A few notes to pass along before I get to the three game schedule.
Carey Price practiced in full gear on Wednesday and it appears that he should be ready to go soon. Price has missed the last three games with a lower body injury.
Jonathan Drouin missed practice with an upper body injury and coach Claude Julian stated that the forward was 50/50 to play on Thursday.
Nikolay Kulemin is on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury.
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TORONTO 4 MINNESOTA 2
Coach Mike Babcock really switched up the lines with Matthews out of the lineup as William Nylander found himself on a line with Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri while Zach Hyman played alongside Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown.
Andersen was spectacular (not Teri Hatcher spectacular but spectacular nonetheless) as he turned aside 35 shots, many of them point-blank as he gave the Maple Leafs the netminding they are going to need if they hope to make the playoffs.
Kadri got the Leafs off to a 1-0 lead on a fluke goal but Jason Zucker tied things up at 1 before the end of the first period with his first of two goals.
Marleau gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead on a beautiful feed from Hyman and that ended the scoring in the second.
Defenseman Connor Carrick’s shot in the third went in off the Wild’s Gustav Olofsson as Devan Dubnyk in the Minnesota cage stopped only 15 of 18 shots. The Wild outplayed Toronto on the night but goaltending was the difference in the contest.
Zucker scored his second of the game to pull the Wild within one but Connor Brown scored into the empty net to seal the win.
The Maple Leafs made a great selection in drafting Brown in the sixth round of the 2012 Draft. He was a minus-72 that year with Erie but the Leafs saw something about him and they have been rewarded as Brown is a solid all-round hockey player.
Ron Hainsey blocked five shots for the Leafs and played 6:23 minutes shorthanded.
NEW YORK RANGERS 4 BOSTON 2
Jimmy Vesey scored twice in 29 seconds during a three goal outburst by the Rangers in the first period to knock off the Bruins 4-2.
The Rangers got off to a slow start this season but have now won four in a row and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist seems to have found himself as he made 31 saves in winning his fifth straight game. He is 7-4-0 this season and his peripherals are improving with a 2.99 GAA and a .903 save percentage but he got off to such a bad start that those numbers still look poor.
Tuukka Rask stopped 29-of-32 shots in taking the loss.
Buchnevich also had a goal and an assist and it was the second straight game he has done so. He has seven goals and 14 points in 17 games and it likely the Rangers top offensive weapon.
Brad Marchand sat out his second consecutive game with an upper body injury.
TAMPA BAY 5 SAN JOSE 1
Namestnikov had a pair of goals and an assist with Kucherov chipping in with a goal and two helpers. Stamkos, always known as a goal scorer in his career, notched three assists and leads the NHL in assists with 21 and points with 28, two ahead of Kucherov. Even Namestnikov has moved into the top 25 in the scoring race with 17 points.
Andrei Vasilevskiy continues to master every team save for the Florida Panthers as he has given up 34 goals in 14 games with 13 coming against Florida in three contests while allowing only 21 in 11 games against the rest of the NHL. He save 32 saves Wednesday in the win that saw his record go to 12-1-1.
But the Lightning, the best team in the NHL during the first month of the season, flexed their muscles and finished off the Sharks.
Defensemen Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek also scored for the Lightning with Yanni Gourde picking up a pair of assists. The 25-year-old Gourde is worth looking with 11 points including four goals in 16 games but he has been especially hot of late with three goals and six points in his last four games.
Brent Burns did not score yet again and has gone all 14 games without a goal after scoring 29 last season. He only scored twice in his last 23 games so he has only two goals in his last 37 games, which is close to half-a-season.