Ovechkin passes Andreychuk for most power-play goals in NHL history

He did it in anti-climactic fashion, but Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin ultimately moved past Dave Andreychuk on Friday night for the most power-play goals in NHL history.

Ovechkin blasted home a goal as a power play was expiring late in the Capitals' 3-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings and was credited with his 275th career marker on the man advantage.

The official scorer initially ruled that it came on the power play but changed it to an even-strength goal shortly thereafter. Then, once the game concluded, the league reviewed the play and reversed course again, awarding the 36-year-old a goal on the man advantage.

Here are the league's all-time leaders in that category:

Player GP PPG
Alex Ovechkin 1230 275
Dave Andreychuk 1639 274
Brett Hull 1269 265
Teemu Selanne 1451 255
Luc Robitaille 1431 247

Ovechkin has done more than one-third of his damage from his "office" on power plays.

The Russian sniper, who added an empty-netter after scoring the eventual winner Friday, also moved up another all-time list.

Ovechkin's pair put him in a tie with Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl for the league lead in goals with 24 this season. Draisaitl has played two fewer games than the Capitals winger. Ovechkin ranks third in the NHL's points race behind Edmonton captain Connor McDavid (52) and Draisaitl (51) with 50.

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NHL postpones 9 games due to Canadian attendance restrictions

The NHL has postponed the following nine games due to various attendance restrictions across Canada:

Date Home Away
Jan. 3 OTT MIN
*Jan. 4 SEA NYI
Jan. 5 VAN NYI
Jan. 8 EDM NYI
Jan. 11 CGY NYI
Jan. 12 EDM MIN
Jan. 14 EDM VGK
Jan. 15 CGY VGK
Jan. 16 WPG EDM

*To be rescheduled due to the Islanders' three other road game postponements.

Most provinces have set capacity limits due to rising COVID-19 numbers. Ontario, for example, has set a 1,000-person limit at indoor sporting venues. Alberta and British Columbia, meanwhile, are currently allowed 50% capacity, and Manitoba has a 250-person limit.

The NHL has yet to establish make-up dates.

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NHL weekend preview: Oilers to get back on track

We have a busy weekend ahead. There are 13 games scheduled over the next couple of days as we end 2021 and bring in the new year.

With so many games, there's plenty of value on the board. Let's get into it with our best bets.

Oilers (-150) @ Devils (+130)
Dec. 31, 1 p.m. EST

This has all the makings of a high-scoring affair. The Oilers have struggled to keep the puck out of the net lately, ranking 26th in five-on-five goals against over the last 10 games.

The Devils have fared even worse over their last 10, conceding 30 five-on-five goals, which is more than all but the tanking Coyotes. Both sides are giving up goals in bunches.

I don't see that changing in this game. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers' high-powered - yet top-heavy - offense should have its way against this Devils team. Even if they don't generate chances in bunches, Mackenzie Blackwood hasn't shown the ability to limit the damage, owning an .884 save percentage since mid-November. Not great!

On the flip side, the Oilers have dealt with some issues defensively. Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, for once, are both healthy at the same time. The pair combined for four points in Hischier's return to the lineup last time out and should spearhead the top-six to give the Devils a pair of capable scoring lines.

Expect goals in this game.

Bet: Over 6 goals (-130)

Oilers (-105) @ Islanders (-115)
Jan. 1, 2 p.m. EST

The Oilers have hit a rough patch. They're entering the weekend with just three wins over the last 10 games. Luckily, there are reasons to believe a turnaround could be coming.

For one, they've controlled better than 52% of the expected goals at five-on-five during this streak, so a minus-10 goal differential and 37.5% goal share hardly seem warranted. If they continue to control the run of play to this extent, the results are going to regress positively sooner than later.

They're also getting some much-needed reinforcements, with Darnell Nurse and Jesse Puljujarvi being activated from the COVID-19 list and expected to return against New Jersey.

