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5 things learned from Sept. 25 preseason games

Matthews gets hat trick for Maple Leafs; Hischier strengthens case to make Devils

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 Monday:

Hats off for Matthews 

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews looks to be in regular-season form after he had a hat trick in a 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.

Matthews, who has six points (four goals, two assists) and 19 shots on goal in three preseason games, was centering William Nylander and Zach Hyman. Nylander had a goal and an assist.

Video: MTL@TOR: Matthews completes hat trick on breakaway

"It was one of those nights for our line, a good sign," Matthews told the Toronto Sun. "You want to be peaking when the regular season starts. We were on our heels a little bit in the second and third period, but we know our structure. A big key for (the line last year) was learning to play defense so we have the puck more. It definitely worked out as last season went on and it's got better and better."

Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen, who made 22 saves, can sense a more confident and determined Matthews.

"He's pretty tenacious," Andersen told the Sun. "Every time he was hard on their stick to get the puck back. That's just as impressive as the goals. He definitely feels comfortable, but he's hungry to be better. It shows on the ice that he's put in some good work this summer, he's not satisfied and he wants to do more great things."

Hischier continues to impress

Center Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, scored his third goal of the preseason in his return to the Maritimes to help the New Jersey Devils to an 8-1 win against the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 Kraft Hockeyville Canada game at Credit Union Place in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

Video: NJD@OTT: Hischier tips in his third preseason goal

Hischier completed his first season in North America with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists), 11 power-play goals and three shorthanded goals in 57 games in 2016-17. He has four points (three goals, one assist), six shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in three preseason games while he looks to secure a spot with the Devils this season.

Pavel Zacha, the No. 6 pick in the 2015 draft, John Quenneville, the No. 30 pick in 2014, and veteran right wing Drew Stafford, each scored two goals. Goaltender Cory Schneider made 12 saves for the Devils, who scored the game's first seven goals.

Laine powers Jets' special teams

Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine helped fuel an offensive surge on the power play in a 5-2 victory against the Calgary Flames at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.

Laine, who finished second to Matthews in voting for the Calder Trophy last season, played a part in every goal for the Jets with two goals and three assists. He scored both goals on the power play working with linemates Mark Scheifele (one goal, three assists) and Blake Wheeler (three assists). The Jets finished 4-for-5 with the man-advantage and have scored nine power-play goals in the preseason.

"We haven't used a lot of man hours to practice our power play yet but we've been over some things we want to see on the power play," Laine told the Winnipeg Sun. "I think today, especially, I think we saw those things on the ice and we managed to do the things we wanted to do on the ice and we got rewarded."


Blazing Barzal

Center Mathew Barzal is making a strong case to earn a full-time role with the New York Islanders this season. He displayed speed and scoring touch with his highlight-reel, power-play goal at 14:15 of the first period in a 3-0 win against the Devils split squad at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

Video: NJD@NYI: Barzal shows off speed and shot on PPG

Barzal picked up the puck at his own blue line before moving down left wing and beating Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid on a breakaway to make it 2-0. He has three goals, including two on the power play, and 27 shots on goal in three preseason games.

Barzal, the No. 16 pick in the 2015 draft, played two games with the Islanders to begin last season before being returned to Seattle of the Western Hockey League.

"I'm just trying to work hard and take advantage of the opportunity that they're giving me right now," Barzal told the Islanders website. "They're putting me in some key situations, playing the power play and stuff, so just trying to make the most of it and do everything right."


Lundqvist looks sharp

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves to help the New York Rangers to a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden.

Video: PHI@NYR: Lundqvist stands on his head late in the 3rd

Lundqvist, who played a full game for the first time this preseason, made 14 saves in the third period and overtime. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored the game-winner 3:51 into overtime.

"When you get three starts, for me it's not the amount of starts its the amount of action I see in those three games," Lundqvist told the Rangers website. "I felt like in every game I got involved, I got to work. In the end, we got the win. Overall, it felt like a good test for me to work on my game. I get good feedback when I sit down to watch the game later and analyze a little bit. I have a week now to really work on everything in my game to make sure it's as good as it can be."

Lundqvist has a 2.24 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in three preseason games, allowing five goals against 76 shots.


Golden Knights set for first home game

The Vegas Golden Knights will play their first preseason game on home ice when they face the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights have outscored the opposition 19-12 in four preseason games (3-1-0).

"The first few games is going to be a lot of adrenaline for the fans almost, because it's finally come, and then everyone will settle in and hopefully it just takes off as a loud building and a fun environment to play in," Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland said.

Fans can catch the game, along with one other, on NHL.TV.



[Full Preseason Schedule | Subscribe Now]


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

Rangers at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NHLN, TCN-PH, MSG, NHL.TV)

Blues at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.

Lightning at Panthers, 7:30 p.m. 

Wild at Stars, 8:30 p.m.

Kings at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. (NHLN, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

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