Alex Ovechkin

Best of NHL: Brandon Saad-led Blackhawks embarrass Penguins, 10-1

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Best of NHL: Brandon Saad-led Blackhawks embarrass Penguins, 10-1

CHICAGO -- Brandon Saad scored three times in his return to Chicago and Ryan Hartman had a goal and four assists, helping the Blackhawks pound the Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1 on Thursday night.

Nick Schmaltz added two goals and an assist as Chicago kicked off its season in style with a runaway victory against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Patrick Kane also had a goal and three assists in the Blackhawks' highest scoring game since a 10-1 win against Winnipeg on Oct. 12, 1988.

Pittsburgh was coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to St. Louis in its season opener on Wednesday, and it looked every bit like a team on the second half of back-to-back nights. Antti Niemi was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots in his Penguins debut, forcing Matt Murray to come in after he took the loss against the Blues.

Sidney Crosby found Phil Kessel for a power-play goal at 2:05 of the second period, but Chicago already had a 5-0 lead at that point. It was the most goals allowed by Pittsburgh since a 10-8 loss to San Jose on Jan. 13, 1996 (see full recap).

Ovechkin notches hat trick in Capitals’ SO win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick in a 6:33 span in the third period and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the shootout winner in the Washington Capitals' 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

Brett Connolly also scored for Washington, and Braden Holtby made 28 saves. Mark Stone struck twice for the Senators, Derick Brassard had a goal and two assists, Chris Wideman also scored, and Craig Anderson made 24 saves.

Ovechkin scored twice in a 1:23 span to tie it early in the third period.

Cody Ceci turned the puck over down low, allowing Kuznetsov to find Ovechkin for a shot he roofed past Anderson. Then, the Senators were unable to clear the puck and the same line was able to move the puck quickly to allow Ovechkin to score.

Ottawa regained the lead 1:17 later when Stone tipped in Dion Phaneuf's shot.

Ovechkin tied it again with 9:12 left in the period (see full recap).

Red Wings open new arena with win over Wild
DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg and Martin Frk scored in the third period to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in the first regular-season game at Little Caesars Arena.

Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin scored 23 seconds apart in the second period for the Red Wings, who rallied after blowing a 2-0 lead early in the third. Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart scored 48 seconds apart to tie it, and then Zetterberg put Detroit back ahead to stay with 12:53 remaining.

The Red Wings said goodbye to Joe Louis Arena in April and moved to a new downtown venue they'll share with the Detroit Pistons. The Red Wings missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1990, and although expectations are low at the moment, they opened with a victory.

Even before the opening faceoff, fans were already partaking in that old Detroit tradition of tossing octopi on the ice. The puck went across the Detroit goal line twice in the first, but goaltender interference was called both times and the period ended scoreless. Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk made the save of the night when, while sprawled on his back, he swung his left arm across to deny Gustav Nyquist on a breakaway (see full recap).

NHL Notes: Jets, Nikolaj Ehlers agree to 7-year, $42 million extension

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NHL Notes: Jets, Nikolaj Ehlers agree to 7-year, $42 million extension

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets agreed to terms on a $42 million, seven-year contract extension with forward Nikolaj Ehlers on Wednesday.

The extension begins a year from now and carries an average annual value of $6 million, the Jets said in a statement.

"This team, this organization, this city ... from Day 1 I was happy here," Ehlers said before the Jets opened their season against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

"It's amazing playing in front of all these fans. Winnipeg as a city is amazing, they love their hockey, so I could not see any reason to not want to stay here long term."

The 21-year-old Ehlers had 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games for the Jets last season (see full story).

Flames: Team signs 45-year-old Jagr to 1-year deal
CALGARY, Alberta -- Jaromir Jagr has signed with the Calgary Flames.

The 45-year-old Jagr agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal Wednesday for his 24th NHL season -- and first with a Canadian team.