For his faults, Nurse is one of the team's best defensemen, while Puljujarvi is nearly a point-per-game player who should offer real support to McDavid and Draisaitl with the scoring help they need.

All things being equal, I think the Oilers are a better side than the Islanders. And when you factor in some of the absences New York is dealing with - Ryan Pulock, Brock Nelson, Kyle Palmieri - I'm not sure it's close.

Bet: Oilers up to -125

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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Best bets of 2021: League winners to long shots, and everything in between

There were plenty of avenues to throw money around in 2021 as we returned to a normal sports schedule.

The past 12 months offered some incredible moments, from league champions and award winners to remarkable individual performances. We look back at 2021 to uncover the best bets from the past year in sports.

Canada: Women's soccer gold (+1200)

Naomi Baker / Getty Images Sport / Getty

"With illusions of someday
Cast in a golden light,
No dress rehearsal
This is our life"

With the Tragically Hip's discography serving as Canada's soundtrack, "Ahead By A Century" fittingly encapsulates the success of the Canadian women's soccer team at Tokyo 2020. "Illusions of someday" are what propelled this team following successive heartbreaks resulting in back-to-back bronze medals in 2012 and 2016.

Canada had never appeared in an Olympic final, and it looked as though the wait would continue in Tokyo as it entered the tournament as considerable underdogs to the likes of the U.S., Netherlands, and Great Britain. "Illusions of someday" cast a golden light on Canada, though, beating Brazil on penalties in the quarterfinals and exercising its demons by upsetting the Americans in the semifinals before capping things off with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Sweden in the finals.

Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe earned an honorary title as Canada's National Minister of Defense for her shootout heroics, while images of Julia Grosso's winning penalty will live forever in Canadian folklore. Celebrations ensued across the country, and it was that much sweeter for those who scooped up +1200 on Canada to win gold.

Connor McDavid: Hart Trophy (+460)

Darcy Finley / National Hockey League / Getty

Connor McDavid is almost undisputedly the best - and most productive - player in the NHL, but he wasn't priced as such last season despite playing in a weak North Division. In hindsight, it might have been the easiest bet of the entire campaign as only an injury could have stopped McDavid from torching a group of defensively inept teams. The results were predictable.

McDavid put up a whopping 106 points in 56 games. He rewarded those who believed in him as he became the league's first unanimous Hart Trophy winner in 39 years. We won't see him priced anywhere near +460 for a long time. He opened as a +250 favorite for the 2021-22 season, and many would argue that price was still too generous.

Cy Young: Corbin Burnes (+4000), Robbie Ray (+5000)

Mark Blinch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

It was the season of the long-shot Cy Young winner this year, as Corbin Burnes and Robbie Ray cashed as unlikely dark horses amid one of MLB's craziest seasons in recent memory.

Both survived MLB's crackdown on foreign substances, which partially helped swing the AL's race toward Ray after runner-up Gerrit Cole's midseason swoon that immediately followed the new rules. Burnes needed a Jacob deGrom injury and an epic collapse from Max Scherzer to win one of the closest races in NL Cy Young history.

Emma Raducanu: US Open (+8000)

Elsa / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Emma Raducanu had captured the tennis world's attention with her fourth-round Wimbledon run as a wild card, but what happened at the US Open defied logic.

The 18-year-old retired from that fourth-round Wimbledon match on Centre Court after having breathing difficulties due to the intensity of the moment. It was a jarring scene, so seeing Raducanu return for the season’s final slam in New York was a welcome sight.

The Toronto-born Raducanu - a British passport holder and citizen of the world in most respects - wasn’t just there for a tour of the Statue of Liberty. The teen made it all the way to the final, where she dispatched a fellow surprise finalist, Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, in straight sets. Raducanu became the first qualifier to claim a Grand Slam tournament victory in the Open era and also the first woman to win 10 matches en route to slam immortality, needing to go through qualifiers just to make the main draw. Oh, and she won the title without dropping a set, too - something last done by Serena Williams.

