NHL Rink Wrap: Star power saves Leafs, but Kings overcome McDavid

NHL Rink Wrap: Star power saves Leafs, but Kings overcome McDavid
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• The Montreal Canadiens won the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery, and thus the right to the No. 1 overall pick. While they didn’t get the top spot, the Devils’ run of luck continued by jumping from the fifth-best odds to No. 2.

• After 23 years in the NHL (enough to set a new games-played record), Patrick Marleau retired.

Igor Shesterkin, Juuse Saros, and Jacob Markstrom were announced as the 2022 Vezina Trophy finalists.

• Just another fine for Jamie Benn, while T.J. Oshie avoided a suspension for that hit on Sam Bennett.

• A surprising return to action by Charlie McAvoy didn’t make much of a difference for the Bruins against the Hurricanes in Game 5.

Kirill Kaprizov, Connor McDavid, and Leon Draisaitl delivered like the stars that they are on Tuesday. It didn’t matter for their teams. It did matter for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and the Maple Leafs, though.

Game 5: Carolina Hurricanes 5, Boston Bruins 1 (CAR leads 3-2)

When it comes to games in Carolina, the Hurricanes have been all over the Bruins. Game 5 was no different. The Hurricanes beat the Bruins by a score of 5-1 in Game 5, the third contest in Carolina where they won and scored five goals (5-1 in Game 1; 5-2 in Game 2).

Even on the road, the Hurricanes have found a way to score first against the Bruins. Still, in Boston, the B’s were able to strike on special teams and grind out wins. Can the Hurricanes bottle up some of that home-ice advantage and bring it on the road? It would certainly make things easier for a team with great ambitions.

Game 5: Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3 (TOR leads 3-2)

Down 2-0 in Game 5, the Maple Leafs drew plenty of critiques for how poorly they started against the Lightning. Maybe it’s best not to panic after two goals, when a series is still tied 2-2?

Either way, this was a wild ride. Read up on it here, as there’s just a lot to take in.

Game 5: St. Louis Blues 5, Minnesota Wild 2 (STL leads 3-2)

With power plays ruling the first period, Kirill Kaprizov scored twice to give the Wild a 2-1 lead. That would be the last of the Wild’s goals as the Blues eventually wrestled away Game 5.

In the second, Brandon Saad scored a key goal to tie things up 2-2. Then Vladimir Tarasenko took over the third.

Just 2:31 into that final frame, Vladimir Tarasenko scored two nice goals. The go-ahead goal featured a brilliant pass by Pavel Buchnevich:

By notching an empty-netter, Vladimir Tarasenko collected a hat trick (and a natural one at that). The Blues’ scoring variety keeps paying off against a Wild team that was also deeper than usual … during the season, at least.

Game 5: Los Angeles Kings 5, Edmonton Oilers 4 [OT] (LAK leads 3-2)

For much of Game 5, the Kings absolutely dominated the Oilers. This series hasn’t always been about “star power vs. structure,” yet that was very much the case in Game 5.

Entering the third period, the Kings were dominating the Oilers in every metric that counted. That included the 3-1 score. However, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl put on the sort of show even superstar players rarely pull off in the modern NHL. McDavid scored a goal and two assists, while Draisaitl also had three points (2G, 1A). Putting those two titans together unleashed them. It also helped the Oilers overcome a distinct shot share advantage overall (and a Phillip Danault 4-2 goal didn’t stop them).

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

Yet … the young Kings shrugged off that Draisaitl/McDavid-powered comeback, dominated the Oilers in OT, and quickly won it. You’re really not supposed to get the sort of room Adrian Kempe created in that situation in the playoffs, but he seized it, and scored a pretty OT-winner:

Many will point to the way McDavid and Draisaitl took over Game 5, and question how anyone would doubt those two. Plenty agree that the Oilers’ problems revolve around other flaws. But doubters can then latch onto the Kings winning it in OT.

Either way, the Kings increasingly look a lot better at 5-on-5, and that might be enough to overcome McDavid and Draisaitl.

Three Stars in NHL Playoffs on Tuesday

1. Adrian Kempe, Kings over Draisaitl – McDavid, Oilers

So, Kempe got the last laugh (and the last taunt). He also generated comparable offense to McDavid and Draisaitl. Kempe scored a 2-1 goal, assisted on a 4-2 tally, and then ended Game 5 with that tremendous OT-winner.

Like McDavid and Draisaitl, Kempe collected three points. He got the win, too.

This continues quite the breakthrough season for Adrian Kempe. On his way to an All-Star appearance, Kempe collected 35 goals and 54 points in 78 games. Before this season, Kempe never scored more than 16 goals or 37 points in a season.

On a Kings team hoping to outwork and out-think a star-studded Oilers team, Kempe boasts the kind of speed that can give L.A. the occasional “game-breaking” presence.

2. Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues

Heading into Game 5 of Blues – Wild, Vladimir Tarasenko’s numbers were modest (but respectable). The resurgent winger had a goal and an assist in four playoff contests, firing nine shots on goal.

Tarasenko really made the difference for the Blues in Game 5, stunning the Wild in the process. You can ding him a bit for completing his hat trick with an empty-netter, but those first two Tarasenko goals were essential.

This marks the second playoff hat trick for Tarasenko, who generated five in regular-season action. Tarasenko last generated a hat trick recently: on April 14.

3. William Nylander, Maple Leafs

Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews connected for a picture-perfect game-winning goal. In a way, it had to be those two making the big difference for the Maple Leafs over the Lightning.

But other star Maple Leafs players really rose to the occasion. That’s especially true with much-maligned, quite-underrated winger William Nylander.

First, Nylander assisted on a crucial power-play goal from John Tavares to cut the Lightning lead to 2-1. Then, Nylander and Tavares assisted on a nice 4-on-4 goal by Morgan Rielly. While an emphatic 3-2 goal didn’t end up being a game-winner for Nylander, it was a big one for the Maple Leafs.

WEDNESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 5: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET — ESPN (PIT leads 3-1)
Game 5: Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers, 7:30 p.m. ET — ESPN2 (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 2-2)

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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    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.”