of the Atlanta Thrashers of the Carolina Hurricanes at Philips Arena on February 13, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Monday night when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.
If there’s one thing the Kings need right now with 10 games left in the regular season, it’s some consistency. John Stevens’ charges have alternated wins and losses in their eight games in March, leaving them in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with 84 points.
LA is tied with the Dallas Stars in points, but have the ROW advantage (37-34) while also owning a game in-hand. The Kings are battling on two fronts. Not only are they in the mix for a wild card, but they are on the heels of the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division’s third seed.
So as the Kings begin a four-game road trip Monday night with three games against playoff teams (Minnesota, Winnipeg, Colorado), the road doesn’t get any easier. After a disappointing 3-0 loss at Staples Center on Saturday, they need to rebound quickly.
“You lose a game, you move on and get ready for the next one,” said Stevens via the Orange County Register. “We’ve got an important week coming up this week, so we’re in playoff mode. We’re thinking about Minnesota now, and we’ll get ready for the game after that when that comes.”
The Wild have a little bit of a cushion in the Central Division’s third spot and are looking at four days off following their meeting with the Kings before they host the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. Minnesota grabbed four huge points with back-to-back road wins over the weekend against Vegas and Arizona. In their favor is a very strong record at Xcel Energy Center (24-6-6) and the fact that they’ve taken points from 24 of their last 26 home games.
A victory would give Bruce Boudreau his 500th as an NHL head coach and make him the 26th bench boss to reach that milestone. In his 10 seasons as a bench boss, he’s won eight division titles and one Jack Adams Awards.
[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Goalie interference will be a big topic at this week’s NHL general managers meetings. [The Star]
• Lou Lamoriello’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs remains up in the air. “Any decisions about the organization won’t be made until after the season is over,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan told Elliotte Friedman. [Sportsnet]
• The NCAA men’s bracket is set with St. Cloud State, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Cornell grabbing top seeds. [College Hockey News]
• Daryl Watts, freshman forward at Boston College, took home the 2018 Patty Kazmaier Award as the nation’s top women’s collegiate player. [USCHO]
• With Ilya Kovalchuk interested in an NHL return this summer — and his rights no longer being owned by the New Jersey Devils — the New York Rangers should be all-in on the forward. [NY Post]
• A good look at how these Winnipeg Jets have been built into a contender. [ESPN]
• This season’s Hart Trophy race is quite the crowded field. [Tampa Bay Times]
• We’re coming up on a full NHL season without any head coaches being fired. [TSN]
• General managers around the NHL muse about the Detroit Red Wings and rebuilds. [Freep]
• Should the Carolina Hurricanes continue the changes and move on from Bill Peters? [Section 328]
• How a minority hockey program helped one man become an officer in the Marines. [Color of Hockey]
• Finally, Declan Farmer was the hero for the U.S. Paralympic hockey team, who won their third straight gold with a 2-1 win over Canada. [NBC Olympics]
Players of the Night:
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche: MacKinnon’s MVP campaign got a serious boost on Sunday, as he picked up two goals and an assist in a win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Avs forward is now riding a 12-game point streak. He better start making room on a shelf for a Hart Trophy.
William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights: Karlsson continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2017-18 season. His natural hat trick against the Flames puts him at 39 goals on the season. Who would’ve thought that we’d be talking about him as a 40-goal scorer?
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning: Even though MacKinnon is rolling right now, Kucherov won’t go away quietly in the race for the MVP crown. The Lightning forward picked up two goals in Sunday’s win over the Oilers. Kucherov has 36 goals and 93 points in 70 games this season.
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks: DeBrincat scored his third hat trick of the season in a losing effort. The rookie has 25 goals and 45 points in 73 games this season. He has a chance to score 30 this year.
Alex Pietrangelo and Vincent Dunn, St. Louis Blues: The Blues came away with a huge comeback win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrik Berglund scored the game-winner in overtime, but Pietrangelo and Dunn each had four points in the victory.
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets: Laine has been a scoring machine of late. He found the back of the net twice in Sunday’s win over the Dallas Stars. He’s now scored 43 goals in 72 games this season. Laine’s picked up at least one point in 15 consecutive games.
Highlights of the Night:
A wicked one-timer from Wild Bill:
That’s an incredible backhander from MacKinnon:
Here’s an unorthodox save from Fleury
Factoids of the Night:
Oh and Laine is a teen sensation
DeBrincat’s having an impressive rookie season:
Avalanche 5, Red Wings 1
Golden Knights 4, Flames 0
Lightning 3, Oilers 1
Hurricanes 4, Islanders 3
Flyers 6, Capitals 3
Blues 5, Blackhawks 4 (OT)
Jets 4, Stars 2
Ducks 4, Devils 2
The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks have played games with more significance, but that didn’t take away from the excitement of St. Louis’ 5-4 win in overtime.
‘Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat opened the game with two first-period goals before the Blues managed to tie the game in the second frame thanks to a pair of power-play tallies by Alexander Steen and Vincent Dunn, who also assisted on Steen’s marker.
The Blues thought they went ahead late in the second, but this goal was called back:
Chicago went up 3-2 heading into the second intermission after David Kampf put them back ahead.
Dunn collected his third point of the night when Vladimir Sobotka scored the equalizer at the 15:24 mark of the third period, but again, DeBrincat scored just over one minute later.
Alex Pietrangelo, who assisted on St. Louis’ first two goals, managed to tie the game with 18:38 remaining in the third period to force overtime. Dunn registered an assist on the game-tying marker to give him four points on the night.
Pietrangelo then helped set up Patrik Berglund‘s game, so he also finished the game with four points when it was all said and done.
Here’s the OT winner:
Despite being sellers at the deadline, the Blues now find themselves just one point behind Anaheim for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis has four more regulation/overtime wins than the Ducks, which could be key down the stretch.
As for the Blackhawks, well, they’re done like dinner.