We say this cautiously: We’re unlikely to see something like this again in tennis anytime soon.

Hideki Matsuyama: Masters (+4000)

Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Hideki Matsuyama had been a popular bet ahead of the Masters for years. As an amazing ball-striker, his game always seemed suited for Augusta, but his popularity faded before the 2021 edition thanks to his struggles on the green. It was starting to feel as though it would never happen for the hero of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Ironically, it wasn't until the sun tucked behind the rain clouds on Saturday afternoon at Augusta when fortune smiled on Matsuyama. Trailing a series of big names heading into Round 3, the Japanese golfer was still in the mix when an hour-long rain delay created a change in the famously fast Augusta greens. And when the leaders couldn't adjust, it was Matsuyama who did.

Whether Matsuyama's sketchy putting suddenly fit the greens' new speeds, or his stellar striking put him close enough to the pin for it not to matter, he shot a stellar back-nine 30 that gave him a lead he never surrendered.

Caddie Shota Hayafuji bowing to the course, and Matsuyama donning the famous green jacket, provided long-lasting and heartfelt memories for those who stuck with him through his early failures.

Marc-Andre Fleury: Vezina Trophy (+1800)

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Marc-Andre Fleury entered last season looking to prove himself following a down 2019-20 campaign. Sharing Vegas' net with Robin Lehner, Fluery seemed like a long shot to play enough to warrant a Vezina nomination in a crowded field, let alone perform well enough. Things certainly didn't play out that way.

Fleury posted a career-high .928 save percentage while winning 26 of 36 appearances for the Golden Knights. He also ranked first in goals saved above expectation per start, as the long-time star provided all those who believed in him with a healthy payday.

Nikola Jokic: MVP (+3600)

Bart Young / National Basketball Association / Getty

The NBA MVP market is notoriously tough for long shots to breakthrough in. Entering the 2020-21 season, 13 of the previous 14 MVP winners had gone off at 16-1 or shorter, and none were priced longer than 25-1 entering the year.

Nikola Jokic shattered both trends with one of the most impressive seasons we've seen in NBA history, becoming the lowest-drafted player (41st overall) ever to win MVP and the first center to win since 2000. He led the league in nearly every advanced metric and guided the Denver Nuggets to the West's No. 3 seed, rewarding those who believed in the Serbian star at long odds.

Northern Illinois Huskies: MAC (+25000)

Aaron J. Thornton / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Even in the MAC - known for its mind-bending unpredictability - few saw this result coming. Northern Illinois finished 2020 with an 0-6 record (2-4 ATS) and lost by an average of 13.8 points.

Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi wasn't expected to shift the needle much, as the Huskies entered the 2021 season with a projected win total of 3.5 and 250-1 odds to win the MAC. Anyone who bought into the conference's volatility was greatly rewarded.

It wasn't always convincing as Northern Illinois' six regular-season conference wins came in one-possession games. Still, the MAC championship wasn't a problem as the Huskies avenged an earlier loss to Kent State with a convincing 41-23 win.

Oral Roberts ML (+1000) vs. Ohio State

Trevor Brown Jr / NCAA Photos / Getty

When you increase your wager tenfold on one game, you know that's a good bet. That was the case for anyone who backed Oral Roberts against Ohio State in the first round of this year's NCAA Tournament, with the Golden Eagles becoming just the ninth No. 15 seed in tourney history - and first since 2016 - to defeat a No. 2 seed.

In hindsight, it shouldn't have been such a shock. The Buckeyes had lost five of their previous eight games entering the Big Dance, while Max Abmas - the nation's leading scorer - led Oral Roberts. Abmas finished with 29 points against Ohio State to help spark the tournament's biggest upset.

