T.J. Tynan, Steven Summerhays

NCAA Hockey on NBCSN: No. 4 Notre Dame hosts No. 1 Minnesota

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also catch the game online

We may be early in the college hockey season, but Friday night’s matchup between Notre Dame and Minnesota provides a possible NCAA tournament showdown.

Two top-five teams, loads of NHL-drafted talent (25 draftees in all), and two of the best coaches in the game will be on display. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.

Don Lucia’s Gophers head to South Bend hoping to stay unbeaten this season. With a 5-0-1 record, they’re one of two teams without a loss this season (St. Cloud State the other). After earning a tie and a win against Boston College two weeks ago, the Fighting Irish provide another early-season measuring stick for the Gophers.

Headlining Minnesota’s attack is junior forward Sam Warning. His five goals and 12 points both lead the team and he’s tied for eighth in the country in scoring. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t drafted. Their forward attack is deeper than just Warning.

Junior Kyle Rau (Florida) and freshmen Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles) and Justin Kloos have been steady in their production. The play of Fasching and Kloos have given the Gophers the kind of offense fitting of the No. 1 team in the country.

As for the Fighting Irish, they’re coming off two straight frustrating weekends in which they split with both Minnesota-Duluth and Vermont. While their record sits at 6-0-2, there’s no doubt coach Jeff Jackson wants more from his team. They’ll get the test they’re looking for out of the Gophers.

The Fighting Irish have a more balanced attack with seven players having five or more points early in the season. Freshman forward Vince Hinostrosza (Chicago) and senior forward T.J. Tynan (Columbus) lead the way with eight points each and sophomore forward Sam Herr leads the team in goals with five. On defense, Shane Tayker and Robbie Russo (New York Islanders) have five points each as well. We told you it was a balanced attack.

Goalies

Minnesota sophomore Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay) has carried the load all season to this point and has been stellar with a 1.64 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. Expect him to get the call once again for the Gophers.

For Notre Dame, senior Steven Summerhays is their workhorse and he’s been just as good as Wilcox. He’s 6-1-0 this season with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.

Despite how steady both teams’ offenses have been, you get the feeling Friday’s game could be a showcase in net.

NHL Draftees

Minnesota – Forwards: Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles), Kyle Rau (Florida), Taylor Cammarata (NY Islanders), Nate Condon (Colorado), Seth Ambroz (Columbus), Travis Boyd (Washington), Christian Isackson (Buffalo)

Defense: Mike Reilly (Columbus), Michael Brodzinski (San Jose), Ben Marshall (Detroit), Jake Bischoff (NY Islanders), Brady Skjei (NY Rangers), Justin Holl (Chicago)

Goalie: Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay)

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostrosza (Chicago), T.J. Tynan (Columbus), Austin Wuthrich (Washington), Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh), Jeff Costello (Ottawa), Mario Lucia (Minnesota), Steven Fogarty (NY Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (Washington).

Defense: Robbie Russo (NY Islanders), Stephen Johns (Chicago), Kevin Lind (Anaheim)

Please note: Saturday night’s game between these same teams will be streamed on NBC Live Extra on NBCSports.com at 7 p.m. ET.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.