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The Buzzer: Shutouts for three, Dubnyk gets win No. 200

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Players of the Night:

Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins, Keith Kinkaid, New Jersey Devils and Curtis McElhinney, Toronto Maple Leafs: Where do we begin on the night of the shutout? Rask didn’t have a particularly busy night making 23 saves, but when you’re facing names like Kucherov and Stamkos, it’s always dangerous. Still, Rask kept rolling along. He is 27-3-2 in his past 32 starts. That’s just silly. … Kinkaid, meanwhile stopped 38 — including 19 in the first period — in a 3-0 win against the Kings for his fourth career shutout. … No Frederik Andersen for Toronto? No problem. McElhinney stepped in and pitched a 33-save performance as the Leafs down the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.

Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues: The Blues defenseman scored twice in regulation and then assisted on Brayden Schenn‘s overtime winner to cap off a three-point night.

Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild: While he didn’t get a shutout, Dubnyk did stop 30 of 31 en route to his 200th career NHL win. The win was also important for the Wild, who moved to within five points of the Winnipeg Jets for second place in the Central Division, and moved five points ahead of the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche for third place.

Highlights of the Night:

Filthy pass:

First-goal celebrations are always the best:

Voracek with a slick move in front:

Save of the year candidate:

Factoids of the Night:

Home is where the wins are:

A legend passes a legend:

Believe in McJesus:

Scary Scenes of the Night:

Scores:

Sabres 5, Blackhawks 3

Oilers 4, Panthers 2

Devils 3, Kings 0

Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 0

Bruins 3, Lightning 0

Flyers 4, Hurricanes 2

Blue Jackets 2, Senators 1

Blue 4, Rangers 3 (OT)

Wild 3, Coyotes 1

Sharks 5, Canucks 3


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

It’s St. Louis Blues day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The St. Louis Blues day.

Another strong regular season followed by an early playoff exit. Business as usual for the St. Louis Blues, right?

Well, maybe. You get the sense that the 2015-16 season is an ultimatum, with the T.J. Oshie trade being a warning: this might be the last shot for many, perhaps including head coach Ken Hitchcock.

On paper, there’s still a lot of promise in St. Louis.

Vladimir Tarasenko tore onto the scene as a true elite sniper in 2015-16, and he was paid handsomely for it. Jaden Schwartz lacks some of the sizzle, but he’s a blue chip of his own. There’s some uncertainty for the likes of David Backes, but let’s not forget that St. Louis scored 248 goals last season, more than any other Western Conference playoff squad.

Of course, a Hitch-helmed team is expected to be stout defensively, and the Blues boast two fantastic blueliners in Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo.

The two-headed dragon setup remains in net with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen, but hey, at least they like each other.

Off-season recap

As mentioned above, the Blues re-upped with expected cornerstones Allen and Tarasenko. They also parted ways with Oshie and Barret Jackman.

St. Louis actually looks pretty similar heading into 2015-16, but young players could up the ante quite a bit. Could someone like Robby Fabbri and/or Ty Rattie become difference-makers for the Blues? Training camp might help decide that, but their development is one of the more important aspects of this off-season.

If fear isn’t enough of a motivator, there’s also avoiding sights like these in the future:

Tarasenko really wants to win a Cup, apparently

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Vladimir Tarasenko had a conference call with reporters this morning, the day after his eight-year, $60 million extension with the Blues was announced.

Can you sense a theme?

The Blues, despite icing a number of strong teams since joining the NHL in 1967, have never won the Stanley Cup. The last three seasons they’ve had good teams during the regular season, only to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. They haven’t been past the second round since 2001.source:

In Tarasenko, the Blues boast an elite goal-scoring winger who’s only 23 years old.

“We saw, I think just the tip of the iceberg of what Vladi can do in this league last year,” GM Doug Armstrong said yesterday, per NHL.com.

“Vladimir signed for eight years, Alex Pietrangelo signed for (seven), I think the nucleus of our defense and our forwards are here for the foreseeable future and we can build around that group.”

Safe to say, if St. Louis doesn’t win a championship over the next five or six years — a period when Tarasenko and Pietrangelo will be right smack in their primes — it’ll be even more heartache for the Blues and their fans.

Related: Blues appear set in the short-term, but difficult decisions loom

Blues add depth on D, sign Benoit

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Defenseman Andre Benoit has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues.

From the press release:

Benoit, 31, dressed in 59 regular season games with the Buffalo Sabres last season, posting nine points (one goal, eight assists) and 20 penalty minutes.

Overall, the 5’11, 192-pound has appeared in four National Hockey League (NHL) seasons, including stints with Ottawa, Colorado and Buffalo.  He has amassed 48 points (11 goals, 37 assists) and 60 penalty minutes in 179 career regular season games, as well as four assists and six penalty minutes in 12 career postseason games.

The Blues already have six d-men on one-way contracts for next season: Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo, and Chris Butler. There’s also young Petteri Lindbohm, still on his entry-level deal.

Related: Blues inform Barret Jackman that he won’t be re-signed

Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors

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After another first-round playoff exit, many expected some sort of roster shake-up in St. Louis — and over the last week or so, rumors have swirled about a potential Kevin Shattenkirk trade.

On Wednesday, the Post-Dispatch tried to gauge the legitimacy of said rumors…

Now, the Blues have put Shattenkirk in the mix, at least gauging interest in what the All-Star could bring, according to league sources and media reports that have cited Edmonton, Columbus and Philadelphia as possible partners.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong did not immediately return a message late Wednesday. Jordan Neumann, Shattenkirk’s agent, told the Post-Dispatch that he believed the reports are “not true.”

It’s easy to see why Shattenkirk would be in demand. At 26, he’s emerged as one of the NHL’s top young offensive defensemen — 44 points in just 56 games (abdomen injury) last year — and, in January, earned his first All-Star nod. He also carries a very reasonable $4.25M cap hit and is under contract through 2017.

Which begs the question — why would St. Louis move him?

Well, the Blues have Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester locked into sizable deals through 2019. That means the club might not have the money available to extend Shattenkirk, given he’d be in line for a sizable raise. What’s more, GM Doug Armstrong has some intriguing young d-man prospects in the pipeline — Joel Edmundson, Jordan Schmaltz, Petteri Lindbohm and Tommy Vanelli — that could push for a NHL gig by ’17.

And there is, of course, the shake-up theory. Moving Shattenkirk would be a bold move that reverberates throughout the room, something the club might consider given its recent playoff failures.