Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Update on Jordan Staal

Gaborik, Kopitar in sync, Kings hold off Coyotes

The unbridled chemistry between Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar carried over from the playoffs to Monday’s preseason opener at STAPLES Center, as the two veterans spark-plugged the Kings to a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Monday night at STAPLES Center.

The rest of the split-squad roster held their own throughout most of the contest, but Arizona hounded for three third period goals to extend the game to OT, and eventually a shootout.

Andy Andreoff, the Kings’ third-round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and who is fighting for a spot on the Kings' roster, opened the scoring, beating Arizona’s Devan Dubnyk on what was a pass-attempt from behind the net, giving the Kings their first lead of the night just over two minutes into play.

Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik would connect for the next two Kings goals, including a give-and-go beauty early in the third period. They led the way with two points apiece, Kopitar dishing the primary assist on both of Gaborik’s markers.

Martin Jones played a perfect 31:13 in the crease for the Kings, stopping all nine Arizona shots he faced.

The Coyotes eventually found the net in the third period, and often. They fired away for 15 shots in the final frame, and beat Kings goaltender Jeff Deslauriers three times, including the game-tying goal during a 5-on-3 power play with 1:23 remaining in regulation.

After a scoreless OT period, the game extended to a shootout.

Anze Kopitar struck first for the Kings, Deslauriers stopped three of Arizona’s four attempts, and Nick Shore – another third-round selection for the Kings from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, tallied the game's deciding goal.

Both clubs registered 26 shots respectively.

The split-squad roster that traveled to Glendale fell to the Coyotes 5-4 in a shootout at Gila River Arena shortly prior to the ending of Monday night’s bout at STAPLES Center.

Kings Hold off Coyotes in Split-Squad Game

Nick Shore scored the clincher in the shootout and the Los Angeles Kings avoided a letdown in the other half of the split-squad matchup against the Arizona Coyotes with a 4-3 win.

The Coyotes rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to force overtime at Staples Center.

The Kings took a two-goal lead when Marian Gaborik scored 4:11 into the third, but Phil Lane scored at 10:44 and Michael Stone tied it with 1:23 remaining via the power play.

Gaborik had two goals for the Kings and Andy Andreoff scored. Martin Jones stopped all nine shots he faced before being relieved by Jeff Deslauriers, who made 14 saves. Anze Kopitar had two assists.

Justin Hodgman scored 1:59 into the third period for the Coyotes and had an assist on Lane's goal.

Coyotes goalie Devan Dubnyk stopped 23 of 26 shots.

Samuelsson, Domi Lead Coyotes Past Kings

Prospects Henrik Samuelsson and Max Domi scored in the shootout to lead the Arizona Coyotes past the Los Angeles Kings, 5-4, in a preseason game at Gila River Arena on Monday night.

Samuelsson had a goal and two assists in regulation; Martin Hanzal had two goals and an assist and Domi had three assists.

The Coyotes trailed, 3-1, after one period but scored the next three goals. LA's Mike Richards knotted the score at 4 with a power-play goal at 14:15 of the third period.

Samuelsson and Domi were the only two shooters in the shootout for Arizona, and goalie Mike Smith, who finished with 29 saves, stopped both shots he faced.

"It was a big win," said Domi, the team's first-round draft pick in 2013. "We came out a little sluggish but we rallied back and the whole team worked hard every shift and did the little things right, so it was a good game and great team effort overall."

Domi said he suspected he'd be asked to shoot in the shootout after Head Coach Dave Tippett sent Samuelsson to shoot first.

"I think I almost toe-picked on the way in," Domi said.

Samuelsson, also a first-round draft pick (2012), liked the chemistry he felt playing on a line with Hanzal and Domi.

"They’re both pretty easy players to play with, so I just tried to make myself open and it seemed to work," Samuelsson said.

Sam Gagner also scored for Arizona.

"I thought obviously Domi and Samuelsson (played well) because they were on the scoreboard, but I thought Tobias Rieder was pretty good and I thought (Tyler) Gaudet was real solid in his role," Tippett said. "(Jordan) Szwarz did a good job for us, so those players like that, that I was watching a lot closer tonight, we had real strong efforts out of a lot of them."

He added, "Gaudet is a good example of that where he’s a strong checking center. He’s a guy that you don’t notice a lot of things out there, but if you had an overhead camera and you said ‘hey this is what you expect from your center man, this is where he’s supposed to be,’ he’s in that spot a lot of times."

