Penguins 4, Canadiens 1
Penguins forward Jason Zucker is settling in nicely after two games with his new team.
Zucker scored his first two goals with the Penguins during a win over Montreal on Friday night.
“To me, it was about the win,” Zucker said. “It was good to get that winning feeling back and great to do it with these guys. It was a fun night.”
Zucker scored his 15th and 16th of the season in a 1:42 span, with Montreal's Tomas Tatar getting a goal in between. Zucker provided 2-0 and 3-1 leads and has nine goals in 12 career games against the Canadiens.
“I thought his speed was more noticeable, and he had two real good goals,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re excited about having him and we think he’s only going to get better.”
Kris Letang scored a power-play goal against his hometown team and his 13th overall of the season, and Zach Aston-Reese added an empty-net goal.
Tristan Jarry made 34 saves for the Penguins, who moved within three points of first-place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh has 10 wins in its last 14 games.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had three assists. He has points in nine of 11 games since returning from core muscle surgery on Jan. 14, including a current three-game point streak. He has five goals and 17 points in his last 11 games.
Crosby felt his newest linemate looked comfortable Friday.
“I thought he was flying,” Crosby said. “He created a lot and got a couple good goals for us.”
Tatar scored his 21st of the season for Montreal, which lost its third straight after winning nine of 12.
Carey Price made 24 saves for the Canadiens, who failed to score more than two goals in each of their past four games.
“That third goal, it really hurt us at the end of the second,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “We had just gotten ourselves back in the game with that power-play goal. Instead of being down 2-1, we’re down 3-1, so that was a pretty good dagger.”
The Penguins acquired Zucker from the Minnesota Wild on Monday for forward Alex Galchenyuk, defensive prospect Calen Addison and a conditional 2020 first-round pick.
Pittsburgh spent the previous five weeks looking to replace All-Star forward Jake Guentzel, who is out until late April after injuring his right shoulder on Dec. 30. Zucker’s arrival gives the Penguins’ top-six forward group a jolt and additional scoring depth as Pittsburgh prepares for another playoff push.
Zucker made his Penguins’ debut Tuesday against Tampa Bay skating on Crosby’s wing.
“It’s a winning culture and I felt that the day I got here,” Zucker said. “It was a different feeling in a very great way. I’m just excited to be part of it and hope I can help these guys win some games down the stretch.”
Pittsburgh scored the first goal of the game on the power play at 7:25 of the second period. Letang beat Price to the glove side with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot. Letang, who continued a four-game point streak, has 28 points in 35 career games against his hometown team.
Zucker scored his first goal at 18:00 of the second period. Crosby set it up with the Penguins off the rush. He passed from below the bottom of the left circle, through two defensemen to Zucker, who one-timed a shot off Price’s glove and into the net.
“That was unbelievable pass,” Zucker said. “That pass was incredible. I was glad I touched that one.”
Tatar scored a power-play goal for Montreal at 19:06 of the second, but Zucker answered for Pittsburgh 36 seconds later.
Zucker, with Canadiens’ D Brett Kulak on his back, chipped a pass from Marcus Pettersson over Price’s glove from the slot, giving Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead with 17.1 seconds left in the period.
Sullivan was impressed with Zucker’s second-period surge.
“You can see his ability to finish,” Sullivan said. “I just think Jason is going to get more comfortable every day he’s here. I think familiarity is going to help him.”
Hurricanes 5, Devils 2
Andrei Svechnikov scored on a perfectly executed rush in the second period to push his point streak to six games and help Carolina beat New Jersey.
Nino Niederreiter and Warren Foegele scored first-period goals for the Hurricanes. Martin Necas and Joel Edmundson added two more in the third period.
Petr Mrazek finished with 35 saves for Carolina after losing his previous three starts.
Mirco Mueller and Joey Anderson scored for the Devils. Louis Domingue had 26 saves in a losing effort.
Sharks 3, Jets 2
Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier scored in an 89-second span in the third period to lift San Jose over Winnipeg.
Marcus Sorensen also scored for the Sharks, who are 4-3-0 in their last seven games.
Aaron Dell made 29 saves for San Jose.
Kyle Connor scored his team-leading 29th goal of the season and Blake Wheeler had a goal and assist for the Jets.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 32 shots for Winnipeg, which was playing the fourth game of a season-long six-game homestand (2-2-0). The Jets are 4-3-1 in their last eight games.
Minnesota Wild fire coach Bruce Boudreau
The Minnesota Wild fired coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday with the goal of correcting some inconsistencies and making a late-season push for a playoff spot.
First-year general manager Bill Guerin said he felt the timing was right to move on from Boudreau and replace him with interim coach Dean Evason despite the Wild having won seven of their past 11 games. Boudreau was fired in the aftermath of a shootout loss to the New York Rangers.
“It's not just one loss. It's not one week. It's a series of things,” Guerin said at a news conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. “We have shown that we can be (one of) the best teams in the league or the so-called best teams in the league. I think in some of the tighter game situations we could be a little bit better.”
This is the eighth coaching change in the NHL this season, and Boudreau is the sixth fired for team performance reasons. That matches the most for one season in NHL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Minnesota is 27-23-7 and three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 25 games left. Guerin hopes a “new voice” from Evason helps the Wild return to the playoffs.
"This is all a matter of just winning games down the stretch," Guerin said. “I expect this team to compete for a playoff spot.”
Boudreau, 65, was in his fourth season with the Wild. He had been hired by Chuck Fletcher, who has since been fired and joined Philadelphia as its GM. Boudreau took Minnesota to the playoffs in his first two seasons there.
Guerin took over last summer following the firing of one-season GM Paul Fenton. He said it was not his intent from the time he got the job to fire Boudreau.
“We had a good working relationship and we got along as people, as well,” Guerin said. “I like Bruce. He’s a good guy and I planned on seeing it through. I came in with an open mind and didn’t have a decision made. This was just something that’s been on my mind for a little while and I felt like today was the day.”
Boudreau is in his 13th season after previously coaching the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. His team has made the playoffs in 10 of 12 full seasons, and his 567 wins rank 22nd.
Evason is in his second season with the Wild after coaching the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals the previous six years. He was an assistant under Boudreau for parts of five seasons in Washington.
Guerin said the front office will conduct a search for a full-time coach once this season is over. For now, it's Evason's team.
“Dean has his own thoughts and beliefs and what he believes is going to give us success,” Guerin said. “I have full confidence in him. The one thing I really do like about Dean is his passion, his fire for the game. I am hoping that that translates to the players.”
Stories that may interest you
NFL player representatives have decided not to vote on a new labor deal approved by team owners
NASCAR will race Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway without Ryan Newman in the field for the first time since the 2002 season opener
Players on the U.S. women's national team are seeking more than $66 million in damages as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation