Tanner Pearson

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The Buzzer: Namestnikov’s revenge game; Crosby keeps dominating

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Three Stars

1. Vladislav Namestnikov, Ottawa Senators. Two years ago Namestnikov was skating on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top line alongside Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. After boosting his value, he was then used as a trade chip for the team to land defender Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers before the 2017-18 trade deadline. After a mostly disappointing stay on Broadway, he was traded to Ottawa this past week for another fresh start. So far, so good, and it came at the Lightning’s expense. Namestnikov scored two goals — including the game-winner — for the Senators on Saturday to help his new team get its first win of the season. On paper, this game should have been a mismatch, but the Senators drastically outplayed the Lightning in what was probably the biggest surprise of the day.

2. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. After scoring 50 goals and 100 points a year ago and finishing in the top-four of the league in both categories, Draisaitl is picking up where he left and is once again looking like a superstar. He finished with three points on Saturday afternoon — including two goals — to help the Oilers improve to 5-0 on the season. He and Connor McDavid (two more points on Saturday) are carrying the offense again.

3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Penguins’ forward lineup dealing with a ton of injuries they are going to need their captain and his line to dominate for them to have a chance to win. Right now, they are dominating. Crosby was great once again on Saturday night, picking up two more points in a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild, including a highlight reel backhand goal off the rush. He has recorded at least one point in every game this season and already has eight in the Penguins’ first five games. The Penguins also received some surprising production from their recent call-ups with Adam Johnson and Sam Lafferty both recording their first NHL goals.

Other notable performances on Saturday

  • Brendan Gallagher finished with three points for the Montreal Canadiens as they handed the St. Louis Blues their first regulation loss of the season.
  • Rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov was amazing again for the Washington Capitals as they defeated the Dallas Stars. In his first two NHL starts Samsonov has allowed a total of two goals. He is the future of the position in The District.
  • Ilya Kovalchuk continued his strong start with another goal in the Kings’ 7-4 win over the Nashville Predators.
  • The Winnipeg Jets overcame an early 2-0 deficit against the Chicago Blackhawks to win in overtime on Mark Scheifele‘s second goal of the season. The Blackhawks remain winless.
  • Mark Stone, Will Carrier, and Max Pacioretty all had two points for the Vegas Golden Knights in their big 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
  • Semyon Varlamov picked up his first win as a member of the New York Islanders by stopping all three shootout shots against the Florida Panthers. He also made 35 saves through regulation and overtime.
  • Tanner Pearson scored a goal in regulation and then added the game-winning goal in the shootout for the Vancouver Canucks in their win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • The Boston Bruins’ top line was once again dominant as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron both scored goals in a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils to keep them winless. Tuukka Rask was also brilliant again and has stopped 90 of the first 94 shots he has faced this season.

Highlights of the Night

It may have come in a losing effort but Kaapo Kakko‘s first NHL goal for the New York Rangers was a beautiful play.

Jacob De La Rose had one of the few highlights of the night for the Detroit Red Wings with this nice looking goal.

The Columbus Blue Jackets handed the Carolina Hurricanes their first loss of the season thanks to this great effort from Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The Colorado Avalanche improved to 4-0-0 on the season and it was new addition Andre Burakovsky scoring the game-winning goal for the second game in a row.

Blooper of the Night

There is really no other choice here, it has to be Jimmy Howard‘s gamble in Detroit that turned into a rather easy goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rest in Peace

Factoids

  • The Capitals’ win against the Stars was their first regulation win in Dallas since the 1995 season. [NHL PR]
  • Phil Kessel played in his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday night, making him the third youngest active player to play in 1,000 games. [NHL PR]
  • Penguins goalie Matt Murray recorded his 100th career win on Saturday night, making him just the eight goalie since the 1966-67 season record 100 wins in 166 games or less. [NHL PR]
  • The Los Angeles Kings set a franchise record for fasted three goals, scoring three goals in 30 seconds during their win over the Nashville Predators. [NHL PR]
  • The Oilers are the first team in NHL history to come-from-behind to win each of their first five games of the season. [NHL PR]

Scores
Edmonton Oilers 4, New York Rangers 1
Ottawa Senators 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 2
Los Angeles Kings 7, Nashville Predators 4
Winnipeg Jets 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (OT)
Boston Bruins 3, New Jersey Devils 0
Montreal Canadiens 6, St. Louis Blues 3
Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Detroit Red Wings 2
New York Islanders 3, Florida Panthers 2 (SO)
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2
Washington Capitals 4, Dallas Stars 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 7, Minnesota Wild 4
Colorado Avalanche 3, Arizona Coyotes 2 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights 6, Calgary Flames 2
Vancouver Canucks 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2 (SO)

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Looking to make the leap: Jordan Weal

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Fighting to eventually win two Stanley Cups is worth the cost of taking risks, but the Los Angeles Kings’ farm system has seen consequences from regular trade deadline moves.

Jewels From the Crown took a look at how much shallower the Kings’ prospect pool has become, something that seems clearer after the very clear graduations of scorers Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.

