Get your game notes: Islanders at Capitals

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This evening on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the New York Islanders starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Islanders visit Washington tonight having allowed 21 goals in dropping their last 5 games (0-4-1). New York’s 3.28 goals-against average is 2nd-worst in the league, better only than Edmonton’s 3.34 GAA. The Capitals, meanwhile, has scored 21 goals in their last five games, a 3-1-1 stretch that followed a season-worst seven-game skid.

• The Islanders are 5-14-3 vs. the Metropolitan Division, the worst record of any NHL team within its own division. With 50 points, the Islanders sit in last place in the Metro, 12 points out of a playoff spot and trying to avoid a 6th last-place finish in 7 seasons.

• Washington’s Joel Ward has 4 goals and an assist in his last 3 games to raise his season total to 17, matching his career high from 2009-10 as a Predator. Ward hasn’t scored against the Islanders since Nov. 5, 2011 (0- 2=2 in 8 games since).

• Alex Ovechkin’s game-winning goal vs. Detroit on Sunday was his league-leading 39th of the season and the 15th overtime winner of his career, tied for the third-most all-time (Mats Sundin, Sergei Fedorov). Only New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr (18) and Patrik Elias (16) have more.

• The Capitals’ power play (23.2%, 3rd in NHL) awoke with 4 goals in 8 chances over the weekend home-and home with Detroit, following a 3-for-42 stretch spanning 11 games. It will look to keep rolling tonight against the Isles’ league-worst penalty kill (76.8%) – although the Isles are near the top of the league with 5 shorthanded goals while the Caps’ PP has been burned for 7.

• Washington has split its goals evenly over home and away games (79 home goals, 77 away goals, 28 games each). But Ovechkin hasn’t: 24 of his 39 tallies have come on home ice.

• New York’s Evgeni Nabokov is 12-2-3 in his career vs. the Caps, but was roughed up in his last outing against them, allowing a season-high 6 goals in a 6-2 loss Nov. 5 at Verizon Center. Nabokov is 0-2-0 with a 2.32 GAA since missing 10 games with a leg injury and will be seeking his first win since Jan. 2.

• Braden Holtby (WSH) counters with a 4-1-0 record and 1.77 GAA vs. the Islanders, though Holtby has been burned for 9 goals in his last two starts. Since Dec. 10, Holtby is 2-4-1, 3.77 GAA, .863 save%.

• Kyle Okposo, the Isles’ leader in goals (24 – matching career high), has points in 7 of his last 8 games. The St. Paul, Minn., product has 18 multi-point games this season, tied with Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel (both U.S. Olympians) for 2nd-most in the league (Sidney Crosby, 22). Since Dec. 17, no NHL player has scored more points than Okposo, and his usual linemates – with whom he’s been split at times recently – aren’t far behind.

Kyle Okposo, NYI 29
Phil Kessel, TOR 29
Sidney Crosby, PIT 28
John Tavares, NYI 27
Claude Giroux, PHI 27
Taylor Hall, EDM 26
Thomas Vanek, NYI 25
Wayne Simmonds, PHI 25

Tavares, however, is in the thick of his longest goal drought since 2011-12, with no goals in his last 6 games. Both Tavares and Vanek have gone without a point in their last 3 contests, though Tavares has a 6-game goal streak vs. the Caps.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.