Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Training camps open around NHL after another short offseason

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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Training camps open around the NHL after another short offseason, a third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon one bit.

For one of hockey’s best players and his teammates, it’s already time to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months since they knocked off the back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I still feel like I just was playing,” MacKinnon said. “I took two weeks off, and then I started skating again. It’s just fun. I enjoy it, and I like the short summer. It feels like the season’s just kind of rolling over again.”

The NHL rolls into fall coming off an entertaining playoffs and final with the chance to finally get back on a normal schedule. That means full camps for teams that got new coaches and the benefits of a regular routine.

That means a mere 88 days between Game 6 of the final and the first-on ice practice sessions.

“We’re kind of used to it now,” Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy said after he and the Lightning lost in the final for the first time in three consecutive trips. “It’s a little harder, of course, because you don’t have that much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you have to get back at it. But, yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summers to be short every year.”

It was a little longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the West final. Despite the lack of downtime, McDavid “wouldn’t trade that in for anything” and aims to make it even further since Edmonton shored up its goaltending situation by adding Jack Campbell.

A few spins of the goalie carousel ended with the Avalanche acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kuemper landing with Washington. Joining new teammates, many of whom hoisted the Cup in 2018, Kuemper is not worried about less time off.

“It was definitely a very unique summer,” Kuemper said. “With how short it was, you start getting back into the gym and you’re kind of a little bit worried that your training’s going to be so short. But you kind of felt like you weren’t getting back into shape. You were already there.”

NEW COACHES

The Oilers are one of several teams settling in for training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February but has the full-time job now.

“Looking forward to a camp with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job coming in during the middle of the season, but it’s never easy on a coach, for sure. I’m sure there’s things that he wanted to touch on that you wasn’t able to kind of in the middle of the year, so he’ll be able to to touch on all of it this year.”

The same goes for Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, 11 months since being put in charge of the Canucks. Philadelphia’s John Tortorella, Boston’s Jim Montgomery, Vegas’ Bruce Cassidy, Dallas’ Peter DeBoer, Florida’s Paul Maurice, Chicago’s Luke Richardson, Detroit’s Derek Lalonde and the New York Islanders’ Lane Lambert are all starting the job fresh.

CAMP TRYOUTS

Roughly 40 players are attending a camp on a professional tryout agreement with the chance to earn a contract for the season. James Neal has that opportunity with the Blue Jackets, and Derek Stepan returned to Carolina to seek a job with the Hurricanes.

The most intriguing situation involves 37-year-old center Eric Staal, who agreed to the tryout with Florida the same time brother Marc signed a one-year contract. Younger brother Jordan was with Eric and Marc on the 18th green at Pebble Beach to witness the occasion.

“They’re both just super pumped, as was I,” said Jordan Staal, who is the captain of the Hurricanes. “Eric is excited about the opportunity and Marc, as well. Really cool. Really cool thing.”

EARLY START

Before the puck drops on the NHL season in North America on Oct. 11, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play twice in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8. And those are not exhibitions.

“We still play two important games,” said Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who is a native of Prague. “It’s not just preseason where you coming here to warm up.”

Colorado and Columbus will also play two games in Tampere, Finland, on Nov. 4-5 as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

And just as the league gets used to a regular schedule, work is ongoing between the league and NHL Players’ Association to stage a World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, which is popular among players even if it knocks the calendar off kilter again.

“I think they missed out on a huge, huge portion of the international game that’s really going to be missed,” McDavid said. “We need to figure out a way to get an international tournament in as quickly as possible.”

Hurricanes sign veteran forward Paul Stastny to 1-year deal

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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Adding offense has been at the center of the Carolina Hurricanes’ offseason.

After acquiring a pure goal scorer and losing him to injury for potentially half the season, they added one of his close friends who knows how to put the puck in the net in different ways.

Carolina signed veteran forward Paul Stastny to a one-year, $1.5 million deal, a move that shores up the championship contender’s forward depth following winger Max Pacioretty‘s Achilles tendon injury. Pacioretty is expected to miss six months, and while Stastny is far from a mirror image in terms of his style of play, the 36-year-old helps solve a major need that haunted the Hurricanes in the playoffs.

