Manny Malhotra

Bad night for Maple Leafs The Buzzer
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The Buzzer: A very bad night for the Maple Leafs

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Three Stars

1. Mark Pysyk, Florida Panthers

Pysyk played a big role in the Panthers’ toppling the Maple Leafs on Monday, including icing the game. Pysyk managed a hat trick in the win, hustling for an empty-netter.

Scanning Pysyk’s Hockey Reference page makes it clear that this is his first hat trick. While the blueliner sports a pretty modest point total this season (13 in 40 games), seven of those points are goals. Pysyk’s seven goals easily rank as a career-high.

2. Mike Matheson, Florida Panthers

While Pysyk racked up three goals, Matheson generated three assists. Matheson produced primary assists on two of those three helpers.

Matheson also fired three shots on goal, enjoyed a +3 rating, and delivered a hit and blocked shot.

Mike Hoffman deserves a mention, too. He generated a goal and an assist, helping Florida storm back from a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3 as much as the two defensemen listed.

3. Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars

Could this be the sign of a breakthrough? Joe Pavelski scored two power-play goals in 16 seconds as the Stars beat the Rangers on Monday. With that, he now has a two-game goal streak (3G).

In the past, that would just be a hot streak during a strong season. Instead, those three goals represent a significant portion of his 2019-20 totals (11G, 22 points in 52 games).

Pavelski languished with just seven points in 23 games between December and January. The Stars likely thought that Pavelski might hit a wall at some point during his three-year contract, but they have to hope that he looks more worthy of his $7M AAV down the stretch.

Of course, the Stars could help matters by opening things up a bit, though.

Highlights from Monday’s three games

The light schedule opens the door for clips from all of the games. To begin, we have the Maple Leafs’ meltdown against the Panthers, which began with a troubling injury to Frederik Andersen.

The Stars beat the Rangers 5-3, with some controversy surrounding the circumstances leading to Pavelski’s two goals.

Finally, the Flyers smothered the Red Wings 3-0. Brian Elliott only needed to make 16 saves for the shutout.

Factoids

  • The Red Wings remain winless (0-14-1) against Metropolitan Division teams. It’s no secret they’re bad, but … sheesh.
  • The Panthers generated their fifth hat trick as a team. That leads the NHL this season, and also ties their franchise record, according to NHL PR. That same NHL PR feed notes that the Panthers tied the Capitals for the league lead with four multi-goal, third period comeback wins.
  • Kaapo Kakko reached 17 points on Monday. With that, Kakko passes Manny Malhotra’s 16 points for the most by any Rangers player at age 18, according to the Rangers. If you’re like me, you’re still surprised Malhotra was drafted so high (seventh overall in 1998), considering how much of a specialist Malhotra would become.

Monday’s NHL scores

FLA 5 – TOR 3
DAL 5 – NYR 3
PHI 3 – DET 0

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.

Habs cutting ties with Gonchar, Malhotra, Weaver

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Three of the oldest players on the Montreal roster are on their way out.

Manny Malhotra, Mike Weaver and Sergei Gonchar — the Habs’ elder statesman this year, at 41 — won’t be brought back for next season, GM Marc Bergevin confirmed during Friday’s end-of-season presser.

The moves don’t come as a huge surprise, given all were pending UFAs and none played in the playoffs. Malhotra had the biggest role on the team during the regular season, appearing in 58 games, and Gonchar did provide some offense on the back end, racking up 13 points in 45 games.

Weaver, a renowned shot-blocker that played regularly in last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Final, was largely a spare part this season and appeared in just 31 games, one of the lowest totals of his career.

It’ll be interesting to see what each player does next. The 34-year-old Malhotra, the youngest of the three, said he wants to keep playing; Weaver, who just turned 37, has played for six different teams over the last 13 years and always seems to find somewhere to sign. Gonchar could very well be done.

Finally, it’s worth noting that over $7 million comes off the books with Gonchar, Weaver and Malhotra leaving town. Important, because the club has said that re-signing pending UFA d-man Jeff Petry is a priority, and Petry isn’t going to come cheap.

Habs add forward depth, acquire Flynn from Sabres

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The Montreal Canadiens stayed busy after acquiring d-man Jeff Petry this morning, picking up forward Brian Flynn from Buffalo.

In exchange, the Sabres will receive a fifth-round pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, per TSN.

Flynn, 26, has enjoyed a relatively successful campaign with the Sabres, scoring five goals and a career-high 17 points in 54 games played. A former University of Maine standout, Flynn has spent his entire professional career with the Buffalo organization, playing two years in AHL Rochester before becoming a full-time NHLer last season (in 79 games, he had six goals and 13 points).

In Montreal, Flynn — who’s in the last of a two-year, $1.275M deal with a $637,500 cap hit — will challenge for minutes at the center position. He played there regularly for the Sabres (was fourth on the team in faceoffs) and will now be in the mix for bottom-six minutes along with rookie Jacob De La Rose and Manny Malhotra.

Bournival to make season debut, KHL team acquires Sekac’s rights

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The Montreal Canadiens say they aren’t panicking after Sunday’s blowout home loss to Calgary — but they are making a change.

Sophomore Michael Bournival will make his season debut tonight against Chicago, the club has announced, while TVA reports that KHL Club AK Bars Kazan has acquired the rights to rookie forward Jiri Sekac… who’s been a healthy scratch for the last six games.

Sekac, an undrafted free agent that signed with Montreal after good success in the KHL, was a lineup presence early in the season, getting a career-high 15:23 TOI against Philly on Oct. 11 before scoring his first NHL goal in a 6-4 win over Boston five nights later.

Bournival, who had a breakout rookie campaign last year by scoring seven goals and 14 points in 60 games, has also had a tough time cracking the lineup this season. He’s expected to play on the fourth line tonight with Brandon Prust and Manny Malhotra, which will likely send Travis Moen to the press box (where he’ll sit with Sekac).

Bieksa’s eye injury not ‘as serious as what people think it is’

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From the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap, after Canucks defensemen Kevin Bieksa left last night’s game versus Nashville with an apparent eye injury:

You’ll forgive Canucks fans for fearing the worst. This is an organization, after all, that’s had to deal with two serious eye injuries, to Mattias Ohlund in 1999 and to Manny Malhotra in 2011.

Bieksa will apparently join the Canucks on their upcoming road trip, though he’s questionable for Tuesday’s game in Denver. If he can’t play, expect Ryan Stanton to take his spot.

Also expect rookie Bo Horvat to make his NHL debut versus the Avs, in place of injured forward Tom Sestito.