NHL roundup: Oilers snap skid, Preds win COVID depleted battle against Avalanche, and more

NHL Roundup Oilers end skid
Dec 16, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (13) scores a first period goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite some potential COVID issues that even included the Colorado Avalanche taking a vote to play, the NHL docket had 10 games on tap. Their opponent, the Nashville Predators are also dealing with players on protocol so both lineups were missing key players.

However, we start our recaps in Edmonton where the Oilers finally ended a six-game losing streak.

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Oilers 5, Blue Jackets 2

Jesse Puljujarvi scored two goals in a 46-second span of the first period and the Edmonton Oilers went on to beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Thursday, ending a six-game losing streak.

“I hope this gives me more confidence and helps me play better every evening,” Puljujarvi said. “Let’s see what happens.”

Brendan Perlini had a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who had scored six goals total in their past five games. Edmonton’s Derek Ryan and Warren Foegele also scored, Puljujarvi added and assist, and Stuart Skinner made 36 saves.

Gustav Nyquist and Justin Danforth scored for Columbus, while Elvis Merzlikins stopped 25 of 29 shots over two periods. Joonas Korpisalo and stopped all 15 shots he faced in the final period for the Blue Jackets, who have lost eight of 10 games (2-7-1).

Canadiens 3, Flyers 2

Jonathan Drouin scored the only goal in a shootout, and host Montreal beat Philadelphia in front of no fans to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Less than two hours before the game, the Canadiens announced that no fans would be allowed in the arena because of rising COVID-19 cases.

“We weren’t expecting that there wouldn’t be fans in the stands this year with the vaccines,” Drouin said. “We were told the opposite, but it’s tough to see that again without the fans’ energy. After that, health and safety is more important than going to watch a hockey game.”

Artturi Lehkonen and Laurent Dauphin each scored in regulation for the Canadiens, who ended an 0-6-1 skid and earned just their second victory in 11 games. Max Willman and Jackson Cates scored for the Flyers, who had won three in a row.

Islanders 3, Bruins 1

Cal Clutterbuck scored twice and Semyon Varlamov carried a shutout into the final minute for the New York, which beat depleted Boston in Elmont, N.Y.

Anthony Beauvillier snapped a 14-game scoreless streak by scoring the middle goal for the Islanders, who have won three of five since an 11-game losing streak (0-8-3). Varlamov made 40 saves before Mike Reilly’s shot caromed off the top post and into the net with 53.1 seconds left.

Linus Ullmark, who drew the start with No. 1 goalie Jeremy Swayman among the six players in COVID-19 protocols, made 25 saves for the Bruins, who have lost two straight and four of six (2-2-2).

Predators 5, Avalanche 2

predators avalanche covid
Dec 16, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Tanner Jeannot (84) celebrates as a shot from Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (not pictured) is deflected past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz (39) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Filip Forsberg tallied two goals and an assist, Tanner Jeannot notched a goal and an assist, and host Nashville beat Colorado as both teams dealt with COVID-19 issues.

Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm also scored, Colton Sissons had three assists, Alexandre Carrier had two assists and Juuse Saros stopped 24 shots for Nashville. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist, Valeri Nichushkin scored and Pavel Francouz made 30 saves for the Avalanche.

The Predators have seven players and four coaches, including the entire bench staff, on the protocol list. Karl Taylor — coach of the Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s AHL affiliate — served as the acting coach. Colorado added four players to the protocol list: goaltender Darcy Kuemper, Cale Makar, Andre Burakovsky and J.T. Compher.

“I just went to our players and said, ‘Hey what do you guys want to do?’,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said about the vote. “Like I said, `We’re here to play a game.’ They were shorthanded, we were shorthanded. We’re not using COVID as an excuse. We’re here to win a hockey game. We had plenty of capable bodies in the lineup.” 

Golden Knights 5, Devils 3

William Karlsson and Nicolas Roy scored 33 seconds apart in the third period to lift Vegas to a victory in Newark, N.J.

Defenseman Dylan Coghlan scored a power-play goal and William Carrier and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for the Golden Knights, who have posted 33 goals during their last seven games (6-1-0). Reilly Smith had a pair of assists and Robin Lehner finished with 23 saves before leaving in the late stages for his role in a skirmish.

Tomas Tatar collected a goal and an assist and Jack Hughes and Jimmy Vesey also scored for the Devils, who have lost four in a row and eight of their past nine (1-7-1).

Lightning 2, Senators 1

Victor Hedman scored the tiebreaking goal on the power play — set up by Steven Stamkos’ 900th career point — and Tampa Bay beat visiting Ottawa.

Hedman, who also had an assist, notched his seventh goal this season as the Lightning won their sixth straight at home. Alex Killorn also scored for Tampa Bay. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy posted 25 saves and set an NHL record by earning his 63rd win in the 2021 calendar year.

Thomas Chabot notched his first goal and Anton Forsberg made 25 saves for the Senators, who had their two-game winning streak broken and fell to 0-13-0 when trailing after two periods.

Hurricanes 5, Red Wings 3

Nino Niederreiter scored twice, including a tiebreaking goal 18 seconds into the third period, as roster-strapped Carolina beat Detroit in Raleigh, N.C.

Carolina played with just 16 skaters because of COVID-19 protocols.

Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen made 23 saves. Sam Gagner, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi scored for the Red Wings. Alex Nedeljkovic, playing for the first time against his former team, stopped 28 shots for Detroit.

“Guys gutted it out, there’s no doubt about it,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “That was tough being shorthanded there. Obviously, all the guys we had to bring in did a real nice job.”

Kings 4, Panthers 1

nhl roundup
Dec 16, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save in front of Florida Panthers right wing Patric Hornqvist (70) during the second period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Quick made a season-high 41 saves in Sunrise, Fla., as Los Angeles routed short-handed Florida, which played without seven players due to COVID protocols and two more out with injuries.

Olli Maatta, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Arthur Kaliyev scored for the Kings.

Matt Kiersted scored for the Panthers, his first NHL goal. Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for the Panthers, who still lead the NHL in home wins (14-3-0).

Sabres 3, Wild 2 (SO)

Tage Thompson scored the only goal in a shootout to give Buffalo a win in Saint Paul, Minn.

Dylan Cozens and Mark Pysyk scored, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 30 saves, for the Sabres, who won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 25 and Oct. 28.

Jon Merrill and Kirill Kaprizov scored for the Wild, who had their six-game home winning streak snapped and are winless (0-2-1) in three straight for the first time this season. Minnesota’s Cam Talbot made 38 saves.

Canucks 5, Sharks 2

Brock Boeser scored twice and the visiting Vancouver Canucks remained undefeated under new coach Bruce Boudreau, beating the San Jose Sharks 5-2 on Thursday night for their sixth straight victory.

Vancouver’s J.T. Miller added a goal and two assists.

Bo Horvat and Jason Dickinson also scored, Tanner Pearson recorded two assists and Thatcher Demko made 34 saves for the Canucks, who have won eight of nine following a 1-8-1 stretch. Vancouver is perfect in six contests since Boudreau replaced the fired Travis Green on Dec. 5.

San Jose’s Timo Meier notched his 100th career goal and Andrew Cogliano scored with 11:31 left in regulation to make it a one-goal game, but the Sharks still lost for the fifth time in their past seven. Adin Hill stopped 25 shots for San Jose, which is mired in a 4-6-1 home rut.

–Field Level Media