Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), from Sweden, and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn (5), watch a goal by Alex Ovechkin, from Russia, go past goalie Steve Mason (35) in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-4 in a shootout. Ovechkin's goal sent the game into overtime and the Capitals won 5-4 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NHL on NBCSN: Third time’s the charm for Flyers vs Capitals?


NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Philadelphia Flyers have already fired their head coach this season and they attempted to shake things up with the acquisition of forward Steve Downie. That hasn’t ended the team’s struggles and after they blew a 4-1 lead to the Washington Capitals in the final nine minutes of regulation time, Flyers owner Ed Snider was forced to once again weigh his options.

“Whatever we can do to help the team get over the hump, we will do,” Snider said.

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Despite their mediocre to bad showing thus far, the Flyers remain tantalizingly close to a playoff spot in the anemic Metropolitan Division. That makes tonight’s rematch against Washington more than just a chance at revenge. It’s an opportunity to push themselves forward in their ongoing battle for a postseason berth.

The Capitals are sure to make things tough for them though. They aren’t 2-0 against the Flyers this season because they have their number, they’re just a genuinely good team.

Alex Ovechkin alone makes them a big threat on a nightly basis. He had five goals in three contests last week, bringing him up to an incredible 27 in 31 games. That’s more goals than any Flyers player has in points.

He’s not their only weapon though. Nicklas Backstrom is continuing his trend of averaging about a point-per-game, Mikhail Grabovski is on pace to comfortably surpass his previous career-high of 58 points, and 23-year-old Marcus Johansson has developed into a solid offensive threat.

They also rank second in the league with a 24.4% conversation rate on their power-play opportunities. That means Philadelphia should attempt to play a disciplined game, although that hasn’t been something they’ve been able to do for the most part this season.

With that in mind, the Flyers will need to lean on its goaltending, which has typically been strong in 2013-14 even if that hasn’t been the case in their previous meetings against Washington. However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Flyers would lose a high-scoring contest. They have a talent group of forwards despite their struggles this season and that’s shone through at various times.

Perhaps the Flyers will come out strong tonight and if they do, maybe they’ll be able to hold onto the lead. One thing is apparent though: If the Flyers don’t act soon; Snider will.

Preds place Salomaki on IR, recall Sissons

Jake Allen, Miikka Salomaki
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Nashville made a minor roster transaction on Thursday, putting forward Miikka Salomaki on IR while recalling fellow forward Colton Sissons from AHL Milwaukee.

Salomaki, 22, was a fairly regular lineup presence through the of November, appearing in eight games while averaging just under 12 minutes per night. Despite his relatively small frame (5-foot-11, 198 pounds), he racked up 28 hits over that time and emerged as a decent energy guy for the Preds.

As for Sissons, he’s about to get yet another crack with the parent club.

Having spent most of the last two seasons in Milwaukee, Sissons — the 50th overall pick in 2012 — has seen some action with the Preds this year. He has one goal in five games with Nashville, and eight points in 12 games with the Admirals.

Oilers say McDavid ‘ahead of schedule’ in broken clavicle recovery

Connor McDavid
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There hasn’t been much good news for the Oilers lately — Connor McDavid‘s hurt, Nail Yakupov‘s hurt, they’ve lost seven of their last nine — so what GM Peter Chiarelli had to say on Thursday qualified as very welcome news.

“He’s ahead of schedule,” Chiarelli said of Connor McDavid and his broken clavicle, per Sportsnet. “He’s been in the pool, been lifting weights… There are no soft tissue injuries, which is important.

“When you get a break like that, oftentimes there is accompanying soft tissue injuries. That slows down the recovery.”

McDavid, who suffered the injury on Nov. 3 against Philly, was originally supposed to be sidelined until early March. But per Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, there’s cautious optimism the star rookie could be back in the Edmonton lineup by “mid-to-late January.”

But even with that cautious optimism, there’s still a long way to go.

McDavid has yet to resume skating and is still at his parents’ home in Newmarket, Ontario. That said, he’s expected to join Edmonton soon — when the Oilers take on the Leafs in Toronto on Monday — and, according to Chiarelli, will want to get back onto the ice way sooner than expected.

“I can tell you that when it comes time,” he said, “[McDavid] is going to want to come back a lot earlier than what we forecast internally.”

There’s another Radulov NHL comeback rumor making the rounds

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It’s been roughly six months since the last one so yeah, time for an Alex Radulov update.

Radulov, who’s spent the last four seasons playing for KHL outfit CSKA Moscow, has reportedly rejected the club’s contract extension offer and is ready to become a free agent, per Russian sports writer Slava Malamud.

Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko also reported the Radulov news, tweeting the ex-Preds forward claimed “there’s nothing” regarding a new deal with CSKA, adding “I’m a free agent after this season.”

Radulov, 29, is having another terrific offensive campaign in Russia, with 37 points in 32 games. This comes one year after he tore up the KHL in ’14-15, with 24 goals and 71 points in just 46 contests — one of the best offensive campaigns in league history.

Rumors of Radulov returning to North America happen with the same frequency as Ilya Kovalchuk comeback rumblings, and always with the same outcome. But it’s hard to ignore them completely.


Well, back in late May, Radulov’s agent told Championat Colorado had been in contact about an NHL return once Radulov’s deal with CSKA expired. Colorado, of course, is coached by Patrick Roy — the same guy that had great success coaching Radulov in the QMJHL.

The two were, at one time, a dynamic force for the Quebec Remparts. During the 2005-06 campaign, Radulov scored a ridiculous 61 goals and 152 points in just 62 games, the nine more in four Memorial Cup contests, helping Roy capture his first and only championship as a head coach.

Radulov, of course, hasn’t played in the NHL since an ill-fated reunion with Nashville in 2012, which included him getting suspended for a playoff game after breaking curfew.

Malamud does note that, should Radulov try to return to the NHL, he’d do so as a unrestricted free agent — meaning he’s no longer Nashville property.

Just a friendly reminder about Friday’s Bruins-Rangers Thanksgiving Showdown, on NBC

Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

If you don’t spend tomorrow eye-gouging someone to save 50 bucks on an iRobot, why not spend it watching hockey?

In case you didn’t know, tomorrow’s a pretty big day. Not only is there an Original Six matchup between the Bruins and Rangers — essentially kicking off the NHL on NBC national broadcast campaign — but there’s also an additional evening game, and a good one at that:

Anaheim hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Final.

But before the Ducks and ‘Hawks do battle, the B’s and Rangers will get it on.

This marks the second time in the last three years Boston and New York meet in the Thanksgiving Showdown. Back in ’13-14, the Bruins beat the Blueshirts 3-2, and this Farrelly Brothers commercial went to air:

Tomorrow’s game promises to be a quality affair. The Bruins come in riding a four-game winning streak, which included Wednesday’s 3-2 OT win over Detroit. In that game, Jonas Gustavsson exacted a measure of revenge against his old Red Wings mates, stopping 32 of 34 shots for the win.

The Rangers, meanwhile, come into Friday’s action looking for some redemption.

Alain Vigneault’s club was waxed in Wednesday’s big test against top-seeded Montreal, dropping a 5-1 decision, at home, in front of the MSG faithful. The Rangers allowed five regulation goals for the first time this season, and saw All-Star netminder Henrik Lundqvist get yanked as a result.


New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN

For online viewing information via NBC Sports’ Live Extra, click here.