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Hockey  

Kraken cool off Flames with 4-2 road win

CALGARY — At a pivotal point in the game, and season, Seattle centre Jared McCann stepped up and delivered on Monday night.

McCann's short-handed goal late in the third period snuffed out Calgary's furious comeback attempt and the Kraken held on to win 4-2, snapping the Flames' five-game winning streak.

It was also the 100th win in franchise history for Seattle in 225 games, which ties St. Louis for the third-fastest expansion team to reach that milestone. The only teams that did it faster were Vegas (173 games) and Florida (223 games).

“For our team right now, we're in the fight here. The most important win is going to become 101,” said McCann. “That's not to take anything away from that milestone because I hope everybody in the organization that's worked extremely hard to make that happen feels their contributions and feels a lot of pride in it."

The Kraken pulled even with the Flames in the Western Conference playoff chase, both now seven points back of the idle Nashville Predators for the second wild-card spot.

Having cut its deficit to one earlier in the third period, the Flames got consecutive power plays in an attempt to pull even. However, after failing to score on the first, it was the Kraken that struck on the second.

Rasmus Andersson had the puck stripped off him by McCann and he raced in on Jacob Markstrom, burying his team-leading 26th goal at 12:29.

"I was pretty gassed so I just tried to get the shot off quick,” said McCann. “I like to go low blocker but decided to change it up at the last second. He's a big goalie, so I was able to find a spot."

Ryan Huska didn't blame Andersson, implying the pass back to him by Andrew Mangiapane might have been to blame.

“I thought Raz got put in a tough spot up top,” said the Flames coach. “Now he's flat footed with pressure coming out at him.”

Yanni Gourd, Adam Larsson and Oliver Bjorkstrand also scored for Seattle (27-23-11), which improved to 6-2-1 in its last nine.

Andrei Kuzmenko scored both goals for Calgary (30-26-5).

"There's still no quit in our team. We still see it as we can make it,” said Larsson. “We still believe. Every win now down the stretch is going to be big. Just going to keep believing."

Kuzmenko has 13 goals on the season and five in 10 games since being acquired from Vancouver on Jan. 31 as part of the trade that sent Elias Lindholm to the Canucks.

Philipp Grubauer made 36 saves for the win and improved to 10-10-1.

After going more than two months between starts, missing a bulk of that due to a lower-body injury, Grubauer has been excellent since his return to the crease on Feb. 13, going 5-1-0 with a .943 save percentage.

"Grubby's been good,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol. “Just the calmness that the provides. You can add up the big saves tonight at the right time.”

Markstrom had 26 stops for the Flames. He falls to 21-16-2.

“Disappointing effort in the first period. Liked our second and third, we tried to battle back, but when you're playing from behind, it's tough every time,” Mangiapane said.

At 13:41 of the third, Calgary rookie Martin Pospisil was given a major and a game misconduct for drilling Seattle defenceman Vince Dunn into the end boards from behind. Visibly shaken but leaving the ice on his own, Dunn went to the dressing room and didn't return.

"Garbage,” said Hakstol, asked about the hit. “But not really a whole lot different than the first hit six or seven seconds into the game. You run around like that you probably need to answer when somebody comes to you man to man and that didn't happen either.”

Pospisil also laid a heavy hit on Larsson on the opening shift of the game that went unpenalized.

After a listless first period in which Calgary fell behind 1-0 and were outshot 11-2, the Flames outshot the visitors 36-19 over the final 40 minutes.

“We didn't play to the game plan to start the first period, we were looking for skill instead of the work and that doesn't work for our team,” Huska said.

WENNBERG SITS

Seattle centre Alex Wennberg did not play, nor take the morning skate with the team, for what coach Dave Hakstol said earlier in the day was “trade-related issues.” A pending UFA at season's end, the 29-year-old Swede has nine goals and 25 points and before Monday had played in all 60 games.

ZARY SIDELINED

Flames LW rookie Connor Zary (upper body) did not play after leaving Saturday's game early. Zary has 12 goals and 29 points through 50 games and is tied with Ottawa's Ridly Greig for highest plus-minus for rookies at plus-17.

UP NEXT

Flames: Visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Kraken: Visit the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024.



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MacKinnon extends home point streak to 30 games with 2 goals and 2 assists, Avs beat Blackhawks 5-0

DENVER (AP) — Justus Annunen saves his best for the Chicago Blackhawks. Nathan MacKinnon is at his best against just about anyone, and especially at home.

