Colorado Avalanche

Best of NHL: Islanders' Mathew Barzal with franchise-rookie record 5 assists

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Best of NHL: Islanders' Mathew Barzal with franchise-rookie record 5 assists

NEW YORK — Mathew Barzal put on a passing clinic for the New York Islanders.

Barzal had a franchise-rookie record five assists in the Islanders' 6-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.

"It's pretty cool I didn't know," Barzal said about the record. "Actually (Jordan Eberle) was saying maybe six would be a record, but we were just joking around. I had no idea, so that's a pretty cool thing to do."

Barzal becoming just the sixth player in Islanders' history with five assists in a game, joining Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Stefan Persson, Brent Sutter and Pat LaFontaine (see full recap).

Lindgren leads Canadiens to victory over Blackhawks
CHICAGO — Charlie Lindgren made 38 saves in his first career shutout, helping the Montreal Canadiens beat Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Sunday night.

Lindgren and Crawford were locked up in a scoreless duel before Jonathan Drouin skated through the slot and shot the puck into the left side of the net at 1:54 of the third. Drouin's third goal of the season stopped Crawford's scoreless streak at 173 minutes, 9 seconds.

Defenseman Joe Morrow added his third career goal at 7:45, helping Montreal to its fourth win in five games. Morrow blasted a slap shot by a screened Crawford for his first goal since Oct. 27, 2015, for Boston against Arizona.

Coming off consecutive shutouts against Philadelphia and Minnesota, Crawford finished with 33 stops in his first career regulation loss against his hometown team. He was 8-0-2 with a 1.49 goals-against average in 10 career games against Montreal (see full recap).

Petr Mrazek makes 36 saves, Red Wings beat Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta — Backup goalie Petr Mrazek and Detroit Red Wings pushed aside the Edmonton Oilers.

Mrazek made 36 saves and Martin Frk and Anthony Mantha each had a goal and an assist to help the Red Wings beat the Oilers 4-0 on Sunday.

Mrazek had his 11th NHL shutout.

"I thought he was excellent," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "He made some point-blank saves on Connor McDavid. We all know how good he is. Petr has put in tons of work in, both in the summer and in the moments he hasn't been playing for the last bit. He's put tons of work in, he's improved his technique, he was totally ready for this opportunity and that's great for Pete."

Frans Nielsen and Gustav Nyquist also scored. The Red Wings have won three of four to reach 7-7-1 (see full recap). 

Avalanche (finally) move Matt Duchene in blockbuster 3-team trade

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Avalanche (finally) move Matt Duchene in blockbuster 3-team trade

Joe Sakic told Matt Duchene to be patient, that the trade he asked for would come at some point.

It finally did as the Colorado Avalanche traded Duchene to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night in a pair of deals that also included Kyle Turris going to the Nashville Predators. With the Duchene saga over, he joins the Senators as their new No. 1 center, Turris gives the Predators more depth down the middle and the Avalanche push forward with their rebuilding youth movement.

"It's bittersweet for sure, but I'm excited for a new opportunity in Ottawa," Duchene said as he left Barclays Center in Brooklyn. "(The Senators) have a team that can win a Stanley Cup. I'm really excited to go there and just nothing but a pleasure to have played here for Colorado."

Colorado gets top prospects Samuel Girardi and Vladislav Kamenev and a 2018 second-round pick from Nashville, and prospect Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond and a 2018 first- and 2019 third-round picks from Ottawa. Sakic said the Senators first-round pick was top-10 protected.

Duchene is signed through 2018-19 at a salary-cap hit of $6 million. But Sakic said Duchene requested a trade last Christmas, and he has been talking to teams about moving him ever since.

"It's been a while, but we wanted to make sure we had the right deal," Colorado's general manager said. "I think it worked for all three teams. Ottawa wanted Matt really bad, and Kyle Turris was the perfect fit for what Nashville's trying to do and we're trying to build this up and get younger and have our kids grow together."

After the deals were completed, Turris signed a $36 million, six-year extension with Nashville that keeps him under contract through 2023-24. Nashville, which went to the Stanley Cup Final last season, lost winger James Neal to Vegas in the expansion draft but could afford to sign Turris because of that cap space.

Predators GM David Poile called Turris, 28, one of the best two-way centers in the NHL.

"He should be a great fit in our locker room and will bolster our lineup and give us the depth that's necessary during the regular season and the playoffs," Poile said. "He is someone who can play in all situations and will help us tremendously on both ends of the ice. He will give our coaching staff a number of options in terms of offensive production and defensive responsibilities."

Duchene has four goals and six assists in 13 games this season and 178 goals and 250 assists in 585 NHL games, all with Colorado. He'll play his first game with the Senators on Friday against the Avalanche in Stockholm, which could be a weird meeting after Duchene spent so much time in limbo.

"We're going to still focus on winning hockey games and focus on doing that with the guys that want to be here," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said after a 6-4 loss to the Islanders. "Obviously, Matt had his opinions and reasons for whatever happened, but I think for the guys that are here, we want to try to win and we want to change this thing around with this team."

Duchene had a good idea in recent days something was coming, and coach Jared Bednar was prepared with different lineups in case a trade went down. Sakic said he, Poile and Senators GM Pierre Dorion had been talking for a long time, so it was hard to find anyone surprised that Duchene is no longer with the Avalanche.

