Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ryan nets winning goal for Senators against Jets

New addition Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist to help the Ottawa Senators defeat the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Ryan, acquired in one of the biggest trades of the offseason just hours after captain Daniel Alfredsson signed with the new division rival Detroit Red Wings, skated on a line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, which is where he figures to start the season.

Michalek also had a goal and an assist, and Spezza added an assist on Michalek's goal. Defenseman Erik Karlsson had a pair of assists, and goaltender Robin Lehner made 17 saves in 40 minutes of work.

Matt Halischuk had the lone goal for the Jets. Michael Hutchinson, who joined the Winnipeg organization on a one-year contract in the offseason from Boston, stopped 29 of 32 shots in net.

Ryan nets winning goal for Senators against Jets

New addition Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist to help the Ottawa Senators defeat the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Ryan, acquired in one of the biggest trades of the offseason just hours after captain Daniel Alfredsson signed with the new division rival Detroit Red Wings, skated on a line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, which is where he figures to start the season.

Michalek also had a goal and an assist, and Spezza added an assist on Michalek's goal. Defenseman Erik Karlsson had a pair of assists, and goaltender Robin Lehner made 17 saves in 40 minutes of work.

Matt Halischuk had the lone goal for the Jets. Michael Hutchinson, who joined the Winnipeg organization on a one-year contract in the offseason from Boston, stopped 29 of 32 shots in net.

Grigorenko's SO goal lifts Sabres over Canadiens

Mikhail Grigorenko's shootout goal lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens in the preseason opener for both teams on Sunday night.

Grigorenko beat Zachary Fucale with a backhand on Buffalo's second attempt in the tiebreaker.

The Sabres, who never led, erased four one-goal deficits. Colton Gillies got the Sabres even at 4 with 4:24 left in regulation.

Zemgus Girgensons scored two goals in the second for Buffalo, making it 3-3 at 11:51 on the first shot faced by Fucale. Jamie McBain also scored for the Sabres.

Michael Bournival scored twice for the Canadiens. Martin St-Pierre netted Montreal's second power-play goal at 12:59 into the third to give the Canadiens a 4-3 lead.

Erik Nystrom added a power-play goal for Montreal.

SABRES OVERCOME PENALTY TROUBLE IN PRESEASON OPENER

The Buffalo Sabres didn’t make it easy on themselves, but they got the job done.

The Sabres prevailed in the shootout, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 inside a packed Bell Centre on Sunday in their preseason opener. Zemgus Girgensons scored twice in the game and Mikhail Grigorenko netted the decisive goal on a nifty backhand in the shootout.

Defenseman Jamie McBain and camp invitee Colton Gillies also scored for Buffalo.

Matt Hackett was the winning goaltender, taking over midway through the game for starter Jhonas Enroth. Hackett stopped 11 of 12 shots in 35:23. Enroth made 10 saves on 13 shots.

Michael Bournival tallied twice for Montreal. The Canadiens also received goals from Erik Nystrom and Martin St-Pierre.

Before they could reach the shootout however, the Sabres had to successfully kill off two penalties in the third and in the overtime period.

Buffalo didn’t hold a lead in the game until the very end and fought back from four one-goal deficits.

“We kind of knew they were going to come out hard here in an exhibition game with the crowd they did. I thought we got better as the game went on,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “But I liked a lot of our younger players and the poise that they had in an environment like this for the first time.”

Though the Sabres got into penalty trouble, particularly late in the game and in overtime, they killed off four of Montreal’s six power plays.

“We had a lot of kills and a lot of double odd-man situations which made it tough, but I think we hung in there,” Sabres forward Steve Ott said. “Obviously there’s always room for improvement. That was our first real test.”

While Rolston and the coaching staff would rather not find themselves in so many shorthanded situations, developing players like Girgensons relished the opportunity to be on the ice during a crucial penalty kill.

“I think it’s really good for the team to be put in such tough situations before the real season because it still matters how we play here, but it’s a lot about learning and getting prepared for the regular season,” Girgensons said. “So I think it’s good putting us in those tough situations. It helps us down the road.”

Girgensons’ first goal came on the penalty kill 0:58 into the second period to tie the game at one. He scored again with 8:09 left in the period to make it 3-3, beating Furcale with a wrist shot from the off wing.

“He changed really the game, the momentum of getting the shorthanded goal and then getting the second goal he had on the short side,” Rolston said. “…I thought [Girgensons] was one of our best players tonight.”

The Sabres lineup Sunday featured heavily touted prospects like Grigorenko, Girgensons, Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, Johan Larsson and Mark Pysyk mixed with veterans like Ott, Drew Stafford, Patrick Kaleta, Cody McCormick, Henrik Tallinder and Mike Weber.