“We’re different players, I think, on the ice, off the ice,” Stastny, who’s coming off a 21-goal renaissance, said about Pacioretty, who has scored 30-plus in a season six times. “I always find a way to get the puck to the net, kind of time the puck. If you look at all my goals in my career, I’m sure the majority are from within 3, 4 feet of the net. You’ve got to go to the hard areas to get goals.”

The Hurricanes have plenty of flashy, young skill, including first-liners Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Still, they averaged fewer than three goals during the playoffs, leading to a second-round exit amid Stanley Cup expectations.

Stastny provides veteran goal-scoring ability and strong all-around play. Like younger teammates, he has never won the Cup and turned down other offers to join Carolina with that in mind.

“My wife and I have always wanted a chance to win,” Stastny said. “It’s later in our career. We’ve been fortunate enough to play on good teams, and you come close and you realize how hard it is. Maybe it might never come. That’s all right. But as long as you give yourself a chance and you have good teams come knocking on your door and they think you’re valuable, I think that’s a risk we’re always willing to take.”

Stastny’s 21 goals in 71 games with Winnipeg in 2021-22 made it his most productive season in several years. He credited changes to his workout regime and diet – and a full NHL season for the first time in a while – for that uptick.

Playing entirely in the Western Conference to this point, Stastny has 310 goals in 1,175 regular-season and playoff games. He also gives Carolina some insurance down the middle after losing Vincent Trocheck to the New York Rangers in free agency.

“Paul is an extremely reliable veteran who has been effective at both ends of the ice for his entire career,” general manager Don Waddell said in a statement. “He adds even more experience and leadership to our forward group, and we are excited to have him in Carolina.”

The Hurricanes have had a busy offseason, acquiring Pacioretty from Vegas and getting 2017 Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Brent Burns from San Jose. Burns is 37 but could also help Carolina score more on the power play and at even strength with the goal of getting over the hump in coach Rod Brind’Amour’s fifth season behind the bench.

Hurricanes re-sign Martin Necas to 2-year, $6 million contract

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed forward Martin Necas to a two-year, $6 million contract, keeping the young forward with the franchise that picked him in the first round of the 2017 draft.

The team announced the signing, saying the deal would pay the 23-year-old $2.5 million next season and $3.5 million for the 2023-24 season.

Necas is regarded as a key piece for the team’s future with speed and skill. But he was inconsistent last season while finishing with 14 goals and 26 assists, then couldn’t find the net in Carolina’s 14 playoff games.

“I’ve got to help the team more, got to produce way more,” Necas said in June after the Hurricanes’ second straight second-round playoff loss. “That’s what everyone kind of expects from me. I didn’t do it this year. so like I said it was disappointing for me.”

Still, Carolina is betting on Necas’ long-term potential.

“We’ve got to find a way to punch through (in the playoffs),” coach Rod Brind’Amour said in June, “and I think Marty obviously has the potential to help us do that.”

Necas, who was a restricted free agent, has 45 goals in 203 NHL games with Carolina.

Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Ethan Bear to 1-year contract

Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed defenseman Ethan Bear to a one-year, $2.2 million contract.

The team announced the deal exactly one year since the Hurricanes acquired Bear in a trade with Edmonton.

Bear had five goals and nine assists in 58 games last season. He struggled to find a rhythm after a bout with COVID-19 in late November and was a healthy scratch for Carolina’s 14 playoff games.

“I’ve never been through something like that,” Bear said in June. “Honestly, for a long time, it’s tough; it’s like you can’t breathe but like you don’t know if you’re out of shape or can’t push yourself to that point because you just simply couldn’t. That was the most challenging part.”

The 25-year-old Bear was a restricted free agent who had filed for arbitration, with a hearing set for Aug. 8.

Carolina has made the playoffs for four straight seasons but lost in a seven-game, second-round series to the New York Rangers in May.