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Eastern Conference

Leafs’ Frederik Andersen Challenges Teammates To Play Better

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Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen is calling for his teammates, challenging them to step up and play better ahead of their game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday.

Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was disheartening as Toronto blew a 2-goal lead.

The Maple Leafs have lost four straight games and seven of their past nine (2-3-4).

“He doesn’t say much, but when he says something, people listen up,” Toronto center Auston Matthews said Friday (h/t NHL.com).

“He’s absolutely within his right to be upset because we’ve left him out to dry too many times over this course of games. He’s absolutely right. We have his back. We need to be better for one another, and we need to be better for him.”

Andersen is 22-13-4 with a 2.68 goals-against average, .922 save percentage with three shutouts in an NHL-high 39 starts this season.

“He’s a great leader,” Leafs forward Tyler Bozak said. “He doesn’t talk too much, but when he does, his point means a lot. He’s a guy who sees things that are going on really well. He’s been playing unbelievable for us, so it’s probably a little frustrating when we’re not playing our best in front of him and we do have those leads. Yeah, we’ve got to be better.”

“I think a lot of guys on the bench, too, pretty frustrated with not being on the power play and seeing that kind of effort,” Andersen said. “I think we’ve got to look each other in the eyes here and determine where we want to go from here. … We got to figure this out if we want to play any meaningful hockey later.”

“It’s one thing when I say it. It’s a whole other thing when a good player on your team says it,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Now, this is just me. [The media likes] the way he did it. I would just as soon you walk in, grab the coaches, grab the staff, grab everybody, shut the door and do it in house. We had some of that going on during the game too. I thought it was a real positive thing for our team yesterday.

“I think it’s important in taking a step. I think adversity is an unbelievable thing in life for springboards for opportunity. It’s just depends how you embrace it.”

“You can’t have any complacency,” Matthews said. “A lot can change. So you can go on a tough stretch, you can go on a hot stretch. Next thing you know, you’re in another battle. We just want to stay focused, stay focused the whole season, doesn’t matter what position we’re in, we want to win every night.”

Buffalo Sabres

Sabres Re-Sign Sam Reinhart

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The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Sam Reinhart to a two-year deal that pays $3.65 million annually, according to an official team press release.

Reinhart set new career highs in games played (82), goals (25), points (50), power-play goals (12) and power-play points (21) during the 2017-18 regular season.

 

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Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes’ Victor Rask Out Indefintely

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Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Victor Rask underwent surgery to repair his fourth and fifth fingers on his right hand after injuring them while slicing food in his kitchen, according to a team announcement on Thursday.

Rask has been ruled out indefinitely.

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Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets Sign John Tortorella to Two-Year Contract Extension

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed head coach John Tortorella to a two-year contract extension that will keep in with the team through the 2020-21 season, the team announced on Wednesday.

It makes sense for Columbus, who has experienced it’s most success under Tortorella’s watch, highlighted by a a franchise-best 50 wins and 108 point season in 2016-2017 that saw Tortorella walk away with that season’s Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s best coach.

“Our team has been one of the winningest in the NHL over the past two seasons and John Tortorella has played a critical role in that success and in raising the level of our team’s play since his arrival,” Blue Jackets’ general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “His passion and commitment to being the best has permeated our team and we believe will lead to even greater success in the future.”

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