Ott was impressed with the grit some of the younger players showed in the game. Ristolainen in particular blocked a hard shot early in the third period.

“The sacrifice is there. The compete is there and those are aspects you can’t teach,” Ott said. “When young guys are doing that and sacrificing themselves, it just shows they want to be on this team. Obviously, it bodes well throughout our lineup and the stable of young prospects that we have. ”

Ott served as captain for the game. Rolston said he will continue to rotate the “C” throughout the season before naming a full-time captain. Tallinder and Stafford served as the alternates.

Stars Open Preseason with 6-5 Shootout Loss to Blues

It was a mixed bag for the Dallas Stars in their first game of the preseason. There was plenty of offensive firepower, but keeping the puck out of their net was a different story. The end result was a 6-5 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center Sunday night.

“I thought from the standpoint of making plays and creating good opportunities against what I thought was a pretty good defense they dressed, that part was good,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We had some breakdowns that cost us. We’d like to clean that up. Our young defense probably hurt us a little bit. But I really liked what our forwards did. They did a really nice job of creating some opportunities.”

Leading the way among the Dallas forwards was 18-year-old Valeri Nichushkin, who scored two goals and registered a game-high nine shots on goal in his first taste of NHL action.

“I was waiting for that all summer, so I was very excited,” Nichushkin said through a translator, which in this case was Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

It was an impressive showing for the 18-year-old Nichushkin, Dallas first round pick (10th overall) in this summer’s NHL Draft.

“He was able to push through and skate well in the game,” Ruff said. “He was responsible for creating a number of really good opportunities, and he obviously scored a couple. You look at his all-around game and he is trying to pay attention to where he is supposed to be defending. He’s got a lot on his plate, and I thought it was a good effort from him.”

Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole each had a goal and an assist for the Stars. Defenseman Kevin Connauton also scored.

It didn’t take long for the Stars to get on the board in Sunday night’s game. They went on a power play 19 seconds into the contest and cashed in to take the early lead. After taking a pass from Seguin, Alex Chiasson sent the puck from the goal line to the slot, where Cole banged it past Blues goaltender Jake Allen 1:17 into the game.

The Stars made it a 2-0 game when Connauton’s snap shot from the left point got past Allen to give the Stars a 2-0 lead at 3:59 of the first.

The Blues bounced back to tie on a couple of goals by Maxim Lapierre, who tipped in a Ryan Reaves shot at 8:48 of the first and then scored a power play goal five minutes later, knocking the puck past Stars goaltender Dan Ellis during a scramble in the Dallas crease.

The Stars took the lead back 5:53 into the second period with their second power play goal of the night. Seguin finished off some slick passing by the Stars, scoring from the left circle to make it a 3-2 game.

“There was a lot of passing going on,” Seguin said. “Just a couple of good passes and when I got the puck back on my stick there wasn’t a goalie in the net anymore.”

The Blues drew even at 13:32 of the second period when the Stars turned over the puck and Sebastian Wannstrom slipped a shot from the bottom of the left circle past Stars goaltender Jack Campbell, who had taken over in net just a few minutes earlier.

Nichushkin scored his first goal of the night with 27.3 seconds left in the second, getting to a puck in the slot and beating Allen with a wrist shot to put the Stars up 4-3.

“It was very emotional,” Nichushkin said of scoring that first goal. “This is really happening”

After Campbell and Allen traded slick saves early in the third period, the Blues drew even at the 4:40 mark on a goal by Adam Cracknell.

Nichushkin put the Stars ahead again, stealing a puck at the defensive blue line, breaking in alone on the St. Louis net and beating Allen with a forehand to backhand move to put the Stars up 5-4 with 12:56 left in the game.

Once again the Blues answered, getting a goal by Reaves four minutes later to tie the game at 5-5.

After a scoreless overtime, St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko scored the lone goal of the shootout. Jamie Benn, Seguin and Nichushkin all failed to beat Allen.

Blues 6 Stars 5 OT

Vladimir Tarasenko scored the lone shootout goal and Jake Allen was able to turn away all three Dallas Stars shooters in the shootout of the St. Louis Blues' 6-5 win Sunday night at American Airlines Center.

Maxim Lapierre scored twice for the Blues, Ryan Reaves added a goal and an assist and Sergey Andronov had two assists as the line combined for six points in the game. Allen play the entire game in goal for St. Louis, making 33 saves.