Richards scored two goals and Tanner Pearson had a goal and two assists for Los Angeles. Patrik Bartosak stopped 18 of 21 shots; Jean-Francois Berube made 15 saves.

Samuelsson, Domi propel Coyotes past Kings

Henrik Samuelsson and Max Domi scored in the shootout to lead the Arizona Coyotes past the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 at Gila River Arena.

Samuelsson had a goal and two assists in regulation; Martin Hanzal had two goals and an assist and Domi had three assists. Sam Gagner also scored for Arizona and Mike Smith finished with 29 saves.

Mike Richards scored two goals and Tanner Pearson had a goal and two assists for Los Angeles. Patrik Bartosak stopped 18 of 21 shots; Jean-Francois Berube made 15 saves.

Enroth, Sabres shut out Hurricanes

Jhonas Enroth made 35 saves, including 17 in the third period, and the Buffalo Sabres shut out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 at First Niagara Center on Tuesday.

Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis scored 6:16 apart in the second period and assisted on each other's goals. Matt Moulson had two assists.

Hurricanes center Jordan Staal sustained a lower-body injury in the third period when he took a hit from Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges. Staal did not return to the game and was on crutches afterward.

Anton Khudobin stopped all nine shots he faced for Carolina. Drew MacIntyre made 10 saves

Canes Blanked by Sabres

Though tonight was the Carolina Hurricanes’ second preseason game, it was still the first game action for many in the team’s lineup tonight. Carolina was ultimately shut out 2-0 by the Buffalo Sabres, who iced a rather experienced roster.

-- The unfortunate story of the night was the Canes losing Jordan Staal, who was seen on crutches, late in the third period to a lower-body injury. Staal got tangled up with Josh Gorges and went down in a lot of pain. He had to be helped off the ice, and Canes head coach Bill Peters had no further update on Staal after the game. "I'm concerned, for sure," he said.

Staal was one of just two Hurricanes (the other being Ron Hainsey) who played in all 82 regular-season games in 2013-14. He also played in all 48 games during the shortened season in 2012-13.

-- Similar to Cam Ward in the preseason opener, Anton Khudobin played half of tonight’s game, 30:08 to be exact. He stopped all nine shots he faced, including seven in the first period and a bit of a barrage to open the game.

Drew MacIntyre, who is slated to start Wednesday night in New York, made 10 saves on 12 shots.

-- A couple of bad breaks changed the tide of the game in the second period. After being outshot in the first period, the Canes had the Sabres on their heels for the first half of the middle frame. Then, Drew Stafford scored on a breakaway and Tyler Ennis threw a puck into the slot that bounced off Jordan Staal and in. Despite pulling ahead in the shot count after 40 minutes, the Canes headed to the locker room down a pair.

-- John-Michael Liles took a puck to what looked to be the face in the first period, but he returned to the ice just minutes after skating off to the room. Justin Shugg was slow to get up after a hit in the neutral zone, but he also returned a short while later.

Assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour wasn’t so lucky. He took a puck to the head during warm-ups and required a few stitches. But, he’s a hockey player, and he was behind the bench for the game.

NHL Recap for September 22, 2014

Heatley Scores Early, Andersen Shuts Down Avs in 4-0 Victory at Honda Center

Dany Heatley didn’t wait long to endear himself to the Anaheim faithful, scoring less than a minute into his preseason Ducks debut in sparking his new team to a 4-0 victory over Colorado at Honda Center.
The Ducks played split squad preseason games for the first time in franchise history, with half the roster taking on the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center while the other half faced the Avs just over 1,000 miles away at Pepsi Center in Denver (in a game that started an hour prior to the home tilt).

Heatley scored just 48 seconds into the game, and Anaheim added tallies from Rickard Rakell, Ben Lovejoy and Brendan Bell. Frederik Andersen went the whole way, recording 27 saves in the shutout.

"It was about getting back into the game," Andersen said. "It wasn’t really about the result; it was more about doing the right things and having a good compete level. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty hockey, but it was a good start. They had some good looks on the power play, but we were able to hold them to not scoring. It was a good start, but we need to keep getting better. We out-battled them today."

Meanwhile in Denver, 33-year-old Brad Winchester had a pair of goals as the Ducks scored four unanswered in rolling to a 5-2 victory.