But Duchene's exit came in unique fashion as he found out on the bench during the game and left the ice with injured Colorado forward Blake Comeau 9:21 into the first period.

"I kind of knew before they told me," Duchene said. "I saw them talking on the bench. It's very strange, but I kind of half-expected it to be the weirdest way possible. It's one of those things -- it's a business and I'll have good story for people one day."

Flyers Weekly Observations: Lumps, bruises aplenty for rookie D-men

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Flyers Weekly Observations: Lumps, bruises aplenty for rookie D-men

Well, that was a busy week for the Flyers, now wasn’t it?

Seven days filled to the brim with four games, each with unique elements that turned into a 1-1-2 week with four points. The Flyers could have ended the week with more than four points. But they also had every reason to finish the week with less than four points.

It started with a mostly ugly 4-3 loss to the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Monday, continued with a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Wednesday and a scrappy 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Thursday, and it ended back home with a 5-4 shootout loss to Colorado Avalanche on Saturday evening.

Four games left us with plenty to get down to, so let’s hop right into this week’s Flyers observations.

And let’s begin on the blue line with the young defensemen.

• It was a week of bumps and bruises, both figuratively and literally for the Flyers’ defensemen. Much of the week was played without the injured Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas, the latter of whom left the game in Chicago early and hasn’t seen the ice since. But for the younger D-men, there were booby traps all over the learning curve this week.

Let’s start with Travis Sanheim, who made a costly mistake Monday against Arizona. And by costly I mean lethal, as it led to the goal that lost the game for the Flyers. During a rush late on the 3-on-3 OT, Sanheim turned his back to the Coyotes' net instead of getting the puck toward the net. His pocket was easily picked and the Coyotes converted on the ensuing 3-on-1 rush. Game. Set. Match. It was an odd decision for a smooth, offensively gifted defenseman, especially at that stage of OT. But you get the sense it was an example of a rookie just a month or so into his career trying to do too much. Those bumps are anticipated, but, man, that was just the wrong time for that move.

Robert Hagg had two similar experiences this week that left a pit in his stomach. First in Chicago on Wednesday, a puck bounced right over his stick after a faceoff win and Jonathan Toews was off to leave Brian Elliott out to dry on a Windy City clothesline. Then Saturday night while on the PK, a Mikko Rantanen pass attempt went right off Hagg’s stick, which was in good position on the ice, and into the net for an Avalanche goal. And to boot, he took a slapper to the kidney area later in the game. Ouch.

Again, these are all lumps that come with being a rookie in the NHL, especially in a high-pressure position such as defenseman. Remember that awful game Ivan Provorov endured early last year in Chicago? Yes, he’s a special talent, but he bounced back almost immediately. The key is not letting one or a couple plays stick in your mind and change the way you play. One good play, no matter how big or small, reinforces all the confidence in the world.

• Speaking of Provorov, that guy is just a machine. Let’s take a look at his ice time this week: 28:07 vs. Arizona, 29:51 vs. Chicago, 27:08 vs. St. Louis, 28:00 vs. Colorado. That’s an average of 28:17 over the last week. What more can he do? A lot. He added three assists vs. the Coyotes and then 10 blocked shots against the Blues. He was a monster in that game in St. Louis, helping keep Russian countryman and sniper Vladamir Tarasenko at bay. It’s hard to remember sometimes that Provorov is just the ripe, old age of 20. At 20, he’s the unquestioned leader of the Flyers’ defense, and rightfully so.  

• The first 50 minutes of the loss to the previously winless Coyotes on Monday was some of the ugliest hockey we’ve seen the Flyers play in a long, long time. No one on the same page. Absolutely nothing in sync. Passes all over the place. Breakdowns aplenty. The list could go on and on and on. To say the effort was lifeless would be quite the understatement. Of course, it’s harder to get up and get motivated for a winless, less-than-sexy team like Arizona. But still, that was inexcusable.

• We all watched Brayden Schenn play for five seasons here in Philadelphia. We know he’s not a dirty player. A physical player always looking to drop a hit whenever he can? Absolutely. But not dirty. But that hit in St. Louis on Sean Couturier was unacceptable.

Fortunately, Couturier only had the wind knocked out of him and came back later in the game, but that hit was late, high and incredibly dangerous. Schenn was given a two-minute minor for interference on the play, which speaks to a more general issue around the league.

That’s exactly the type of hit the NHL wants to eradicate from the game, yet only a two-minute penalty is given? What message does that send? You can knock another player out, but it’s OK, you didn’t do that much wrong? Stiffer penalties, both during and following games, are steps to getting rid of those hits.

• Captain Claude Giroux said it best following the shootout loss the Avs (see video) — The Flyers could really use the upcoming four days off after playing a stretch of seven games in 11 days that included a visit to Canada and a journey to Chicago and St. Louis on back-to-back nights. The stretch of four games in six days this past week was especially grueling. And to top it all off, it seemed like a Flyer was getting nicked up at every turn Saturday night against the Avs. These four days off will be refreshing for a team that’s already been ravaged by injuries at different points this season. We may not like having four days without Flyers hockey to watch, but the Flyers will certainly take it.

Coming up this week: Thursday vs. Chicago (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Saturday vs. Minnesota (7 p.m. on NBCSP+)