NHL Talk: Rangers, Golden Knights, Blue Jackets & Canadiens

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In this edition of NHL Talk, these are the top storylines with quotes from players, coaches, managers, and more:

Canadiens’ Hammond Wins First NHL Start in Four Years

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Andrew Hammond stopped 30 of 32 shots in his first NHL game in nearly four years in a 3-2 shootout win at the New York Islanders on Sunday. It was the 34-year-old’s first NHL start since April 22, 2018, a 5-0 loss with the Colorado Avalanche against the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round. He was acquired by the Canadiens in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 12.

Andrew Hammond, Iowa Wild
Andrew Hammond, Iowa Wild (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

“If I wouldn’t have been preparing for this moment over the last four years, and then I get it, I’d be living with a lot of regret,” Hammond said. “That’s the only way I know how to approach it. If it had never happened, it’d be what it is, but obviously I’m very happy it did. … The old expression like everything good, you’ve got to wait for, I’d wait four more years to do it again. It was worth it. I’m very, very happy I got the opportunity.”

Blue Jackets’ Berube Victorious in Long-Awaited NHL Return

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender J-F Berube turned aside 33 of 36 shots in his first game since April 6, 2018, when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks, in a 7-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. The 30-year-old’s latest NHL opportunity comes with regular Columbus goaltenders Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo both out with lower-body injuries. His wife and their 19-month-old son, Cayden, were in attendance to witness Berube’s return to the NHL.

J-F Berube Columbus Blue Jackets
J-F Berube, Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“This is one is for him,” Berube said of his son, Cayden.

“I just want to let the moment sink in and appreciate the win with my teammates,” Berube said. “I wanted to stay composed and play my game and control the pace of the game too.”

Golden Knights’ Eichel Scores First Goal With New Team

Vegas Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel scored his first goal with his new team in a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. The 25-year-old buried a one-timer pass from Cade Stephenson at 14:34 of the first period, which turned out to be the Golden Knights’ game-winning goal. Through his first three games with Vegas, Eichel has three points (one goal, two assists).

Jack Eichel Vegas Golden Knights
Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

“It’s obviously been a long time since I scored a goal, so it’s a good feeling,” Eichel said. “It’s just part of my game. Obviously, I want to try and chip in offensively, so it’s good to help contribute tonight.”

“Jack’s one of those players that when you watch him and he plays, he makes the people around him better,” Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “That’s a big compliment. Obviously, when you have players like [Stephenson] and [Max Pacioretty] on his side he’s going to make them better. The speed, the hockey sense, playing at a high level, making plays at a high speed. I know when I played against him, that’s what makes him lethal offensively.”

Rangers’ Shesterkin Comes Within Inches of First NHL Goal

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin missed out on his first NHL goal by mere inches in a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. With the Senators’ net empty with under two minutes left in the game, Shesterkin fired a puck down the ice that barely missed wide. The 26-year-old is well-known for his strong puck-handling abilities, and with how close he came to scoring on Sunday, his next attempt at firing into an empty net has a good chance of going in.

“Not just trying to score goals, but the plays he makes on the breakout passes are just spectacular,” Rangers forward Ryan Strome said of Shesterkin. “He’s probably a better passer than 75, 80 percent of our team. I think guys would openly admit that, too.”

Related: NHL Talk: Kraken, Canadiens, Avalanche & Sabres

“I enjoyed it,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “I wish [the shot] would’ve went in the net like everybody else.” 

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