MacKinnon extended his home point streak to 30 games with two goals and two assists, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 5-0 on Monday.

MacKinnon’s home point streak is the second-longest to start a season in NHL history, trailing only Wayne Gretzky’s 40-game run in 1988-89. MacKinnon's big night also was his 33rd multipoint game of the season.

“Just feel good this year on home ice, for whatever reason,” MacKinnon said. “Obviously, getting a lot of bounces as well."

Annunen stopped 37 shots to blank the Blackhawks for a second time in less than a week. He became the first rookie goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in back-to-back appearances, according to NHL Stats.

“He's been awesome,” defenseman Cale Makar said. “He’s making some unreal saves.”

Makar, Jonathan Drouin and Zach Parise also scored for the Avalanche, who improved to a league-best 24-6-0 at home this season.

It was the Blackhawks' 22nd straight loss on the road (0-21-1). Their last win away from home was Nov. 9 in Tampa against the Lightning.

The Blackhawks took some time in their dressing room before opening to the media. Chicago defenseman Seth Jones said it was a chance for reflecting.

“It’s tough and we just need to find a way to play together as a team, instead of everyone trying to do it themselves, play individual,” Jones said. “It ends up in the back of the net when that happens.”

Going forward, it's all about building confidence, Chicago forward Anthony Beauvillier said.

“We (have) to build together and work together,” he said. "We have to bail each other out when it’s time to and really create something here to look forward to next year and feel confident about our game.”

Petr Mrazek, under constant duress, made 32 saves.

The Avalanche went 3-1 against the Blackhawks this season, outscoring them by a 16-3 margin.

MacKinnon jump-started the scoring in the first period and added his 39th goal in the third on a power play. He's closing in on his third career 40-goal season, which would be the fourth-most in franchise history. MacKinnon trails Michel Goulet (seven), Joe Sakic (five) and Peter Stastny (five).

Drouin scored his first goal since Jan. 13 late in the first to make it 2-0. Makar also stopped a drought with his first goal since Feb. 6. Makar had an assist as well to give him 233 for his career and move past Tyson Barrie for most by a defenseman in franchise history.

Colorado was without defenseman Josh Manson (lower body) and forward Valeri Nichushkin, who could be back in the lineup soon after he recently entered the follow-up care phase of the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. He turned 29 on Monday.

Avalanche defenseman Caleb Jones got bragging rights over his big brother and Chicago defenseman Seth Jones, picking up an assist to go with the win. The siblings played together with the Blackhawks, but Monday marked the inaugural time they shared the ice as rivals in an NHL contest.

“It's pretty special,” Seth Jones said of the moment.

They had family in the stands, too, including their dad, Popeye, who is an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets.

The brothers remain workout buddies in the offseason, where drills can turn “super-competitive,” Seth Jones cracked after morning skate.

“But it only makes us better,” he said.

Same with their one-on-one basketball games.

“There are no free layups,” Seth Jones said. “You’re getting fouled hard out there, and so that turns pretty heated as well.”

UP NEXT

Blackhawks: At Arizona on Tuesday.

Avalanche: Host Detroit on Wednesday.

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AP hockey: https://apnews.com/hub/hockey



NHL roundup: Lomberg nets key goal as Panthers beat Rangers 4-2

NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Lomberg scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, and the Florida Panthers beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

Sam Reinhart had two goals and Anton Lundell also scored as the Panthers won their fifth straight and 11th in the last 12 games. Florida leads the NHL with 42 wins and 88 points.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves to improve to 31-11-2 this season, including 15-6-1 on the road. The 35-year-old has 391 career wins.

Since Dec. 23, Florida is 24-4-2. The Panthers also have a league-leading 21 road wins and 44 road points.

Will Cuylle and Chris Kreider scored for Metropolitan Division-leading New York, which lost for the third time in four games. Igor Shesterkin finished with 25 saves.

Elsewhere in the NHL on Monday:

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BRUINS 4 MAPLE LEAFS 1

TORONTO (AP) — Pavel Zacha scored twice to send Boston to the road win.

Jake DeBrusk had a goal and an assist for the Bruins (36-13-14), who had dropped four of five. Morgan Geekie also scored, and David Pastrnak had three assists.

Jeremy Swayman made 32 saves for the Bruins, who are eight points ahead of the Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division.

John Tavares scored for Toronto (35-18-8), and Joseph Woll stopped 23 shots.

The teams play again Thursday in Boston.

