Avalanche team. Cale Makar scored the game-winning goal for the Avalanche to cap off a dominant performance.

Game 2: Dallas Stars 2, Calgary Flames 0 (Series tied 1-1)

If you like offense and goal scoring this is not the series for year. Through two games there have been a grand total of three goals scored by the two teams, with only two of them coming with a goalie in the net (Dallas scored an empty-net goal in Game 2). Only one of those goals (Joe Pavelski‘s goal in Game 2) came during 5-on-5 play. Both teams have now been able to grind out a shutout win, with Jake Oettinger stopping all 29 shots he faced on Thursday.

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

Three Stars in NHL for Thursday (Fourth day of playoffs)

1. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

The numbers from Makar on Thursday are outrageous. He attempted 23 total shots. When he was on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Avalanche had 46 shot attempts to only 15 for the Predators. He put 11 of his shot attempts on goal. Then on top of all of that he also scored the game-winning goal in overtime. With all due respect to Roman Josi, Adam Fox, Victor Hedman, and any other top defender in the NHL there is nobody — nobody! — that is better than this guy right now. He is incredible.

2. Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars

In his second career playoff start Oettinger stopped all 29 shots he faced to help the Stars even their series with the Flames at one game apiece. They needed every single one of those stops to get the win because there is not going to be any offense in this series from either team. Through two games Oettinger has stopped 54 out of 55 shots for the Stars.

3. Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers

The likely Vezina Trophy winner played like it on Thursday, stopping 39 out of 41 shots for the Rangers in their 5-2 win over the Penguins. He may not have “stolen” the game, but his play definitely helped make it a much more decisive win for the Rangers. Via Natural Stat Trick, the Penguins have 13.8 expected goals through the first two games in all situations, (no other team has more than 8.2), while they averaging 4.79 per 60 minutes (no other team has more than 3.87). They have only scored six goals in the two games because of the way Shesterkin has played. With the Penguins playing without Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith and now relying on Louis Domingue this is a massive positional advantage for the Rangers. At the most important position on the ice.

Friday’s NHL Playoff Schedule

Game 3: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins (CAR leads 2-0), 7 p.m. ET — TNT
Game 3: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Series tied 1-1), 7:30 p.m. ET — TBS
Game 3: Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues (Series tied 1-1), 9:30 p.m. ET — TNT
Game 3: Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings (Series tied 1-1) 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

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    Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

    That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there.

    Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

    Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

    It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

    Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

    And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

    Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

    WELCOME HOME, LU

    Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

    In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

    He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

    Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

    “You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

    Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

    Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    “I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

    He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there’s more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

    “It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

    REMEMBERING JIMMY

    Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

    Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

    Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

    Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

    ANTHEM POISE

    “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

    Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

    And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

    SLAP SHOTS

    Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

    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.