Nathan Gerbe

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 and Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate
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The Buzzer: Lightning win ninth straight; Smith’s hat trick powers Predators

Three Stars

1) Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevskiy extended his point streak to 20 games after a 29-save performance in the Lightning’s 3-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers. The Russian goaltender improved to 18-0-2 during the impressive streak. The Bolts have erased a slow start thanks to a 10-game winning streak at home and a 21-2-1 record in their past 24 games. The Boston Bruins currently have a one-point advantage in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings on the surging Bolts.

2) Zach Sanford, St. Louis Blues

A four-goal performance wasn’t enough to help the Blues escape Las Vegas with two points, but was a career night for the forward, nevertheless. Sanford scored in a variety of ways around the net and added a wicked wrist shot to cap off his excellent performance. Sanford gave the Blues a one-goal lead with 8:15 remaining in the final period, but the Golden Knights found a way to tie the game and notch the overtime winner. It was St. Louis’ first game since Jay Bouwmeester’s medical incident on Tuesday.

3) Craig Smith, Nashville Predators

Smith’s first career hat trick helped Nashville snap a two-game losing streak. Juuse Saros made 31 saves and collected his second shutout of the season in the Predators’ 5-0 win against the New York Islanders. Smith buried a sharp-angled shot to open the scoring 35 seconds into the game. He later wired two wrist shots from the slot to complete the hat trick. The 30-year-old has five goals in the previous three games.

3A) Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames

In a 6-0 rout against the Anaheim Ducks, Backlund scored twice as the Flames picked up their third win in the previous five games. The Swedish centerman benefitted from Michael Stone’s spinning pass midway through the opening period to give the Flames a 2-0 lead. Fast forward to late in the second period, Ducks forward Rickard Rakell floated a backhand pass from the point that Backlund easily intercepted. Backlund raced up ice and converted a neat deke to his backhand to help the Flames run away with this one.

Other notable performances

  • James van Riemsdyk recorded a goal and an assist in the Flyers’ 6-2 win against the Panthers.
  • Artemi Panarin had a goal, an assist and shootout tally as the Rangers collected their third straight win.
  • Wayne Simmonds scored twice as part of a four-goal third period in the Devils’ 4-1 win against the Red Wings.
  • Tyler Seguin ended a 17-game goal drought in the Stars’ 3-2 win against the Maple Leafs.
  • Jack Eichel had a goal, an assist and a beautiful set up for Victor Olofsson for the overtime winner.

Highlights of the Night

Jack Eichel raced past a defender in overtime, then stopped on a dime and set up Victor Olofsson for the overtime winner.

Auston Matthews fired a laser past Ben Bishop to tie David Pastrnak for the NHL scoring lead at 41 goals.

Smith picked Nick Leddy‘s pocket, then found an opening from a sharp angle 35 seconds into the game.

Vladislav Gavrikov found Nathan Gerbe trailing the play when the Blue Jackets took a one-goal lead in final minute of opening period.

Panarin showed great patience with this impressive deke, but should it have counted?

Stats of the Night

Scores

Buffalo Sabres 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3 (OT)

Dallas Stars 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Edmonton Oilers 1

Philadelphia Flyers 6, Florida Panthers 2

New Jersey Devils 4, Detroit Red Wings 1

Ottawa Senators 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

New York Rangers 4, Minnesota Wild 3 (SO)

Nashville Predators 5, New York Islanders 0

Washington Capitals 3, Colorado Avalanche 2

Vegas Golden Knights 6, St. Louis Blues 5 (OT)

Calgary Flames 6, Anaheim Ducks 0


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.