Phil Mickelson: PGA Championship (+20000)

Sam Greenwood / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Phil Mickelson's best days were figured to be behind him at age 50. He hadn't posted a top-10 finish at a major in over five years, so you could be forgiven for not jumping on a 200-1 price tag for Mickelson to win the PGA Championship.

The five-time major winner trailed by three strokes after Round 1 and was tied for first at the halfway point before taking the lead ahead of the final day. Brooks Koepka threatened early in Round 4, but he crumbled while Mickelson persevered to become the oldest major champion ever. Just as we all expected, right?

Phoenix Suns: Western Conference (+2000)

Andrew D. Bernstein / NBA / Getty Images

The making of an elite team was already there for Phoenix as early as the 2019-20 season when the "Bubble Suns" went 8-0 and barely missed out on the postseason. Then the team added Chris Paul in the offseason and blitzed its way to a No. 2 seed in the West. However, the Suns entered the 2020-21 postseason as an 18-1 title long shot and a +180 underdog to beat the Lakers in the first round - the first time a No. 2 seed had ever gone off at plus-money to win its opening series.

Phoenix won that series in six games and waltzed its way to The Finals, where it promptly coughed up a 2-0 lead in historic fashion. Still, those who bet this team to win the West - before or after the regular season - were already well compensated for the Suns' efforts.

Pittsburgh Panthers: ACC (+3300)

Logan Whitton / Getty Images Sport / Getty

On the back of six consecutive ACC titles, few were foolish enough to pick against Clemson to win a seventh straight. The Tigers were overwhelming -900 favorites in the ACC, expected to win the conference and another national title. However, without Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson before him, Clemson struggled on offense, opening the door for a new champion for the first time since 2014.

Still, few expected Pittsburgh as the team to take advantage, with six programs sporting shorter odds, including three ACC Coastal foes. There was some muffled preseason buzz surrounding quarterback Kenny Pickett, but it wasn't until November that his Heisman candidacy truly reached the forefront.

The NFL-bound senior finished top five in yards, touchdowns, and QB rating (minimum 300 passes) and led the Panthers to the ACC title game victory - the first in program history - against Wake Forest. It was a joyous moment for anyone who faded Clemson's preseason hype and found their way to Steel City for a viable alternative.

San Francisco Giants: NL West (+3500)

Brandon Vallance / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Behind the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers and Slam Diego Padres, the remainder of the NL West was an afterthought heading into the 2021 season. Not only were the Dodgers and Padres runaway favorites to win the division, but they were also priced as the two best teams in the National League and top three in all of MLB. The thought of another club pushing for a top-two finish in the NL West, let alone winning it, seemed unfathomable.

Well, a lot of what the Giants did last season was rather unfathomable. Gabe Kapler's team moved into first place in the NL West on April 26 and led the division for all but 10 days the rest of the season before clinching the title on the final day. They were the first team to 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 wins, owning the league's best record for 125 consecutive days to end the season. They needed every bit of that remarkable consistency to fend off a Dodgers team that finished with the league's second-best record, one win shy of the Giants in a remarkable race that saw those who believed in San Francisco rewarded with a handsome payout.

Shohei Ohtani: AL MVP (+5000)

MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images / MediaNews Group / Getty

Despite dealing as high as 50-1 during the offseason, Shohei Ohtani went into the campaign as a hot bet to win MVP after hitting .548 in spring training alongside 17 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings pitched. It turns out his 25-1 price entering the season was a steal, too.

When he touched 100 mph on the mound and blasted a 450-foot home run in the same inning on Sunday Night Baseball, his path to the MVP trophy felt inevitable - even as a historic season from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. kept things interesting late in the year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Super Bowl (+1000)

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

There was plenty of doubt surrounding the Buccaneers' title chances entering the postseason, with four teams sporting shorter odds after Tampa Bay stumbled through many of its bigger tests during the regular season. The Bucs ended up settling for a wild-card berth and a difficult path to the Super Bowl.