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AVALANCHE 5 BLACKHAWKS 0

DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon extended his home point streak to 30 games with two goals and two assists, powering Colorado to the victory.

Jonathan Drouin, Cale Makar and Zach Parise also scored for the Avalanche, who improved to a league-best 24-6-0 at home this season. Justus Annunen stopped 37 shots.

MacKinnon’s home point streak is the second-longest to start a season in NHL history, trailing only Wayne Gretzky’s 40-game run in 1988-89.

Chicago was blanked by Annunen for a second time in less than a week. It was the Blackhawks’ 22nd straight loss on the road (0-21-1).

Petr Mrazek, under constant duress, made 32 saves.

The Avalanche went 3-1 against the Blackhawks this season, outscoring them by a 16-3 margin.

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KRAKEN 4 FLAMES 2

CALGARY, Alta. (AP) — Jared McCann had a goal and an assist, and the Kraken won for the third time in four games.

Yanni Gourde, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Adam Larsson also scored for Seattle, which is 6-2-1 in its last nine. Philipp Grubauer stopped 35 shots as the Kraken pulled even with the Flames in the Western Conference playoff chase, seven points back of idle Nashville for the second wild card.

Andrei Kuzmenko scored twice for Calgary, which had won five in a row. Jacob Markstrom finished with 26 saves.

Calgary rookie Martin Pospisil was given a major and a game misconduct in the third period for drilling Seattle defenceman Vince Dunn into the end boards from behind. Visibly shaken up but leaving the ice on his own, Dunn went to the dressing room and didn’t return.

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BLUES 2 FLYERS 1 (SO)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pavel Buchnevich and Jake Neighbours scored in the shootout, lifting St. Louis to the win.

Neighbours scored between the pads of Flyers goalie Sam Ersson as St. Louis’ second shooter. Philadelphia’s Morgan Frost beat Jordan Binnington over the left shoulder. After the Flyers’ fourth shooter, Owen Tippett, missed, Buchnevich used a nifty move to score with a backhand shot.

Binnington made 40 saves in regulation and overtime as St. Louis earned its second straight win. Kevin Hayes scored in the second period against his former team.

Scott Laughton scored in regulation for Philadelphia. Ersson made 24 stops in regulation and OT.

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BLUE JACKETS 6 GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Alex Nylander scored three times, and the Blue Jackets posted back-to-back wins for the first time in more than three months.

Nylander has four goals and two assists in five games since he was acquired in a Feb. 22 trade with Pittsburgh. It was his first career hat trick.

Justin Danforth, Erik Gudbranson and Yegor Chinakhov also scored for the last-place Blue Jackets, who strung together two straight wins for the first time since Nov. 22 and Nov. 24. They beat Chicago 5-2 on Saturday.

Columbus goaltender Daniil Tarasov made 37 saves.

Mason Morelli, William Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson scored for Vegas, and Adin Hill had 27 stops. The Golden Knights have lost three straight.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL



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Reinhart scores twice as NHL-leading Panthers beat Rangers 4-2

NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Lomberg scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, Sam Reinhart scored twice and the Florida Panthers beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

Anton Lundell also scored, Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling each had two assists as the Panthers won their fifth straight and 11th in the last 12 games. Florida leads the NHL with 42 wins and 88 points.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves to improve to 31-11-2 this season, including 15-6-1 on the road. The 35-year-old has 391 career wins.

“He’s been freakishly consistent this year,? Panthers coach Paul Maurice said of his veteran goaltender. ”We’ve done a pretty good job of not asking him to be the best player on the ice most nights but he’s just found a way to do that for us.”

Since Dec. 23, Florida is 24-4-2. The Panthers also have a league-leading 21 road wins and 44 road points.

“We were faster as the game went on,? Maurice added. ”It was a good road game.”

Will Cuylle and Chris Kreider scored for Metropolitan Division-leading New York, which lost for the third time in four games after a 10-game winning streak. The Rangers also had their six-game home winning streak snapped. Igor Shesterkin finished with 25 saves.

After a turnover in the neutral zone, Lomberg skated down the left wing and took a wrist shot that fooled Shesterkin at 6:11 of the third to snap a 2-2 tie with his fifth goal of the season.

”Great arena. The fans were loud and it was exciting," Lomberg said of the showdown atmosphere. "We knew it was going to be a big one."

Lundell added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the win.