"I already said in a Czech newspaper it's 99.9 percent that his will be my last season, so I want to get the experience to one day say I played for a Canadian team," Jagr said.

The five-time NHL scoring champion is second behind Wayne Gretzky in NHL history with 1,914 points (765 goals, 1,149 assists).

Jagr has played 1,711 NHL games with Pittsburgh, Washington, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, New Jersey and Florida and is 57 games from passing Gordie Howe for the most NHL games played (1,767).

"If I can reach it, especially with a Calgary Flames jersey on, it's going to be special," Jagr said. "I don't want to look that far" (see full story).

Wild: Winnik signs 1-year deal after successful camp tryout
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have signed left wing Daniel Winnik to a one-year, $660,000 contract.

Winnik was in training camp on a tryout basis. He was a free agent after a career-high 12 goals in 72 games last season for Washington.

The 32-year-old Winnik became more valuable to the Wild with a back injury limiting left wing Zach Parise, and Winnik was rewarded Wednesday with a contract. He's been on the fourth line with center Matt Cullen and right wing Tyler Ennis.

The Wild will be his eighth NHL team. He played two seasons for Wild coach Bruce Boudreau when they were both with Anaheim. Winnik has 76 goals and 152 assists in 717 games, plus 58 games in the playoffs (see full story).

Sabres: Redmond acquired from Canadiens
BUFFALO, N.Y.  -- The Buffalo Sabres have acquired defenseman Zach Redmond in a trade that sent forward Nicolas Deslauriers to the Montreal Canadiens.

The move involving two minor leaguers was made on Wednesday, a day before Buffalo opens the season by hosting Montreal.

Redmond is listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds and was selected in the seventh round of 2008 draft by the then-Atlanta Thrashers. He has nine goals and 29 assists in 130 NHL games split between Montreal, Colorado and Winnipeg.

The Sabres announced Redmond will report to Rochester, their American Hockey League affiliate (see full story).

Blackhawks: Bickell signs 1-day contract to retire with Chicago
CHICAGO -- Bryan Bickell has signed a one-day contract so he can retire with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bickell was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2004 draft and spent his first nine seasons with the Blackhawks, winning three Stanley Cup championships. He was traded to Carolina in June 2016.

The 31-year-old Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last November and played in just 11 games with the Hurricanes. He announced his retirement in April and scored a memorable shootout goal in his final game.

The Blackhawks also placed forward Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve and signed defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year contract. Forward Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Gustav Forsling were recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League (see full story).

Predators: Former Flyer Zolnierczyk signs 1-year, 2-way deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed Harry Zolnierczyk to a one-year, two-way contract keeping the 30-year-old forward with the franchise.

The Predators announced the deal Wednesday. Zolnierczyk will be paid based on a $650,000 contract when on the Predators' roster and $150,000 when assigned to Milwaukee in the AHL.

Zolnierczyk played 24 games and scored four points for Nashville last season. He had a goal and two assists in 11 playoff games as Nashville reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Undrafted, Zolnierczyk played at Brown, and his NHL career includes 84 games with Nashville, Anaheim, the Islanders, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with 13 points.

Capitals: High goal-scoring expectations for Ovechkin at 32
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin has scored 50 goals so regularly that finishing with 30-something was a disappointment.

Ovechkin is responsible for seven of the 20 times any player has scored 50 goals in a season since he entered the league in 2005. As Washington Capitals teammate T.J. Oshie pointed out, Ovechkin is "a pure goal-scorer, the best of our time," and his 558 career goals are well ahead of everyone else in the NHL in that time.

The challenge now is for Ovechkin to keep it up going into his 13th season at age 32. His 33 goals last season were his fewest in an 82-game season since 2010-11, and now the Capitals need him to up the ante after several key offseason losses.

"Last year's the minimum," general manager Brian MacLellan said Tuesday. "I think he can get more goals than that."

But how many goals are realistic? Coach Barry Trotz thinks "you keep the bar at 50" until Ovechkin doesn't get there (see full story).