That said, there are still a couple prime-age players looking to make a dent on the NHL roster, including forward Jordan Weal.

It’s about that time for Weal. The 23-year-old was a third-rounder (70th overall) back in 2010, and he’s shown a solid knack for putting up points at the AHL level.

After scoring 70 points for the Manchester Monarchs in 2013-14, he nearly matched that output last season with 69 points. He really took off during the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs, scoring 22 points in 19 postseason games.

Weal thinks he has what it takes to take the next step, as NHL.com noted during his strong AHL playoff run.

“They have a great team up there and it’s really a great organization,” Weal said. “I can’t ask for more. They’ve given me lots of opportunity to play pro and get drafted and I think I’m ready to take the next step and play with them. But you never know. It’s tough to crack a team like that.”

Unlike Nick Shore and Andy Andreoff, Weal has yet to get his first taste of NHL action. The 2015-16 season represents his best chance to change that, especially after a strong finish with the Monarchs.

Report: Kings suspend Voynov over non-hockey injury

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The Los Angeles Kings have moved to suspend Slava Voynov for his Achilles injury that he suffered during his indefinite NHL suspension, per LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen.

While the Kings suspending Voynov as well might seem redundant, it does give them a certain degree of cost certainty. As long as his nearly $4.2 million annual cap hit is off the books, the Kings have about $60 million committed to 16 players, which is a decent amount of space going into free agent market. Los Angeles still has restricted free agents to re-sign including Tyler Toffoli and Martin Jones, but now it will be easier for the squad to make moves beyond that.

He’s reportedly being suspended because the Kings believe that his injury isn’t hockey related, a point which Los Angeles assistant general manager hinted at when the subject came up back in April.

“It wasn’t at the rink,” Blake said regarding the injury, per the Los Angeles Times.

It is worth noting though that Kings GM Dean Lombardi previously stated that “they’re shooting for the middle of training camp” for Voynov’s return, according to the Orange County Register. Although he also compared the situation to that of Tanner Pearson’s in the sense that the Kings forward was ultimately sidelined for longer than anticipated.

In-demand Futa ‘will remain a Los Angeles King,’ says Lombardi

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LA Kings VP of hockey ops Mike Futa, considered to be in the mix for Toronto’s vacant GM gig, isn’t going anywhere — at least according to GM Dean Lombardi.

“Mike Futa is still a Los Angeles King and will remain a Los Angeles King,” Lombardi said, per LA Kings Insider. “You don’t think the guy could jump ship now, right?”

Lombardi’s comment came while Futa prepped and continued scouting for the NHL Entry Draft, which will go later this month. Scouting is how Futa established such a strong reputation across the league — in his eight seasons with the Kings, he headed up a department responsible for drafting the likes of Drew Doughty, Kyle Clifford, Alec Martinez, Slava Voynov, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. (Jake Muzzin, an undrafted free agent, also came aboard under Futa’s watch.)

As mentioned above, Futa’s been tied primarily to the vacant GM gig in Toronto. But according to TSN, teams have tried in the past to lure him out of Los Angeles — Buffalo and Calgary during their GM searches — and the Kings responded with a promotion, new contract and stipulations about what jobs he could seek out.

Which probably explains why Lombardi was so adamant Futa wasn’t going anywhere.

“There’s a big challenge ahead of us,” he explained. “I don’t think [Futa’s] had time to think about it. He’s been going a hundred miles an hour.”

Many reasons — including plain, old luck — to explain Kings missing playoffs

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Ask Darryl Sutter why his Los Angeles Kings are going to miss the playoffs less than one year after winning the Stanley Cup and he first points to the “disparity” in the home (24-9-7) and away (15-18-8) records.

On top of that, he concedes that all the hockey, regular season and playoffs combined, the Kings have played the last three years “probably” took a toll.

You may also recall earlier in the season when Sutter noted how it’s a “quite a bit different team on the back end” (without Slava Voynov and Willie Mitchell) and how “we need great goaltending,” something the Kings didn’t really get compared to previous seasons.

We’d add their shootout record (2-8) and their overtime record (1-7).

Oh, and a lack of finish. Sutter has talked about that, too.

And their special teams were pretty mediocre.

And losing Tanner Pearson hurt.

And they probably should’ve bought out Mike Richards.

Bottom line: a lot of things didn’t go the Kings’ way. Given all the good fortune they enjoyed during their two championship runs — from getting the Coyotes and Devils as their final two opponents in 2012, to all the overtime victories that could’ve ended differently in 2014 — perhaps they were simply due a dose of the opposite.

It’s always a contentious topic when it comes to hockey: luck. But like it or not, it can be the difference between a good team winning it all and a good team missing the playoffs.

That’s not to say that everything boils down to luck. It obviously doesn’t. The Kings got the job done in 2012 and 2014; they didn’t in 2015. And yes, Dean Lombardi has some work to do this offseason. His team has flaws.

That being said, let’s end this with a fun fact:

If the Kings beat the Sharks on Saturday, they’ll finish with the same record (40-27-15) as they did in 2011-12.

One team finished with a parade.

The other will finish with a meaningless game against San Jose.