Leafs end home ice drought against the Blues

Dhiren Mahiban
(Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

For the first time in nearly 18 years the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the St. Louis Blues on home ice in regulation on Saturday night.

Peter Holland’s sixth of the season at 3:15 of the third stood to be the game winner as the Leafs defeated the Blues 4-1.

The win was the Leafs first over the Blues at home in regulation since Feb. 4, 1998 while the team still played at Maple Leaf Gardens.

James van Riemsdyk tied the game 1-1 at 8:33 of the second with his eighth of the season as Toronto scored four unanswered to improve to 7-2-2 since defeating the Blues in St. Louis on Dec. 5.

Nazem Kadri and Michael Grabner had the other Leafs goals. With two assists in the win, Leo Komarov set a new single-season career-high with 27 points beating his previous mark (26) set last season.

“It’s definitely encouraging,” said Kadri. “I mean, that’s a real squad over there. They’re a good team and they’re hard to play against. You saw for 85 percent of the game there really wasn’t much to work with.

“It was clogged up and you just had to be patient and luckily it paid off.”

Jonathan Bernier made 39 saves to pick up his fifth win in his last seven starts. Bernier is 5-2-0 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.54 G.A.A. during the seven game stretch.

“That was a great game,” said Bernier, who improved to 5-10-3 on the season. “I thought both teams played their system, and we stuck with it and scored some big goals.”

Vladimir Tarasenko opened the scoring at 8:28 of the second period. When van Riemsdyk responded five seconds later, it set a new Leafs record for the fastest two goals by both teams beating the previous mark of seven seconds.

Blues’ forward Patrik Berglund made his regular season debut after missing the first 40 games recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Berglund finished with a minus-1 rating and two shots on goal in 13:37 of ice time.

Year In Review: Goalies rise and shine in top 10 NHL debuts of 2015

Brian Costello
Garret Sparks. (Getty Images)

Because the goalie plays the most important position in hockey, it stands to reason puckstoppers dominate our list of the top 10 NHL debuts in the calendar year of 2015. Four goalies made our list of the top 10 NHL debuts in the past 12 months, spread over two seasons, of course. In reverse order, here are the best first NHL game performances in 2015.

10. Mike Condon, Montreal. After stealing the backup job from Dustin Tokarski, the 25-year-old Massachusetts native was almost perfect in his Oct. 11 debut in Ottawa. Condon stopped 20 of 21 shots in a 3-1 Montreal win. He allowed just a second-period goal to Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

9. Bryan Lerg, San Jose. The feel-good NHL debut of the year has to belong to the 29-year-old Livonia, Mich., native. His first big-league game after eight seasons in the minors came April 9 in Edmonton. Lerg registered eight shots on goal that game and scored the game-winner on a pass from Logan Couture.

8. Mackenzie Skapski, New York Rangers. Filling in for the injured Henrik Lundqvist, the 20-year-old Abbotsford, B.C. native allowed a goal to Matt Moulson just 14 seconds into the game. He was perfect the rest of the way, stopping 24 of 25 shots in a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Feb. 20. Read more

Sweden’s youngsters are wrecking the curve at the world juniors

Dmytro Timashov (photo by  Roni Rekomaa/AFP/Getty Images)

HELSINKI, FINLAND – Conventional wisdom dictated that Sweden’s offensive charge at the 2016 world juniors would be led by the veterans. William Nylander, Axel Holmstrom, Oskar Lindblom and Adrian Kempe all came in with great resumes and experience. But wouldn’t you know it? The Tre Kronor has actually been paced by three youngsters who are absolutely flying out there.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Wild could use defensive depth to get deeper down the middle

Lyle Richardson

StarTribune.com’s Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild’s recent re-signing of defenseman Jared Spurgeon (four years, $20.75 million) gives the club four blueliners under contract beyond this season totalling over $21 million. Promising Matt Dumba is a restricted free agent next summer, while young defenders Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly wait in the wings.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told Russo he could draw upon his blueline strength for future trades, specifically citing his club’s need for depth at center. ESPN.com’s Craig Custance believes Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue Jackets would address that problem. He notes, however, taking on a high-salaried player means shedding salary.

Custance also suggests the Wild as a possible destination for New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic. Given Fletchers’s comments, however, that doesn’t seem likely. He also doubts the Wild GM will put his 2016 first-round pick in play, as his club only has two picks in the first five rounds. Read more

Suspend him or not: Leo Komarov boards Kris Letang

Jared Clinton
Leo Komarov hits Kris Letang (via Streamable)

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has a history of head injuries and has missed games as recently as Sunday out of concern for his health, and he was forced to leave Wednesday’s game for a short time after taking a dangerous hit from behind from Maple Leafs winger Leo Komarov.

Letang was chasing a puck back into the Pittsburgh zone with less than five minutes remaining in the first period of Wednesday’s game after Toronto’s Nazem Kadri had shot wide of the net. As Letang went to play the puck, he stopped a few feet short of the boards behind the Pittsburgh net as Komarov approached from behind. As the puck reached Letang, he was shoved from behind and shoulder first into the boards by Komarov: Read more

Year in review: Top 10 trades of 2015

Brandon Saad (via Columbus Blue Jackets/Twitter)

Be it trade deadline deals or big off-season moves, 2015 wasn’t short on big names getting moved in the hockey world. Cap crunches and playoffs misses yielded the trades of core players, while some big name deals had the hockey world shocked at how quickly things can change.

Here are your top 10 trades of 2015: Read more