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5 things learned from Sept. 18 preseason games

Matthews an alternate captain for Maple Leafs, Hischier scores for Devils in debut

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Now that the 16-day, 109-game 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 on Oct. 4.

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Sept. 18:

'A' is for Auston 

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, who turned 20 years old on Sunday, was an alternate captain and scored a goal in a 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in the preseason opener for both teams at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

Matthews won the Calder Trophy last season after he had 69 points (40 goals, 29 assists) in 82 regular-season games. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"It's just another stitch on your jersey, I guess," Matthews told the Toronto Star. The Maple Leafs don't intend to name a captain this season, but Matthews obviously would be a candidate whenever a decision is made.

"He's an important guy for us, but moving ahead I wouldn't read too much into that," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said.

Video: TOR@OTT: Matthews nets power-play goal off crossbar


Rookies Hischier, Butcher impress for Devils

Rookie center Nico Hischier , the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, scored his first NHL preseason goal and rookie defenseman Will Butcher  led the New Jersey Devils in ice time (19:47) to highlight a 4-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center in Newark on Monday.

Hischier, who centered John Quenneville and Jimmy Hayes, had three shots on goal and was 3-for-10 on faceoffs in 13:37 of ice time. He scored a highlight-reel goal with 4:14 remaining in the third period when he stole the puck at the Capitals blue line, split two defenders, broke in against goaltender Vitek Vanecek and scored on a backhand inside the right post for a 4-1 lead.

Video: WSH@NJD: Hischier nets beautiful backhand goal

"Nico was good," Devils coach John Hynes said. "His skating was fine. He might look a little small (6-foot-1, 176 pounds), but he's elusive, quick, he competes and he can make plays when under pressure or when there's a body on him."

Butcher, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract with Devils on Aug. 27, had two shots on goal, two takeaways and two blocked shots. He played 5:27 on the power play and was poised in his decision-making and ability to move the puck.

"My job [on the power play] is to move pucks to [forwards] Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Marcus Johansson," Butcher said. "It's about moving pucks and shooting when I can. I just need to play a nice, smart, calm game."


Respect the rulebook

It's become apparent NHL referees and linesmen are going to strictly enforce slashing and faceoff violations this season.

Of the seven games Monday in which off-ice officials kept real-time statistics, there were 42 slashing minors and nine faceoff violation minors called. The New York Islanders and New York Rangers combined for nine slashing minors.

There were three faceoff violations in the first period of the Devils-Capitals game.

"There's still a little bit of confusion on everybody's side," Capitals forward Lars Eller told the Washington Post. "But you have these games to get these things nailed down and for the players to adjust. It is zero tolerance, and you know, we did that as the game went on."

Embed - Twitter: Tweet from @mikemorrealeNHL: For the record. We've had three of these already in this contest.

"Going into the game we did know the League wanted that cleaned up," Hynes said. "I think it's an opportunity for the officials to test it [in preseason]. I think when they're as strict as they were, it does teach players what is and won't be called. I like the way the guys went through it and handled it. It didn't become an issue for us. We just tried to get better at it as the game went on."


Malone making a comeback

Forward Ryan Malone, attending Minnesota Wild training camp on a professional tryout, continued to make his case for a contract by scoring the only goal in the shootout for a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.

Malone, 37, last played in the NHL with the New York Rangers on Nov. 3, 2014, but has his sights set on at least an American Hockey League contract and a potential roster spot with the United States in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. He played 11 NHL seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Rangers.

"I'm very surprised, pleasantly, by the way," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told the Star-Tribune. "What I've liked is his enthusiasm for a 37-year-old. He's smiling and laughing. He looks like he's missed hockey and wants to become a player."

Video: Malone's shootout goal leads Wild past Jets, 3-2


Vegas looks to remain perfect in preseason

The Vegas Golden Knights will look to earn their second straight win this preseason when they travel to the Colorado Avalanche in one of 10 games on Tuesday.

Fans can catch the game, along with two others, on NHL.TV.

Here is the full schedule for Tuesday:

Panthers at Predators, 4:30 p.m. ET
Blackhawks at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET (NHL.TV, NHLN, CSN-CH+)
Red Wings at Bruins, 7 p.m. ET
Penguins at Sabres, 7 p.m. ET
Hurricanes at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET
Senators at Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. ET (NHL.TV, TSN4, TSN5)
Panthers at Predators, 8 p.m. ET
Blues at Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET
Golden Knights at Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET (NHL.TV, NHLN (JIP), ALT)
Ducks at Sharks, 10 p.m. ET

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