Anders Lee

Lamoriello Islanders would match Mathew Barzal offer sheet
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Lamoriello says Islanders would match Barzal offer sheet

If an opportunistic NHL team sends Mathew Barzal an offer sheet, Lou Lamoriello claims that the Islanders would match it.

Lamoriello briefly but authoritatively stated as much in an … often brief and authoritative Q&A with fans on the Islanders website. Here’s his exact answer:

It is our intention to not allow it to get to that point, but should that happen, the answer is yes.

Lamoriello also mentioned that:

  • The Islanders expect intriguing goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin to play in North America next season, and specifically with the Islanders.
  • The team believes Johnny Boychuk and Casey Cizikas would be ready if play resumes.
  • Meanwhile, Lamoriello said Adam Pelech is expected to be ready by (2020-21) training camp.

But, yeah, that Barzal bit is the most interesting. Let’s ruminate on the situation for a moment.

A Barzal bidder could be a threat if Islanders, others face cap crunches

As of this writing, Cap Friendly estimates the Islanders’ would-be cap space for 2020-21 at about $12.62 million. Of course, that estimate would be based on an $81.5M ceiling. Usually, we assume there will be at least a modest increase, and the league pointed to that happening … until the coronavirus pandemic put the season on “pause.”

Now that the league is on pause, there are all sorts of questions. While the biggest ones are about whether the league could hand out the Stanley Cup (and how), financial worries also linger. It sure sounds like it will be difficult to even maintain an $81.5M cap, let alone raise it.

It’s tough to picture a team being cutthroat during such a time, especially in an NHL where credible offer sheets are about as rare as Lamoriello approving of a high jersey number and mustache combination.

But things can change quickly, and if life and sports go back to something approaching normalcy, one could imagine a perfect opportunity for someone to try to poach Barzal with an offer sheet. Generally speaking, such offer sheets are often designed to hurt the team to match thanks to certain structural quirks. (The Flyers front-loaded their offer to try to get Shea Weber, for instance.)

A Barzal offer sheet could hurt maneuverability even if Islanders match

For better or worse, the Islanders have handed out a lot of term to forwards lately.

Anders Lee (29, $7M cap hit through 2025-26), Brock Nelson (28, $6M, 2024-25), Jordan Eberle (29, $5.5M, 2023-24) and Josh Bailey (30, $5M, 2023-24) already represented a pretty substantial group with its fair share of risks. Then Lamoriello added Jean-Gabriel Pageau (27, extended at $5M AAV through 2025-26) to the mix.

The Islanders would do what they need to do to retain Barzal, as Lamoriello said. Even so, a strategic offer sheet could create an especially tight fit.

Such thoughts make you wonder if the Islanders might want to get something done ASAP with Barzal, but back in January, he indicated talks will wait.

“We want to make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs, take a run at the Stanley Cup, and after that we’ll figure [the contract] out,” Barzal said during All-Star weekend, via NHL.com.

A few weeks ago, Elliotte Friedman surmised that an offer sheet could indeed come for Barzal, and it’s easy to see why.

Barzal is vital to Islanders, compares well to Marner

If you’re a team in need of an impact player, wouldn’t Barzal be worth at least as much as Mitch Marner‘s $10.893M AAV, if not more? After all, Barzal brings all of that speed and production at center.

Compare Barzal and Marner based on multiple season RAPM charts at Evolving Hockey, for example:

With 60 points in 68 games, Barzal leads all Islanders scorers, which puts him on track to top team point production for three straight seasons. While he hasn’t matched that explosive rookie year of 85 points in 2017-18, Barzal’s been able to avoid Barry Trotz’s doghouse.

His value to the Islanders is abundantly clear, and won’t be lost on potential suitors. It would be surprising if anyone snatched Barzal away, but that offer sheet threat could really drive up the price for the Islanders.

Perhaps a team might snare a player away who’s a few rungs lower down the ladder with an offer sheet considering the economic turbulence, though?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders’ Boychuk injured by skate against Canadiens

Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk clipped with skate
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(UPDATE: Boychuk needed 90 stitches after skate to face.)

