Jared Bednar believes Taylor Hall's hit on Nathan MacKinnon is the type of challenge the NHL is looking to phase out.

The Colorado Avalanche had to play most of Wednesday's meeting with the Boston Bruins without five-time All-Star MacKinnon after Hall connected with his shoulder in the first period.

Hall's shot to the upper body resulted in MacKinnon's own stick snapping up into his face, causing bleeding from his nose as the Avs star lay on the ice.

MacKinnon left the ice and did not return, while Hall was given a five-minute major that was reduced to two minutes after a review.

Colorado went on to win 4-3 in overtime and sit top of the Central Division in the Western Conference with 30 victories this season, the highest total in the league.

Though coach Bednar thought the right decision had been made in regard to Hall's penalty, he claimed it is the type of dangerous hit that the league is hoping to force out of the game.

"I believe they probably made the right call with the two [minutes],'' Bednar told reporters.

"But it's the type of hit, whether it's really solid or just a glancing blow, it's the kind of hit the league is trying to get rid of.''

Bednar also confirmed that MacKinnon had come around after the blow and would be assessed ahead further on Thursday, with the Avalanche in action again on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Avalanche, who led through Kurtis MacDermid early on, were down 3-1 in the third period before Samuel Girard pulled one back. Gabriel Landeskog tied the game with 36.5 seconds remaining before Cale Makar sealed the comeback win in overtime. 

"Not fun seeing one of your best friends and obviously your top player on the ice bleeding like that,'' added Landeskog.

"We didn't want to give up. We wanted to keep going. We got the big two points, keeping this thing going at home.''

The Avs have now won 17 games straight at home, just six behind the league record set by the 2011-12 Detroit Red Wings.

"That's our biggest win of the year," Bednar said.

Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar says there were signs of fatigue among his players despite extending their hot streak with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

The Avalanche have won five straight and are 10-0-1 from their past 11 games to sit atop the Western Conference's Central Division.

Mikko Rantanen, Kiefer Sherwood, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Devon Toews all scored for Colorado while Darcy Kuemper made 40 saves to them to back-to-back wins.

Anze Kopitar scored a power-play goal for the Kings in the second period to make it 2-1, but third period goals from Aube-Kubel and Toews – an empty-netter with 1:35 remaining – sealed the win.

“We were not good through two periods, even just the simplest of tasks, plays, breakouts, regroups,” Bednar told reporters. “We were not moving the puck efficiently. We were beating it up.  To me, that’s a sign of fatigue.

“To finish the game the way we did with the stretch that we’ve been on, we’ll take the two points. It is what it is. We needed our goaltender tonight again, just like last night in Anaheim. We got the job done.

“I’m pretty proud of our group, especially after the way they played in the third period after what was a pretty rough night for two periods.”

Ryan Reaves has no doubt that the New York Rangers are worthy of their place among the NHL's elite teams.

The Rangers moved to 26-10-4 for the season with a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

They top the Metropolitan Division and sit third in the overall Eastern Conference standings on 56 points, behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

Reaves, who turned 35 on Thursday, scored the first two goals of his Rangers career in the win over Toronto, doubling his tally from last season with the Vegas Golden Knights.

When asked if Rangers had to now be considered as one of the best teams in the NHL, Reaves told reporters: "I think we know it. I think maybe some of the league doesn't believe it, but let them keep [not] believing it.

"We're gonna keep doing our thing and, I mean, the standings don't lie."

The Rangers have not won a division title since 2014-15, while their last Conference Championship came a year before that. The most recent of their four Stanley Cup triumphs, meanwhile, was achieved in the 1993-94 season.

Next up for the Rangers is a huge, top-of-the-standings contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, who sit just behind New York in the Metropolitan Division.

"It shows that we can hang with the big boys, that we are one of the big boys," a bullish Reaves continued.

"We've got to keep beating the playoff teams. That's something we've talked about, but I think we're proving to the league that we're a contender."

NHL players who test positive for coronavirus and are fully vaccinated may only have to isolate for five days as part of changes to the league's health protocols.

Previously, any player or staff member to record a positive test would have to isolate for 10 days.

Outbreaks among teams this month caused the league to begin its Christmas break early and pause all games that involved cross-border travel between the United States and Canada.

However, following updated guidance from the USA's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NHL and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) agreed to modify regulations.

Players and team operations staff who test positive will now only have to isolate for five days, or, if they develop a fever, "until their fever resolves".