Perhaps there shouldn't have been as much doubt with Tom Brady under center and looking to win his seventh Super Bowl championship. The Buccaneers made sure to leave little doubt surrounding their title credentials along the way in the playoffs, scoring 30-plus points and leading by double digits in every game en route to the franchise's second championship.

UCLA Bruins: East Region (+2200)

Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When No. 11 seed UCLA trailed 77-72 with under two minutes to play in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament, anyone with a Bruins-winning-the-East-Region-ticket likely thought they were cooked.

Instead, UCLA came back to win that game in overtime before ripping off four straight victories to advance to the Final Four. As a lucky few were counting their earnings, the Bruins almost took it one step further, falling a Jalen Suggs buzzer-beater short of knocking off undefeated Gonzaga for a berth in the national championship game.

While the dramatic loss was a "what could have been" moment for UCLA, Bruins backers certainly basked in what was.

Honorable mentions:

  • Atlanta Braves: World Series (+5000 post-Acuna injury)
  • Baylor NCAAF: Big 12 (+4000)
  • Jonathan India: NL Rookie of the Year (+5000)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning: Stanley Cup (+800)
  • Tom Thibodeau: Coach of the Year (+3000)
  • Utah State NCAAF: MWC (+5000)

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10 biggest NHL stories of 2021

Most of the major NHL storylines this year were of a negative nature, and they ranged from disappointing and frustrating to downright disturbing. However, there were also some bright spots in an otherwise difficult 2021.

Here are the league's 10 biggest stories of the year:

COVID-19 continues to proliferate

David Berding / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The pandemic affected the NHL as it did the world at large for much of 2021, even before the Omicron variant made things significantly worse. Players, coaches, and staff members landed in protocol throughout the year. The Montreal Canadiens had to place bench boss Dominique Ducharme on the list during the playoffs, making him miss the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

The emergence of the Delta variant left the league largely unchanged at the start of the 2021-22 season. Omicron's arrival forced the NHL to take drastic measures regarding the Olympics and its own schedule as more than 100 players entered protocols. The NHL postponed over 60 games and expanded its holiday break from three days to six in an effort to stop the spread.

Play resumed on Tuesday, and the league later aligned with recent CDC guidance by cutting its isolation period in half for vaccinated players. But the spike in cases and some poor planning by the IIHF also led to the cancellation of the World Junior Championship midway through the tournament on Wednesday. It's clear COVID-19 is likely to remain a significant concern both for the NHL and society as a whole in 2022.

Blackhawks scandal

Raymond Boyd / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

The Chicago Blackhawks' sexual abuse scandal shook the NHL to its core. In late October, the results of an independent investigation led to resignations both within the organization - most notably general manager Stan Bowman - and from others like Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, who had been Chicago's bench boss in 2010.

The probe revealed Blackhawks management failed to act promptly after learning about allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior toward a player during the team's playoff run that year. Kyle Beach, a player who was referred to but not named in the investigation, later revealed himself as the "John Doe" from the lawsuit he filed against the team in May. Beach said in the lawsuit that then-video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him and another player in 2010 and that the team covered it up.

Beach's courageous decision to come forward and the fallout from the independent inquiry forced the NHL to act, but the league did little to address the matter. Commissioner Gary Bettman held a video call with Beach, during which the ex-player questioned the league's handling of his allegations. Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly held a press conference to discuss the NHL's response but were criticized for not taking more responsibility and ignoring TSN's Rick Westhead - whose reporting on the story was the most consequential - until other media members called them out on his behalf.

In December - less than a week before Beach and the Blackhawks reached a confidential settlement - the league extended its "commitment to inclusion, diversity, safety, and respect," which included mandatory training sessions for all team personnel. But between the 90-minute sessions and the $2-million fine (relative to the team's reported $1.4-billion net worth) the NHL imposed on the Blackhawks in October, the league's actions in the wake of the scandal remain insufficient.

