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5 things learned from Sept. 30 preseason games

Canadiens score nine goals; Dubinsky returns for Blue Jackets

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 16-day, 109-game preseason schedule nearing its end, it's time to take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the final days leading up to the start of the regular season Wednesday.

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

 
Canadiens score nine against Senators

The Montreal Canadiens ended their preseason on a high note by scoring six straight goals, five in the third period, in a 9-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Bell Centre. 

After totaling nine goals during an 0-6-0 start, the Canadiens had 13 in their final two games and enter their regular-season opener at the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV) with much-needed momentum.

"In training camp, you want to try to peak at the right time and I think we have," captain Max Pacioretty told the Canadiens website. "I thought the score didn't really show what [tonight's] game was like. I thought we skated really well in the second period especially and grinded them down."

Pacioretty and linemates Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin each had three points. Drouin impressed with five points (one goal, four assists) in three games, tying Gallagher and Paul Byron, who each played five games, for the Canadiens lead.

"I see a player who's certainly capable of playing center," coach Claude Julien told Sportsnet. "He's a center that will support the puck everywhere on the ice and in our zone. I think he respects all the aspects of playing center a lot, and he's gotten better at the position with every passing moment, in every game, but also in every practice."

Video: OTT@MTL: Pacioretty pads Habs' lead with one-timer

 

Dubinsky returns for Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky made his preseason debut after missing the first seven games while recovering from wrist surgery on May 29. He had six hits and was plus-1 in 16:24 of ice time in a 3-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"It was fun," Dubinsky told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's been a long camp, especially for me. I've done a lot of extra skating and battling when these guys have been playing games, and that's the most fun being a player, playing games. It was nice to get back in there with these guys, especially the last one before the season gets going."

Dubinsky proclaimed himself ready for the Blue Jackets' regular-season opener against the New York Islanders at Nationwide Arena on Friday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG+, NHL.TV).

"I don't think I'd be playing tonight if it was even a question if I was going to play on Friday," Dubinsky said. "I'll be ready to go. I've been doing this long enough to know what to expect when the regular season comes around. It's going to be a different level than it was tonight. I know that. It was just nice to be back on the ice with these guys."

 

DeBrincat looking like keeper for Blackhawks

Forward Alex DeBrincat made the most of his opportunity to play with some of the Chicago Blackhawks' top forwards. 

Skating on a line with Artem Anisimov and Ryan Hartman, DeBrincat had three shots on goal in 14:43 of ice time in Chicago's 1-0 win against the Boston Bruins at United Center. He had two points (goal, assist) playing with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik, and was named the First Star of the game Thursday in a 4-2 win at the Detroit Red Wings. 

DeBrincat, 19, has also seen time with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz, and has a good chance of being in the Blackhawks' opening night lineup against the Penguins at United Center on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; SN360, CSN-CH, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).

"He has played with some good players when he has played in the games, but he's deservedly playing with good players," coach Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune. "He has the ability to make plays. His finish is what we like as well. It just seems like every time he's around the puck, something good happens. But we certainly liked his camp, and we know he can play with anybody. That's a good trait."

Video: CHI@DET: DeBrincat beats Mrazek with speedy PPG

 
Kings conclude strong preseason

Defenseman Jake Muzzin's power-play goal 2:55 into overtime gave the Los Angeles Kings a 1-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center and a 5-1-1 finish to the preseason. 

The Kings, who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and replaced coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens and general manager Dean Lombardi with Rob Blake, begin what they hope is a road to redemption against the Philadelphia Flyers in Los Angeles on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-PH, NHL.TV).

"There were a lot of questions you're trying to get answered," Stevens told L.A. Kings Insider. "I still think you're going to continue to look for those answers in the season, but to me at the end of the day, you want to have your team game in order.

"The only thing that's important is winning. I even said tonight they're missing some guys in their lineup, but at the end of the day, winning is important. Every night we play, our guys understand we play to win. So winning's important. To me, how you're playing is more important. I would never discount the fact that a win is a win and it's important, but to me how you're playing at this point is the most important thing."

Video: ANA@LAK: Muzzin goes bar-down for the OT winner

 

Staal, Wild ready for regular season

Eric Staal had three points (two goals, assists) to help the Minnesota Wild defeat the Dallas Stars 5-1 at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild finished the preseason 5-2-0 and 3-0-0 at home. They open the regular season at the Red Wings on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

"Been ready for two weeks for [the regular season] to start," Staal told the Wild website. "The longer I think you've played, sometimes the grindier it gets in training camp. But we all know what it's about when it starts game one. It's about building and making sure your body's prepared to go for when it counts. I think our guys are excited for taking a day to recover tomorrow and then really get some good pace going for practice and be chomping on the bit to start Game 1."

 
Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves to end his preseason 3-0-0, allowing four goals in three starts

"It's nice to feel good and I've been able to do that," Dubnyk said. "It doesn't matter at the end of the day, but it's important to get that time to feel good about your game, and understand that the pace is going to pick up come Thursday, but it's nice to get in there and feel in control."

 

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

 

Golden Knights end preseason with game against Sharks

The Vegas Golden Knights conclude their inaugural preseason against the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena to highlight a three-game schedule Sunday (all times ET):

Capitals at Blues, 3 p.m. 

Islanders at Flyers, 5 p.m. (NHLN, TCN-PH, NHL.TV)

Sharks at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. (NHLN, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

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