Asymptomatic individuals or those with improving symptoms will be cleared to return to practice and games if they provide a test that is either negative or falls within certain parameters.

They will also require medical clearance from team doctors and the permission of their local health authority. They must also wear a mask around others for another five days, except for during practice and games.

NHL medical experts will review the changes to the measures on or before January 12.

The NHL has postponed another three games this week as cases of COVID-19 continues to hit the league.

Games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday and a home-and-home set between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday and Friday will not be played.

That takes the number of games the NHL has now postponed up to 67 this season; a situation that led to the decision not to take part in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The league had planned to pause the season in February to allow players to take part in the Games, but that period will now be used to play some of the postponed games.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said last week: "We obviously will work very close with the (NHL) Players' Association. I do think we'll have to build in some off time during that three-week period for the players as they had anticipated previously.

"There are a lot of boxes to check there, but I expect that we'll be able to portion some portion of that break period to various clubs to get their players rested, and I hope to make full utilisation of the period so that we can make up the games that we've missed."

The National Hockey League will begin its Christmas break early due to coronavirus-related postponements. 

The league announced Monday that it will pause games for five days beginning Wednesday, with the schedule set to resume December 27. 

With that move, the final games before the break are set for Tuesday, with the Washington Capitals visiting the Philadelphia Flyers and the Vegas Golden Knights hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The other eight games set to be played Tuesday already had been postponed due to COVID-19. 

Four of the five games scheduled for Monday also were postponed, with only the Dallas Stars-Minnesota Wild game taking place. 

The early break will officially wipe out all 19 games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, all but five of which already had been called off. 

Players are now set to report back to their teams on December 26 for testing, practice and travel. All members of a team's travelling party must have a negative COVID-19 test before entering a team facility upon return. 

Monday's decision came a day after the league said it would pause all games that involved cross-border travel between the United States and Canada, in addition to multiple individual teams being shut down due to positive COVID-19 tests. 

"With the number one priority of maintaining the health and safety of our NHL community, and amid changing and unpredictable conditions, we are determined to remain flexible and adaptable both in terms of scheduling and in adjusting protocols as necessary," the league said in a statement Sunday.   

 

 

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens have taken the number of NHL teams to shut down through the holiday break to nine due to coronavirus concerns.

It was announced by the league on Monday that the Blues Jackets' games against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday and Thursday had been postponed.

The Canadiens' games prior to the break had already been called off amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, with a total of 42 games now having been postponed this season.

Developments involving Columbus and Montreal came a day after the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs also shut down through the holiday break.

The Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers had already announced shut-downs.

Cross-border games between the United States and Canadian teams have been postponed through the holiday break due to the concern about travel been the two countries and "the fluid nature of federal travel restrictions".

The NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) are also discussing the matter of player participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

A decision is expected to be announced in the coming days. 

The league has until January 10 to pull out of the Winter Games without being penalised financially, but it retains the right to cancel its plans up until players are scheduled to travel to Beijing in early February.

The National Hockey League (NHL) has postponed games between American and Canadian sides due to COVID-19 outbreaks, while players' participation at the 2022 Winter Olympics is in doubt.

The league announced on Sunday that 27 games had already been postponed as of the previous day, with the NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) jointly reporting at least 12 more games would be cancelled through to December 23.

That is due to the fixtures involving travel between the United States and Canada, as the league continues to make a decision on postponements and monitor the "enhanced prevention and detection measures" daily.

"Although there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among [layers, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness," a league statement read. 

"Therefore, the NHLPA's and NHL's medical experts have determined that, with virtually all players and club hockey staff fully vaccinated, the need to temporarily shut down individual teams should continue to be made on a case-by-case basis. 

"With the number one priority of maintaining the health and safety of our NHL community, and amid changing and unpredictable conditions, we are determined to remain flexible and adaptable both in terms of scheduling and in adjusting protocols as necessary."

Six NHL teams have been forced to shut down in the past week as the Detroit Red Wings became the latest, joining the Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers.

The NHL and NHLPA are also actively discussing the matter of NHL player participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

A decision is expected to be announced in the coming days. 

The league has until January 10 to pull out of the Winter Games without being penalised financially, but it retains the right to cancel its plans up until players are scheduled to travel to Beijing in early February.

The Calgary Flames' next three NHL games have been postponed amid a coronavirus outbreak in the team.

A total of six players and one staff member have entered NHL COVID-19 protocol, the league confirmed on Monday.