NHL Notes: Sidney Crosby hangs with rookies as Penguins prep for Cup defense

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NHL Notes: Sidney Crosby hangs with rookies as Penguins prep for Cup defense

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Sidney Crosby likes his summers short. Really short. Short summers for Crosby means long playoff runs for the Pittsburgh Penguins, ones that usually end with parades through the city in mid-June, the Penguins captain holding the Stanley Cup aloft.

There is no other feeling like it. So the question isn't why would Crosby want to cut the celebration short, but why would he want to put off starting the process all over again?

So just 88 days after Pittsburgh closed out Nashville in six games to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, Crosby found himself out on the ice with assorted prospects, many of whom have little chance of making it to the NHL this season.

That didn't stop Crosby and his familiar No. 87 jersey serving as perhaps the most decorated "welcome wagon" in professional sports. For the better part of an hour the face of the game skated with the newcomers. Later in the afternoon the more established players went through a workout of their own, well aware of the message Crosby's appearance in the building earlier in the day sent (see full story).

Predators: Ellis out 4-6 months after knee surgery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis will need a full six months to recover from offseason knee surgery, and general manager David Poile says they don't expect him back until possibly 2018.

Poile gave an update on injuries Thursday to Ellis and new center Nick Bonino after a rookies' practice. Both were hurt during the Stanley Cup Final that Nashville lost in six games to Pittsburgh , and Bonino was playing for the Penguins.

"The discussion with our doctors at this time, they would like to take it a little bit slower with his recovery," Poile said of Ellis.

The original timetable called for a recovery of four to six months. Poile said the Predators and doctors feel Ellis will need the full six months to recover.

"Ryan is not skating yet, probably will be skating in approximately another three weeks and the recovery will go from there," Poile said. "We don't expect him back until at the end of the year, maybe the New Year, maybe right around Christmas time" (see full story).

Jets: Coach Maurice, GM Cheveldayoff get extensions
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman had no doubt general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and coach Paul Maurice deserved the contract extensions that were announced Thursday.

The team has only made the playoffs once since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011 with Cheveldayoff as a rookie NHL GM. Maurice, who replaced Claude Noel in January 2014, was behind the bench for the first-round sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks in 2015.

"I'm just very happy that we can give Kevin and Paul the opportunity to move this group forward," Chipman said. "They deserve that and I'm excited to watch it move on from here."

Chipman wouldn't reveal the length of the contracts, but described Maurice's as "medium" term and Cheveldayoff's as longer. Both were entering the final year of their contracts.

"(Cheveldayoff) is exactly what we thought we were hiring six years ago," Chipman said. "He has that rare combination of a high degree of competence and a very high degree of character" (see full story)

Capitals: Ovechkin sees his effect on Washington
SPRINGFIELD, Va. -- Even though Alex Ovechkin doesn't want to talk about the upcoming season just yet, he got a chance Thursday to survey evidence of his 12 seasons with the Washington Capitals.

Another pair of NHL-sized rinks is set to go up in the suburbs next year, a testament to the so-called Ovechkin effect on the growth of hockey in the area.

"I don't think it's an `Ovechkin effect,'" Ovechkin said. "But it is nice to be part of it. It's nice to be involved. And it's nice to see how fast it grows. It's just an unbelievable feeling when you see the place gets crazy. It's amazing."

Ovechkin talked in front of a construction site for The St. James, a planned sports complex that will focus on hockey and other athletic opportunities for children. Hockey has taken hold significantly in the D.C. area since Ovechkin arrived as a precocious teenager in 2005 who barely spoke English.

"It was very interesting for me when I just came here from Russia to find a new world, a new place," Ovechkin said. "It was kind of hard decision for me and my family to come to D.C. because I was 19 years old. It was a different world for me. Different culture, different people, different atmosphere. But as soon as I get in here I start to feel like everybody love me, everybody can't wait to see me on the ice" (see full story).