It was not a scene for the faint of heart.

Johnny Boychuk covered his face and bolted for the locker room after a skate caught him up high. The Islanders defenseman was escorting Artturi Lehkonen away from the net when the Canadiens forward fell, and clipped Boychuk with his skate.

After the game, Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said Boychuk was being evaluated.

“It’s a scary situation,” captain Anders Lee said after the 6-2 loss. “You hate to see that happen.”

“It’s not good,” said Cal Clutterbuck. “Not easy to see. Not good at all.”

This is the third time this season the Islanders have lost a player due to a skate blade. Clutterbuck suffered a gash on his wrist against the Bruins on December 19th and returned to the lineup this past Saturday. Casey Cizikas was cut on his leg with a skate against the Flyers in February.

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Islanders bolstered with trade-deadline addition of Pageau

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NEW YORK — After standing pat at the trade deadline a year ago, New York Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello stressed that he didn’t believe in making a deal just to get a new player or two.

It had to be for the right players who would improve the team.

Lamoriello had the same message Monday after acquiring center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from Ottawa at this year’s deadline. The move came eight days after the addition of defenseman Andy Greene from New Jersey.

“I think the message to our players in both years is we believe in them and we will always try and make the team better,” Lamoriello said on a conference call.

“You have to be careful at the given time what the needs are and who the type of player is that you want in there and you target that. And if you don’t get that player, you don’t just make a move for the sake of doing it. Last year, we would have made a move if we could’ve gotten the player that maybe we felt could’ve added and not just been another player. Fortunately for us this year, we were able to get that player in that position.”

That’s a big step for an Islanders team that had frustrated some fans by failing to make significant moves at the deadline in recent years. However, when Lamoriello was hired in May 2018, he vowed to change the culture of a team that had missed the playoffs for the eighth time in 11 seasons.

He’s done just that.

Last season, the Islanders spent a big chunk of the season at the top of the Metropolitan Division before finishing second. They swept Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs when everything seemed to be going their way, then got swept by Carolina when they struggled to score.

This season, New York had a stellar start that featured a franchise-record 17-game point streak (15-0-2) before cooling off and shuffling between third place in the division and the Eastern Conference’s two wild cards in recent weeks – even briefly falling out of a playoff spot entirely.

“I’ve heard only good things about the Islanders,” said the 27-year-old Pageau, who agreed to a six-year, $30 million extension following the trade. “I couldn’t be more excited to go on a team that’s going to be competing every year for a playoff, for a championship. … As a player, that’s what we play for, that’s what drives us.”

While Greene was brought on to help a defensive unit that was weakened after Adam Pelech’s season-ending Achilles injury last month, Pageau bolsters the Islanders in the middle. He will likely center the third line behind Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson, with Casey Cizikas on the fourth line once he heals up after a laceration on his left leg.

Pageau comes to New York after putting up a career-high 24 goals and 40 points – just three shy of his best – in 60 games with Ottawa this season. He had four goals and five assists on the power play, and three goals and three assists short-handed.

“It solidifies down the middle for a good period of time,” Lamoriello said. “(Pageau) is a player who fits right in with who we are, the way we play and the style we play. I don’t think there will be much of an adjustment period for him. … I don’t think there were many people out there that could have filled this need, and we were fortunate to get one of them that could.”

Lamoriello wasn’t concerned that Pageau’s extension – which comes after the team re-signed captain Anders Lee and fellow forwards Nelson and Jordan Eberle to big deals last summer – would be a hindrance this summer when Barzal and defensemen Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews are restricted free agents.

“We’ll worry about that when the time comes,” Lamoriello said. “We certainly have every intention of signing our restricted free agents.”

Pageau was expected to join the Islanders on Tuesday ahead of their home game against the rival New York Rangers, but both he and Lamoriello were unsure if all the paperwork would be filed and approved in time for the newcomer to make his debut.

