NHL on NBC: Red Wings shoot to spoil Blackhawks’ streak

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If realignment becomes a reality, the Detroit Red Wings won’t be able to spoil the Chicago Blackhawks’ fun much longer.

This time around, the Red Wings hope to end two Blackhawks’ streaks for games with at least a point: 21 (to begin the 2013 campaign) and 27 (extending back to the 2011-12 regular season).

While Chicago needs to extend its point streak by eight games to tie the all-time mark of 35 by the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit could keep them from tying the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens’ second place streak of 28 games by beating the ‘Hawks in regulation on Sunday.

The veteran-heavy squad has had a knack for spoiling their younger division rival’s fun in recent years, too. Detroit knocked Chicago out of the 2009 Western Conference finals in five games and thwarted the Blackhawks attempt to clinch a playoff spot on the last day of the 2010-11 season.*

Red Wings can relate

Instead of providing bulletin board material, the Red Wings have been complimentary of the Blackhawks.

Head coach Mike Babcock described Chicago’s defense as the best in the league “by far” to NHL.com’s Brian Hedger. Meanwhile, Henrik Zetterberg told the Detroit Free Press that Chicago’s streak reminds him of the Red Wings setting an NHL record with 23-straight home wins last season.

” … I think it’s a little different, but at the same time, when we broke the record we know how we felt,” Zetterberg said. “They are breaking records every night now. Hopefully it will end tomorrow and if it does they had a good run.”

Hossa hits 1,000

Sunday’s game will mark an individual milestone as well. Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa will play in his 1,000th regular season contest. The 34-year-old told CSNChicago.com that he isn’t nearing the end of the road, either.

“When I was younger, when someone got to their 1,000th game, I thought about what a great accomplishment it was. I also thought, ‘Those guys are going to retire pretty soon.’ Now I’m coming to that point,” Hossa said. “But so far I feel pretty good. So hopefully I can play many more years.”

Patrick Kane, for one, wouldn’t mind if that’s true.

“Even today, there are times, probably once or twice a game, I’m shaking my head at what he does,” Kane said. “He’s a very exciting player and he’s still at the top of his game.”

You can watch Hossa, Kane and the red-hot Blackhawks visit the Red Wings in Detroit on Sunday by tuning into NBC starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.

* – Only to see the Blackhawks make the playoffs because the Dallas Stars lost to the Minnesota Wild later that evening, anyway.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

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William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.