Anyone who doesn’t think the Boston Bruins have their eyes on the big prize after they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last spring hasn’t been paying attention. With backup Anton Khudobin making his first start of the season to give Tuukka Rask a break, the Bruins got a goal from David Krejci with less than two minutes to go in regulation and went on to defeat Carolina 5-3. The win moved the Bruins’ mark to 4-0-1. They are one of two teams in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss this season (New Jersey is the other). The win stopped a two-game win streak by the Hurricanes. The principle assist on the Bruins’ winning goal came from rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton who, to the surprise of no one, will not be heading back to junior hockey but remaining with the big club in Boston for the balance of the season.
• The Vancouver Canucks’ stutter start continued Monday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, as they blew a 2-0 lead and dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the defending Stanley Cup champs. Roberto Luongo was in goal for the Canucks (2-2-2). The Kings, meanwhile, have won two in a row after going winless in three to start the season. They tied Monday’s game with less than a minute to go on a goal by defenseman Slava Voynov. Jeff Carter was the only player to score in the shootout.
• Word out of Phoenix is that starting netminder Mike Smith is close to a return. But in his absence, the reeling Coyotes got a clutch start from former Rangers prospect Chad Johnson, who stopped all 21 Nashville shots to pace the Coyotes to a much-needed 4-0 victory. Phoenix had lost four of five and had given up 20 goals in its first five games before Monday’s victory. Defenseman Keith Yandle led the way with his first goal of the season and he also added two assists. As for Nashville, the offensive well is bone-dry as the Preds have scored just 10 goals in six games and are tied for 29th in the league in goals per game. For those keeping score at home, Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber has yet to register a single point in six games.
• How bad are things for Nashville? Well, Monday’s loss coupled with Columbus’ 2-1 win over Dallas dropped the Preds into last place in the Central Division. The Blue Jackets continue to get solid goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 24 of 25 shots. And while their offense remains anemic at best, the two goals the Blue Jackets sneaked past Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen were enough to give them the win and stop a 0-3-1 slide. Offense continues to plague the 2-3-1 Stars, who have just 12 goals in six games. On a positive note for the Stars, Monday did mark the return of Jamie Benn. The newly signed restricted free agent center added an assist and played 20:47 in his first game.
• Speaking of unrestricted free agents with Benn’s return and the announced signing of P.K. Subban by the Montreal Canadiens on Monday to a two-year deal worth $5.75 million, only Colorado’s Ryan O'Reilly remains unsigned of the big three post-lockout free agents. Given that Edmonton waxed Colorado 4-1 Monday, the pressure will continue to mount on Colorado GM Greg Sherman to get a deal done with the hard-as-nails center who led the Avs in scoring last season. The Oilers scored three power-play goals through the first half of the game to stake the Oilers to a 3-0 lead and Devan Dubnyk was again solid, turning aside 37 of 38 shots to move the Oilers to the top of the Northwest Division standings with a 3-2-0 record. The Avs, meanwhile, have lost two in a row and have scored just 10 goals through their first five games.