Canadiens draft Logan Mailloux

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Most of the hockey world was shocked when the Montreal Canadiens selected Logan Mailloux in July's draft. The Canadiens chose the London Knights defenseman with the 31st pick despite the fact that he asked for his name to be withdrawn from consideration three days earlier.

Mailloux made the request in light of being fined for invasion of privacy and defamation in 2020 after taking an offensive photo of a woman without her consent during a sexual encounter and distributing it.

Bettman didn't hold back when asked about Montreal's decision to draft Mailloux, saying he was "stunned" and what the player did was "horrific." Some called on the Canadiens to renounce the pick, and even Canadian Prime Minister and lifelong Habs fan Justin Trudeau voiced his concern, saying he was "deeply disappointed" with the club.

The OHL suspended Mailloux indefinitely in September. The league ultimately reinstated him Wednesday, citing the fact the 18-year-old had taken part in therapy and counseling since being temporarily banned.

Olympic participation


The NHL ultimately decided against taking part in the upcoming Beijing Olympics due to the aforementioned spike in COVID-19 cases.

However, from a tentative 18-day Olympic break in the NHL schedule to the competing countries naming management personnel, coaches, and even a few players per squad, the league's participation seemed plausible for the vast majority of the year until it suddenly became evident it wasn't.

While it's disappointing the games will once again lack a best-on-best hockey tournament, the NHL unquestionably made the right decision.

Kucherov misses regular season, then helps Bolts repeat

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Tampa Bay Lightning claimed their second consecutive championship when they vanquished the Montreal Canadiens over five games in July. The star-studded and well-rounded club remained on top despite playing without Nikita Kucherov for the entire 2021 regular season due to injury.

The Lightning gained some financial flexibility by placing the Russian star on long-term injured reserve before activating him for the playoffs - when the cap no longer applies. Tampa Bay's detractors complained about this throughout the campaign, but by all accounts, the team did nothing illicit in the process.

Those who whined about the Lightning's cap gymnastics should've instead directed their ire toward the league's own rules. Kucherov is on LTIR once again in 2021-22 after getting hurt three games in, and the Lightning have remained near the top of the standings without him.

Kraken released

Christopher Mast / National Hockey League / Getty

The NHL's first expansion team since 2017-18 joined the league for real this past year. Yes, the Seattle Kraken franchise was born in December 2018 and revealed its name in July 2020. Beginning with free agency and the expansion draft, the club took shape and then took the ice in 2021.

Seattle made a few splashes in free agency and could have done so in the draft, but instead opted to pass on big-ticket stars like Carey Price and Vladimir Tarasenko in favor of more affordable selections. That strategy might pay off down the road, and there was no way rival general managers would let the Kraken fleece them as the Vegas Golden Knights did four years ago. But, ultimately Seattle has been underwhelming so far in its inaugural campaign.

Still, the Kraken's arrival was a significant subplot this year, and after hearing so much about Seattle's potential as an NHL market, it was fun to see that assertion validated with raucous home crowds. If and when the team starts winning, Climate Pledge Arena could be one of the loudest buildings in the league.

McDavid's dominance

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

No NHL player had a better calendar year than Connor McDavid. The Edmonton Oilers superstar racked up a mind-boggling 105 points over 56 games last season en route to becoming the first unanimous Hart Trophy winner since Wayne Gretzky and only the second ever.

McDavid isn't quite maintaining that absurd pace in the current campaign, but he's once again the favorite to claim MVP honors. The Oilers captain, who'll turn 25 on Jan. 13, continues to prove his unparalleled value.

Ovi's pursuit of The Great One

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Alex Ovechkin's ascent up the NHL's all-time goals list was a persistent storyline throughout 2021. The Washington Capitals sniper passed Mike Gartner for seventh in February, leapfrogged Phil Esposito for sixth in March, surpassed Marcel Dionne for fifth in October, and supplanted Brett Hull for fourth in November.

