Wednesday night in the NHL: Red-hot Devils stay perfect, notes, highlights, oddities
Here's what you might have missed across the NHL on Wednesday night
Miss any of Wednesday night's action across the NHL? Here are some notes, highlights and oddities from around the league.
Devils have flipped the script
It's Oct. 12, and the New Jersey Devils are the last undefeated team in the Eastern Conference. That's right, the same New Jersey Devils that finished last in the East last season.
The Devils earned that distinction with a 6-3 victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Wednesday night, handing the Leafs their first loss of the season and forcing all of Toronto to surrender the October Stanley Cup they had already awarded themselves.
The season is still in its infant stages and there's plenty of time for things to go horribly wrong, but this rebuilding Devils team has been a joy to watch in its three wins. The Devils are young, they're fast and they're fun. Nineteen-year-old forward Jesper Bratt continues to impress in the early going, leading all rookies with six points. He added an assist on a pretty power-play goal Wednesday.
There were still positives for the Leafs as they had their first taste of defeat. Toronto is generating offensive opportunities at a pretty scary rate, as the Leafs had a 79-50 advantage in shot attempts in all situations and 49-31 at even strength Wednesday night. Did they play great? Not really, they had quite a few breakdowns along the way, but they were also bit by Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who made 47 saves in the win.
Notables: The Devils scored a shorthanded goal while 3-on-5, the first time they've done so in franchise history. It was a bad look for the Leafs, especially defenseman Jake Gardiner.
This penalty box attendant in Toronto. What the hell is this guy's deal? Is this an advertisement for "Westworld?" I need answers.
Ovechkin stays hot
After a quick one-game break from scoring goals, Alex Ovechkin returned to scoring goals Wednesday night. The Caps dropped the season's first rivalry matchup against the Penguins 3-2, but Ovechkin got on the board with his eighth goal in four games.
The primary assist on Ovechkin's goal went to Washington's Swedish rookie Christian Djoos, who had a big night. The 23-year-old also tallied the first goal of his career on a one-timed blast that found its way past Matt Murray. The Djoos is officially loose.
After a promising season-opening win over the Nashville Predators, the Bruins have come back down to earth with two straight losses to the Colorado Avalanche. The Bruins looked like an absolute disaster for much of Wednesday's game in Denver, registering just nine shots through the opening two periods en route to a 6-3 defeat.
A number of defensive breakdowns and penalties led to Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask facing 26 shots (four of which went in) through 40 minutes, and he was pulled (somewhat mercifully) after the second intermission.
Yes, the Bruins looked bad and were hoping to get at least a couple points out of their home-and-home against the NHL's worst team last season (though the Avs had a sneaky good offseason), but Boston fans might not have to hit the panic button just yet. The team is still without Patrice Bergeron (lower body injury), David Backes (illness) and Noel Acciari (hand), which has taken a major hit on their depth down the middle. No offense to Riley Nash, but him logging 22 minutes of ice time while centering the top line and power-play unit is probably not the long-term vision.
Notables: Hey, remember Nail Yakupov, the top overall pick from the 2012 NHL Draft? He didn't work out in Edmonton (or St. Louis) but he's having a heck of a start offensively in his first season with the Avalanche. The 24-year-old winger has three goals in four games already this year, matching his goal total from last season (three in 40 games) already.
All three of Yakupov's tallies this season have come against the Bruins, so maybe that's the key to fulfilling his destiny and shaking the "bust" label. Just let the guy play against Boston every night.
Also, after Adam McQuaid delivered a dangerous cross-check that resulted in a lower body injury for Tyson Jost, the Bruins defenseman had to drop the gloves with Nikita Zadorov, who was looking for retribution for his teammate. Ultimately, McQuaid proved once again he's not a guy you want opposite you in a tilt.
Jagr makes his Flames debut
Jaromir Jagr returned to a sheet of NHL ice for the first time in six months as he debuted for his ninth NHL squad, the Calgary Flames. The 45-year-old winger nearly scored on his first shift but was ultimately held pointless in his 13:38 of ice time. After the game, he admitted to feeling rusty and a little on the elderly side, but also said that was expected and he hopes to get his legs back soon.
Calgary was still able to get the win Wednesday, beating the Kings in overtime with some pretty nifty puck movement. It appears that someone forgot to replace Jonathan Quick's batteries on the winning goal.
Kings still hate Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk didn't make any friends during his rookie season, especially in Los Angeles. Tkachuk ticked off opponents with a variety of antics throughout his inaugural campaign, but none more egregious than his brutal elbow to the face of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
With the Flames in Los Angeles for the first time this season Wednesday, Tkachuk managed to get under the Kings' skin yet again. Not only did he have two goals in the win, but he also was front and center in some extra-curriculars late in the game.
After that scene, Tkachuk and Doughty were sent to their respective penalty boxes, where they continued what might be the fiercest personal rivalry in the NHL right now. If we can make assumptions based on gestures, it looks like Doughty was calling the kid spoon-fed, which is a pretty amusing jab at the son of a former NHLer.
It's worth keeping an eye on these two teams whenever they meet for the rest of the season. They've been known to bring a circus with them.
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