Devils send Adam Henrique to Ducks for defensman Sami Vatanen

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Devils send Adam Henrique to Ducks for defensman Sami Vatanen

Even though the New Jersey Devils are off to a surprisingly strong start this season, they were on the lookout for an offensive-minded defenseman.

The Devils filled that need Thursday, acquiring Sami Vatanen from the Ducks in a trade that sent forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi to Anaheim. The Ducks also get a 2018 third-round pick in the deal and would send back a 2019 or 2020 third-rounder if they're able to re-sign Henrique.

Ducks general manager Bob Murray called it "a classic sort of hockey deal" rather than one team buying and the other selling.

"It's a good deal for both teams that we both had needs to fill," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said on a conference call. "Hopefully this one works out for both teams."

Murray said Vatanen was "rusty" coming off shoulder surgery, but the 26-year-old has shown the ability to put up points. He has 126 in 280 regular-season NHL games.

Vatanen has just a goal and three assists this season playing on a crowded blue line with Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson and Brandon Montour. He's signed for two more seasons at a salary-cap hit of $4.875 million.

Devils general manager Ray Shero saw the trade as "an opportunity we didn't want to have pass by."

"In acquiring Sami, we bring on a right shot, top-four defenseman who can play in all situations," Shero said. "This move also gives us contract certainty on the back end for the next two-plus years."

In Henrique, the Ducks get center depth as they deal with injuries to Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. The 27-year-old has four goals and 10 assists in 24 games this season and is signed through 2018-19.

Henrique said he was "shocked" when Shero told him he'd been traded.

"It wasn't something I was expecting," Henrique said. "With everything going on in Anaheim with the injuries, it just makes sense. I think the Devils have obviously been looking for a defenseman, and I think everything kind of came together the last day or two here."

Murray hopes to have Getzlaf back by mid-December and Kesler before Christmas. He thinks acquiring Henrique gives coach Randy Carlyle plenty of options to either stack the middle or move him to wing once Getzlaf, Kesler and Rickard Rakell are healthy.

"It makes us really strong down the middle if randy wants to go that way," Murray said.

The conditional pick is exchanged in 2019 if the Ducks sign Henrique prior to making their third-round pick at that draft and in 2020 if they sign him afterward. If they don't re-sign Henrique, no pick is exchanged.

"I think that's fair for both teams," Murray said. "It's part of the hockey deal. Adam's got one more year after this year, and we'll see how it goes and how he fits in here."

New Jersey's forward depth, including the return of Travis Zajac from injury, gave Shero the ability to deal from a position of strength to fill a hole.

Murray and Shero wondered if Henrique might benefit from a change of scenery. Blandisi, 23, has been with the Devils' American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton but could be counted on to step back up to the NHL for Anaheim.

"Jersey has got a lot of forwards, talented forwards, and there was an opportunity for us to kind of fill in our depth where we're kind of weakest," Murray said. "He likes to score. He likes to be around the net. He knows how to play around the net, and he likes to shoot it. Could be a good opportunity for him."

Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

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Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Brandon Montour scored a power-play goal, helping lift the Anaheim Ducks into third place in the Pacific Division with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell each had a goal and an assist, and Jakob Silfverberg also scored for the Ducks, who lead Los Angeles by two points in the division. Anaheim won its third straight game and is 6-1-0 in its last seven at home.

John Gibson made 15 saves, improving to 9-2-0 in his last 11 starts.

Kyle Palmieri had a power-play goal and Patrick Maroon also scored for the Devils, who had won the first three games of their six-game road trip. Keith Kinkaid made 32 saves, ending a four-start winning streak.

New Jersey holds the second wild-card in the Eastern Conference, five points ahead of Florida (see full recap).

Karlsson's hat trick helps Vegas beat Flames
LAS VEGAS -- William Karlsson scored a natural hat trick to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

Colin Miller also scored as Vegas snapped a four-game home losing streak and improved to 25-9-2 at T Mobile Arena.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who made his 20th start in 21 games, made 42 saves. In getting his 48th career shutout and fourth of the season, Fleury moved into a tie with Chris Osgood for 12th all-time amongst goaltenders at 401.

Vegas improved to 3-0-0 against Calgary while outscoring the Flames 15-5. The teams meet once more, in the regular-season finale at Calgary on April 7 (see full recap).

Laine scores twice, matches Ovechkin for NHL goal lead
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Patrik Laine scored twice to extend his point streak to 15 games and tie Alex Ovechkin for the NHL goal lead, and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Sunday night to match the franchise wins record at 43.

The second-year sniper has 43 goals, matching the total from Ovechkin, the Washington star and Laine's boyhood favorite. Laine's point streak is the longest active run in the NHL and adds to his league record for the longest point streak by a teenager. The streak includes 18 goals and eight assists.

Ben Chiarot also scored and Blake Wheeler added an empty-netter for Winnipeg.

Mattias Janmark and Jamie Benn each scored for Dallas (see full recap).

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

If there was an NHL handbook on how to score goals in the most competitive hockey league in the world, you would have thought Oskar Lindblom would have read it forward and backward, on the charter to the Flyers' next road game and at night before bedtime.

From effort to playing at both ends of the ice, Lindblom had done everything to score a goal, except actually score one.

Prior to Saturday’s game against Carolina, Lindblom had played his first 12 games without registering a single point and it was starting to become a source of playful dissing and mockery in the Flyers' locker room.

“Teammates keep him loose,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think Alex Lyon was giving him the gears. I think Alex should have had an assist last night (in Carolina). I don’t know if he was credited with one or not, but I think Alex was chirping (Oskar) about having more points per game than he did, and that’s what guys do.”

However, the official scoresheet from the 4-2 win in Carolina had Lindblom credited with his first NHL assist and Lyon still looking for one. Prior to that, the zeroes next to Lindblom’s game were starting to add up and Hakstol sensed the 21-year-old rookie was taking notice.  

“I don’t remember the game last week, but he had a great opportunity off a rebound at net front,” Hakstol said. “That was the first time I saw a little bit of frustration creep in where he let it show. Oskar is a good offensive player. He wants to help by doing his part offensively, but I think what he just continued to concentrate on is just playing good hockey.”

Sunday that first goal finally arrived in the form of a snapshot that beat Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer up high. It gave the Flyers a lead they never relinquished in a 6-3 win over Washington.

“I don’t want to think about it anymore,” Lindblom said. “Got the first one today and it was a huge one in the game so it was good.”

And with that, the Swede slipped on the Ric Flair victory robe for the first time, handed down from the Finnish Valtteri Filppula, who was presented the feather-laced garment the night before in Carolina. 

Prior to that, the only thing Lindblom had received was encouragement and support from his teammates who knew his time would eventually come. With an easy-going smile and a personality to match, Lindblom’s fellow Flyers couldn’t help but root for him. 

“We’re all happy for him," Travis Konecny said. “It’s been paying off for him. He deserves it. He works hard at both ends of the ice. I’m personally happy for him.

“He’s got that offensive skill that’s far and few between that a lot of guys don’t have. He just has a knack around the net, he’s always around the puck. We all knew it was coming sooner or later.”

Apparently, everyone seemed to know and especially Jake Voracek, who’s been assisting in every way possible.

“He talks to me a lot,” Lindblom said. “He tried to calm me down a little bit. It’s good for me.”