St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals

Get your game notes: Pens at Caps

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— The Capitals are seeking their seventh consecutive home win for the first time since Dec. 20, 2011-Jan. 15, 2012. Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, they have the most home wins (133) in the NHL.

— The Penguins have been held to one goal in each of their last three road games. The last time they were held to fewer than two goals in four straight road games was in Sidney Crosby’s rookie season (Nov. 27-Dec. 13, 2005).

— Tonight’s game is the first meeting between the Penguins and Capitals as divisional rivals since they competed in the Patrick Division in 1992-93. On March 28, 1993, Pittsburgh won the most recent intra-divisional clash, 4-1, at the old Cap Centre, behind a goal and two assists from Mario Lemieux.

— Through 21 games, Pittsburgh is averaging 2.76 goals per game (T-11th, Boston and Calgary). Since 1987-88 (25 seasons), the Pens have led the NHL in scoring five times (including 2011-12, 3.33 goals/game; 2012-13, 3.38 goals/game) and have only finished outside the top-five on eight occasions.

— The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin bring the best out in one another. In 18 regular-season games between Washington and Pittsburgh in which the talented trio all played, they combined for 27 goals, 76 points and 252 shots on goal. (Elias Sports Bureau)

— Crosby needs two goals to become only the sixth player to score 250 career goals as a member of the Penguins. (Mario Lemieux – 690; Jaromir Jagr – 439; Jean Pronovost – 316; Rick Kehoe – 312; Kevin Stevens – 260).

— The Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom, who is second in the NHL in assists (19, one behind the Sharks’ Joe Thornton) has the most three-assist games since he entered the league in 2007-08, with 24. Sidney Crosby (22) and Evgeni Malkin (21) rank third and fourth in the NHL during that span. (H. Sedin, 23).

— On Monday, the Penguins’ 25-year-old rookie, Brian Gibbons, became the second player this season to open the scoring of a game with his first NHL goal in his debut. The Oilers’ 24-year-old rookie, Luke Gazdic, also did so in his team’s season opener, on Oct. 1. (Elias Sports Bureau)

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).