PHT Morning Skate: McCrimmon dispels theories on Gallant firing

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon dispels two theories on Gerard Gallant firing. (Sin Bin Vegas)

• Members of the NHL’s 700-goal club expect Alex Ovechkin to get to 800 goals. (NHL.com)

Taylor Hall has been a bright spot during the Arizona Coyotes’ recent dry spell. (The Hockey News)

• Playoff vibes are real for the Chicago Blackhawks. (NBC Chicago)

Kasperi Kapanen was scratched by the Toronto Maple Leafs this weekend because he was late for a team meeting. (TSN)

• How to watch Games 3-5 of the USA-Canada rivalry series (The Ice Garden)

• How Tomas Hertl‘s season-ending injury has changed the San Jose Sharks’ mindset and approach. (NBC Bay Area)

• Canadiens’ need for size boosts case to keep Ilya Kovalchuk at trade deadline. (Sportsnet)

• The New York Islanders start the second half of the season know it is crunch time. (Islanders Insight)

• The Calgary Flames are worse than they were a year ago, but have been better under Geoff Ward. (Flames Nation)

• Blues hoping home ice cures what ails them. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Brian Dumoulin can not get back soon enough for the Pittsburgh Penguins (Pensburgh)

Kailer Yamamoto looks right at home on the Edmonton Oilers’ second line. (Copper and Blue)

Joel Farabee is growing up for the Philadelphia Flyers. (NBC Philadelphia)

• The Los Angeles Kings need to find out who is in and who is out. (Los Angeles Times)

Nathan Gerbe signed a new two-year, two-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets (1st Ohio Battery)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Kevin Klein (back spasms) uncertain for Rangers’ season-opener

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New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein is dealing with back spasms and is uncertain to play in Thursday’s regular-season opener against the Islanders at MSG.

Klein has missed the last two days of practice due to the spasms. His injury comes amid speculation that the club may be looking to trade Dylan McIlrath, who like Klein is a right-shot d-man.

With Klein’s status up in the air, head coach Alain Vigneault does not expect any roster moves for now. The Rangers are currently carrying eight defensemen, including Klein.

Also today came word that veteran winger Nathan Gerbe would not be reporting to the AHL. Gerbe’s one-year contract, signed on July 1, will reportedly be terminated by mutual agreement and he will play in Switzerland this season.

Gerbe was placed on waivers last week.

Rangers waive Glass and Gerbe, opening-night roster appears to be set

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The New York Rangers put a couple of veteran forwards, Tanner Glass and Nathan Gerbe, on waivers today, presumably to send them to the AHL should they clear.

Glass, 32, had just four goals in 57 games last season, while struggling badly in terms of possession. He has one year left on his contract, at a cap hit of $1.45 million. (His cap hit will be reduced to $500,000 while he’s in the minors.)

Gerbe, 29, was signed to a one-year, $600,000 deal on July 1. But the addition of Jimmy Vesey in August didn’t help Gerbe’s chances of making the opening-night roster.

The Rangers are now down to 24 players, and that includes Oscar Lindberg, who will reportedly start on injured reserve after having offseason hip surgery.

So in reality, the Rangers have made all the cuts they need to make. They start the regular season Thursday at home to the Islanders. They finished their preseason schedule with a record of 2-2-2.

Related: Pavel Buchnevich is looking to make the leap

Rangers release Maxim Lapierre from PTO

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After spending the 2015-16 season playing in Sweden and Switzerland, Maxim Lapierre was in New York Rangers training camp this year on a professional tryout contract.

On Wednesday, he was one of the roster cuts as the team begins to assemble its roster for the start of the 2016-17 season when he was released from his PTO.

Lapierre, now 31, last played in the NHL during the 2014-15 season when he split the campaign between St. Louis and Pittsburgh, scoring two goals to go with nine assists in 80 games.

It probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Lapierre didn’t make the Rangers roster. While their defense is littered with question marks, they have a pretty deep group of forwards that they strengthened over the summer with the signings of Michael Grabner, Brandon Pirri, Nathan Gerbe, and Jimmy Vesey. There is also rookie forward Pavel Buchnevich that figures to play a prominent role this season, as well as the addition of Mika Zibanejad from from the Ottawa Senators. Adding those guys to a lineup that already has Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider and you have the makings of a pretty formidable group of forwards that was going to be tough to get into.

Even though Lapierre is a bit of a pest and brings the toughness and grit that some teams still value on their fourth line, there were simply more players ahead of him that can bring more to the team.