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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.

Under Bednar, Avs won’t ‘slow the game down’ like they did with Roy

Nathan MacKinnon
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Though it’s hard to pinpoint just one standout from the high-flying North American team at the World Cup, speedy Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon was certainly in the conversation.

Now, MacKinnon wants that tournament success to translate over to the regular season — and he’s confident Colorado’s coaching change will make it happen.

From the Denver Post:

Is [Jared] Bednar’s system different from what the Avalanche did under Patrick Roy?

“Yeah, it is,” MacKinnon said. “Now every puck we get, we want to move it up quickly and use our speed and not wait and go D-to-D, back to D and slow the game down.

“We have very good skaters on our team, and we want to use that.”

One of the blueliners responsible for moving the puck quickly, Tyson Barrie, echoed those sentiments.

“There’s going to be no messing around with the puck, no playing around with it in our end, in the neutral zone,” Barrie said of Bednar’s system, per NHL.com. “We’re going to be pushing the pace, getting it into the forwards’ hands. We’re going to play fast and our defensemen are going to be jumping.

“I’m super impressed.”

Not utilizing Colorado’s speed was considered one of Roy’s major failings as head coach. With the likes of MacKinnon and Matt Duchene in the mix, it seemed like playing an uptempo game was the obvious choice — yet, as stated above, the Colorado blueliners were instructed to play more east-west than north-south.

That figures to change under Bednar.

In his previous stop, Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, Bednar led a high-octane group that had no problem finding the back of the net. The Monsters led the American League in playoff scoring en route to the Calder Cup, and did it with a talented, versatile blueline that delivered pucks to the forwards.

(Bednar also had a glut of good, young talent at his disposal. Zach Werenski, the eight overall pick in 2015, anchored the blueline will the likes of Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sonny Milano were up front.)

Needless to say, Colorado should be a fascinating team to watch this year.

Related: Keep an eye on the goaltending situation in Colorado

Pouliot’s goal is to become ‘full-time player’ for Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 27: Derrick Pouliout #51 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center on December 27, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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The eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, it’s fair to say that Derrick Pouliot has yet to reach his full potential. He’s only played 56 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, stretched over two seasons. And compared to the rest of his draft class, that’s not very many NHL games.

Granted, it’s also fair to say that Pouliot’s still only 22, and defenseman are known to take longer to develop. This year, he says he’s come to camp in better shape, with the goal of staying with the Pens all season.

“That’s the goal. I know things can change pretty quick, but I’m confident with the shape I’m in and in my ability to play,” he said, per the Times Leader. “Hopefully I can make myself a full-time player here.”

Pouliot is still waivers-exempt, so he’ll need to earn his spot. The Penguins re-signed Justin Schultz for another year, and that could be his competition.

“We have high expectations for Derrick,” said head coach Mike Sullivan, per the Post-Gazette. “We’ve kept close tabs on him all summer long, and we knew he was coming into camp in the type of shape that he’s in. … He’s a very talented kid, and when he put those two things together, we think he’s going to improve another level.”

Report: Flames talking contract extension with Elliott

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues tends net against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2015 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Blues 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Calgary Flames are talking contract extension with their new goalie, Brian Elliott, according to St. Louis-based reporter Andy Strickland.

Elliott, 31, was acquired from the Blues at the draft in Buffalo. He has one year left on his current deal, at a cap hit of $2.5 million, before he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

No parameters of a potential deal were reported by Strickland, just that the two sides were talking. Elliott went 23-8-6 last season in St. Louis, with a .930 save percentage.

Flames GM Brad Treliving hinted at the draft that an extension could be in the cards.

“There’s no need to rush,” Treliving said, “but maybe there is a need to look at something.”

On July 1, the Flames signed Chad Johnson for one year to be the back-up. So currently, neither of Calgary’s two NHL goalies are signed past 2016-17.

Related: Elliott wants to be ‘backbone’ of Flames

KHL announces Sobotka will play with Avangard this season

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: Vladimir Sobotka #17 of the St. Louis Blues warms up before playing the Washington Capitals in an NHL game at the Verizon Center on November 17, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Big development on the Vladimir Sobotka-back-to-St. Louis front — on Tuesday, the KHL announced that Sobotka would play with Avangard Omsk next season, shooting down reports of his return to the Blues as “just rumors.”

Per Czech news outlet Ceska Televize, both Omsk’s team president and Sobotka’s agent confirmed the news.

This development comes after Sobotka’s stint with the Czech Republic at the World Cup. During the tournament, he addressed problems he was having with opting out of the last of his three-year deal with Omsk.

“We’re still talking and we’ll see what’s going to happen during the World Cup,” said Sobotka, per ESPN.com. “After that, I think we’re going to be smarter. It’s been going on for five months and I’ve had enough of it. It’s my agent’s job to to keep talking and we’ll see.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed via the Associated Press that Sobotka was having “issues” returning to the Blues.

A good, versatile checking forward, Sobotka fled St. Louis after an arbitration hearing following the ’13-14 campaign. He scored a career-high 33 points in 61 games that season.

The Blues have been keen to get him back in the fold.

Ken Hitchcock, heading into his final season as head coach, has talked about the “great chemistry” between Sobotka and winger Jaden Schwartz, and there’s no doubt Hitchcock would’ve like to use that chemistry in what will be his final chance at a Stanley Cup.