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MONTREAL (AP) There was nothing rusty about Evgeny
Kuznetsov’s game when he returned to the ice for the Washington
Capitals.Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson each scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom had
four assists as Washington defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 on Saturday
night.It was Kuznetsov’s first game back after missing three with an upper-body
injury.”It’s tough to watch hockey from upstairs and it’s so good to be back on
the ice Womens
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,” said Kuznetsov, who has 23 goals this season.
”It’s even better when you win.”Jay Beagle and T.J. Oshie also scored for
Washington (44-24-7), which strengthened its grip on first place in the
Metropolitan Division. Backstrom posted his 20th career game with at least four
points, and second this season.”It was an important game for us and it doesn’t
matter how you play, how many mistakes we (made). We got the two points. That’s
the key for us,” Kuznetsov said.Charles Hudon scored twice for Montreal
(27-37-12), which was coming off a 3-0 win at Buffalo on Friday night. Alex
Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher each had a goal for the Canadiens, who are
2-8-2 in their last 12 games.Gallagher’s goal was originally credited to
Jonathan Drouin before being changed.Canadiens goalie Carey Price struggled in
his second start since returning from a concussion as Washington outshot
Montreal 30-21.Price, who came back from a monthlong layoff Wednesday in a 5-3
loss at Pittsburgh, has allowed 11 goals on 69 shots in two outings. He was
beaten three times on the first nine shots by the high-powered Capitals.”I just
focus on the next shot,” he said. ”Obviously when you give up a six-spot it’s
not that much fun, but just try to focus on the process and focus on the next
shot.”It’s been a tough season for the 2015 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner, with
a subpar 3.10 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in 45
appearances.Price was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a shot to the
mask Feb. 20 in Philadelphia. Antti Niemi has been solid in relief, including a
shutout win Friday night in Buffalo, causing some to question if Price shouldn’t
just be shut down for the rest of the season.But Price and the team thought it
better, with the Canadiens out of playoff contention, to get some games in
before the offseason.Montreal coach Claude Julien is confident Price will be
back to his old self soon enough.”There’s a goaltender on the other side,
(Braden) Holtby, who’s having the same kind of year as Price and he’s a pretty
good goalie, so it happens Authentic
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,” Julien said. ”One thing I can tell you is we
know how good (Price) is and how good he will be and I’m not worried about him
bouncing back.”It wasn’t his best night, but at the same time a lot of our
season has gone that way. Our team wasn’t great. We talked about how many slot
chances we’ve been giving up. I’m way more confident than worried about Carey
right now.”Jacob de la Rose provided the forecheck that sent Galchenyuk in alone
to deke Philipp Grubauer 8:35 into the game. Gallagher added another a minute
later but had it called back after an offside review.The setback seemed to knock
the air out of Montreal, and the Capitals jumped on the Canadiens for three
goals before the end of the period.Kuznetsov, back after missing three games
with an upper-body injury, scored on a wrist shot from the right circle on a
power play at 11:11. Price made a soft pass from behind his net that was picked
off by Backstrom and fed to Wilson to score from the slot at 14:49.Wilson was
fed alone in front again to score on a high shot at 18:11.A Washington power
play had just ended when Beagle tipped in Dmitry Orlov’s point shot 4:52 into
the second.Montreal got it back with two seconds left in the period when Hudon
redirected Jordie Benn’s shot from 10 feet in front of Grubauer.Kuznetsov was
parked at the side of the net to tip in Backstrom’s pass on a power play 1:10
into the third period. Capitals defenseman Jakub Jerabek, who started the season
in Montreal, saw his high shot tipped past Price by Oshie at 4:52.Hudon was
credited with his 10th of the season at 9:28 when his shot through traffic from
the left side looked as if it may have gone in off Nikita Scherbak’s hip at the
side of the net. Drouin took a shot on a power play with 1:57 left to play that
Gallagher appeared to tip in while standing just outside the crease.NOTES: Barry
Trotz earned his 200th win as coach of the Capitals. … The Canadiens signed
20-year-old free-agent forward Hayden Verbeek of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
to a three-year contract starting next season. He is the nephew of former NHL
player Pat Verbeek.UP NEXTCapitals: At the New York Rangers on Monday
night.Canadiens: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.— The Carolina
Hurricanes have undergone considerable change in the offseason, with the
makeover creating heightened expectations going into the season.That description
perhaps relates to perhaps an even larger degree for the New York
Islanders.After all, fresh off coaching the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup
championship, Barry Trotz is on board directing the Islanders.Article continues
below ...New York and the Hurricanes begin the season with a clash Thursday
night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.Trotz became the Islanders coach two weeks
after he guided the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in June. He has offered solid
reviews for how his new team has responded during the preseason.“They’ve been
fantastic,” Trotz said of his players. “They’ve been listening and doing the
right things.”Former Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour is the Carolina coach,
taking over after Bill Peters opted out of his contract and landed as the coach
of the Calgary Flames.Brind’Amour had been serving as an assistant coach, but
he’s most recognizable as the captain of the 2006 team that that captured the
franchise’s only Stanley Cup.“I like how young guys are playing,” Brind’Amour
said. “They’re going to take some time to develop. As far as talent, I don’t
feel we’re short anything. We want to play aggressively.”Another throwback to
that title team is winger Justin Williams, who was named the Hurricanes’
captain.“I see us trending upward,” Williams said.The Islanders, who have missed
the playoffs the past two seasons, have Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner as
goalies. Now it’s a matter of blending the roster.“We’ve got a lot of new
players on the hockey club Melker
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,” said Trotz, whose team will carry seven
defensemen to start the season. “I’m a big believer in team building. If the
group is strong, all that stuff becomes a tighter bond. We’ve got some guys
getting an identity and I think we’ve got some guys going in the right
direction.”The Hurricanes haven’t reached the postseason since 2009, so the
drought is notable and comes with change.The roster makeover included the
departure of former NHL Rookie of the Year Jeff Skinner, a forward who was
traded to the Buffalo Sabres for prospects.After a splendid 5-0-1 preseason, the
Hurricanes were forced to scramble when goalie Scott Darling suffered an injury
in the last preseason outing that might keep him out for a couple of weeks.
Carolina claimed Curtis McElhinney off waivers from Toronto.The opening-night
starter in net for the Hurricanes will be Petr Mrazek.Darling, who was largely
disappointing in his first season with the Hurricanes, had made an impression in
recent weeks.“I hate it for him more than anything because he put in the work
this summer,” Brind’Amour said. “In the little time we got to see him, he looked
to different to me.”Carolina also is carrying seven defensemen at the start. One
of them is newcomer Calvin de Haan, who played last season for the Islanders.
New York winger Andrew Ladd, who began his career with Carolina, begins the
season on injured reserve.The Islanders were 2-2 against Carolina last season,
with Greiss in net for both the victories.This is the Islanders’ 47th season,
but only the second time they’ll face the Hurricanes in an opener. In 2014, New
York began the season by defeating Carolina.The Islanders are 9-19-8 when
opening the season on the road. Overall, they are 11-23-11 in openers for the
third-worst mark among current NHL franchises — with Carolina at 9-20-9 even
worst (counting time as the Hartford Whalers).This marks the first opening of
the season for Carolina under new team owner Tom Dundon, whose purchase of the
team became official last winter.
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