Cuylle put the Rangers ahead 1-0 with his 11th goal on the power-play with 3:21 left in the first period, knocking home a loose puck. Bobrovsky had stopped Jacob Trouba’s initial shot from the right point but couldn’t corral the rebound.

Florida tied it on the power-play at 10:11 of the second as Reinhart tapped home a pass from Barkov after Barkov creatively passed the puck to himself in the offensive zone. Reinhart leads the NHL with 15 power-play goals on the road.

“This was a solid game by us - good defensively and good offensively,'' Barkov said. ”This is one of those places where you don't need that extra motivation. It's New York, world's most famous arena. It's always fun to play here."

Reinhart rifled home his team-leading 44th goal and second of the game less than three minutes later to put Florida ahead 2-1. He has totaled 14 goals and 26 points in 29 career games against the Rangers.

“We stuck to our game plan,'' Reinhart said. “I thought we were better on the puck all night. We got the job done."

Kreider tied it with his 31st goal — 12th on the power play — with 4:34 left in the second. Artemi Panarin got his 50th assist .and 85th point of the season — both team-highs — on the play. Only two other Rangers in franchise history have 50 assists in three-straight seasons — Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky.

Kreider said the Rangers had their chances but Florida's relentless attack proved to be a bit better. The Panthers also won this season's previous meeting, 4-3 at home on Dec. 29. The teams meet again in New York on March 23.

“I think we had some opportunities throughout the game to essentially take a hold of it,'' Kreider said. ”I think that we gave them a little bit too much time and space at times. They were really committed to getting pucks behind us and making us play in our own end."

UP NEXT

Panthers: At New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Rangers: Host St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL



Jordan Binnington makes 40 saves to lead the Blues past the Flyers 2-1 in a shootout

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pavel Buchnevich and Jake Neighbours scored in the shootout, and Kevin Hayes had a goal against his former team as the St. Louis Blues beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Monday night.

Neighbours scored between the pads of Flyers goalie Sam Ersson as St. Louis’ second shooter. Philadelphia’s Morgan Frost beat Jordan Binnington over the left shoulder, evening the shootout score. After the Flyers’ fourth shooter, Owen Tippett, missed, Buchnevich used a nifty move to score with a backhand shot.

Binnington made 40 saves and had several key stops in the shootout for St. Louis, which won its second straight game.

“He was outstanding for us tonight,” Blues interim coach Drew Bannister said. “I didn’t think we were very good in front of him. Had to rely on our goalie a lot here tonight.”

Scott Laughton scored in regulation and Ersson had 24 saves for Philadelphia, which entered in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

“I don’t think we had the energy at times,” Philadelphia coach John Tortorella said. “I’m really happy with how the team responded in the third period.”

St. Louis controlled most of the possession in the 3-on-3 overtime period, but the Flyers had the best scoring chances. Cam York’s attempt just under four minutes into the extra session clanged off the crossbar after Binnington got a piece of the shot. Then, in the final seconds of OT, Binnington denied Travis Sanheim with a stellar blocker save after Sanheim broke in alone.

“Nice save by him,” Sanheim said.

Laughton put Philadelphia in front with 1:08 to play in the first period when he finished a 2-on-1 with Tyson Foerster. Philadelphia controlled the rebound of a shot off the post and raced ahead for an odd-man rush. Foerster’s pass from just to the right of the crease eluded Binnington, caromed off Laughton and into the net.

Hayes tied it at 1 with 4:13 remaining in the second period when he scored on a breakaway. The goal snapped a 19-game scoring drought Hayes, who last scored on Jan. 13. He has 11 goals and 23 points in 61 games with St. Louis this season after being acquired in a trade from Philly in June for a 2024 sixth-round pick. It appeared that Hayes actually lost control of the puck as he raced toward the goal.

“I don’t know how the goal went in,” he said. “I’ll take them any way. I haven’t been scoring, so I feel I was kind of due there.”

Hayes recorded 157 points in four seasons with the Flyers between 2019-23. He made the All-Star team last season when he had 18 goals and 36 assists. But, there was a disagreement between the veteran and Tortorella, who moved Hayes from his natural center position to winger.

Tortorella publicly backed Hayes this season when the former Flyer received scrutiny following a report of his possible influence on top prospect Cutter Gauthier not wanting to sign in Philadelphia. The Flyers shipped the rights to Gauthier, the No. 5 pick in the 2022 draft, to Anaheim in January for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round pick.

Flyers fans cheered Hayes when the club showed an appreciation video in the first period, but they booed him after his goal. Tortorella also clapped when Hayes received the video tribute.