Forwards Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka, defensemen Christopher Tanev and Nikita Zadorov all entered protocol, along with a staff member.

The NHL suggested there may be further cases confirmed in the days ahead, with the team's training facilities closed until further notice.

The Flames (15-7-6) had been set to face the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, but that game and the subsequent fixtures with the Nashville Predators and the Toronto Maple Leafs will be rescheduled. 

Saturday's game at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets is still set to take place.

Colorado Avalanche Jacob MacDonald was alert and responsive after being taken off the ice on a stretcher following a hit from Ryan Lomberg in their win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

MacDonald was sent crashing to the ice by Lomberg in the second period, prompting an immediate stoppage in play and a fight between Lomberg and MacDonald's furious team-mate Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

A statement from the Avalanche shortly after said MacDonald had full movement following the second incident in less than a week that has seen an NHL player taken off on a stretcher.

Jujhar Khaira was also carried off in the Chicago Blackhawks' loss to the New York Rangers after a hit from Jacob Trouba.

"Scary moment, but apparently he's seen our trainers and everything's good," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "I think [the hit] might have been clean, yeah. I only got the one angle on it. They kept showing it over and over, and it looks clean from there.

"Physicality's part of the game. I don't like seeing guys go down, especially when they can't get up, but I don't think you can take it out of the game." 

Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson added: "Just tough to see from probably either team. It's a fast game out there, you move upwards of 20 mph. It's physical and things move fast.

"It's an unfortunate play, super scary for Jacob. It's tough, you just never want to see that and hopefully he's OK. 

"That's the stuff that makes you sick to your stomach when it happens to any team-mate or opponent.

"Unfortunately those hits are still part of our game. ... What is that now, two in a week that you've seen guys stretchered off? That's not good for our game."

Composure was the key to the St Louis Blues stunning three-goal comeback after defeating back-to-back champions Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in a shootout win in the NHL on Tuesday.

The Blues trailed 3-0 at 5:29 in the opening period as Erik Cernak and Corey Perry scored five seconds apart for the Lightning.

St Louis rallied with two second period goals while Jordan Binnington made 30 saves and was perfect in the shootout.

Blues scorer Ryan O'Reilly told reporters: "The coaching staff was positive with us and had a good message of just sticking with it and build it up and knowing that there's a lot of game left. That's exactly what we did.

"I thought everyone did a good job at not being fazed. It's not what we wanted but it's a long game."

Blues coach Craig Berube said: "You've got to feel what's going on in the game. You've got to stay composed. I just told our team there's a lot of hockey, stay with it. we've got to get one back. Get some momentum going."

The Lightning had a chance to win the game in over-time after Blues forward Jordan Kyrou's penalty but could not clinch it.

"We went to overtime, we had our chances, but we didn't get it done," Lightning coach Job Cooper said. "We were a tired group at the end there."

Sheldon Keefe said the Toronto Maple Leafs would reap the benefits of a convincing 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Toronto are 10-2 for November so far, a league-leading number of wins, and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division after that surge.

Wednesday night's victory saw Keefe's team avenge a 5-1 loss to the Kings from earlier in the month when the Maple Leafs had a rare off night.

On this occasion, a 4-1 burst in the second period took the game away from the Kings, with the evening's endeavour leaving Keefe full of admiration for his team come the end of the game.

Goals from Pierre Engvall, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Michael Bunting, Alexander Kerfoot and Jason Spezza sank the home side, with Rasmus Sandin notching three assists.

Keefe said: "I thought we did some good things in terms of how we want to attack the net, increase our volume a little bit. But I don't know if it's just a matter of some of the luck coming back our way. I don't know if we did anything a whole lot different than what we have been doing in other games, but it was certainly nice to see it going [our way].

"I can't remember the last time we've blown a game open like that. It's been a long time, all season frankly. So it was nice to have that.

"We've played good hockey on the road of late, but we haven't gotten the goals so we've really had to grind it out till the end, so it was nice today to have a nice cushion and leave here with lots of positivity.

"It's great for the team, great for the camaraderie of the group.

"It was nice to have that for our guys. When you’re scoring, the group is feeling good. We have played good hockey on the road here of late, but we haven’t gotten the goals.

"We have really had to grind it out to the very end. It was nice today to have a good cushion. We will leave here with lots of positivity and the group feeling good."

There was a negative among abundant positives as David Kampf hit his head after a coming together with the Kings' Rasmus Kupari and was withdrawn in the first period and kept off the ice thereafter.

