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5 things learned from Sept. 21 preseason games

Hischier continues to impress Devils; Saad, Sharp off to solid starts in return to Blackhawks

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / 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 Thursday:


Hischier continues to impress for Devils

Center Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, scored his second goal in as many preseason games for the New Jersey Devils, helping them to a 4-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

After scoring in a 4-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Monday, the native of Switzerland tipped a feed from Taylor Hall past Montreal goaltender Carey Price at 15:30 of the second period to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead. He played 18:41, including 4:05 on the power play and 2:26 shorthanded.

"I'm getting more comfortable every day. I just tried to tip it somewhere in front of the net and when I turned, it was in the net," Hischier told "Right now I'm figuring it out, out there. So we'll see what camp will be the next couple of days."

The Devils have preseason games on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday before they open their regular season against the Colorado Avalanche at Prudential Center on Oct. 7.


Saad, Sharp right at home in return to Blackhawks

Forward Brandon Saad, playing in his first game for the Chicago Blackhawks since being reacquired in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for left wing Artemi Panarin on June 23, scored three goals in a 6-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings at United Center.

"It's nice to see him have a night like that where they went in. He's a high-end player who should develop into a regular scorer," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I still think there's room where he could go to another level."

Video: Saad nets hat trick in preseason debut

Saad wasn't the only player in his first game back with Chicago. Forward Patrick Sharp, who signed with the Blackhawks as a free agent after two seasons with the Dallas Stars, had two assists and was plus-2 in 13:36 of ice time, including 4:00 on the power play.

Sharp was a member of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2010, 2013 and 2015; Saad played on the '13 and '15 championship teams.


Duchene scores in first preseason game with Avalanche

Center Matt Duchene scored in his preseason debut for the Colorado Avalanche, a 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center.

Duchene, who has been the subject of trade rumors since last season, skated on a line with rookie Alexander Kerfoot and Nail Yakupov. The trio combined for six points (two goals, four assists).

"I can't speak for Matt's feelings," coach Jared Bednar said of Duchene, who didn't speak to the media. "I know this, I've talked to him, I think he's come back a motivated player and he's playing with two other good players, and that line's been good all training camp."

The Avalanche have four more preseason games before their season opener against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 5.


Golden Knights human after all

After winning their first two preseason games and outscoring their opponents 13-5, the Vegas Golden Knights came back to earth. The Golden Knights fell behind the San Jose Sharks 4-0 and ended up losing 5-2 at SAP Center.

Vegas hadn't trailed through two its first preseason games, but surrendered four goals in a span of less than 10 minutes in the first period. The Sharks outshot the Golden Knights 34-17.

David Perron and Teemu Pulkkinen scored 1:13 apart in the third period for Vegas.

"They're a quick team, and they worked hard," coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I just think they won the footraces to loose pucks, and they were a little quicker than we were tonight."

Goalie Calvin Pickard, who's expected to back up starter Marc-Andre Fleury, made 29 saves his preseason debut for Vegas, which allowed three power-play goals in a span of 5:01 in the first period.

"I thought what really hurt us was we made three mistakes on our [penalty kill], and that's what cost us the goals," Gallant said.


Bruins' defensive depth comes through against Flyers

The Boston Bruins announced Thursday that defenseman Torey Krug would miss the remainder of the preseason and the start of the regular season because of a fractured jaw. Playing without their best offensive defensemen, the Bruins still got a 2-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden on Kenny Agostino's goal at 3:20 of overtime.

Video: PHI Recap: Flyers squander lead in 2-1 OT loss

The best news for the Bruins was that goaltender Tuukka Rask looked sharp in his first preseason action, making 30 saves.

"He was excellent," coach Bruce Cassidy told the Bruins website. "Real good; looked composed, rebound control was good, was square to pucks. A big positive for us."

Rask got plenty of help from 40-year-old captain Zdeno Chara. He played 23:42, including 8:43 shorthanded to help kill nine Flyers power plays. Chara's regular partner, 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, had 23:49 of ice time, including 8:08 shorthanded. Rookie defensemen Tommy Cross and Jeremy Lauzon also helped on the kill, skating 6:01 and 5:31, respectively.


Stamkos set for preseason debut for Lightning

Center Steven Stamkos will make his preseason debut for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena on Friday. Stamkos hasn't played in a game since tearing the meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 15; he had surgery two days later.



[Full Preseason Schedule | Subscribe Now]


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

Penguins at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.

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

Sabres at Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. (NHL.TV, TSN4)

Predators at Lightning, 7:30 p.m.

Rangers vs. Islanders, 7:30 p.m. (NHL.TV, MSG, MSG+)

Coyotes at Flames, 9 p.m.

Canucks at Oilers, 9 p.m.

Kings at Ducks, 10 p.m. (NHL.TV, NHLN, PRIME)

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