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NHL Weekend Rewind: Flames take first Battle of Alberta, Devils drop early ‘must-win’ game

For the first time this fall, every NHL team was in action over the weekend as the 2022-23 season is in full swing. With so much action going on at once, it was hard to keep tabs on everything, but we have you covered with a recap of the biggest moments.

The first Battle of Alberta went down in Edmonton, Brent Burns made his return to San Jose, the New Jersey Devils lost a “must-win” game and so much more. Here are some of the highlights from a jam-packed NHL weekend.

Goal of the weekend: Danton Heinen does it himself

This is as great of a solo effort you’re going to see in hockey. On multiple occasions, it seemed like Heinen was about to lose the puck, only to have the Lightning penalty kill send it down ice. By my count, Heinen made fools of three Bolts skaters and goaltender Brian Elliott.

I’m no math major, but that is 80% of the Tampa players on the ice at the time.

Also, Jeff Carter should be stripped of his primary assist on this play, and it should be given to Heinen. With all due respect to Carter, he was the student in the group project who watched everyone else do the work and just slapped his name on at the end.

Robbery of the weekend: Spencer Knight sprawls out

Many wondered what Florida’s plan was when they paid Spencer Knight while Sergei Bobrovsky is still on the front end of a gargantuan contract. To be honest, I’m still not sure how they’ll handle the situation moving forward, but if Knight keeps making saves like this, it probably won’t matter.

This isn’t your typical post-to-post robbery for a couple of reasons. First, Knight had to respect the shot by Tage Thompson, who was walking right down main street. Secondly, he made a clean glove save with no bobble or rebound. They don’t get much tidier than this one.

Flames take Battle of Alberta Round 1

Every game matters in this rivalry, even ones this early in the season, because for some reason these two teams only meet three times with the final clash coming before we even reach 2023. Because of that, this one held a lot of weight, and new Flame Nazem Kadri delivered with a big-time goal.

Calgary jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period and hung on for a 4-3 win. Things got hairy for the Flames when Connor McDavid and Ryan McLeod tallied goals in the second period, but Calgary backup goaltender Dan Vladar made some brilliant saves at the buzzer to deliver a win for his team.

Brent Burns makes triumphant return to San Jose

One of the most beloved players in Sharks history, Brent Burns played 11 seasons for the franchise before being traded to the Hurricanes in the offseason. As a Shark, Burns totaled 172 goals and 422 assists while leading the team to some of the most successful seasons in franchise history. While in San Jose, Burns won the 2017 Norris Trophy and made three All-Star appearances. 

Prior to the Sharks’ game against the Hurricanes on Friday, they put together a touching tribute video for Burns.

Burns and the Hurricanes came away victorious, 2-1. Burns didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he will remember that night for a long time.

Devils drop a ‘must-win’ game

No, this is not hot-takery by yours truly. After the New Jersey Devils dropped their season-opener to the Philadelphia Flyers, forward Miles Wood said the team’s second game of the season against the Detroit Red Wings was “must-win” because he is “sick and tired of being on a bad team.”

Those are some strong words from a key player on the team. So, what did the Devils do in this all-important second game of the season? 

They lost to the Red Wings, 5-2.

It’s still very early, but I’m starting to question my bold prediction that the Devils will make the playoffs. I’m starting to suspect that assuming Vitek Vanacek and Mackenzie Blackwood would provide something resembling league average goaltending may have been misguided.

A Wild shootout in Minnesota

I appreciate sound defensive structure and excellent goaltending as much as anyone, but given the choice between that and 13 combined goals, I’ll take the latter. That’s what the Wild and Kings gave us on Saturday evening.

Los Angeles took a three-goal lead only to see Minnesota cut it down to one. Then, the Kings took a two-goal lead only to see the Wild cut it down to one. Then, Los Angeles took a two-goal lead only for Minnesot to tie the game at 6-6.

Just moments later, with Xcel Energy Center still buzzing, Adrian Kempe scored the game-winning goal for the Kings.

To make matters worse for the Wild, former winger Kevin Fiala made his return to Minnesota and dropped a three-point performance in their lap.

Appointment viewing this week 

Avalanche at Wild | Monday, Oct. 17: These two teams expect to be fighting atop the Central Division all season long, so consider this matchup an early-season measuring stick for both sides with the Wild still looking for their first win of the year.

Golden Knights at Flames | Tuesday, Oct. 18: Much like Minnesota and Colorado, Vegas and Calgary are two Western Conference contenders. Both teams are undefeated to start the season, but one of them will take a loss in what promises to be a heavyweight bout.

Lightning at Panthers | Friday, Oct. 21: There are few things better in hockey than watching these two in-state rivals go head-to-head. They don’t like each other, and there’s more than just a slight chance that the games between the Panthers and Lightning determine which team is at the top of the Atlantic Division at the end of the regular season.

Hurricanes at Flames | Saturday, Oct. 22: This was my preseason Stanley Cup Final matchup, and the way-too-early returns on that prediction look good. These two teams are incredibly well-coached and are loaded with talent up and down the lineup. I expect them to put on a show in the Saddledome.

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