“It felt great,” Hayes said of his return. “Like I’ve been saying the whole time, I absolutely loved it here. I have some lifelong friends on the team over there. My four years there was fantastic. I loved every second of it. The tribute was nice. More cheers than boos, which was nice. Kept on getting booed throughout the game, but that’s alright, that’s Philly for you.”

Drysdale (upper body) missed his fourth straight contest.

UP NEXT

Blues: At New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Flyers: At Florida on Thursday night.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



Nylander gets 1st career hat trick, Tarasov makes 37 saves as Blue Jackets beat Golden Knights 6-3

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Alexander Nylander posted his first career hat trick, Daniil Tarasov made 37 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Vegas Golden Knights 6-3 on Monday night, posting back-to-back wins for the first time in more than three months.

“The magic happens when you start having confidence in your teammates, and that’s what we’ve been seeing recently," first-year Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent said.

Nylander, younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs star William Nylander, has been a big contributor. He has four goals and two assists in five games since being acquired by Columbus in a trade for Emil Bemstrom on Feb. 22.

The 26-year-old had zero points in five games this season with Pittsburgh before being dealt to the Blue Jackets.

“This is a really good spot for me," he said. "They gave me a great opportunity here, so I’m really happy.”

Justin Danforth, Erik Gudbranson and Yegor Chinakhov also scored for the last-place Blue Jackets, who strung together two straight wins for the first time since Nov. 22 and Nov. 24. They beat Chicago 5-2 on Saturday.

Mason Morelli, William Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson scored for Vegas, and Adin Hill had 27 stops. The defending Stanley Cup champions have lost three straight and six of the last seven.

Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy had some sharp criticism for his team.

“They wanted the puck more than we did," Cassidy said. "It’s going to happen sometimes, but our will right now to compete on pucks just isn’t good enough to win consistently in this league, and that’s exactly what we’re going through.”

Early offensive pressure by the Blue Jackets led to Danforth's 10th goal of the season and first in 25 games when he beat Hill 6:16 into the game.

Later in the first, Alexandre Texier shoveled a pass out to Nylander, who scored on a rebound after his first attempt from the doorstep shot was stopped by Hill.

The Columbus lead wouldn't last long. Morelli's deft wraparound goal — his third in eight NHL games — was followed 42 seconds later by Karlsson's hard shot from the right circle, his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.

Gudbranson's slap shot from the right circle went over Hill's shoulder and gave Columbus a 3-2 lead late in the second. It was third-line defenseman's fourth of the year and first in 28 games.

Nylander got his second of the night on a breakaway after creating a turnover and leading the rush early in the third period. After Stephenson's one-timer cut the deficit to one goal early in third, Chinakhov connected from the slot to push the Columbus lead back to two.

“I wasn’t thinking about (a hat trick) until the end,” Nylander said.

Nylander's third was an empty-netter with 1:11 left in the game.

“We played well, and I think we’re feeling a little bit of confidence, which has been hard to find lately and even through last year," Gudbranson said.

UP NEXT

Golden Knights: Host Vancouver on Thursday.

Blue Jackets: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL



Zacha scores twice, Bruins down Maple Leafs 4-1 in potential playoff preview

TORONTO — Sheldon Keefe watched his team give up a breakaway 14 seconds into Monday's first period.

The Maple Leafs head coach was mostly fine with the next stretch of action until Toronto got its first power play.

Despite being down a man, Boston grabbed momentum on that penalty kill — and didn't look back.

Pavel Zacha scored twice to snap a long goal drought as the Bruins bounced back from an ugly effort 48 hours earlier to down Toronto 4-1.

"The ice was tilted their way," Keefe said of the game's first six minutes. "We didn't get a lot in terms of scoring chances, but it takes time to generate chances against this team."

Bruins defenceman Keven Shattenkirk then went off for high-sticking, the Leafs struggled to get in the offensive zone, and the visitors got a couple of short-handed chances.

"We didn't respond well to that," Leafs captain John Tavares said.

Morgan Geekie scored the opener for the Bruins shortly thereafter with the teams back playing 5-on-5 before Zacha buried his first of the night — and first in 12 games — on a power play less than three minutes later.

"Great first period and we didn't stop playing," said Pastrnak, who set up both early goals and finished with three assists. "We bent, but we didn't break."

Jake DeBrusk added a goal and an assist for Boston (36-13-14). Jeremy Swayman made 32 saves for the Bruins, who were embarrassed 5-1 by the New York Islanders on Saturday, but now sit eight points clear of the Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division.

