Around the rink – Thursday, November 11th

It’s Veteran’s Day in America, so remember to say thanks to anyone you know who has served their country in the military. On the hockey side of things, it’s Gaborik Day in New York as the Rangers get their top scorer back in the lineup. That’s a reason to throw a party, right? If not, there’s enough going on elsewhere to whet your appetite. All times listed are Eastern.

7:00 pm

Montreal @ Boston

Boston’s coming off a big win over Pittsburgh but dealing with the Habs always means things get interesting and with the Habs dedication to frustrating the opponents offense these rivals should have quite the reunion tonight. With Tim Thomas having started against Pittsburgh last night, could we see Tuukka Rask get the call against Carey Price?

Buffalo @ NY Rangers

Marian Gaborik makes his triumphant return to the Rangers following his shoulder injury and he gets to deal with a Sabres team that comes in after winning two in a row. Oh yeah, and Ryan Miller could be back in the lineup for the Sabres as well. All of a sudden it looks like a marquee match-up doesn’t it? Let’s hope the game can live up to the names.

Tampa Bay @ Washington

A Southeast Division battle kicks in with the Caps coming in on fire winners of five in a row. Tampa Bay comes into the game after getting off a three-game skid with a win over the slump-busting Maple Leafs. Did the Lightning get over what ails them? A red-hot Caps team should provide a good litmus test to see if that’s the case.

Philadelphia @ Carolina

If the Hurricanes are going to be seen as a playoff threat, a win over the Flyers might help convince some people. The Flyers are looking to bounce back after a loss to the Caps. They were winners of seven straight before that and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky deserves a lot of credit for that. The Hurricanes enter the game on a two-game win streak having beaten the Panthers and Oilers. Expect them to get a healthy test at the hands of the Flyers.

Minnesota @ Atlanta

Minnesota is looking to get their offense jump-started a little bit and a game with the Thrashers might just be the kind of help they’re looking for. The Thrashers have allowed the most goals in the league but if the Wild aren’t careful they could get lit up themselves with Atlanta being one of the better scoring teams in the league.

7:30 pm

Edmonton @ Detroit

Things are tough for the Oilers right now. If they hadn’t played the Blackhawks they’d be in the middle of a soul-crushing losing streak. They’ve lost nine of their last eleven games and their only two wins in there are against Chicago. With that reasoning in place, their prospects against the Red Wings don’t look good, especially with the Wings playing steady hockey of late. Detroit has won four of their last five games and it’s been Jimmy Howard they can thank for a lot of that holding opponents to six goals in those four wins.

Keep an eye on Edmonton rookie Taylor Hall in this one as he’ll be playing across the river from Windsor, Ontario where he played junior hockey. Playing in Detroit is about as much of a homecoming as he’ll get, at least until an eccentric Canadian billionaire tries to move a struggling team there.

Vancouver @ Ottawa

Vancouver’s east coast swing continues in Ottawa and they’ll be looking for a little bit more offense than they saw against Montreal the other night. As in any offense as they were shutout by the Habs. Playing a streaking Ottawa team may not be the solution they’re looking for though. The Sens are winners of four in a row and have gotten fantastic play in goal from Brian Elliott and he could get the nod again tonight. Special side highlight of the night? The Sedin twins facing off with Swedish favorite Daniel Alfredsson.

8:00 pm

Nashville @ St. Louis

So how do you come back after getting thrashed 8-1 by the Blue Jackets? For the Blues you get to shake it off right away the following night against fellow divisional foe Nashville. That might not be the best medicine as the Preds are notoriously difficult to deal with, but at least the Blues have home ice to support them. The Preds, meanwhile, will be looking to end a five game losing streak. Desperation meets reclamation. It’s got the makings of a good one in St. Louis.

10:30 pm

Dallas @ Los Angeles

The Kings are winners of four straight and are one of the league’s best teams. Meanwhile, the Stars sit just four points behind them in the standings and have been a surprise themselves so far this year. After a humbling 5-0 loss to Colorado the other night, the Stars will be looking to get back on the right track. Previous to that beat down they were on a three-game win streak. Dealing with the Kings, even with injuries to Willie Mitchell and Alexei Ponikarovsky, will make living difficult.

NY Islanders @ San Jose

Does the Isles streak end tonight? The Islanders have lost eight in a row, including two straight one-goal losses. They did just about everything but win (or score a goal) last night against Anaheim limiting the Ducks to 14 shots on goal but still managed to lose. Scoring has been their biggest issue and facing San Jose won’t help that much. The Sharks are fifth in the league in goals allowed but they’re struggling a bit themselves, losing three of their last four games. The Sharks aren’t scoring much of late either, but the Isles have been slump busters before. Unless the Isles start scoring, they don’t look to be much of a threat.

Canada beats US 3-1 in women’s hockey Olympic tuneup

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Haley Irwin and Sarah Nurse scored in the second period, sending Canada to a 3-1 victory over the United States on Friday night in the latest Olympic tuneup between the world’s top powers in women’s hockey.

Marie-Philip Poulin also scored for Canada, and Ann-Renee Desbiens made 25 saves.

Brianna Decker opened the scoring for the U.S. with a power-play goal early in the second. Alex Rigsby stopped 33 shots in defeat.

