Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Red Wings look to Howard to stand tall vs Kings

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Tonight the Detroit Red Wings will host the Los Angeles Kings at 7:30 p.m. ET at Joe Louis Arena. This Rivalry Night game will be on NBCSN and can be watched online.

The Red Wings took a step towards extending their historic 21-season postseason appearance streak with Monday’s 4-0 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes, but their work is far from done.

Detroit is still a point behind the eighth place Columbus Blue Jackets, but the silver lining for Detroit is that they still have three games left to play to the Blue Jackets’ two. Detroit’s also leading in ROW (wins excluding shootout victories), which will be the difference if the teams finish the season with the same number of points.

This game has meaning for the Los Angeles Kings too. After losing yesterday, the Kings now have the same number of points as the San Jose Sharks as they battle for fourth place in the Western Conference.

Although the Kings were able to win regardless of where they played during the 2012 playoffs, they have a 18-4-1 home record this season and are below .500 on the road. With that in mind, the defending Stanley Cup champions would probably benefit from securing home ice advantage for the first round if they can get it.

So far these two teams have split their season series, but the Kings’ task might be a little bit harder this time around because Detroit could get back 38-year-old forward Todd Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi, who has been dealing with back and leg problems, is “close” to returning, according to Red Wings GM Ken Holland via the Detroit Free Press. A final determination will be made after the morning skate.

Even if Bertuzzi is back though, it will be goaltender Jimmy Howard that will make or break the Red Wings.

“He has to,” Babcock told the Detroit News when asked if Howard can carry the team. “It’s not about ‘can.’ He has to.”

On the Kings’ side, Jeff Carter has been phenomenal this season with 26 goals in 46 games. He has found the back of the net in each of his last two contests and his goals have come in bunches this season, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him beat Howard tonight.

Kings forward Anze Kopitar is another one to keep an eye on. He hasn’t scored in roughly a month, but has still been productive with nine assists in 11 April games.

Probable goaltenders: DET – (18-13-7, 2.22 GAA, .921 SV%) | LAK – Jonathan Quick (17-12-4, 2.44 GAA, .901 SV%)

Top scorers: DET – Pavel Datsyuk (13-28-41, 44 GP) and Henrik Zetterberg (9-32-41, 43 GP) | LAK – Kopitar (10-31-41, 45 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Detroit – Forwards: Drew Miller (hand), Mikael Samuelsson (upper body), Bertuzzi (leg – questionable), Darren Helm (back)
Los Angeles – Defensemen: Willie Mitchell (knee)

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.