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Hockey Daily Dose

McDavid Great, Laviolette Out

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: January 7, 2020, 12:35 pm ET

The big news in the hockey world today was the Nashville Predators firing their long-time head coach Peter Laviolette. They have not named a replacement at this time and they also fired his assistant Kevin McCarthy.

This was the sixth season that Laviolette was the head coach of Nashville and it goes without saying that coaches have a shelf life, with the possible exception of Barry Trotz. Nashville had lost four of its last five games and despite Laviolette’s record of 248-143-60 with the Predators, GM David Poile decided to pull the trigger on Monday.

It’s been a busy year for firing coaches during the season as Laviolette is the sixth coach to leave his post behind the bench, joining Mike Babcock (Toronto), Bill Peters (Calgary), John Hynes (New Jersey), Jim Montgomery (Dallas) and Peter DeBoer (San Jose).

An interim coach should be named on Tuesday.

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EDMONTON 6 TORONTO 4

It was the Connor McDavid show on Monday night in Toronto as McDavid returned to his hometown area and put on a clinic in leading the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-4 win over Toronto.

McDavid had a goal and three assists and it was as pretty a goal as you are ever going to see as he totally fooled Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, went around him like Rielly was a pylon and then put the puck past Michael Hutchinson in the Toronto net. (Watch it here!)

McDavid took over sole possession of first place in the Art Ross Trophy race as he has 69 points, two better than teammate Leon Draisaitl, who had a goal and an assist and has 67 points.

Alex Chiasson also had a goal and an assist for the visiting Oilers when Kailer Yamamoto, Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton.

The Leafs were down 3-0 just 1:45 into the second period when coach Sheldon Keefe pulled Frederik Andersen after the Yamamoto goal. Andersen was none too happy but Michael Hutchinson went the rest of the way. Andersen made 16 saves while Hutchinson took the loss as he gave up three goals on 16 shots.

Jason Spezza, Frederik Gauthier, Pierre Engvall and Auston Matthews scored for Toronto. It was Matthews’ 29th goal of the season and he is just two back of David Pastrnak for the NHL goal scoring lead.

Mike Smith made 32 saves for the win. He is 9-93 with a 3.05 GAA and a .897 save percentage.

Kasperi Kapanen had two assists for Toronto.

Justin Holl took six minutes in penalties while Travis Dermott had four.

James Neal had 10 hits on the night but make no mistake about it, it was Connor McDavid Night at the Scotiabank Arena.

WINNIPEG 3 MONTREAL 2

Andrew Copp scored the winner on an unassisted effort as he gathered the puck at the Montreal blueline and his shot went through Carey Price’s legs and snuck over the goal line.

After a scoreless first period, the Jets got on the scoreboard when defenseman Josh Morrissey scored his ninth of the season and they made it 2-0 4:46 into the second on Nikolaj Ehlers shorthanded effort.

Defenseman Ben Chiarot scored his first of two goals to cut the lead in half and the two teams entered the third period with the Jets up 2-1. Chiarot has seven goals this season.

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 29 shots for the win as he improved to 19-12-4 with a 2.69 GAA and a .920 save percentage.

It has been a struggle this season for Price and the Habs. Price made 24 saves in the 3-2 loss and is 16-15-4 with a 3.01 GAA and a .902 save percentage as he has not been a top-15 fantasy goalie this season.

Blake Wheeler had a pair of assists for Winnipeg while Tomas Tatar had two for Montreal.

Adam Lowry and Anthony Bitetto each had five hits in the contest while Gabriel Bourque had four.

Ilya Kovalchuk made his Montreal debut and picked up an assist, six hits and four shots on goal while going a plus-two in 19:25.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS 1 COLORADO 0

Semyon Varlamov turned aside all 32 Colorado shots and Anders Lee scored his 12th of the season in the Islanders 1-0 win over the Avalanche.

It was the first goal in two games for New York who were shut out by Toronto 3-0 Saturday night.

It was the first time that Varlamov played against his old Colorado teammates as he left the team in the off-season as a UFA after playing the last six years in Denver. It was quite a performance by the netminder who is 15-5-3 with a 2.30 GAA and a .924 save percentage under Barry Trotz’s defensive system.

Pavel Francouz picked up the start for Colorado and made 32 saves as well but took the loss. He is 11-4-1 with a 2.32 GAA and a .929 save percentage as he is having an outstanding season with the Avs.

Nathan MacKinnon had seven shots on goal for Colorado. He was named the first star of the week as he had three goals and eight points in three games.

Devon Toews and Michael Dal Colle picked up assists on Lee’s game winner.

Johnny Boychuk blocked five shots while Ryan Pulock had four.

COLUMBUS 4 LOS ANGELES 2

Kevin Stenlund’s third goal of the season was the winner as Columbus upended Los Angeles 4-2.

The Kings have been a good home team despite their spot at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings as they are just 6-14-1 on the road while 11-9-1 at the friendly confines of the Staples Center.

Elvis Merzlikins was in goal for Columbus and he made 35 saves for his third win of the season. All his wins have come in the last week and he has given up only seven goals in his last four games on 128 shots. It has been a big boost of confidence for the Latvian netminder who has taken over as the number one goalie in Columbus with Joonas Korpisalo out of action for the next four-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

Alex Iafallo gave the Kings a 1-0 lead in the first with his ninth goal of the season but Columbus came back with a pair in the second as the recently recalled Nathan Gerbe scored his second of the season and Scott Harrington scored his first.

Gustav Nyquist scored into the empty net to clinch the victory.

Sean Walker scored once and assisted on Iafallo’s goal. He had six shots on net to lead both teams.

Jonathan Quick gave up three goals on 23 shots to take the loss.

NIGHTLY LEADERS

Goals

Ben Chiarot – 2

Assists

Connor McDavid - 3

Blake Wheeler – 2

Tomas Tatar – 2

Kasperi Kapanen - 2

Shots on Goal

Connor McDavid – 8

Nathan MacKinnon – 7

Sean Walker - 6

Hits

James Neal – 10

Ilya Kovalchuk - 6

Penalty Minutes

Justin Holl - 6

Travis Dermott - 4

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 16th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.