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Hockey Daily Dose

Montreal clinches first place

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The big news of the day was that the NHL has declared it will not be going to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang South Korea and there will be no break in the season. Here is what the NHL statement said:

 

"We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject," the NHL said in a statement. "A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL's participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed."

 

The Players Association was not pleased with the League as it maintains the players want to go.

 

 "The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL's shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics. Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season's schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage. A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide. Moreover, it is doing so after the financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The League's efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself. NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL's decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans."

 

The Eastern Conference was in the forefront Monday with playoff implications in all three games.

 

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TORONTO 4 BUFFALO 2

 

Anders Nilsson was sensational in the Buffalo cage as he stopped 39 of 40 shots for the Sabres. Unfortunately for Buffalo, they started Robin Lehner who gave up three goals on five shots as the Toronto Maple Leafs moved closer to clinching a playoff spot with a 4-2 win Monday.

 

The Maple Leafs scored three times in 43 seconds as Leo Komarov, Auston Matthews and James van Riemsdyk each found the back of the net to chase Lehner. The Leafs continued to pound the net as they outshot Buffalo 18-2 in the first. Matthews goal was his 67th point of the season setting a new Toronto mark for points by a rookie as he was tied with Peter Ihnacak.

 

But Ryan O'Reilly scored the only goal of the second, his 20th of the season, to cut the lead to 3-1. It was a shorthanded effort as Brian Gionta drew the only assist. The Leafs still outshot Buffalo 11-8 in the second.

 

Nazem Kadri potted his 31st of the season at the 5:50 mark of the third on the power play. It got a little chippy after the goal as Kadri was chirping at Rasmus Ristolainen who promptly came over and shoved the Maple Leafs center. Things got a little heated with Evander Kane and Ristolainen both receiving 10-minute misconducts.

 

Jack Eichel scored his 24th of the season with just 56 seconds left in the game as Sam Reinhart sent him in alone.

 

Frederik Andersen stopped 20-of-22 shots for the win as he is 33-15-14 with a 2.65 GAA and a .919 save percentage.

 

Toronto is now one point up on Ottawa and Boston for second in the Atlantic with a game in hand on the Bruins.  

 

DETROIT 5 OTTAWA 4 (Shootout)

 

The Senators lost a valuable point when Evgeny Svechnikov scored the only goal in seven rounds of the shootout as Detroit prevailed 5-4.

 

The Red Wings had a very good night with their specialty teams as they scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded, only giving up one power play goal to the Senators.

 

Frans Nielsen opened the scoring even strength while Dylan Larkin scored shorthanded to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead after the second period as Alex Burrows scored for Ottawa.

 

Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist scored on the power play to give Detroit a 4-2 lead with 12 minutes to go in the game but Kyle Turris and Fredrik Claesson scored to send the game into overtime and eventually into the shootout.

 

Turris had a goal and two assists and Erik Karlsson returned to the lineup after a two-game absence with one of each.

Petr Mrazek stopped 41 shots and didn’t allow a goal in seven opportunities in the shootout as he improved his record to 18-21-8 with a 3.05 GAA and a .901 save percentage. It has been a tough year for the netminder and the Red Wings can only hope he reverts back into his 2015-16 form next season.

 

Craig Anderson made 29 saves and picked up his first assist of the season.

 

Bobby Ryan suffered an upper body injury and did not participate in the shootout.

 

Nick Jensen had two assists and has a goal and four points in his last two games.

 

MONTREAL 4 FLORIDA 1

 

The Montreal Canadiens clinched first place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-1 win over Florida.

 

Artturi Lehkonen scored twice and added an assist to lead Montreal to the win.

 

Andrew Shaw and Alexander Radulov also scored for the Habs.

 

Jonathan Marchessault scored the only goal for Florida. It was his 30th of the season as he is having a career year.

 

Michael Sgarbossa and Phillip Danault fought in the second period with Danault getting seven minutes in penalties and Sgarbossa five.

 

Charlie Lindgren made his first start of the season for Montreal and he stopped 31 shots for the win.  Lindgren was recalled last week as backup Al Montoya suffered a lower –body injury. With the Canadiens clinching first place, do not be surprised if Lindgren gets another start this week.

 

Reto Berra made 27 saves on 30 shots for Florida. He is now 0-5-0 this season.

Michael Finewax

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