“I know playing the Rangers is a big rivalry,” said Pageau, who had four goals against the Rangers in a 2017 playoff game. “Obviously it’d be an exciting start to play the game.”

PHT’s 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Live Blog

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Welcome to Pro Hockey Talk’s 2020 NHL trade deadline live blog. There’s already been a flurry of action in the past few days, but some names are still out there who could potentially be on the move before 3 p.m. ET today. Read on for news and analysis.

4 p.m ET

That’s all for the live blog after an active Monday trade deadline. Be sure to check out the Trade Tracker for all of the moves that might still be pending as well as the Winners and Losers later on tonight.

3:30 p.m ET

Johnny Gaudreau caused a bit of a stir earlier when he left the ice early. That will cause plenty of speculation this time of year, but Johnny Hockey put all that trade to rest.

“I had to pee,” Gaudreau said via the Calgary Sun. “I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. Next time I will hold it in as long as I can, until practice is over.”

3:20 p.m ET

Not a Tyson Barrie deal but the Maple Leafs have announced they’ve extended Jake Muzzin for four years with a $5.625M cap hit. That amounts to $22.5M over the length of the contract.

Since coming over in a trade from LA last season Muzzin, who could have been a UFA this summer, has 38 points in 82 games with Toronto while averaging over 21 minutes a night.

3:17 p.m ET

Carolina has helped their blue line acquired Sami Vatanen from the Devils for a pick and a prospect, per Bob McKenzie, and also added Brady Skjei from the Rangers for a 2020 first-rounder. With injuries to Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce, it was clear the Canes needed help on the blue line.

Vatanen, who can become a UFA in July, has missed the last 10 games with a leg injury, but he certainly bolsters the defense when healthy as a right-hand shot. He has 23 points in 47 games this season and has been averaging nearly 22 minutes a night. Skjei has four years left with a $5.25M cap hit. He has eight goals and 23 points in 60 games this season while averaging 20:41 of ice time.

Don Waddell is going for it in hopes of building off of last spring’s memorable run to the Eastern Conference Final.

PHT analysis

3:15 p.m ET

The rumored Zach PariseAndrew Ladd deal was not consummated today. According to Mike Russo, the Wild and Islanders began discussion the swap back in the summer, so maybe this is something that Lou Lamoriello and Bill Guerin will revisit around the draft or after free agency opens in July.

Here’s Lamoriello on how close a deal actually was: “I don’t know what the definition of ‘close’ is. But until something materializes, it’s not close.”

3:06 p.m ET

3:04 p.m ET

There’s a new goalie in Las Vegas and his name is Robin Lehner. The Golden Knights added Lehner in a deal with the Blackhawks for Malcolm Subban. Per Natural Stat Trick, Vegas owns the sixth-worst event strength save percentage (.901) and this is a good move to push Marc-Andre Fleury, who has not had his best season.

The trade is also a decision on Subban, who has been mediocre backing up Fleury this year. The way Lehner has played, would it be surprising if he ends up getting the bulk of the work down the stretch and potentially in the playoffs?

• PHT analysis

2:40 p.m ET

There are 20 minutes to go and still no movement on the likes of Joe Thornton, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, Mike Hoffman, or Robin Lehner.

Deals can be announced after the 3 p.m. ET deadline as long as teams process it beforehand. The queue at NHL Central Registry to get the trade through can get backed up this late in the game.

2:35 p.m ET

Conor Sheary is headed back to Pittsburgh as the Sabres sent him and Evan Rodrigues to the Penguins for Dominik Kahun. Sheary, began his NHL career with the Penguins and was part of their back-to-back Stanley Cup teams in 2016 and 2017. He also spent plenty of time alongside Sidney Crosby.

Rodrigues asked for a trade in December and now has his wish joining a Cup contender.

The Blackhawks dealt Kahun, a impending RFA, last summer for Olli Maatta and he put up 10 goals and 27 points in 50 games this season. He now joins the list of players Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has acquired and dealt again within a year. Alex Galchenyuk, Jamie Oleksiak, Erik Gudbranson, Tanner Pearson, Derick Brassard, Ryan Reaves, and Riley Sheahan, among others, are in that club.