The 33-year-old Heatley, the former 50-goal-scorer who signed with the Ducks in July, is getting some early time on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He scored his first goal as a Duck (albeit a preseason one) when he went to a knee to punch in his own rebound in the game’s opening minute.

"It didn’t take him long," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "That’s good for Dany’s confidence. Those guys - Heatley, Perry and Getzlaf - they’ve gone through the first [preseason] games for a lot of years now. I’m sure it wasn’t like a Stanley Cup Final game for them. But they did what they had to do. They were very positive on the bench. It was good."

Rakell, a 2010 first-round pick of Anaheim, made it a 2-0 game 5:52 into the first when he pounced on a bad Colorado turnover and shuttled the puck by recovering goalie Reto Berra.

Lovejoy gave Anaheim a 3-0 cushion 12 minutes into the middle stanza, taking in a Nate Thompson pass before slinging a shot home from just above the circles in the slot.

"It was fun to be back out there," Lovejoy said. "I thought we played a very good game tonight. Our forecheck was some of the best we’ve ever done. We were hungry, we were on every puck and we were in their face. I know we weren’t playing against [Matt] Duchene and [Nathan] MacKinnon, but for the first night, I thought we played very well."

Just a few minutes into the third, Bell hammered a one-timer from above the right circle after getting a feed from Getzlaf. Bell, a 31-year-old defenseman, is also getting a pro tryout from Anaheim. He has not played in the NHL since 2012 with the Rangers, spending the past two seasons in the Swiss League and the Swedish Elite League.

The Ducks will be back in action tomorrow evening (this time just playing one game for the night) against the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center.

"The first game is usually so sloppy," Boudreau said. "Let’s face it – that wasn’t the Colorado Avalanche that we played tonight. That was the [American Hockey League’s] Lake Erie Monsters with a couple guys thrown in. It’ll step up. Real contests will be against San Jose and LA twice."

Avalanche Falls 4-0 In Anaheim

Frederik Andersen stopped all 27 shots he faced and the Anaheim Ducks shut out the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 in the other half of a split-squad matchup at Honda Center.

One hour before puck drop in Anaheim, the Avs and Ducks took to the ice at Pepsi Center in Denver for the first half of the home-and-away series. Anaheim won that game 5-2 after scoring four third-period goals.

Ben Lovejoy had a goal and an assist and Dany Heatley, Rickard Rakell and Brendan Bell scored for the Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf had two assists.

Reto Berra stopped 26 of 30 shots for the Avalanche.

Colorado's next preseason games are back-to-back contests against the Montreal Canadiens. The Avs will play the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. before playing them in Quebec City on Sept. 26.

Ducks Score Four Times in Third to Top Avs

Brad Winchester scored two goals and Louis Leblanc had two assists in the Anaheim Ducks' 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

It was a the preseason opener for both clubs, and the first of a home-and-away split-squad series. One hour after puck drop in Denver, the second game between the Avalanche and the Ducks got under way in Anaheim.

Andrew Cogliano and Patrick Maroon also scored for the Ducks and Jason LaBarbera stopped 19 of 21 shots. Igor Bobkov made five saves. Jakob Silfverberg scored an empty-net goal at 18:27 of the third period.

Alex Tanguay and Zach Redmond scored for Colorado, while Andrew Agozzino had two assists.

Colorado netminder Calvin Pickard played the entire game and made 23 saves.

Ducks Score Four Unanswered to Take Down Avs 5-2 in Denver

Though half the roster was back at home in Anaheim, the Ducks brought plenty of scoring with them to Denver in a 5-2 split squad victory over the Avalanche.
Anaheim played split squad preseason games for the first time in franchise history, with half the roster taking on the Avalanche at Honda Center while the other half faced the Avs just over 1,000 miles away at Pepsi Center in Denver (in a game that started an hour prior to the home tilt).

Back in Anaheim, the Ducks got an early Dany Heatley goal and a Frederik Andersen shutout in downing the Avs 4-0.

Veteran Brad Winchester had a pair of goals as the Ducks scored four unanswered in the third period to roll to a 5-2 victory.

The 33-year-old Winchester, who played 19 games with the Ducks during the 2010-11 season, is in camp on a pro tryout basis and gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead 6:11 into the first in Denver when he buried a rebound off a shot from Brandon Yip (also getting a pro tryout in this camp).