"Big momentum game for us," Swayman said. "Really happy with our team's effort."

Tavares replied for Toronto (35-18-8) in a potential first-round playoff preview. Joseph Woll stopped 23 shots for the Leafs, who will be in Boston for a Thursday rematch. 

"A few too many mistakes," Tavares said after scoring for a second consecutive game. "They just did a little better job around their net than we did around ours. 

"Playing against a team like Boston, and games down the stretch, those are big difference makers. Margins are very small." 

The Bruins — 3-3-5 over their last 11 with just one regulation victory heading into Scotiabank Arena — opened the scoring at 9:43 of the first when Geekie redirected a Pastrnak pass for his 14th goal of the season.

Denied by Woll on that early breakaway, Zacha made it 2-0 at 12:42 with the Bruins on a man advantage when he snapped his 13th from the slot as Boston led 11-2 on the shot clock. 

"Both teams played hard," Woll said following his second appearance coming off a high ankle sprain. "They capitalized on a couple of their chances and it's the difference." 

The visitors went up by three at 5:07 of the second when DeBrusk, who had an assist on Zacha's first-period goal for his first point in six games, snapped the winger's 14th off the rush after Swayman denied Toronto winger Bobby McMann on a similar chance. 

"They played well most of the game," Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said. "We were streaky."

Auston Matthews came agonizingly close to adding to his NHL-best 53 goals on a Toronto power play late in the period, but his effort was cleared off the line by Boston defenceman Brandon Carlo. 

The Leafs, who hit a couple posts and do have two games in hand on the Bruins, got one back at 3:52 of the third when Tavares ripped his 19th upstairs. Rielly picked up an assist to pass Tim Horton for fourth on the franchise's all-time list for points by a blueliner with 459. 

But Zacha scored his second of the night and 14th of the campaign at 10:34 from in tight to make it 4-1 after Pastrnak threw the puck in front. 

"Premier team in league," Keefe said of the Bruins. "Every night you play them you're in for a tough night. 

"Exactly what we expected." 

The Leafs just didn't have an answer.

LACKING LINDHOLM 

Boston played without shutdown defenceman Hampus Lindholm for a seventh straight game with an undisclosed injury. 

FIGHT NIGHT 

Leafs tough guy Ryan Reaves spoke to the media Monday morning for the first time since fighting the six-foot-seven Matt Rempe on Saturday. The combatants also had a lively conversation in the penalty box following their spirited third-period tilt. 

"Really nice kid," said the 37-year-old Reaves. "He talked about how the media pumped it up so much … he's like, 'Two Original Six teams going at it and all everybody was talking about was a fight.' 

"It shows that fighting's not dead in this sport. People still get amped up for it." 

UP NEXT 

Boston is home to Edmonton on Tuesday. Toronto hosts Buffalo on Wednesday before Thursday's rematch with the Bruins at TD Garden. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024. 

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on X. 



New Jersey Devils fire coach Lindy Ruff, name Travis Green interim replacement

The New Jersey Devils fired coach Lindy Ruff on Monday and named assistant Travis Green as the interim replacement for the rest of the season.

General manager Tom Fitzgerald made the surprising move with just over 20 games left to play. The Devils have lost five of seven to fall further out of playoff contention, seven points back of Metropolitan Division rival Philadelphia and eight back of the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots.

Ruff, 64, was in his fourth season with the team. The Devils reached the second round of the playoffs last year before losing to Carolina and had preseason expectations of making another run.

“I hold our entire organization to the highest levels of accountability to focus on being a competitive team that expects to be a perennial playoff contender,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are not currently at that level, and I needed to make this decision.

“This was an extremely difficult conversation to have with Lindy based on the relationship that he and I have. He was the right coach to develop our young players on the ice, and above all else, he is a tremendous person."

The Devils gave Ruff a multiyear extension before the start of the season, which was his last under his previous contract. Chants of “Fire Lindy!” could be heard at home games during a rough start and again more recently as New Jersey's struggles continued, following a rout of the Flyers outdoors at the Meadowlands on Feb. 17.

Green, who was in his first year with the team as an associate coach on Ruff's staff, takes over Tuesday at the morning skate ahead of the Devils' next game, which is against Florida. A former teammate of Fitzgerald's during their playing days, Green spent parts of five seasons as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks from 2017-21.

