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Get your game notes: Kings at Avalanche

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This evening on NBCSN, it’s the Colorado Avalanche hosting the L.A. Kings starting at 10 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— Los Angeles, 3rd in the Pacific Division, visits Colorado, 3rd in the Central Division, in the third and final meeting this season. The teams split the first two matchups, both in L.A., with the Avalanche winning 1-0 in OT on Nov. 23 & the Kings winning 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 21.

— Overall, the Kings have lost nine of their last 11 games (2-8-1), but did win their last game before the break, 2-1 OT vs. CBJ on Feb. 6. The Avalanche have won 10 of their past 14 including also winning their final game prior to the Olympics, 5-2 at NYI on Feb 8.

— Colorado, 19-7-3 at home this season, has won their last two home games & earned a point in eight of their last 10 at home (7-2-1). They played their last four games before the Olympics on the road however and last played at the Pepsi Center on Feb. 1, 7-1 win over BUF. Conversely, L.A. played their last four games before the break at home and last was on the road for a 3-0 loss at PHX on Jan. 28. The Kings are 2-9-1 in their last 12 road games.

— Six Kings return from competing in Sochi: Dustin Brown (USA), Drew Doughty (CAN), Jonathan Quick (USA), Jeff Carter (CAN), Slava Voynov (RUS) & Anze Kopitar (SLO) while four Avalanche players participated in the Olympics as well: Paul Stastny (USA), Semyon Varlamov (RUS), Matt Duchene (CAN) & Gabriel Landeskog (SWE).

  • Brown, Quick (L.A.) & Stastny (COL) left Sochi without a medal while Doughty, Carter (L.A.) & Duchene (COL) each won the top prize, Doughty’s second gold.
  • Voynov (L.A.) & Varlamov (COL), playing for the host country, also return without a medal while Kopitar has no hardware to show for his efforts as well although his country did win their first-ever Olympic hockey game participating in their first-ever Olympic hockey tournament.
  • Landeskog won silver with team Sweden.

— 63 NHLers – representing 25 of the league’s 30 clubs – won a medal.

— Since Jan. 1, Colorado boasts the second highest points percentage in the league at .711 (13-5-1, 27 points). PIT is the only team with a better stretch at .750 (11-3-2, 24 points). The Avalanche currently have their third best record after 58 games in franchise history (79 points) – in 1996-97 they had 80 points through 58 games and 82 points in the 2000-01 season after the same amount of games.

— Jonathan Quick, who backstopped team USA in Sochi, is expected to be back in net for the Kings tonight. In Russia, he stopped 132 of 143 shots (.923 SV%) and had a 2.17 GAA. Quick’s record was 2-2 overall although he was in net for team USA’s win over RUS as well despite it not officially counting in his W/L record due to the game going to a shootout. Quick is 9-4-1 lifetime against Colorado.

— Gabriel Landeskog (4G-8A in last 9 games) & Nathan MacKinnon (5G-6A in last 8 games) have the second and third longest active point streaks in the NHL short of PHX’s Antoine Vermette (8G-5A in 10 games). Both are tied in third for the most points in the league since Jan. 1 (20 points).

— Drew Doughty led team CAN with 6 points (4G-2A) in 6 games at the Olympics; he was selected to the tournament All-Star Team by the media.

— Los Angeles ranks 29th in the league in goals per game (2.25), outpacing only Buffalo (1.84).

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.