• PHT analysis

2:19 p.m ET

The idea of Jumbo going back to Boston is slowly losing hope.

2:16 p.m ET

The Ovechkin’s have announced an acquisition of their own as Nastasiya Ovechkin reveals she is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

2:15 p.m ET

Vegas doesn’t get its man in Erik Gustafsson as the defenseman goes from Chicago to the Flames for conditional picks. Calgary also adds depth to their blue line in picking up Derek Forbort from the Kings for a 2021 fourth-rounder.

• PHT analysis

1:54 p.m ET

It’s official: J.G. Pageau and the Islanders have worked out a six-year, $30M extension after this morning’s trade from Ottawa. He now joins captain Anders Lee as the only Islanders signed through the 2025-26 NHL season. Six years is one more than what the Senators were interested in doing, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.

Pageau also gets a full no-trade clause in the first two seasons and a partial no-trade for the final four years.

1:37 p.m. ET

Always double check those Twitter accounts, friends!

1:26 p.m. ET

Guess it was always in the cards…

1:21 p.m. ET

Andreas Athanasiou is on the move to the Oilers after the Red Wings sent the speedy forward to Edmonton for second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and Sam Gagner. Prospect Ryan Kuffner is also part of the deal going to the Oilers. This could be a good change of scenery deal for the 25-year-old winger. After putting up 30 goals and 54 points last season, AA has struggled this year with only 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games on a struggling Detroit team.

Now imagine Athanasiou, who can become a restricted free agent this summer, on a line next to Connor McDavid. Talk about speed.

This is second deal between the Oilers and Red Wings since Sunday night following the Mike Green trade.

PHT analysis

1:05 p.m. ET

With Marleau on the move to Pittsburgh, where does that leave Joe Thornton? According to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, Jumbo is still considering his options with two hours to go. The 40-year-old is averaging 15:19 of ice time this season in 62 games where he has four goals and 27 points.

The Bruins and Penguins were among some of the rumored teams interested if Thornton was willing to green light a deal. Certainly a return to Boston would make for one of the bigger stories of the deadline, but it remains to be seen if Sharks GM Doug Wilson will even have the chance to make the move.

How about the Stars? Thornton’s old buddy Joe Pavelski joined in the summer, and former Sharks PR man Tom Holy is also employed by Dallas. Don’t rule out that connection.

12:57 p.m. ET

Bobby Ryan, who’s been dealing with an alcohol problem and was in the NHL/NHLPA assistance program since November, could be back for the Senators Monday night. It would be his first game since Nov. 16.

Ryan, by the way, is one of two Senators left from Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final. The other is Craig Anderson.

12:36 p.m. ET

Hold on to your butts we may have a trade happening that no one saw coming. According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the Islanders and Wild are working on a deal that could see Zach Parise reunited with Lou Lamoriello and Andrew Ladd headed to The State of Hockey.

Parise’s dad, J.P., played parts of four seasons with the Islanders from 1975-1978.

Ladd, who would have to waive his no-trade clause, still has three years on a deal that will carry a $4M cap hit. Parise, meanwhile, is willing to waive his no-move clause to make the deal happen, per Mike Russo. His contract, as we famously know, has five years left and a $7,538,461 cap hit with it. What softens the blow somewhat is Parise’s salary declines from $9M this season to $8M next year to $6M, $2M, and then $1M in the final two years.

And if you’re wondering…

12:29 p.m. ET

The Hurricanes announced today that Petr Mrazek suffered a concussion after his collision with Kyle Clifford Saturday night. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the injured Mrazek, James Reimer and Brett Pesce, “Nobody is short term.” David Ayres is a little too busy at the moment, so where does this put GM Don Waddell? Certainly Robin Lehner is a name that could be heading to Raleigh before 3 p.m. ET today. The Blackhawks netminder can be a UFA this summer and sports a .920 even strength save percentage in 33 appearances this season.