“Travis has key experience running benches at the junior, AHL and NHL levels and knows that there are no shortcuts to success," Fitzgerald said. "He is a high-demanding individual who is familiar with the group and excited about working to get us back on track.”

Ruff was in his third head NHL job after coaching Buffalo to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999 as part of a long stint with the Sabres and four years with Dallas from 2013-17.

He's the seventh NHL coach fired this season among the league's 32 teams. All of Ruff's other assistants will remain in place.

The Devils have two games left this week before the trade deadline Friday, when Fitzgerald has more decisions to make about the short- and long-term future of the organization. Leading goal-scorer Tyler Toffoli, acquired last summer from Calgary, is a pending free agent, along with veteran defensemen Colin Miller and Brendan Smith.

Part of Ruff's downfall turned out to be New Jersey's inability to keep the puck out of its own net. Goaltenders combined for a save percentage of .891, second-worst in the league, and the Devils have allowed the sixth-most goals per game.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



Detroit Red Wings captain and leading scorer Dylan Larkin is out 2 weeks with injury

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin will miss roughly the next two weeks because of injury, an absence that will test the team over its upcoming road trip and beyond.

Coach Derek Lalonde said Monday that Larkin would be out with a lower-body injury, which occurred in the team’s loss to Florida over the weekend. Joe Veleno moves into the top-line center spot between Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane to temporarily fill in for Detroit’s leading scorer.

“It’s going to be probably more minutes for Joe,” Lalonde said after practice. “A good challenge for us. Everyone goes through injuries. We didn’t handle it very well the last time Dylan was out. I think we’ll respond a little better this time around.”

The Red Wings lost three of the four games Larkin missed in December, though as Lalonde pointed out that was also when they were dealing with injuries to several other players at the same time.

“We’ve been fortunate with our depth all year long, and this will be tested again and I’m confident in the group,” Lalonde said. “These are the bumps. You want to stay in that battle, you want to get over that line, you’ve got to fight through some of these things and this is our opportunity."

Larkin, 27, has 26 goals and 28 assists for 54 points in 55 games this season. The Red Wings hold the first of two Eastern Conference wild-card spots and are on track to return to the playoffs and end a seven-year drought going back to their most recent appearance in 2016.

Lalonde called Larkin a driver for Detroit because of the stability he provides playing big minutes at even strength, on the power play and the penalty kill. It won't just be on Veleno to fill the void.

“Everyone’s got to do a little bit more," Lalonde said. "I think they understand the task.”

The Red Wings head out to visit Colorado on Wednesday, Arizona on Friday and Vegas on Saturday before wrapping up their stretch of road games next Tuesday, March 12, at Buffalo. Larkin could also miss additional home games against the Coyotes and Sabres and at Pittsburgh that are within this two-week span.

Tied with Tampa Bay in the standings but having played two fewer games, Detroit leads the New York Islanders by six points, Washington by seven and New Jersey by eight in the playoff race.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



Defenceman Josi, Montour, Morrissey named NHL's three stars of the week

NEW YORK — Defenceman swept the latest NHL player of the week awards, with Nashville's Roman Josi, Florida's Brandon Montour and Winnipeg's Josh Morrissey earning honours.

Josi had three goals and four assists and topped the league with a plus-7 defensive rating over three games last week as the Predators extended their winning streak to eight games.

His week included back-to-back three-point outings in a 4-1 win over Ottawa on Tuesday and a 6-1 victory over Minnesota on Thursday.

Montour had two goals, both game-winners and four assists as the Panthers posted three wins and climbed into the top spot in the overall standings.

Morrissey had a goal and six assists in four games for the Jets, who won three of those contests and moved into first place in the Central Division.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024.



Nashville Predators sign Tommy Novak to a 3-year extension worth $10.5 million

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators don’t appear likely to be sellers at the NHL trade deadline, and they took an important step toward at least standing pat in their playoff pursuit by extending pending free agent forward Tommy Novak.

The team on Monday re-signed Novak to a three-year contract worth $10.5 million. He’ll count $3.5 million against the salary cap through 2027.

Novak, 26, was a late bloomer after being a third-round pick of the Predators nearly a decade ago. He has established himself as a full-time NHL player over the past two seasons.

This season, Novak has 34 points through 51 games and has contributed to Nashville being on track to return to the playoffs. He set a career high in points last season with 43 on 17 goals and 26 assists.

