Mario Lucia

NCAA on NBCSN: No. 15 Fighting Irish host Alabama-Huntsville

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-8-1) host the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (1-21-0) at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra

There’s quite the juxtaposition of circumstances on display in South Bend this weekend. Notre Dame heads into their two-game set with Alabama-Huntsville ranked 15th in the USCHO.com poll and sit eighth in Hockey East. The ranking is nice, but coach Jeff Jackson would certainly like his team to turn things up in the second half.

The Irish are coming off a thrilling loss to Boston College at Frozen Fenway in Boston last week. Having to contain both Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau for a single game is asking a lot and it was Gaudreau who scored the game-winner midway through the third period.

Notre Dame has other issues, however. They have just two wins in their last seven games and one of those was a 5-2 victory against UAH in the Shillelagh Tournament. Losing to BC and UMass-Lowell is one thing, but splitting a weekend set with UMass before winter break doesn’t look so good. Goalie Steven Summerhays has held strong but they’ll need more from T.J. Tynan and Mario Lucia (pictured) if they’re going to storm into the Hockey East playoffs.

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

The Chargers, however, have had a rough go of it in their first season in the WCHA. They have the worst record in college hockey and their lone win came on the road at Bowling Green in overtime. UAH’s top scorer is freshman Matt Salhany with seven points. Their top goal man is sophomore forward Chad Brears with four.

As a team they’ve scored just 22 goals this season. Yes, they’re averaging exactly one goal per game. Ouch.

While goals have been hard to come by, goaltending has been a struggle as well as they split time between a pair of freshmen, Carmine Guerriero and Matt Larose. For first-year coach Mike Corbett, accommodating to life in Alabama has been a struggle. It sure beats having the program being on the brink of being eliminated though.

NHL Draftees

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostroza (FR – Blackhawks), T.J. Tynan (SR – Blue Jackets), Austin Wuthrich (JR – Capitals), Bryan Rust (SR – Penguins), Jeff Costello (SR – Senators), Mario Lucia (SO – Wild), Steven Fogarty (SO – Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (SO – Capitals).

Defense: Robbie Russo (JR -Islanders), Stephen Johns (SR – Blackhawks), Kevin Lind (SR – Ducks)

Alabama-Huntsville — None

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”