Matt Murray

Gustav Nyquist scores twice as Red Wings take down Penguins

USA Today Images

Gustav Nyquist scores twice as Red Wings take down Penguins

DETROIT -- Gustav Nyquist scored twice, Jimmy Howard made 37 saves and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Sunday night.

Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen also scored for Detroit. Evgeni Malkin got his fifth goal in seven games for the Penguins.

The Wings took the lead 11:31 into the opening period. Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg fed a cross-ice pass to Nyquist in the middle of the Pittsburgh zone. Nyquist skated out between the hash marks and used Pittsburgh defenseman Frank Corrado as a screen to fire a high shot past Matt Murray on the glove side.

Larkin added to Detroit's advantage just 59 seconds into the second. He burst down the right wing past Malkin and tucked the puck past Murray as he cut across the front of the net.

The Penguins got on the board with a power-play goal at 8:04 of the second. Howard made a spectacular glove stop Malkin's shot, but a video review determined that his glove was across the goal line when he caught the puck.

Detroit went up 3-1 at 15:18 of the second. Nielsen skated down the left wing and faked a slap shot. When Murray bit on the fake, Nielsen slid the puck along the ice under Murray's right pad.

Nyquist added his second at 16:34 of the third period. Murray stopped Tyler Bertuzzi's shot, but Nyquist was on the doorstep to slide in the rebound.

Murray finished with 19 saves (see full recap).

Johnson scores twice in Lightning's rout of Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Tyler Johnson scored twice, Andre Vasilevskiy stopped 21 shots for his ninth career shutout and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-0 on Sunday night.

Johnson's second-period goals extended his point streak to 12 games, tied for the longest in the league this season. He's got eight goals and 10 assists in that stretch.

After a slow start, Tampa Bay scored four times in a span of 7:23 in the second period, sucking the energy out of the sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena on New Year's Eve.

Nikita Kucherov got his league-leading 25th goal of the season, and Steven Stamkos and Cory Conacher also scored for the Lightning. Brayden Point, Mikhail Sergachev and Victor Hedman had two assists apiece.

Vasilevskiy didn't have to work particularly hard in recording his league-leading fifth shutout of the season for the Lightning, who lead the NHL in wins and sit atop the Atlantic Division at 28-8-2.

Joonas Korpisalo had 30 saves for Columbus. He started in place of Sergei Bobrovsky, who has struggled lately and was rested by coach John Tortorella. The Blue Jackets were 6-6-2 in December and have slipped to third in the Metropolitan Division (see full recap).

Karlsson has hat trick, Golden Knights beat Maple Leafs
LAS VEGAS -- William Karlsson had the first hat trick in Vegas history and added an assist to help the streaking Golden Knights beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Sunday.

The Western Conference-leading Golden Knights have won seven straight and have earned points in 12 consecutive games, both NHL records for a first-year team. An NHL-best 11-1-1 in December, the Golden Knights are 16-2-1 at home and 26-9-2 overall.

Karlsson pushed his team-leading goals total to 20. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault also scored, and Malcolm Subban made 19 saves.

Auston Matthews scored twice for Toronto, Patrick Marleau added a goal, and Frederik Anderson stopped 25 shots.

Toronto is 11-7-1 against the Western Conference and 8-5-0 against Pacific Division team. The Maple Leafs, who played their 10th road game of the month, finished a five-game trip 2-2-1.

Toronto went 0-for-3 with the man advantage (see full recap).

NHL Notes: Sabres' Eichel gets $80M deal; Capitals' Wilson banned 4 games

USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Sabres' Eichel gets $80M deal; Capitals' Wilson banned 4 games

BUFFALO, New York -- The Buffalo Sabres have reached an agreement to sign their franchise player, Jack Eichel, to an NHL-maximum eight-year, $80 million contract.

The team announced the signing on its twitter account on Tuesday night in a deal reached two days before Buffalo hosts the Montreal Canadiens in the season opener.

Eichel is entering the final year of his three-year entry level contract and only eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer.

The deal was reached after talks had cooled for much of the past six weeks.

Eichel was the second player selected in the 2015 draft, one spot behind Edmonton's Connor McDavid. The Oilers' captain signed an eight-year, $100 million contract extension in July, making him the NHL's top-paid player on a per-season basis.

In averaging $10 million per season, Eichel ties Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar on the NHL list of annual average salaries (see full story).

Capitals: Wilson suspended 4 games for boarding
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The NHL has suspended Washington Capitals right winger Tom Wilson for four games for boarding St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais.

The league's department of player safety announced the suspension Tuesday.

Wilson will forfeit $97,561 in salary. Even though this is the first regular-season suspension of his NHL career, Wilson is considered a repeat offender after being suspended for two preseason games for a late hit on Blues rookie Robert Thomas last month.

The 23-year old will miss games against the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. He'll be eligible to return Oct. 13 against the New Jersey Devils.

Wilson said Tuesday he's a player who finishes big checks, which makes him the subject of attention (see full story).

Penguins: Murray ready to take mantle from Fleury
PITTSBURGH -- Matt Murray jokes he can't help but do a double take whenever he sees a No. 30 Pittsburgh Penguins jersey in public.

"I still think it's a family member or something," the Penguins goaltender said with a laugh.

Hard to blame him. Two years ago, Murray was still in the minors, a 21-year-old long on promise but whose time as the heir apparent to Marc-Andre Fleury was still off somewhere in the gauzy distance.

Like seemingly everything else in Murray's burgeoning career, the future arrived ahead of schedule. Funny how winning a pair of Stanley Cup championships speeds things up.

When Murray skates onto the PPG Arena ice on Wednesday night for the season opener against St. Louis, he'll do it for the first time as a true No. 1 NHL goalie. No more of the "Murray vs. Fleury" debates that raged across social media and talk radio -- but never in the Penguins dressing room -- during their professional if occasionally uncomfortable coexistence.

The gig is Murray's. For now and for later.

Even with his name stenciled on his sport's most prized possession -- twice -- he's in no mood for a victory lap.

"I think there's always something to prove," Murray said. "Nothing's given to you in this league that's for sure. You've got to keep your foot on the gas pedal and that's what I intend to do. I don't feel like I've earned anything."

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators


PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins rarely tested the hottest goaltender in the playoffs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville.

They beat Pekka Rinne anyway.

Rookie Jake Guentzel fired the puck past Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a back-and-forth 5-3 victory on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Matt Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in Final history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37 minutes at one point without a shot.

"I think at the end of the day we're up 1-0," Bonino said. "We had a good first, we had a terrible second and we were terrible in the third. I don't think it's Xs and Os. We've got to work harder, compete a little harder, but we got some timely goals."

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions, trying to become the first repeat winner since Detroit in 1998.

All the guys from "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

"The impact of that moment and then the chain of events that happened after that with the penalty kills I think changed the course of the game," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.

The decision gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge. Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead, they rallied and took over the game.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second and Nashville kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history -- and the first such period by any team in a Final game since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1958.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

"We didn't do a great job of (shooting), but we made them count," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "But it was a good finish there to get that one from Jake."