Poulin made it 3-1 with her goal 55 seconds into the third.

It was the fifth of six meetings between the rivals as they prepare for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. They play again Sunday night in Edmonton, Alberta.

Canada has won four of the five recent matchups, after the Americans took the series opener Oct. 22 in Quebec City.

”We just have to be better in the red zones – that’s the difference between winning and losing,” United States coach Robb Stauber said. ”We’ll give some focus and energy to some things we think we can do better, and we’re going to go into Edmonton and see what that end result looks like.”

The last four Olympic gold medals in women’s hockey have gone to Canada, but the U.S. has won seven of the past eight world championships.

The Buzzer: Eichel hat trick, Schneider robbery, Gaborik’s 1,000th game

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Players of the Night: 

Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres: Eichel ended a four-game goal-less drought with some authority on Friday. After scoring in the first period, Eichel watched as his Sabres blew a 2-1 lead to trail 4-2 with 10 minutes to go. Eichel then turned on overdrive, scoring twice in 10 seconds to tie the game and force overtime. Sadly, his efforts were in vain as the Carolina Hurricanes got the winner 2:15 into the extra frame. It’s Eichel’s first career NHL hat trick.

Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils: What an inspirational story Boyle has been this year. On Friday, Boyle scored twice, including the game winner, to bring his goal total to eight on the season. His second of the night was also his 100th of his career.

Highlights of the Night:

Eichel showed a good bit of patience on his hat trick goal:

Cory Schneider committed robbery on this save:

Sam Gagner scored on a pretty backhand deke to give the Vancouver Canucks the win in overtime, ending a four-game losing streak:

Factoid of the Night: 

MISC: 

Scores: 

Hurricanes 5, Sabres 4 (OT)

Devils 5, Stars 2

Rangers 4, Kings 2

Red Wings 3, Maple Leafs 1

Canucks 4, Sharks 3 (OT)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Melnyk threatens to move Senators if ‘disaster strikes’

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If you’re looking for someone to spoil an upcoming function, you may want to give Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk a call.

On the eve of the Senators’ outdoor game against the Montreal Canadiens at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, and on the night when Ottawa’s greats from yesteryear took the ice with Parliament Hill as a backdrop, Melnyk did his best to steal the spotlight from the NHL 100 Classic on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters, Melnyk threatened to pull the plug in Ottawa and relocate the team if disaster struck.

“If it becomes a disaster, yes,” Melnyk said. “If you start not seeing crowds showing up, yes. But, for now, we are on the cusp of doing OK.”

The doom and gloom continued, with Melnyk suggesting he isn’t going to waste a “lifetime of working hard” to support the Senators.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “The bigger question is whether I’m prepared to blow all that money I made over many years in a different industry in a different country. How long can you underwrite a team?”

Melnyk reiterated that he’s not looking to sell the team, a statement he made earlier this week in the Ottawa Sun, and used McDonald’s as an example on Friday. 

“It won’t. It just won’t happen,” he said. “It’s a franchise. Imagine if you own a McDonald’s franchise, but you can move it. But why would you sell it? It’s something that’s very difficult to buy.

We’re doing OK here. Not great, but we’re doing OK. It’s just too much fun. What else do you do? I’m a Canadian. I’m a hockey fan, fanatically a hockey fan, and I couldn’t think of anything better to do.”

Melnyk said the Senators have “cut everything to the bone,” saying the Senators have one of the thinnest management groups in the league.

“We want to keep and maintain great players,” he said. “You can’t keep spending at the top end and getting the lowest revenues. It doesn’t work.”

According to CapFriendly, the Senators are at just over $73 million in projected cap space.

Melnyk called the Senators disaster on the ice this season a “crappy streak” that every team goes through.

“We have way too much talent with this team not to perform,” he said.

When asked if his comments on Friday could take away from the luster of the event taking place in Canada’s capital this weekend, Melnyk said no.

“It keeps the newspapers selling and the radio people listening,” he said.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Marian Gaborik plays game No. 1,000 on Friday

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Marian Gaborik has already hit two milestones that end in double zeroes this season.

On Friday night, and at the world’s most famous arena, he hit his first that ends in three.

Gaborik took to the ice at Madison Sqaure Garden in his 1,000th NHL game as the Los Angeles Kings took on the New York Rangers.

It’s not a bad backdrop for the veteran of 19 NHL seasons.

Gaborik played 255 games with the Blueshirts between 2009 and 2013, hitting the 40-goal plateau twice and recording his career-best season in 2009-10, scoring 42 goals and adding 44 helpers for 86 points in 76 games played.

Gaborik has only played 11 games this season after starting the year on the shelf with a knee injury. Gaborik only returned to the lineup on Nov. 24, but he set two milestones in his return, hitting 400 career NHL goals and 800 career NHL points earlier this month.

Coming into Friday’s game, his stat line read 800 points in 999 NHL games.

As Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston points out, perfect symmetry could be achieved if Gaborik finishes with a plus-one in the plus-minus column in the game and he is held without a point.

I’m sure he’d rather have a new puck to add to his mantle… but think of the stats, Marian.

UPDATE: He didn’t think of the stats. 


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck