Arizona Coyotes

Best of NHL: Golden Knights roll in emotional Las Vegas home opener

ap-goldenknights-team-celebrate.jpg
AP Images

Best of NHL: Golden Knights roll in emotional Las Vegas home opener

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights' debut on the Strip was a poignant smash.

James Neal scored twice during a thrilling four-goal first period, and the Golden Knights remained unbeaten three games into their inaugural season with a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes in their home opener on Tuesday night.

Tomas Nosek scored the first home goal in franchise history just 2:31 into the first period, and Deryk Engelland added his first goal for his adopted hometown's new team moments later.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for the Golden Knights, who became the first team in NHL history to begin their debut season with three straight wins.

Just nine days after the Las Vegas Strip shooting massacre, the Golden Knights reverently honored the victims and heroes before the long-awaited home debut of the city's first major professional sports franchise.

The Knights held a pregame ceremony during which the names of the shooting victims were projected in gold onto the ice during 58 seconds of silence. Engelland spoke eloquently to the fans, vowing that the Golden Knights "will do everything we can to help you and our city heal. We are Vegas Strong."

After that emotional outpouring, the Golden Knights charged into their home opener with some inspired hockey (see full recap).

Milano, Blue Jackets top Hurricanes in overtime
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sonny Milano scored two goals, including the game-winner on a breakaway with 22 seconds left in overtime to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Milano scored midway through the third period before Jeff Skinner tied it late in regulation with Carolina's net empty. Sergei Bobrovsky, last season's Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie, made 37 saves for Columbus.

Scott Darling, obtained in an offseason trade with Chicago, stopped 25 shots for the Hurricanes.

Milano scored on a ricochet off Darling's backside at 10:01 of the third, assisted by Oliver Bjorkstrand and Nick Foligno. Milano became the first Columbus player to score in the first three games of a season.

Skinner tied it with an unassisted goal at 18:35 after the Hurricanes had pulled Darling.

Columbus is 15-3-0-3 in the all-time series and 8-7-0-2 in Raleigh (see full recap).

Senators edge Canucks in shootout for 1st win
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Mark Stone scored in the fifth round of the shootout as the Ottawa Senators picked up their first win of a season with a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

Kyle Turris kept Ottawa alive in the third round of the shootout after Markus Granlund gave Vancouver the early lead.

Cody Ceci and Ryan Dzingel scored in regulation for Ottawa (1-0-2), which got 26 saves from Craig Anderson.

Christopher Tanev and Thomas Vanek scored in regulation for Vancouver (1-0-1), while Henrik Sedin added two assists. Jacob Markstrom made 40 saves.

Tanev hit the post 28 seconds into overtime, before Sven Baertschi was stopped on a breakaway as Vancouver came close a couple of times in the extra period. Ottawa lost its first two games of the season in a shootout (see full recap).

NHL Notes: Hurricanes' Jaccob Slavin agrees to 7-year extension

NHL Notes: Hurricanes' Jaccob Slavin agrees to 7-year extension

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes and defenseman Jaccob Slavin have agreed to a seven-year contract extension.

General manager Ron Francis on Wednesday said the deal begins in 2018-19 and will carry an average annual value of $5.3 million through the 2024-25 season.

Francis says the 23-year-old Slavin is "one of the cornerstones of our team" and "one of the top young defensemen in the NHL today."

In his second season in the NHL in 2016-17, Slavin had 34 points, five goals, 29 assists. He also led the team with 161 blocked shots, 83 takeaways and an average time on ice of about 23 minutes.

Slavin, Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin are the team's key defensemen entering their third NHL season, and they along with All-Star Justin Faulk and trade acquisition Trevor van Riemsdyk will enter the season as the nucleus of the defense in front of new goalie Scott Darling.

The Hurricanes have not had a captain since Eric Staal was traded in 2016, going with a group of alternate captains last season. Slavin understands that his lengthy new contract comes with an expectation that he will help lead a young dressing room, whether or not he earns an "A" or a "C" on his jersey (see full recap).

