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5 things learned from Sept. 19 preseason games

Golden Knights still perfect, Eichel finding chemistry with new linemates for Sabres

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com 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 Tuesday:

 

Vegas still perfect

The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 in Denver to remain perfect through two preseason games.

"These guys know how to play the game," coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "But it's nice to see everyone working together this early. We're still learning and growing. But that's what these (preseason) games are for."

The Golden Knights, who won 9-4 at the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, have outscored their opponents 13-5 in the two games. Against Colorado, defenseman Brad Hunt, and forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Oscar Lindberg scored in a span of 2:31 in the first period to give Vegas a 3-0 lead.

"I think everyone's quickly getting used to playing together," Lindberg told the Review-Journal. "You try to find a comfort level out there and it's not that hard to adjust."

Hunt (5-foot-9, 187 pounds), who signed a two-year contract on July 1 and has skated in 33 NHL games during four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, has four points (one goal, three assists) in two games for Vegas.

Video: VGK@COL: Marchessault beats Martin five-hole

 

Eichel finding chemistry with new linemates for Sabres

Buffalo Sabres coach Phil Housley said he intends to try different line combinations throughout training camp to establish some chemistry prior to the regular-season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 5.

He may want to keep his first-line trio intact for a while.

Jack Eichel has centered for left wing Evander Kane and right wing Jason Pominville on the top line during the first few days of camp, and the trio combined for three goals and six points in a 4-3 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Pegula Ice Arena in State College, Pennsylvania. Eichel scored the game-winner 25 seconds into overtime.

Eichel said he has enjoyed playing with Pominville, who was acquired along with defenseman Marco Scandella in a trade with the Minnesota Wild for forwards Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno on June 30.

"You see his hands around the net," Eichel told the Buffalo News when asked about Pominville, who has 261 goals and 662 points in 13 NHL seasons. "There's a reason he's scored as many goals as he has in this League and has been playing as long as he has. He's a really smart player, and we'll just continue to build chemistry."

Eichel, Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian served as alternate captains against the Penguins. The Sabres have yet to name a captain for 2017-18.

 

[NHL.TV: Full Preseason Schedule | Subscribe Now]

 

Jones scores twice for Blue Jackets in loss

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones scored two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Columbus.

Jones, who had 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) in 75 games for the Blue Jackets last season, scored his goals in the third period; a slap shot from the right circle at 5:52 and a wrist shot on the power play at 16:41.

Jones told NHL.com on Sept. 6 that he wants to win the Stanley Cup right now. The 22-year-old is entering his sixth NHL season and has 125 points (29 goals, 96 points) in 315 NHL games.

"When I got to Columbus [from the Nashville Predators in a trade on Jan. 6, 2016] you knew it was in the room," he said. "You knew the core. You knew the values of the team. You knew the leadership and you knew it was there. But last year, we definitely translated it to the ice."

Columbus set team single-season records for wins (50) and points (108) last season, when the Blue Jackets finished third in the Metropolitan Division. They lost to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins in five games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Video: CHI@CBJ: Jones scores two goals in preseason opener

 

Krug, Forsbacka Karlsson leave Bruins game with injuries

Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and forward prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson each left with an injury during a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.

However, coach Bruce Cassidy didn't seem overly concerned that either would miss significant time.

Krug, who had 51 points (eight goals, 43 assists) in his fourth full season with the Bruins in 2016-17, had two shots on goal and one blocked shot in 9:10 of ice time before getting hit in the face with a puck in the defensive zone during the second period.

"We'll probably have an update [Wednesday]," Cassidy told WEEI Sports Radio Network.

Forsbacka Karlsson, a rookie who was centering a line with left wing Frank Vatrano and right wing David Backes, fell into the end boards in the second period, left with an upper-body injury and didn't return. Earlier in the period, he assisted on a goal by Danton Heinen.

"[Forsbacka Karlsson] is day-to-day," Cassidy said. "I don't think it's serious, but I can't speculate. It didn't look good, but I don't think it's as bad as it looked.

"Like a lot of young guys, I think [Forsbacka Karlsson] wants to try to be mistake-free. Sometimes there is a bit of tentativeness when you have that mentality, which is OK. We are just trying to free him up; let him play."

Dell looking to keep backup role with Sharks

San Jose Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell, who is in a battle with Troy Grosenick for the backup job behind starter Martin Jones, helped his cause by making 24 saves in a 5-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center.

Though Dell was 11-6-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 20 games for the Sharks last season, he will not be handed the backup role, coach Peter DeBoer said.

"As good a season as Deller had, he's got to do it again or he's got somebody right there," DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News. "He looks like he's picked up where he left off last year. That's not an easy game to play. You're not getting a lot of work and then you get a flurry of work. But he's fundamentally so sound. He made some big saves when we needed them. The momentum could have shifted if he hadn't and that's what we're used to with him."

Dell is taking nothing for granted, particularly since Grosenick, the American Hockey League goaltender of the year last season, was signed to a two-year extension on June 5.

"I'm just trying to build off last year and keep going from there," Dell said.

Devils visit Rangers tonight

Goaltender Cory Schneider is expected to make his preseason debut, splitting time with prospect Mackenzie Blackwood, when the New Jersey Devils play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in one of 10 games on Wednesday.

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

Here is the full schedule for Wednesday (all times ET):

Red Wings at Penguins, 7 p.m.

Devils at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NHL.TV, MSG, MSG+)

Islanders at Flyers, 7 p.m.

Flyers at Islanders, 7 p.m.

Lightning at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.

Capitals at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (NHL.TV, NHLN, RDS, CSN-DC)

Blue Jackets at Blues, 8 p.m.

Oilers at Jets, 8 p.m. (NHL.TV, TSN3)

Canucks at Flames, 9 p.m. (NHL.TV, NHLN-US [joined in progress], SN, SN360)

Coyotes at Ducks, 10 p.m.

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