NHL roundup: Blues bounce Caps, Canes beat Flames, and Marc-Andre Fleury returns to Vegas
The NHL schedule was light for a Friday night with just two games on the docket. However, those matches had implications on the Metro Division standings as Carolina was able to leapfrog over Washington and New York for first place.
Plus we check in on some late news from around the league as Marc-Andre Fleury return to Vegas and much more.
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Blues 5, Capitals 1
Pavel Buchnevich scored two goals and set up another as the St. Louis Blues routed the visiting Washington Capitals 5-1 Friday night.
Oskar Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev and Torey Krug also scored for the Blues and Ryan O’Reilly had two assists. Ville Husso made 26 saves to earn his victory in his first start since Dec. 7.
The Blues are unbeaten in their last 11 home games (10-0-1) dating back to Nov. 18. Overall, they have earned points in 13 of their last 16 games (10-3-3).
“That was one of our goals. Playing in a full building, this is a very tough place for opposing teams. I was on the other side for a number of years,” Krug said. “We talked about it as an opposing team. I think we’ve re-established that and our fans being back in the building is a very big part of that.”
Daniel Sprong scored for the Capitals, whose three-game point streak ended.
Capitals coach Peter Laviolette pulled starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov after he allowed four goals on 16 shots in the first two periods.
Hurricanes 6, Flames 3
The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a difficult first period with three second-period goals in a 6-3 victory against the visiting Calgary Flames on Friday night in Raleigh, N.C.
Andrei Svechnikov had two goals and Brady Skjei had a goal and two assists. Jesper Fast, Derek Stepan and Tony DeAngelo also scored for Carolina. Steven Lorentz had two assists.
The Hurricanes had been idle since Saturday, but they racked up their ninth victory in the last 10 games.
“Of course you feel that, and you’re not in game shape,” Svechnikov said. “Obivously, our first period wasn’t our best, but I think we played a great game after the first period.”
Goalie Frederik Andersen, in his first full game in almost three weeks, stopped 36 shots for the Hurricanes.
Blake Coleman, Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau had the goals for Calgary, which has dropped three consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season. Tkachuk also had an assist.
Flames goaltender Dan Vladar made 31 saves.
Vegas ready for Fleury’s return
It will be another trip down memory lane for the fans of the Vegas Golden Knights when they host Marc-Andre Fleury and the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night in Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights snapped a two-game home losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday. The game featured video tributes to Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, the first coach in Vegas history who was fired after compiling a 118-75-20 record in 2 1/2 seasons, and popular enforcer Ryan Reaves in their return to Las Vegas.
But no player was more popular during the team’s first four seasons than the acrobatic Fleury, who joined the team in the expansion draft in June 2017 and promptly led the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final during a storybook first season.
“I don’t know if it’s purposely, but I haven’t thought much about it,” Fleury said of his much-anticipated return.
Fleury won the Vezina Trophy last season after compiling a 26-10-0 record and six shutouts with a 1.98 goals-against and .928 save percentage. However, the Golden Knights, saddled with major salary cap problems that frequently left the team short-handed near the end of the 2020-21 season, decided to trade Fleury to the Blackhawks for minor league forward prospect Mikael Hakkarainen last July.
“I’m really looking forward to that moment after the video (tribute) he’s going to get,” Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault said Friday. “There’s not one night that’s not packed at T-Mobile Arena, but the night with him coming back … He built this city. He built sports in this city. He’s the one who made us successful. I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it.”
Oilers place Yamamoto on COVID list
Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Friday.
Head coach Dave Tippett said Yamamoto left practice after a rapid test came back positive.
Yamamoto, 23, has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 34 games this season.
Edmonton’s 2017 first-round draft pick has 64 points (27 goals, 37 assists) in 139 career contests.
The Oilers aren’t scheduled to play again until Monday against the visiting Ottawa Senators.
Rangers add another to COVID list
The New York Rangers announced on Friday that forward Julien Gauthier has entered COVID-19 protocol. This is now back-to-back days of positive tests and the seventh player to enter protocol since returning from the holiday break.
Gauthier, 24, has five points (2G, 3A) in 26 games this season. The Rangers will need to look deeply at their forward options as Dryden Hunt missed practice today with an upper-body injury that occurred in yesterday’s 5-1 loss to Vegas. He’s been placed on IR.
Prior to the game against Vegas, goalie Igor Shesterkin went into COVID protocol. He is 15-4-2 this season with a .936 SV% and a 2.09 GAA.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report