Up 1-0 on Rangers, Hurricanes’ D-men adding vital offense

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes are getting the offensive production they need so far from their blue liners in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Hurricanes outlasted the Boston Bruins in a seven-game series with defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Tony DeAngelo leading the team in points. Then they rallied to beat the New York Rangers to open their second-round playoff series on an overtime goal from Ian Cole.

They head into Friday night’s Game 2 looking to go 6-0 at home in the playoffs.

“It’s the game the last four or five years for sure,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said Thursday. “We’ve been preaching that for a long time. It’s a five-man unit out there. It has to be, otherwise you’re never going to score. Everybody has to be involved. All the teams are doing it.”

That’s true, whether it’s defensemen pushing up into the offensive zone or firing from the point on the power play. Through Wednesday’s games, Colorado’s Cale Makar and the Rangers’ Adam Fox were leading all defensemen with 10 playoff points. DeAngelo, Slavin and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman were all next with eight.

Fox and DeAngelo were tied with Makar with seven postseason assists to lead the position. Slavin and Hedman each have six.

DeAngelo, a former Rangers player, had two three-point games in the Bruins series. Slavin came through with two assists in Game 7 to go with his typical strong defensive play.

“Teams that win,” Carolina center Vincent Trocheck said, “you see a lot of guys get on the scoresheet.”

As for the Rangers, the 24-year-old Fox is thriving in his first set of best-of-7 series. He had played against the Hurricanes in Carolina’s three-game sweep in the Toronto bubble in 2020, but didn’t tally a point.

He had at least one point in all seven games of the comeback series win against Pittsburgh in the first round, highlighted by a four-assist showing in the Game 6 win.

“His hockey IQ, his skill level – he’s a smart player,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He does the right thing with the puck most of the time. He just continues to play well for us.”

At minimum, it’s the kind of production that can only ease some of the offensive burden on forwards like Carolina’s Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, or New York’s trio of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

That could be even more vital considering this is a matchup of teams that surrendered the fewest regular-season goals in the NHL.

OILERS at FLAMES, Calgary leads series 1-0

The Battle of Alberta opened with a wild goalfest. The question now is how the defenses – and goaltenders, in particular – avoid a repeat after the teams combined for 15 goals in Game 1.

Calgary’s 9-6 win came despite blowing leads of 5-1 and 6-2 before Edmonton rallied to tie it at 6-all. Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith lasted just 6:05 into the game before being pulled after surrendering three goals. Mikko Koskinen allowed five goals on 37 shots.

Factoring out an empty-net score, the Oilers’ netminders allowed 17% of Calgary’s shots on goal to find the back of the net. Coach Jay Woodcroft said Thursday that he’d go back to Smith for Game 2.

“If they won it 2-1 or 9-6, it’s still one win and you’ve got to win four,” Smith said. “It’s about regrouping now and not letting that effect the rest of the series, moving on and focusing on Game 2.”

Things weren’t much better for the Flames’ Jacob Markstrom, who stopped just 22 of 28 shots on goal (78.6%).

“We hung six goals on their starting goaltender in their building,” Woodcroft said. “There’s things we have to do better to take care of our own end.”

All six goals by Edmonton came at even strength after they managed just three shots on four power plays. That came after they had converted at 43.8% against Calgary in four regular-season meetings.

“The guys were great in front of me. I’ve got to be better,” Markstrom said. “Everyone knows that. Myself included.”

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    Sharks goalie James Reimer declines to wear Pride jersey

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    San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer won’t take part in pregame warmups Saturday night, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

    Reimer said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he “always strived to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.

    “In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in life,” Reimer said.

    Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, with Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov declining to in January. Reimer was not slated to start in Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is Pride night.

    Additionally, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness.

    “As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”

    The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed in Reimer’s actions.

    “Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” the organization said. “Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”

    AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

    Panarin, Shesterkin lead Rangers to 6-0 rout of Penguins

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    NEW YORK (AP) Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves as the New York Rangers routed Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night for their second win over the Penguins in three days.

    Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the surging Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 home games and are 12-4-0 in their past 16 at Madison Square Garden.