12:17 p.m. ET

Some non-trade news today: The Red Wings claim Dmytro Timashov on waivers from the Maple Leafs and the Ducks add Andrew Agozzino from the Penguins after he was waived on Sunday. Losing Timashov now gives Toronto $10,578,961 in long-term injury relief, per Cap Friendly.

Also, Rocco Grimaldi has signed a two-year, $4 million extension with the Predators. The 27-year-old has 10 goals and 30 points in 58 games this season.

12:06 p.m. ET

Speculation abound that the Islanders are close to extending J.G. Pageau after acquiring the forward this morning. It was a big package and now it makes sense. In 60 games this season Pageau has 24 goals and 40 points. He’s also shooting a career high 17.8% so when does the regression monster come to bite?

11:54 a.m. ET

Here’s a fun one: Wayne Simmonds is heading to the Sabres for a conditional fourth-round pick with New Jersey retaining 50% of his salary. Simmonds, who can be an UFA this summer, joins a Buffalo team sitting six points out of a playoff spot as of Monday. Interesting strategy by Jason Botterill. Is this move a precursor to flipping Simmonds elsewhere or a trial run to a potential extension before July 1?

PHT analysis

11:23 a.m. ET

A very newsworthy morning for the Rangers. President John Davidson said that they have extended Chris Kreider for seven years at a $6.5M cap hit, which is good news for Rangers fans and for their 2020 playoff push. JD also brought some bad news revealing that Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shestrkin were involved in a Sunday night car accident. Buchnevich is considered day to day, but Shesterkin suffered a small rib fracture and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Henrik Lundqvist is now back in the New York goalie picture.

11:14 a.m. ET

It’s funny what deadlines can do. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, now it appears as if the Rangers will extend Chris Kreider, which would take one of the bigger names off the board.

11:05 a.m. ET

Patrick Marleau‘s quest for a Stanley Cup will continue in Pittsburgh after the Penguins acquired the veteran in exchange for a conditional third-round pick. (Pick becomes a second if Pittsburgh wins the Cup.) This move has real “Iginla to Pens, circa 2013” vibes to it. Does Marleau’s game fit into their system of speed and chipping and winning pucks? He’s certainly added depth on the wing and Mike Sullivan is hoping he can find a role for him in their bottom six.

“Although we have had a disappointing season in San Jose, he deserves every opportunity to have a chance at winning a Stanley Cup, and we’re happy to help accommodate that,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck.”

PHT analysis

10:50 a.m. ET

Nate Thompson moves from the Canadiens to Philadelphia, which gives Marc Bergevin an arsenal of picks when Montreal hosts the 2021 draft in June. Bergevin has stockpiled 13 picks in the upcoming draft, six of which will come in the opening three rounds.

10:16 a.m. ET

Another move, this one between two teams chasing playoff spots in the East. Vincent Trocheck is on his way to Carolina in exchange for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen. The Panthers have dropped nine of their last 13 games. This must be Dale Tallon’s idea of a wake-up call.

PHT analysis

10:00 a.m. ET

The NHL schedule features only the Senators and Blue Jackets so there will be heavy focus on whatever moves are consummated before the deadline. Some names still out there include Chris Kreider, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, Erik Gustafsson, Jesper Fast, and Wayne Simmonds, among many others.

In Kreider’s case, there were questions as to whether he’d even be on the market. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported over the weekend that contract talks between the forward and the Rangers have stalled and he’ll likely be dealt. He’s been linked to the Bruins for a while now, but was adding Ondrej Kase their only move to bolster up front?

9:50 a.m. ET

We have our first trades of the day! Vladislav Namestnikov is headed to the Avalanche for a 2021 fourth-round pick. Joe Sakic adds depth for a team that has eyes on winning the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Senators GM Pierre Dorion goes and sends Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the Islanders for a conditional 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2022 third-round pick. If the 2020 first-rounder is top three, it moves to 2021, and Ottawa will only receive the 2022 pick if the Islanders win the Cup this season.

