NHL on NBC: Wings go for 23 straight at home versus struggling Sharks

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Happy Hockey Day in America! Be sure to check out PHT throughout the day as we bring you features and previews of all the events, including a nine-hour NHL block of programming across NBC and NBC Sports Network.

Sunday at Joe Louis Arena, Hockeytown celebrates Hockey Day in America with a must-see – you guessed it – hockey game (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC). It’s the Detroit Red Wings, seeking their 23rd straight home victory, versus the team that’s eliminated them the last two postseasons, the San Jose Sharks.

While Detroit already owns the NHL record for most consecutive home victories within a single season, they can break the multiple-season mark of 22 that’s held by the Boston Bruins, who won the last 20 games of the 1929-30 season then won their first two the following year.

To put that record in perspective, when the Bruins set it, the Detroit team had just changed its name from the Cougars to the Falcons; there was a team from Philadelphia called the Quakers who had just moved from Pittsburgh, where they were called the Pirates; and Neil Armstrong had just been born.

So yeah, it’s a fairly long-standing record.

Friday at the Joe, the Wings earned their 22nd straight home win after Pavel Datsyuk took a brilliant no-look pass from teammate Henrik Zetterberg, weaved his way through the Nashville defense, and ripped it past Pekka Rinne with five seconds left in regulation to beat the Predators, 2-1.

“I kind of took a look and saw Pavel over there,” Zetterberg said, “so I knew there were just a few seconds left so there was nothing to lose so I tried to get him the puck and got lucky as it went through a lot of sticks before it got to him and he did the rest.”

The Sharks, meanwhile, won’t only be out to end Detroit’s historic run, they’ll be hoping to turn things around in the fifth game a daunting nine-game road trip.

Friday in Carolina, San Jose dropped its second straight in a 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes.

“I thought we lacked a lot of energy and jump and determination in the first two periods,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We didn’t win a lot of races to pucks. We didn’t establish body position around them. They were bigger and stronger than we were, quite frankly, and all of a sudden in the third period, we found it. … That desperation has to be there earlier.”

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”