"Three years ago, I think I scored 15 or 16 goals." said Lapierre, who scored 15 goals for Montreal in 2008-09. "I know when my confidence level is high, I can chip in goals offensively, but the main goal stays the same. That's to be physical and be good on draws defensively and on the PK. When I go to the rink for a game, I'm focused on these things. If the goals come, they come. It doesn't really matter to me."

Valeri Nichushkin, who was the 10th overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, looked impressive in his NHL debut playing on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Cody Eakin. He scored twice for the Stars, who saw Dan Ellis and Jack Campbell split time in goal. Also, the Stars saw the debut of Tyler Seguin in the game.

After an inauspicious start from the Blues where the Stars got goals from Erik Cole (power play) and Kevin Connauton less than four minutes into the game on four shots, Lapierre came back to get two for the visitors to tie it after one.

Lapierre, a free agent pickup by the Blues this summer, deflected a Reaves shot past Dan Ellis 8:48 into the period, then scored a power play goal 14 minutes in to make it 2-2.

Cole had given the Stars a 1-0 lead with a one-timer from the slot just 1:17 in, beating Allen high blocker side. Connauton's goal was a wrister from the blue line after taking a faceoff from Eakin 3:59 into the first.

The Stars reclaimed the lead on Tyler Seguin's power play goal, with Cole picking up his second assist of the game 5:53 into the second period.

The Blues again equalized on Sebastian Wannstrom's goal from a sharp angle, as he beat Jack Campbell from the low left circle with a wrister short side 13:32 into the second to make it 3-3.

But Nichushkin re-established Dallas' lead when he was able to collect a rebound and beat Allen in the slot with 27.3 seconds left in the second for a 4-3 Stars lead.

Adam Cracknell tied the game for the third time when Keith Aucoin collected a rebound in the slot and his shot deflected off Cracknell past Campbell 4:40 into the third period to make it 4-4.

Nichushkin picked up the puck after the Blues' Ian Cole lost it at the blue line. He beat Allen on the breakaway by sliding a backhand in at 7:04 of the third for a 5-4 Stars lead.

But the Blues would not go away again, as Reaves tipped Andronov's shot that beat Campbell from the top of the right circle through a crowd in front of the netminder at 11:03 of the third to tie the game 5-5.

"That was kind of the off-season plan, trying on getting a little offense and chip in whenever I can," Reaves said. "Obviously you keep the physical game up. I thought we started off pretty physical, but Lappy had two ... I don't know, I think our line had six points. That's going to be a big part of our team is the fourth line trying to contribute."

Tarasenko beat Campbell on the Blues' first shootout attempt, and Allen was able to stop Seguin and Nichushkin on the final two Dallas tries after Jamie Benm hit the left post on Dallas' first attempt.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was pleased with the first game, despite the ups and downs. he was especially pleased with the Lapierre, Reaves, Andronov combination.

"I just think you get a chance to prove yourself in these types of games," Hitchcock said. "You have a little bit of success, you get confidence. This was a real good evaluation for what we need to work on the next two days. We found out a lot in the scrimmage this morning and then a lot more tonight. So now we know what we've got to work on Monday and Tuesday and that'll give us a really good view of working on some things and getting ready. We got some real good evaluation on what guys were good at and what they need to work on."

Kadri and Raymond lift Maple Leafs over Flyers

Defenseman Paul Ranger scored the winner in his first competitive NHL game since stepping away from the sport in October 2009 as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario, in the first preseason tilt for both teams.

Ranger, who played more than 24 minutes per game in 2007-08 and 2008-09 as a young defenseman for the Tampa Bay Lightning, returned to hockey last season with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League and signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Leafs for this season.

Toronto let a three-goal lead slip away before Ranger's goal. The Maples Leafs had scored three times in four shots on Philadelphia starting goalie Steve Mason to open up the advantage. Nazem Kadri, Troy Bodie and Mason Raymond scored in quick succession for Toronto. Raymond is in camp on a tryout contract after scoring 10 goals and 22 points for the Vancouver Canucks last season.

It was the second straight competitive game in which Toronto has yielded a three-goal lead, though obviously this one had far less at stake. Brayden Schenn, Doug Clarkson (Dave Clarkson's younger brother) and Nick Cousins scored for the Flyers. Mason finished with 12 saves on 15 shots, while Toronto starter turned aside 14 of 17 shots.

Leafs Hang On To Beat Flyers

Nazem Kadri and Mason Raymond each had a goal and an assist Sunday as the Toronto Maple Leafs opened the NHL pre-season schedule with a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Kadri, who signed a new two-year deal on the eve of training camp, is expected to produce, while Raymond is with the Leafs on a tryout basis after 374 games with the Vancouver Canucks.

Performing in his hometown, it was Kadri opening the offence as the Leafs scored three in 3:05 for an early 3-0 advantage.

Kadri, who also starred in the Budweiser Gardens for the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights, began a two-on-one rush inside his own blue-line. Kadri used a drag move to awkwardly put Philadelphia defenceman Hal Gill out of position before snapping the puck past Steve Mason.

Troy Bodie, who split his AHL time between Portland and Norfolk last year and was inked as a free agent by Toronto in July, made it 2-0 by beating Mason in close. Bodie received his pass on the doorstep from 2013 first-round pick Frederik Gauthier.

The third Toronto goal displayed the speed of Raymond as he scored short-handed on a breakaway after stealing the puck at his own blue-line and out-raced Philadelphia's Erik Gustafsson down the right wing.

Philadelphia rebounded quickly with three goals from Doug Clarkson in the first period and Brayden Schenn and Nick Cousins early in second.

The Cousins goal was started by a Gill point shot that went wide of Leafs goaltender James Reimer's net and bounded out the other side for Cousins to flip in a backhand.

After netminder changes by both clubs, Toronto's Paul Ranger welcomed Anthony Stolarz by converting a rebound on a give-and-go effort by Kadri and David Broll.

The final period was scoreless.

In 28 minutes of work, Reimer stopped 14 of 17, while counterpart Mason stopped 12 of 15. Maple Leafs' Christopher Gibson didn't allow a goal in 32 minutes and was credited with 13 saves, while the Flyers' Anthony Stolarz was beaten in his first minute, but settled down to make 14 saves on 15 shots.

Six former or current London Knights dressed including Kadri, Dave Bolland and Ryan Rupert for Toronto, and Mason, Stolarz and Zac Rinaldo for the Flyers.

Blue Jackets 5 Penguins 4 OT

Ryan Murray donned an NHL sweater for the first time tonight, and to celebrate, he scored the game-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not a bad way to start, right?

It was an eventful game at Nationwide Arena with both teams trading the lead and trying to establish some flow in their first exhibition games of the season. The Blue Jackets, on the strength of two quick third-period goals from Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson, took a 4-3 lead into down the stretch only to see the Penguins answer right back - setting the stage for a frenetic overtime period.

And it was finished off by a smart, heady play by the 19-year-old kid on defense. RJ Umberger beat out Evgeni Malkin for a loose puck at the Columbus blue line, started an odd-man rush with Letestu going to the net and found Murray joining the rush in the final 30 seconds of sudden death.

One look, one shot, top shelf, ballgame. The Blue Jackets, as coach Todd Richards put it, "found a way to win" despite not having their best stuff in the first 40 minutes of the game. They were out-shot 26-12 by the Penguins over the first two periods but managed a pair of goals out of it, and got back to their preferred style in the third period.

They directed more pucks at the net, used their speed and defended much better in the final stanza and got a strong performance in goal from Curtis McElhinney. Pittsburgh opened the scoring just 47 seconds into the game on a James Neal goal, but after that, McElhinney held the fort before giving way to Oscar Dansk for the third period.

Sure, it's one game and an exhibition at that, but there were some highlights contained within it. Murray's game winner, two spirited scraps from James Wisniewski (Murray's defense partner) and newcomer Ilari Melart, and some persistence against a pretty good team.

Murray scores late in OT to lift Jackets over Pens

Top prospect Ryan Murray scored with 21.2 seconds left in overtime to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-4, in the preseason opener for both teams Sunday at Nationwide Arena.

Murray, the second pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, missed most of the 2012-13 season because of a shoulder injury he sustained playing in the Western Hockey League last November. The defenseman played more than 23 minutes in the contest, and could begin the 2013-14 season with the Blue Jackets.

Recent addition Chuck Kobasew scored twice for the Penguins, including at 13:05 of the third period to knot the score at 4-4. Kobasew joined the Penguins for the start of training camp on a tryout contract, but there are potential openings among the bottom-six forwards in Pittsburgh.

James Neal welcomed Columbus to the Eastern Conference and the new Metropolitan Division with a goal 47 seconds into the first period. A pair of Columbus power-play goals wrapped around Kobasew's first of the evening made it a 2-2 game after 20 minutes. Artem Anisimov and James Wisniewski had the goals for the Blue Jackets.

Dustin Jeffrey, another forward fighting for a bottom-six slot with the Penguins, scored 4:19 into the third on the power play, but ex-Penguins forward Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson tallied 30 seconds apart to push Columbus into the lead.

Marc-Andre Fleury started in net for the Penguins and allowed two goals on 14 shots in two periods of work. Curtis McElhinney, signed in the offseason to likely backup Vezina Tropy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, also played for two periods and stopped 24 of 26 shots.