Even last season, Novak was on a two-way contract that would have paid him $80,000 in the minors. But now he has shown general manager Barry Trotz he belongs with the big club, and the multiyear contract provides Novak with long-term security in the NHL.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



Golden Knights, Avalanche and Rangers headline teams to watch at the NHL trade deadline

There is no clear Stanley Cup favorite in the NHL this season, which has the potential to spice up activity before the league's trade deadline Friday as many of the top contenders look to load up for a playoff run.

The defending champion Vegas Golden Knights are chief among them and now have cap space after putting captain Mark Stone on long-term injured reserve. Western Conference rivals Colorado, Edmonton and Dallas are also in the mix. And there are a few expected buyers in the East from Toronto, Detroit and Boston to the New York Rangers.

There is no shortage of quality players potentially available, from Pittsburgh winger Jake Guentzel and Philadelphia defensemen Nick Seeler and Sean Walker to Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Washington's do-it-all depth center Nic Dowd, signed through next season, has also been generating buzz.

“It’s not by mistake that people are talking about him,” former Capitals teammate and current Flyers forward Garnet Hathaway said. “And I think it’s a long time coming.”

Some teams to watch:

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Needs: No. 2 center, defensive depth, backup goaltender.

Possible pickups: Anaheim's Adam Henrique or Seattle's Alexander Wennberg would fit perfectly in the second-line center void that still exists from Nazem Kadri's departure after the Avs won the Cup in 2022. On defense, potential options include the Flyers guys, Washington's Joel Edmundson, Calgary's Noah Hanifin and Arizona's Matt Dumba. Maybe there will be a reunion between Colorado and former franchise stalwart Erik Johnson, now with Buffalo. Alexandar Georgiev is the guy in net, but Montreal's Jake Allen or another veteran goalie would be a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Needs: Whoever can help them repeat.

Possible pickups: Able to use the space created by putting Stone's $9.5 million salary on LTIR opens the door for a big move and Vegas' front office has made plenty of those in recent years. Guentzel is the big fish and Penguins teammate Reilly Smith could be primed for a return to Las Vegas. The Golden Knights also could use experienced blue liners and value a mix of size, durability and puck moving; Montreal's David Savard would fill that perfectly.

EDMONTON OILERS

Needs: Fourth-line center, top-nine winger, depth defenseman.

Possible pickups: Guentzel has played with Sidney Crosby, so he'd undoubtedly produce on wing with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Capitals 20-goal scorer Anthony Mantha would come cheaper with the expectation he slides in on Edmonton's second or third line. General manager Ken Holland has said he won't trade for a goaltender, but he could absolutely add a D-man and has plenty of choices, from Walker, Seeler and Edmundson to Columbus' Andrew Peeke or a reacquisition of Tyson Barrie from Nashville. Dowd would also make a ton of sense, potentially in a package with Mantha and/or Edmundson.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Needs: Middle-six center, depth winger.

Possible pickups: The Rangers could use a center like Henrique or Wennberg to slide in behind Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck and ahead of Barclay Goodrow. Picking up another winger or two, especially with Blake Wheeler's regular season-ending injury, would slide Jimmy Vesey down to the fourth line and give New York some depth. Ottawa's Vladimir Tarasenko, who GM Chris Drury traded for at last year's deadline, would work here, along with Washington veteran Max Pacioretty or St. Louis' Pavel Buchnevich, a former Rangers winger sent to the Blues a few years ago. If Drury swings big, young forward Kaapo Kakko and/or young defenseman Zac Jones could be on the way out.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Needs: Right-shot defensemen, goalie insurance.

Possible pickups: Toronto already reacquired fdefenseman Ilya Lyubushkin from Anaheim because of injuries, but GM Brad Treliving is likely not done. The Leafs have been looking at Washington's Nick Jensen, a smooth skater on the right side, and they could certainly use more physicality on the back end, even if that's with a left-handed shooter or two. It couldn't hurt to get a goaltender in case Joseph Woll and Ilya Samsonov falter; Washington's Charlie Lindgren is signed through next season at the bargain basement cap hit of $1.1 million.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Needs: Backup goalie?

Possible pickups: GM Danny Briere has said he is not buying at the deadline, giving up top prospects or high draft picks for rental players. Getting a veteran netminder at a low acquisition cost (San Jose's Kaapo Kahkonen?) would supplement young Swedes Samuel Ersson and Felix Sandstrom. The Flyers have played so well under coach John Tortorella that Briere calls it a “great problem to have” to balance contending now and eyeing the future, and that should keep him busy in the coming days.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



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