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preseason

5 things learned from Sept. 22 preseason games

Kostin pushing for job with Blues; Jets reunite top line

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Now that the 16-day, 107-game NHL preseason schedule has begun, it's time to take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season Oct. 2.

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Sunday:

 

Kostin pushing for Blues

Klim Kostin is making the most of his chance to win a job with the St. Louis Blues, scoring his third goal of the preseason in a 5-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Enterprise Center.

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: Snap into a Klim, Jim. #stlblues pic.twitter.com/QxmCDWoWtk

The 20-year-old forward said watching teammate and fellow Russia native Vladimir Tarasenko has helped him work on his shot.

"I see how Tarasenko does it in practice and I try to do the same," Kostin said.

The work is paying off. Kostin has put himself in the mix for a bottom-six forward spot.

"I just try to do my best," Kostin said. "Coach (Craig Berube) gives me a chance to play and I tried to do my best. Work, play hard, play physical, shoot the puck."

His hard work has impressed Blues veterans.

"He was really good, really strong on the puck, really good hands, competes hard, great around the net," linemate Tyler Bozak said. "From what I've seen, he looks like a very good player with a ton of upside. This preseason he's shown everyone what he's able to do. Every game he's played he's done a heck of a job."

 

Larkin looking good

Dylan Larkin looked in regular-season form in his preseason debut for the Detroit Red Wings, with two assists in a 3-2 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Little Caesars Arena.

Larkin needed some extra time to recover from a heel injury sustained before training camp, but he played 22:57, most among Red Wings forwards, and had four shots on goal.

His speed and skill were most noticeable on Madison Bowey's overtime goal. Larkin won a defensive-zone draw, skated the length of the ice, drew two defenders and made a pinpoint pass to Bowey for a one-timer.

"Felt good to be out there with the guys and my legs felt good after the first," Larkin told the Red Wings website. "Even though you battle in practice, it's a lot of moving parts out there, so just timing. It'll come. I felt better as the game went on."

Larkin had NHL career highs in goals (32) and points (73) last season. The Red Wings will need him at a similar level this season.

"He practiced so hard that it doesn't surprise me that he's able to kind of hit the ground running without playing much before this," coach Jeff Blashill said. "It was good to have him back out there."

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Larkin

 

Bowers has a fan in Bednar

Shane Bowers had a strong effort in his push to make the Colorado Avalanche's season-opening roster.

The 20-year-old center had two shots on goal in 15:43 of ice time in a 3-2 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. Bowers (6-foot-2, 186 pounds) had two assists in a 4-3 loss to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was impressed by what he saw throughout the weekend.

"Thought he was excellent both nights," Bednar said. "Bigger, stronger, faster than he was last year. You can see his personality. You saw it right away in the rookie tournament, involved every shift. He's a really good player. I really liked what we've seen from him from so far. ... He handles himself well in different situations. I like him a lot."

The Avalanche expect to have Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri and J.T. Compher centering their top three lines. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was signed to be the fourth-line center, but he didn't play Sunday because of a lower-body injury. 

Bowers said still being in training camp has given him confidence and he's focused on making the most of any opportunities he gets.

"You think about it and it's a goal and a dream to be there opening night," he said. "But you don't want to look too far ahead. You still got stuff to handle, a long way to make the team. It's nice to have goals but you've got to be present and stay in the moment."

 

Jets top line looks ready for the season

The Winnipeg Jets reunited their top line of Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers. The result was a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames at Bell MTS Place.

Wheeler scored the first of three third-period goals for the Jets and had an assist. Ehlers scored an empty-net goal and Scheifele had two assists.

"It's always an adjustment," Wheeler said. "I haven't spent much time with Mark this camp yet. There are some things that you try to work on, get some timing down and get in the right places on the ice. I think as the game went on it got better and I thought we were pretty good."

Wheeler said Ehlers stood out for his shooting mentality, but Jets coach Paul Maurice was more impressed by a defensive play Ehlers made in the second period that led to a scoring chance for Logan Shaw.

"From that point on we started to skate a little bit," Maurice said. "The third period we got a little bit of energy and played a quite a bit more of an engaged game."

 

Dumoulin wants to do more

Brian Dumoulin has emerged as the Pittsburgh Penguins' top shut-down defenseman. But after scoring his first goal of the preseason in the loss to the Red Wings, he's aiming to raise his offensive game this season.

Dumoulin had a personal NHL-best 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) in 76 games last season but he's confident there's more he can do.

"Obviously I have to pick my spots and I know what I am, but if I can jump up in there and be a next wave for them, that only gives us more options," Dumoulin told the Penguins website. "I definitely want to try and get up there a little bit more."

Dumoulin likely will never have the offensive numbers of partner Kris Letang, but coach Mike Sullivan said he feels Dumoulin can add to the attack in his way.

"Even though he's not a big numbers guy offensively, I've always felt [Dumoulin] is a guy that's helped us generate offense as a team," he said. "He helps us create that four-man front that a lot of times allows our forwards to get to the blue line with possession. He may never end up with the puck or in the play, but just his presence by joining the rush helps us create offense. He also makes a great outlet pass. He goes tape-to-tape, he sees the ice pretty well, he has good poise with the puck. He really helps us get out of our end efficiently."

 

Here is the full schedule for Monday (all times ET)

Red Wings at Islanders, 7 p.m.

Flyers at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NHLN, NESNplus, NBCSP+)

Maple Leafs at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (TSN2, RDS, TSN4)

Senators vs. Canucks at Abbotsford Entertainment Centre, 10 p.m.

Ducks at Kings, 10:30 p.m. (NHLN, FS-W)

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