After the Avs bounced back with a pair of goals, Winchester tied the game 2:39 into the third with assists from youngsters Max Friberg and Louis Leblanc.

Andrew Cogliano gave Anaheim the lead halfway through the period, wristing home a shot off a Mark Fistric helper. Patrick Maroon made it 4-2 Ducks when he scored from in deep with 8:25 left, and Jakob Silfverberg polished it off with a late emptynetter.

Jason LaBarbera and Igor Bobkov split time in net for the Ducks in Denver, with LaBarbera saving 19 of 21 Colorado shots and Bobkov stopping the only five shots he faced.

The Ducks will be back in action tomorrow evening (this time just playing one game for the night) against the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center.

Stars score three in third to defeat Blues

Curtis McKenzie, Jordie Benn and Jason Dickinson scored in the third period and the Dallas Stars rallied for a 4-3 win against the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.

Vernon Fiddler scored in the first period for Dallas and Kari Lehtonen made 11 saves before being relieved by Anders Lindback, who stopped 18 of 20 shots.

Ryan Whitney and Patrik Berglund had goals in the second period for St. Louis and Ian Cole made it a one-goal game at 18:31 of the third. Niklas Lundstrom allowed three goals on 10 shots; Brian Elliott made 11 saves.

Stars score three in third to beat Blues

Coach Ken Hitchcock will be the first to say a scoring Patrik Berglund will make the Blues a better hockey team in 2014-15.

Berglund, who signed a three-year contract days before the NHL Draft this past summer, came to training camp determined to make himself an offensive force.

It's one preseason game, but it's evident Berglund looks stronger, leaner and is skating with a purpose.

Berglund had a goal and an assist but the Dallas Stars rallied from a one-goal deficit in the third period by scoring three goals in a 4-3 victory against the Blues on Monday night at American Airlines Center.

Berglund played 20:46, which is among the top ice times he's received in a Blues uniform. There was a reason, and he passed a solid test.

"We played him a lot; he played in a lot of situations," Hitchcock said. "... He's an offensive threat because he had energy. If we would have played him 20 minutes last year, he would have struggled. He didn't lose his energy in the end."

"It's the first game; you for sure want to have a good game," Berglund said. "I just kind of want to get the feel for it."

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Berglund is coming off a 14-goal, 32-point regular season a year ago, his sixth NHL season. When Hitchcock saw Berglund return from his summer offseason in Sweden, he noticed a different physical specimen after the team and Berglund talked about a change of course for an off-season conditioning program.

"A little leaner? He's a lot leaner,"Hitchcock insisted.

"At the end of the year, we had some defined goals that we wanted him to obtain and he wanted to obtain," Hitchcock added. "The visual alone is ... impressive. He looks like a guy that's put in a tremendous amount of work to make himself quicker and lighter, stronger. ... Just from a visual standpoint, it's pretty impressive.

"A chip on your shoulder's one thing, but the team made a pretty big commitment. They signed him to a three-year deal. So he's made a commitment to the team, the team's made a commitment to him. Now it's what type of player do you want to be. You're always curious when a guy first shows up. Bergie's a player that we need to have a really good year from him. First impressions mean a lot. When you show up physically looking like this, it's an awfully big first step. This is a guy that is not going to allow fitness to get in the way of anything. It's pretty dramatic when you look at it."

Berglund's breakaway goal Monday with 2:18 left in the second period, a shot in which he fired a wrister from between the hash marks, beat Anders Lindback to give the Blues a 2-1 lead.

Ryan Whitney earlier in the period tied the game 1-1 with a power play goal after getting the puck from Berglund at the blueline and throwing a wrist shot past Stars starting goalie Kari Lehtonen. Whitney, in St. Louis for the second straight training camp on a professional tryout, used Steve Ott in the slot as a screen and scored 5:06 into the period.

"We need to get him back to being a scoring player," Hitchcock said of Berglund. "We need him at the net, around the net, heavy on the forecheck. We need that back again. We need him to be a scoring player again. He's got the ability ... on his worst season, he gets 20 goals. We need that dynamic from him again.

"I think he felt at the end of the year that he had to bring way more quickness and agility into the game. He's obviously lightened up. He's got way more quickness and mobility back from everything he did, (including) diet. This is an all-encompassing thing that he's done during the offseason. This is not just training. This is fitness, this is nutrition, this is basically a lifestyle. Pretty impressive."

