NHL roundup: Stars light up Wild, league wide pause begins tomorrow, and no Olympics

The NHL originally had five games on tap for Monday but COVID had other plans. Four contests were postponed and late yesterday, the league finally opted to pause the season for all teams through the holiday break.

In the one game played, Miro Heiskanen and Jamie Benn each had a goal and an assist to lead the Dallas Stars to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Minnesota Wild.

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Stars 7, Wild 4

Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, Tyler Seguin, Esa Lindell and Jacob Peterson also scored for Dallas, which won for the 10th time in its last 11 home games. Jason Robertson and Denis Gurianov each added two assists while Jake Oettinger finished with 19 saves.

“Seven goals, seven goal scorers, that’s great to see, that’s good balance,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “We need it… We need that balanced scoring.”

Kevin Fiala scored twice, Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and two assists and Ryan Hartman finished with a goal and an assist for Central Division-leading Minnesota. Mats Zuccarello added two assists while Cam Talbot made 22 saves.

Dallas, which had dropped its four previous meetings against Minnesota including an ugly 7-2 loss on Nov. 18 in Saint Paul, Minn., jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first 3:24 on goals by Pavelski, who put in a rebound of Robertson shot inside the left post for his 12th goal of the season, and a shorthanded goal by Lindell, who intercepted Talbot’s clearing pass near center ice and then skated in and fired a wrist shot from the left circle through Talbot’s pads for his first goal.

Minnesota nearly tied it early in the third period when Fiala fired a shot off the crossbar before Dallas broke the game open with two goals in 60 seconds. Peterson got the first, his fifth of the season, to make it 5-3 and Heiskanen followed with his fourth on a wrist shot from the left circle.

Minnesota coach Dean Evason then rolled the dice and pulled Talbot with 9:20 remaining. After Sequin hit the post on an empty net try, the Wild cut it to 6-4 on a six-on-four power play goal by Fiala off a Hartman feed from behind the net.

Benn then sealed it with an empty netter with 1:32 to go.

NHL Pause from 12/22 to 12/25

nhl pause
Gary Bettman (Getty Images)

The league was due to have no games from Friday through Sunday for a holiday break, but all games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday will be postponed and team facilities will be closed those days, too, due to COVID-19 outbreaks at multiple teams, ESPN and Sportsnet reported Monday night.

The last three games to be played ahead of the reported early shutdown were the Minnesota Wild at the Dallas Stars on Monday night and two games Tuesday: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning at Vegas Golden Knights.

The league already had officially postponed 44 games due to COVID issues.

The Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs previously had their schedules halted by the league through Sunday. Games involving teams crossing the United States-Canada border also were postponed.

NHL Press Release:

Players will report back to their Clubs on Dec. 26, which shall be used for testing, practice and/or travel only. Upon return from the Holiday Break to team facilities, no individual in the team’s Traveling Party shall enter the facility (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result. Any practice scheduled for Dec. 26 must begin after 2:00 p.m. local time.

No Olympics for NHL

The major shutdown has prompted the league and the players’ union to reopen discussions regarding the players’ involvement in the 2022 Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in February at Beijing.

In the last collective bargaining agreement, the players won the right to compete in the Olympics, with the NHL shutting down from Feb. 3-22. However, those plans could be scrapped as the league attempts to make up the games lost to COVID.

In an August news release, the NHL wrote that should its players not take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the league will shift to a revised regular-season schedule.

“Sources confirm the February break in the NHL schedule, originally for the Olympics, will now be used to play make up games for all games taken off the board,” reported Andy Strickland.

The recent COVID spike leading to multiple shutdowns and game postponements made going to Beijing and successfully completing an 82 schedule near impossible.

–Field Level Media