Penguins: Crosby blocked out concussion debate
COLE HARBOR, Nova Scotia -- Sidney Crosby said Wednesday he did not pay attention to those questioning whether he should continue playing hockey after suffering another concussion during the playoffs.

Crosby was too focused on capturing another Stanley Cup for his Pittsburgh Penguins to worry about outside opinions on his health.

"I don't really read or listen to that stuff during the playoffs," Crosby told reporters at his annual hockey camp in his hometown.

Crosby has suffered multiple concussions during his career, including one during Game 3 of the second round against Washington in May. He missed one game before returning for Game 5, prompting questions about whether he should consider retirement.

The Penguins went on to win a second straight Cup, defeating the Nashville Predators in the final.

Crosby said he understands why concussions generate so much controversy.

"It's a hot topic," he said. "That's the nature of it right now" (see full story).

Coyotes: Patterson named president and CEO
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes hired Steve Patterson as president and CEO on Wednesday, hoping the longtime sports executive can help solve their ongoing arena issue.

The Coyotes have sought a new arena since the city of Glendale renegotiated a 15-year lease in 2015 and lost a partner for a new arena when Arizona State pulled out of an agreement earlier this year.

Patterson has worked as an NFL, NBA and college executive, serving key roles in designing and renovating arenas at nearly every stop.

The Coyotes also promoted general manager John Chayka to president of hockey operations, a day after hiring Rick Tocchet as head coach.

"Steve has a wealth of experience and has served as an innovative and successful executive in the NFL, NBA, professional hockey, professional baseball and college athletics for over 30 years," Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway said in a statement. "He's built championship teams and organizations and has managed stadiums, ballparks and arenas across the United States. Most importantly, he previously worked in our market and has the necessary corporate and political relationships to help us secure a long-term home for the Coyotes in the Valley. We're thrilled to have him join us" (see full story).

Coyotes hire former Flyer Rick Tocchet as head coach

Coyotes hire former Flyer Rick Tocchet as head coach

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Coyotes have hired Rick Tocchet as head coach, turning the team over to a man who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the past two Stanley Cup titles.

The 53-year-old Tocchet, who spent the past three seasons as a Pittsburgh assistant, played 18 seasons in the NHL and helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 1992.

Tocchet spent one season as an assistant to Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky in 2005-06 and played parts of three seasons with the team from 1997 to 2000.

Tocchet's controversial departure from his Coyotes coaching job did not figure into the decision to hire him, general manager John Chayka said.

"Rick was the best candidate by a wide margin," Chayka said.

Tocchet was on a leave of absence from his Coyotes job in 2007 when he pleaded guilty in New Jersey to conspiracy to promote gambling and promoting gambling. He was sentenced to two years' probation. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said an investigation showed Tocchet's involvement in gambling was not as serious as first thought and he was suspended for three months.

There was no evidence Tocchet ever bet on hockey games.

"He's a man of character and integrity," Chayka said. "Any issues in the past are in the past. It didn't raise any red flags for us whatsoever."

Tocchet briefly returned to the Coyotes in 2008 before being hired as an assistant at Tampa Bay. He became interim head coach of the Lightning that November and was head coach at Tampa Bay the next two seasons.

But it was his work with the Penguins that elevated him to the clear favorite to replace Dave Tippett, who parted ways with the Coyotes after eight years as the franchise's head coach.

"He's one of the best communicators I've come across not only in hockey but probably professionally as well," Chakya said. "... I think he can just relate to the players. He's very firm. He can motivate. He can be aggressive in his approach, but he can also be that big brother kind of approach with our young players and I think that's going to be helpful moving forward."

Chakya said Tocchet has a clear idea of the style he wants his team to play.

"He wants to play fast. He wants to play aggressive. He wants to dictate time and space," Chakya said.

"We had a lot of coaches come through. They will all say something similar. I think he had a real plan of how to do it. He had concrete examples of what that means based off his time in Pittsburgh and some more ideas of what he's maybe looking to do moving forward."