Ovi's chances of catching Wayne Gretzky for the record remains a frequent debate in hockey circles. The Russian superstar has been fantastic at age 36, and Gretzky himself even said earlier in December he believes his record will fall.

The Eichel saga

Ethan Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Jack Eichel's dispute with the Buffalo Sabres dragged on for a significant stretch of the year before it was finally resolved in early November. The injured captain wanted to undergo a procedure never before performed on an NHL player, and the team refused to approve it.

The stalemate eventually forced the Sabres to strip Eichel of the "C." After months of trade talks, Buffalo finally dealt him to the Golden Knights along with a third-round pick for prospect Peyton Krebs, forward Alex Tuch, a first-rounder, and a second-rounder. Eichel underwent his desired surgery shortly afterward and may be on track to make his Vegas debut in January or February 2022.

Coyotes' dysfunction plummets to new lows

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

One of the NHL's most evergreen storylines took a few more twists in 2021. The Arizona Coyotes' uncertain future is usually what keeps the team in the headlines, and several scandals ensured that once again. In February, the club came under fire following a report detailing financial and interpersonal issues within the organization.

In August, the city of Glendale told the Coyotes it wouldn't renew the operating agreement for Gila River Arena, meaning the 2021-22 season would be the club's last in the facility. The Coyotes then filed a bid for a new arena in nearby Tempe, but the situation involving their current home escalated further a few months later.

On Dec. 9, Glendale threatened to lock the team out of Gila River Arena if their debt of more than $1 million in unpaid taxes and fees wasn't resolved in the next 11 days. The Coyotes blamed human error and said the next day that they'd paid up in full, a claim multiple reports later contradicted.

As if that wasn't enough, one week before their latest arena drama began, both the Coyotes and Bettman had to deny rumors that the team was on the market with plans to relocate to Houston. It's clear this club will continue to be a talking point in 2022.

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Flyers’ Couturier week-to-week with upper-body injury

The Philadelphia Flyers placed forward Sean Couturier on injured reserve Thursday with an upper-body injury.

He's week-to-week.

Couturier skated in the Flyers' Dec. 18 contest before the league's pause due to rising COVID-19 cases. He was placed in the NHL's protocol Dec. 21 and missed the Flyers' first game back against the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old has six goals and 11 assists in 29 contests this season while leading all forwards on the team with 20:23 of ice time per game.

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Blue Jackets’ Laine returns after 19-game absence

Patrik Laine is officially back.

The Columbus Blue Jackets sniper played Thursday night against the Nashville Predators for the first time since Nov. 3. Laine missed 19 games during that span due to an oblique injury.

"It's been a frustrating two months sitting on the sideline and just watching other guys play and not being able to help," Laine said earlier Thursday, according to NHL.com's Craig Merz. The winger added that he was excited to play and "definitely ready."

The Blue Jackets could use the boost. The club started the season 6-3-0 with Laine in the lineup but went 8-10-1 without him. Columbus was just 2-7-1 in its last 10 games entering Thursday's contest.

Laine was off to a strong start before the injury, tallying three goals and seven assists in nine appearances.

The Finnish forward skated on the team's top line with captain Boone Jenner and veteran playmaker Jakub Voracek.

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Ontario reducing capacity limits at indoor sports venues to 1,000 people

Ontario is reducing capacity limits inside sporting venues to 1,000 people due to rising COVID-19 cases, the province announced Thursday.

The new limit will go into effect Friday, impacting professional sports teams like the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, and NBA's Toronto Raptors.

The Maple Leafs and Senators both played all of last season without fans. The Leafs were allowed to host 550 vaccinated healthcare workers during their final playoff game.

The Raptors, meanwhile, took up residence in Tampa Bay last season due to the pandemic.

All three clubs were able to have full crowds for the majority of their current seasons until the Ontario government set a 50% cap in mid-December.

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