For a team that is looking towards the future, this has been a good day so far for Dorion, who could also move Tyler Ennis before the deadline. The Senators own nine potential picks in the first three rounds of the 2002 NHL Draft and seven in the first four rounds in 2021. Those are a lot of assets to build a prospect cupboard and also use for trade bait.

PHT analysis

9:00 a.m. ET

Good morning! Welcome to Pro Hockey Talk’s 2020 NHL trade deadline live blog. There’s already been a flurry of action in the past few days, but some names are still out there who could potentially be on the move before 3 p.m. ET today.

Be sure to check out the PHT Trade Tracker today for every move made and we’ll have full coverage of all the big deals that go down today.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Connor McDavid does not miss a beat in return

Connor McDavid shines in return The Buzzer
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Three Stars

1. William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights

What matters more: a hat trick, or a two-goal, two-assist night? Maybe the tiebreaker can be who ends up the winner.

I’m going with that, and thus handing Sunday’s top star to Karlsson. “Wild Bill” broke a 20-game goal drought with the third hat trick of his NHL career. The Ducks almost ended up spoiling his big night (more on that here, and in a moment), but Vegas held strong. Now the Golden Knights are on a six-game winning streak.

For all we know, a Karlsson hot streak could be the difference between Vegas winning the Pacific Division or not.

2. Adam Henrique and Nick RitchieAnaheim Ducks

Both Henrique and Ritchie authored those two-goal, two-assist nights discussed in the first star section.

Henrique provided the greatest dramatics, as his two goals unexpectedly sent Sunday’s Golden Knights – Ducks game to OT.

Henrique now has 23 goals and 37 points in 62 games this season. It would be tempting to call the 30-year-old a possible trade deadline target, but his $5.825M AAV extends to 2023-24, so I’m not sure teams really want to take that type of risk.

3. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers managed remarkably well without number 97, but it must have been exhilarating to get him back. Perhaps it even gave Oilers GM Ken Holland the extra push to trade for Mike Green later on Sunday?

Either way, it was a promising return by McDavid. The all-world player scored a goal and two assists, pushing his 2019-20 totals to 31 goals and 84 points in just 56 games. It’s pretty staggering that players are skilled enough to generate such numbers in a very clamped-down NHL (even if games are slightly higher scoring lately).

Anders Lee (2G, 1A), Jordan Binnington (32 out of 33 saves) and Anton Khudobin (31 out of 32) rank as other players worthy of honorable mentions. When in doubt, go with McDavid, especially during a return from injury.

Highlight of the Night (yes, from a great return by Connor McDavid)

Is it wrong to describe this as “vintage McDavid?” McDavid celebrated his return with a triumphant, very “McDavid” goal:

Factoids

  • The Blues have only allowed two goals total over the last four games, all wins. That’s only the eighth time they’ve managed to allow two or fewer over a four-game span during their history. Remarkably, they last pulled off the feat in February 2019. (NHL PR)
  • Speaking of the Blues, they will face the Wild in the 2021 Winter Classic.
  • If Calgary makes it into the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, chalk it up to being scrappy. They’re an NHL-best 14-4-1 on the road since Nov. 23. (Sportsnet Stats)
  • The Canadiens traded Ilya Kovalchuk to the Capitals, while the Oilers snagged Mike Green from the Red Wings. Zach Bogosian signed with the Lightning.
  • For better or worse, the Stars continue to play with a small margin for error. They’re tied with the Blue Jackets for the most wins in one-goal games this season with 18. (NHL PR)
  • Sabres goalie Jonas Johansson earned his first NHL win. (Sabres)

Scores

WSH 5 – PIT 3
BUF 2 – WIN 1
DAL 2 – CHI 1
NYI 4 – SJS 1
CGY 4 – DET 2
STL 4 – MIN 1
VGK 6 – ANA 5 (OT)
EDM 4 – LAK 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.