Keefe said: "With the nature of the hit, it is precautionary. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow. We will take it from there.

"I saw a replay on the bench. It looked to me like direct contact to his head, so you hate to see that. I don't know how much intent was there, it looked pretty accidental to me."

Two weeks after scoring what may have been the NHL's goal of the season, Connor McDavid turned in a near replica on Thursday. 

Just 28 seconds after the Winnipeg Jets had taken the lead with the first goal of the game, the Edmonton Oilers' captain weaved through the Jets defence before flicking a shot past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck for the game-tying goal with 5:35 to play in the third period. 

That tally was enough to send the game to overtime at 1-1, and Edmonton eventually prevailed in the shoot-out as McDavid put another shot past the man who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top net-minder two seasons ago. 

Afterward, the Oilers were left to try and describe something that even players at the highest level of the sport could not quite wrap their minds around. 

"It's surreal, right?" said centre Kyle Turris, who put home the clinching shot in the shoot-out. "It's the NHL -- everybody's a good player. I mean, you don't see that happen.

"He's just so fast and so quick in his movements and for him to pull things off like that in key, clutch times, that's what makes him the best in the world.

"It's a lot of fun to watch and you know it's always a possibility. So you're surprised but you're also not surprised because we see it everyday practice, too."

The rest of the world also saw it November 5 against the New York Rangers in an eerily similar situation, McDavid darting through the defence like a ghost to score the game-tying goal before Edmonton prevailed in overtime. 

"He scores big goals in big times in the game and takes the game into his own hands. Not many people can do that," said Oilers winger Zach Hyman. "And it's great to score crazy goals like that, but I think it's more impressive to score them in the timely manner that he's been doing it to give our team a chance to win. Special player, obviously."

Special is one word. Team-mate Cody Ceci went with "phenomenal", while Turris called it "magic".

McDavid's 11th goal this season gave him a point in all 16 games as the Oilers sit atop the Western Conference with a 12-4-0 record. 

"He can make something out of nothing," said Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett. "He's going through there and he's coming with such speed, and his agility is unbelievable. He's just hard to defend and if he can get a step on a guy he can get himself free and that's what he did today."

The Ottawa Senators' next three NHL games have been postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Ten Senators players and associate coach Jack Capuano are in NHL COVID-19 protocol following positive tests over the past 10 days.

Drake Batherson, Austin Watson, Alex Formenton, Dylan Gambrell and Connor Brown missed the 4-0 defeat to the Calgary Flames on Sunday, with Nick Holden, Victor Mete, Nikita Zaitsev, Josh Brown and Matt Murray also absent.

Ottawa's training facilities have been closed until further notice, and they will not face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday or the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Saturday's game against the New York Rangers has also been called off on Monday, with the league citing "evidence of continued spread in recent days."

They are the first games postponed this season due to concerns over the virus, with 55 having been postponed last season.

The NHL stated that rescheduled dates for the three games are to be determined.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price revealed he has received treatment for substance abuse.

The 34-year-old said he entered a residential facility last month after having reached "a very dark place" following years of "neglecting" his mental health.

Price had only just returned to the Canadiens following surgery on a knee injury during the off-season.

"Over the last few years I have let myself get to a very dark place and I didn't have the tools to cope with that struggle," he said via an Instagram post.

"Last month I made the decision to enter a residential treatment facility for substance use. Things had reached a point that I realized I needed to prioritize my health for both myself and for my family. Asking for help when you need it is what we encourage our kids to do, and it was what I needed to do.

"I am working through years of neglecting my own mental health which will take some time to repair; all I can do is take it day by day. With that comes some uncertainty with when I will return to play.

"I appreciate all of the overwhelming support and well wishes. I please ask that the media and our hockey community continue to respect our privacy at this time. Your support and respect of this so far has been a critical piece to my recovery."

Price, a seven-time NHL All-Star and Olympic gold medallist in 2014 with Canada, helped the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 28 years last season, where they lost 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He posted a .901 save percentage last season, a figure he improved to .924 during the Canadiens' playoff run.

Speaking on Monday, coach Dominique Ducharme said: "I haven't met him yet. I need to see him. I'll see him tomorrow.

"He wants to come back and play, but there's other things to manage. We talked about the injury that he was coming back from, getting back in shape, and playing shape too. There's many steps to be taken, but he wants to play. He wants to be part of our group. He wants to help out."

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