    Shesterkin won his fifth straight and posted his second shutout this season. He nimbly denied Pittsburgh forward Mikael Granland with a sprawling save five minutes into the third period to preserve the shutout, the 10th of his career. His other one this season was a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

    “When you put in hard and honest work, miracles happen,” Shesterkin said through a translator. ”We played wonderfully today – scored many, many goals. Honestly, I hope the fans loved it. We’re playing for them.”

    The Penguins lost their third straight and trail the Rangers by 12 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, still in wild-card position, is trying to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight time.

    “Tonight was a humbling experience for all of us,” coach Mike Sullivan said. ”At this time of year, you have to have a short memory. We still have control of our destiny.”

    Patrick Kane and defenseman K’Andre Miller also had two assists apiece as New York improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers are five points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils, who lost at Florida on Saturday.

    “This was a big game for our goalie and our team,” Panarin said. “If you work at playing the right way, you have opportunities for goals.”

    Since Dec. 5, when they turned around their season with a 6-4 comeback win at home over St. Louis, the Rangers are 29-9-5.

    As he did on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Penguins 4-2, Zibanejad opened the scoring. He got his team-leading 36th goal at 5:10 of the first, beating Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Trouba and Miller assisted.

    Panarin made it 2-0 at 19:49 on the power play, whipping the puck past Jarry from the left circle off a pass from Adam Fox.

    Tarasenko increased the lead at 3:54 of the second with his fifth goal since joining the Rangers in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9. Tarasenko has points in 10 of his first 18 games with the Rangers.

    Kreider made it 4-0 at 6:43 with his 31st goal and third in two games against the Penguins. Kane and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Kreider’s 260th career goal, which moved the Rangers forward within two of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the franchise list.

    New York won Thursday when Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third and added an empty-netter.

    After Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry in net following Kreider’s goal, Trouba beat the replacement with a sharp-angle shot at 8:39 for his eighth to increase the margin to 5-0. Trouba has points in six of his last eight games.

    Panarin scored again at 16:38 of the second – his 22nd goal of the season – to make it 6-0, with assists to Kane and Filip Chytil.

    “We’re building chemistry, building every day and every game,” Kane said.

    Panarin has points in eight of his last 10 games and leads the Rangers with 77 points overall, while Kane has seven points in his last six games.

    “It’s nice to see that many great players on your team,” added Panarin, whose first two NHL seasons were played alongside Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks. “We’re happy tonight.”

    Zibanejad assisted on goals by Tarasenko and Trouba and has 25 points – including 14 goals – over his last 20 games.

    “It was just one of those nights when the puck goes in for us,” Zibanejad said. “And obviously Igor gives us a boost making all those saves.”

    NOTES: The Penguins were missing defenseman Jeff Petry after he was hit with an unpenalized elbow from Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Dalton Heinen and played defenseman Mark Friedman for the first time since Feb. 11. … The Rangers were without injured defenseman Ryan Lindgren for the 10th straight game.


    Penguins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

    Rangers: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

    AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

    Coyotes sign Shane Doan’s son to entry-level contract

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    TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Doan is following his father’s footsteps into professional hockey.

    The Arizona Coyotes signed the 21-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2023-24 NHL season. He will report to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL and play his first game against the Calgary Wranglers.

    Doan’s father, Shane, played 21 seasons with the franchise, many of those as captain, and followed it from Winnipeg to the desert in 1996. Shane Doan now serves as Arizona’s chief hockey development officer.

    The Coyotes drafted Josh Doan in the second round of the 2021, but he opted to play for the hometown Arizona State Sun Devils.

    Josh Doan set school records for goals (12) and assists (25) as a freshman last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 39 games with Arizona State this season.

    The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder also played two seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

    Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman has shoulder surgery

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    CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman had surgery on his right shoulder.

    The team said the operation was performed in Los Angeles. Team physician Michael Terry said the 23-year-old Guttman is expected “to be out of hockey activities for approximately four months.”

    Guttman had been a pleasant surprise for rebuilding Chicago. He made his NHL debut last month and finished the season with four goals and two assists in 14 games.

    Guttman was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2017 draft. He agreed to a two-year contract with Chicago in August 2022 that had a $950,000 salary cap hit.