Around the rink – Monday, November 15th

So Colin Campbell might be having a bad Monday, but that doesn’t mean you have to have one too. Hold off on sending a profanity-filled e-mail to your co-workers and try not to complain too loudly to your friends about things because you’ve got actual hockey to watch tonight and, damn it, you’re going to enjoy it. All times listed are Eastern because that’s where the NHL home offices are based from.

7:00 pm

New Jersey @ Boston

Boston’s found themselves in a bit of a mini-slump having dropped their last two games and four of their last five games. The Bruins have hit an offensive outage the last couple games but the Devils might be the solution they’re looking for. The Devils are coming off a comeback win over Edmonton, but the Bruins are not the Oilers so the Devils will have to be a lot better to win this game. The Bruins offense will like hearing this bit of statistical news: In five of the last six Devils games, they’ve given up exactly three goals in each game. That one game that was the outlier? They gave up five goals.

Vancouver @ Buffalo

Perhaps the Sabres are getting things turned around. They’ve won three of their last four games, and have gotten seven out of a possible eight points in those games. Not too bad. With Thomas Vanek scoring overtime winners and Ryan Miller back in goal, this could be the start of a run for the Sabres. Having to deal with Vancouver, however, will be their biggest test to date. The Canucks are 2-1-0 so far on their east coast trip and they’ve looked strong against both Ottawa and Toronto. If they’re for real, they can take care of Buffalo. One fun side show to look out for is how the Sabres fans treat Raffi Torres. Torres turned out to be a bust of a pickup last year at the trade deadline and helped make the Sabres stay in the playoffs a short one.

NY Rangers @ Pittsburgh

The Rangers got things right in a big way against Edmonton yesterday but dealing with the Penguins means that life should be a little harder. The Pens are playing better and Marc-Andre Fleury is perhaps getting his own mojo back. Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are firing on all cylinders. This could turn out to be a special game if the big performances the Rangers got from Marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov carry over to tonight.

Ottawa @ Philadelphia

So the Senators shutout the Bruins in their last game, meanwhile the Flyers have been an offensive wrecking crew in their last two outings scoring 13 goals in the last two games combined. Does Brian Elliott stay hot for Ottawa and keep the Flyers off the board, or will it be a reality check for the Sens and the Flyers continue to pile up goals? It should be fun to see how things shake out. The sneaky superstar in this game could be Sergei Bobrovsky if he gets the call in net again. He’s been the rock the Flyers have relied on and his steady play seems to be making the rest of the team settle down and feel at ease to open things up. Scary, eh?

8:00 pm

St. Louis @ Colorado

Two injury-riddled teams square off in Denver. The Blues ride in losers of three in a row while the Avs will be looking to bounce back after losing to Detroit on Saturday. After getting off to such a hot start, injuries (and perhaps statistical correction) may have caught up to St. Louis. They weren’t giving up lots of goals during their hot start, but lately it’s been a different story having given up 16 goals in their last three games. To be fair, eight of those came against Columbus. The run-and-gun Avs might give the Blues gimpy defense all they can handle.

10:30 pm

Los Angeles @ San Jose

The potential game of the night comes from out west so if you want to see it, you gotta want to see it if you’re out east. The red-hot Kings roll into San Jose looking to teach their rivals a lesson and let them know that they’re the big shots in the Pacific Division this year. The Kings have won six in a row and they’ve been doing it thanks to stellar goaltending. The Kings are tops in the NHL in goals allowed but the Sharks are no slouches either coming in fifth in that category. During their win streak, the Kings have given up just seven goals. It’s not all snazzy goaltending though, the offense has been stellar as well scoring 21 goals during the six-game streak. Dealing with the Sharks in San Jose won’t be easy, they’re 5-2-1 so far this year at the HP Pavillion at San Jose.

Red Wings take advantage of Penguins’ mistakes in 5-2 win

Leave a comment

Even though the odds are stacked against them at this point, if the Detroit Red Wings are going to extend their playoff streak they are going to need to pile up a lot of wins the rest of the way to dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in.

They took a big step toward doing that this weekend with two huge wins over the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

They completed the weekend on Sunday with a rather convincing 5-2 win in Pittsburgh, taking advantage of a sloppy Penguins team that struggled in all phases of the game.

This win came just one day after the Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals in a shootout.

The big story for Detroit on Sunday early on was the play of starting goaltender Petr Mrazek — starting both ends of the back-to-back this week — as he made a couple of highlight reel saves to rob Ian Cole and Nick Bonino of what looked like sure goals.

In the two games this weekend he stopped 58 of the 62 shots he faced.