Vernon Fiddler netted the first goal of the game, taking a cross-ice shot-pass from Jyrki Lokipakka and sliding the puck into an open side by starting goalie Brian Elliott 7:16 into the first period.

The Blues generated a few scoring chances, with Dmitrij Jaskin making a strong power move to the net but sliding a quick shot wide of the net. Jaskin had a strong opening 20 minutes.

Niklas Lundstrom replaced Elliott, who stopped 11 shots, for the third period and Lundstrom didn't fare well. He allowed three goals to Curtis McKenzie, Jordie Benn and Jason Dickinson on the first six shots he faced.

Ian Cole's blast from inside the blue line at the left point beat Linda with 1:29 remaining but the Blues, who out shot the Stars 33-25, couldn't come up with the equalizer. But not without some tense moments after pulling Lundstrom with a sixth attacker.

Among the younger players, Hitchcock was most impressed with Jaskin and 2014 first round pick Robby Fabbri, who made his NHL debut.

"I thought Jaskin played really hard," Hitchcock said. "He's a really competitive guy, hard on the puck. He's a heavy player.

"I thought Robby was really an effective player. Based on tonight's performance, he probably deserves a little bit longer stay. He's got speed, he's got hockey sense, he's got strength on the puck. For a small guy, he's really strong on the puck."

The Blues play their preseason home opener Thursday at 7 p.m. against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, David Backes, T.J Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester will all make their preseason debuts, according to Hitchcock. Jake Allen gets the start in goal.

Goals by Byfuglien, Little send Jets past Wild

Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little scored and Ondrej Pavelec stopped all 15 shots he faced to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at MTS Centre.

Andrew Ladd had two assists for Winnipeg; Michael Hutchinson made 12 saves.

Tyler Graovac scored for Minnesota at 19:46 of the third period. Niklas Backstrom stopped all 12 shots he faced; Ilya Bryzgalov allowed two goals on six shots.

Wild Drops First Preseason Game In Winnipeg

In a preseason game billed as being one for the “kids,” the lone Minnesota Wild player born in the 70s stole the show.

Niklas Backstrom made an outstanding return to the net, making 12 saves in 31:19 in his first appearance since Jan. 20. The Wild ultimately lost 2-1 on a a pair of goals after Backstrom had been replaced, but the 36-year old netminder served notice that any Wild goaltending talk starts with the 2007-08 Vezina Trophy finalist.

His positioning so good that he’s not often spectacular, Backstrom’s highlight-reel save came in the first period, showing great lateral movement to rob Mathieu Perreault, who scored a goal with five seconds left in OT against Backstrom in Oct. 2013 with Anaheim. Lateral movement is huge, of course, for a goaltender coming off a couple seasons of lower body injuries.

"It's early in camp," Backstrom said. "It's fun to play. I still have a ways to go."

Onto the kids— a lineup so young that third-year forward Charlie Coyle wore an “A” along with veteran defenseman Keith Ballard. Tyler Graovac, a 2011 draft pick who scored 13 goals for Iowa last season, got a goal in the closing minute.The lineup was far from intimidated against a Jets team that dressed most of their regulars in an arena that was in its mid-season boisterous form.

The top line of Coyle, Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter was sharp and fast, drawing a couple of power plays with their speed. Zucker took a hard hit into the boards by Chris Thorburn late in the second period but shook it off to return a shift later. He set up Charlie Coyle who hit the post midway through the third.

Michael Keranen is a guy who’s flown under the radar a bit the last week. Signed from the Finnish Elite League, where he was one of the top scorers, is super skilled. He showed good chemistry with Jordan Schroeder, who is as fast as advertised, and Tyler Graovac. Graovac scored the Wild’s goal with 13.6 seconds remaining after more than two minutes with the extra attacker.

The Wild was physical when it needed to be, too. Stu Bickel, in a dogfight to make this team as a seventh defenseman, might have bolstered his chances with a couple of fights. His latter one was versus Anthony Peluso, who tried to fight Curt Gogol, but the pair dropped their helmets and the linesmen stepped in.

"He's making a statement and showing us he wants to be here," Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said about Bickel.

The young D played well, too. Christian Folin showed the ability to jump up into the play and has a blast from the point, while Gustav Olofsson moves the puck really well.

The Wild plays at Pittsburgh on Thursday— more veterans expected to dress— while returning to Xcel Energy Center on Saturday for the first preseason game, a rematch versus the Jets.