Brandon Sutter

Get your game notes: Blue Jackets at Penguins

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— Despite being the closest mutual rivals for both Columbus and Pittsburgh, in terms of geography (the two cities are separated by only 189 miles), the Blue Jackets and Penguins are playing in the same NHL division (Metropolitan) for the first time in 2013-14. The Pens won the first two divisional games of this season’s five-game set, sweeping a home-and-home on Nov. 1 and 2.

— Since the Consol Energy Center opened before the 2010-11 season, the Penguins have won 84 regular-season home games, most in the NHL. During that span, the Blue Jackets have won only 44 road games, T-3rd fewest in the league (Edmonton, Florida – 42).

— The Blue Jackets have yet to allow a goal in December, having posted shutouts in their two games this month (1-0 vs. Tampa Bay, 4-0 vs. Minnesota). These were their first back-to-back shutouts since Nov. 20-22, 2010. Only once have the Jackets pitched three clean sheets in a row (Dec. 27-31, 2008), when they set a franchise-record shutout streak of 199:19. Their current streak is 137:45.

— The Penguins have seven players on their active roster with 100+ career NHL goals, the second-most in the NHL, after Detroit (Sidney Crosby – 253, Evgeni Malkin – 224, Chris Kunitz – 189, Pascal Dupuis – 179, James Neal – 144, Jussi Jokinen – 137, Chuck Kobasew – 110). On the flipside, the Blue Jackets are one of two teams (Colorado) with only one (R.J. Umberger – 158). (Elias Sports Bureau)

— The Blue Jackets are a perfect 35-0-0 (an NHL-best 1.000) when leading after two periods since Todd Richards took over as head coach on Jan. 9, 2012. The Penguins, which lost 3-2 in regulation at Boston after holding a 2-1 lead after two periods, have the fifth-best record during that span (52-3-1, .938).

— Penguins winger Chris Kunitz enters tonight’s game with a seven-game point streak (six goals, four assists), tying his career high. Only Evgeni Malkin (nine games, active) and Sidney Crosby (eight) have longer point streaks this season among the Pens.

— Crosby ranks second in the NHL in faceoffs won, with 390 (Antoine Vermette, Phoenix, 393).

— The Blue Jackets’ top line of LW Nick Foligno – C Ryan Johansen – RW R.J. Umberger has combined for nine goals, 19 points and 41 shots on goal in their past six games.

— The Blue Jackets have lost five of their last six meetings (1-4-1) against the Penguins. The only win in those games came in Pittsburgh on Feb. 8, 2011. Only five players from that night’s roster remain with Columbus: Jared Boll (injured), Matt Calvert, Derek MacKenzie, Fedor Tyutin and R.J. Umberger.

High-flying Bruins (sounds weird to say) beat Rangers for fifth straight win

Dylan McIlrath, Matt Beleskey
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Somebody tell the Boston Bruins there’s a goal-scoring crisis in the NHL.

This afternoon, for the 14th time this season, a Bruins game featured at least six goals. The final score was 4-3, as Boston came back to beat the Rangers in a wildly entertaining Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC.


David Krejci scored the winner with 1:43 remaining. Krejci’s goal came just 2:03 after teammate Ryan Spooner had tied it on the power play.

Today’s win was the Bruins’ fifth straight. Though the defensive mistakes remain…

…Claude Julien’s troops have been finding ways to overcome them.

Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

— The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

— It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

— Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

Zach Parise
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For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

“I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

“It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.