It has been a disappointing season for Mrazek individually, but he has worked to salvage it over the past four games by only allowing only nine goals on 160 shots (.943 save percentage).

As for the players in front of him, the Red Wings’ penalty killers were sensational on Sunday, frustrating the Penguins’ power play and limiting them to just three total shots on goal on their four power play attempts.

Three of the Penguins’ power plays failed to register a single shot on goal.

While Mrazek and the Red Wings were shutting down the Penguins’ high powered offensive attack, the Red Wings feasted on some brutal turnovers by the Penguins and an off day from Matt Murray in net to put five goals on the board. It was only the third time in the past month they scored more than three goals in a game.

They opened the scoring in the first period on a slick Nick Jensen goal following an Evgeni Malkin turnover in the offensive zone (seen above).

With the Red Wings holding a 2-1 lead entering the third period, a Jake Guentzel turnover resulted in Tomas Tatar‘s 14th goal of the season for the Red Wings to give them a two-goal lead.

Just two minutes later Thomas Vanek put the game away with his 15th goal of the season.

Sunday’s win is still just Detroit’s fourth in its past 14 games, while the Red Wings remain six points back of a playoff spot in 15th place in the Eastern Conference.

For the Penguins, it is their first loss in regulation since the All-Star break snapping what had been a nine-game point streak that saw them go 6-0-3.

Sens’ Hoffman leaves game vs. Jets with lower-body injury

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 13: Mike Hoffman #68 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Minnesota Wild at Canadian Tire Centre on November 13, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Getty
Leave a comment

The Ottawa Senators will need a comeback effort today in order to take over top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Making matters more difficult: The Senators, in action today against the Winnipeg Jets and having gone down two goals after the first period, will strive for that without forward Mike Hoffman, one of their best scorers.

Hoffman left the game in the first period and will not return, the Senators said, because of a lower-body injury.

With a win today, the Senators would move into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens at 70 points, but they would take over first place in the division because they have fewer games played.

Hoffman is tied with Kyle Turris for second on the Senators in goal scoring with 19 goals.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Sabres

Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly
AP
Leave a comment

A three-game winning streak has the Buffalo Sabres right back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

They’ll go for four wins in a row when they host the Chicago Blackhawks, who sit second in the Central Division, on Sunday (6 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blackhawks’ winning streak goes bye thanks to Talbot, Oilers

‘Hawks are happy with rookies’ progress

Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

Sabres win third in a row to stay in playoff race

Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 15:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres defends the net against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on January 15, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/NHLI via Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

With three consecutive wins — and six wins in their past nine — the Buffalo Sabres are trying to keep things interesting in the Eastern Conference playoff race, entering play on Saturday just two points out of a wild card spot.

One of the biggest reasons for their success in recent weeks has been the fantastic play of starting goaltender Robin Lehner.

Not only has he won four of his past five starts (including all three during the Sabres’ current winning streak), but he has probably been the driving force behind that surge with a .949 save percentage, allowing more than two goals just once during that stretch.

In three of those games he has made at least 37 saves.

Lehner has been a pretty big positive for the Sabres this season overall with a .926 save percentage.

Since joining Buffalo at the start of the 2015-16 he is at .925 putting him with the best goaltenders in the league.

They are going to need him to be great on Sunday evening again with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are starting Scott Darling.

Elsewhere on Sunday…

— In the afternoon games it was Phillip Grubauer vs. Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers-Capitals game and Matt Murray vs. Petr Mrazek in the Penguins-Red Wings game in Pittsburgh.

Mike Condon draws back in for the Ottawa Senators when they look to move into a first place tie in the Atlantic Division. Connor Hellebuyck goes for the Jets.

Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they host the Nashville Predators. No official word from Nashville yet but with Pekka Rinne taking the loss on Saturday it would make sense to see Juuse Saros get the start.

Thomas Greiss gets the night off for the New York Islanders after he played on Saturday, which means Jean-Francois Berube goes when they take on the New Jersey Devils in the second half of their back-to-back. Keith Kinkaid gets the start for the Devils to give Cory Schneider a night off.

— Nothing official from Toronto yet but look for the Maple Leafs to give Curtis McElhinney the start in Carolina against the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have not announced their starter.

Calvin Pickard is expected to start for Colorado when the Avalanche host the Tampa Bay Lightning. No word yet from the Lightning on their starter.

— The Boston Bruins go for their fourth win in a row when they take on the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. It will be Tuukka Rask in net for the Bruins with Martin Jones going for the Sharks.

— The Kings and Ducks have not announced their starters yet.

— After leading the Canucks to a win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night Ryan Miller is going right back in the net for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.