Get your game notes: Flyers at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Philadelphia Flyers starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— The Flyers have lost seven straight games at Madison Square Garden, getting outscored by a combined 28-8. All of those meetings were decided in regulation, and all but one was decided by two goals or more. There are only four current Flyers players left from the team that last won at MSG, on Feb. 20, 2011: forwards Claude Giroux & Scott Hartnell and d-men Kimmo Timonen & Braydon Coburn.

— The Rangers have won four straight games, outscoring opponents 17-8 during that span, while the Flyers five-game win streak was just snapped in a 3-2 loss to the Kings on Monday. Philadelphia is scoring 3.50 goals/game in its last six and allowing 1.83 goals/game.

— Claude Giroux has recorded 54 points (19G-35A) in his last 41 games dating back to December 11; he is 5th in the NHL with 74 points this season. Giroux, however, has not scored a goal at MSG since that February 20th game in 2011 – 0G-2A during the Flyers’ seven-game skid in New York – and has nine points (all assists) in his last nine overall games vs. the Rangers.

  • Giroux has five goals and 12 assists in 11 games in the month of March.
  • The Flyers are 18-2-1 when Giroux scores a goal, 31-12-3 when he registers at least one point.

— Martin St. Louis has three points (all assists) in his 11 games as a Ranger. His 29 goals, 64 points on the season are more than any other Ranger has on the year. St. Louis last found the back of the net on March 1 at Dallas (playing for Tampa Bay) when he scored twice. His current 11-game goal drought is his longest since going goalless in 13 straight from Dec. 23, 2011-Jan. 20, 2012. St. Louis, 15G-43A in 44 GP vs. PHI, is averaging 1.32 pts./game in his career against the Flyers, his second-highest average against any team (1.45 pts./game vs. Vancouver).

— The Flyers are the most penalized team in the league (1,069 PIM) and have the most PK time in the NHL (484:39). They rank 6th in the league in PK at 84.8%, 10th in PP at 19.6% (1,006 PIM against – most in NHL). Philly has gone 24/25 on the penalty kill and 5/23 on the power play in its last six games.

  • New York is 29/31 on the penalty kill in their last 11 games and 3/33 on the power play.

— Ryan McDonagh has 2G-4A during his four-game point streak. The fourth-year Ranger defenseman has 13 goals (t-6th in NHL among D-men) and 29 assists (both career highs) this season. He has tallied 12 points (5G-7A) in his last 12 games; his 42 points are 4th on the team.

— New York has played better on the road this season (23-13-0) than on home ice (17-16-4) & are one of three teams (DET, LA) currently in playoff spots with a higher pt. % on the road than at home. The Rangers have the fewest points at home this season (34) out of the 16 teams currently in a playoff spot.

— Philadelphia has four players with 20 or more goals this season – Giroux (24), Simmonds (24), Jakub Voracek (20), Matt Read (20). New York has only two, and in practical terms, only one: Rick Nash (23) and St. Louis, but all 29 of his goals came with Tampa Bay.

Bergeron bombastic in return, but Bruins lose Krejci to injury

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The roller coaster isn’t slowing down for the Boston Bruins.

With Tuukka Rask‘s concussion looming over the proceedings, the Bruins gave fans some reason to celebrate; Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and three assists in an impressive 6-3 output by the B’s top guns against the overmatched Vancouver Canucks.

Even Anders Bjork enjoyed some measure of redemption after bowling over Rask in practice, as the young player scored two goals and an assist despite being limited to 12:29 TOI.

Other big guns like Brad Marchand did their increasingly reliable damage, with David Pastrnak probably providing the most exhilarating goal of the contest:

Yeah, that might get some attention from Canucks coach Travis Green in film sessions, assuming he doesn’t just burn the tape.

Bergeron broke down his night to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the game:

The Bruins really made Erik Gudbranson and the Canucks pay for boarding Frank Vatrano, as they scored three power-play goals on the major penalty. Vatrano’s another health situation to watch, although it’s heartening that he returned during the game.

(That doesn’t mean he won’t have a setback … but all things considered, the Bruins will take it.)

So … solid stuff overall, as the Bruins provided ample evidence that they might have the weapons to scrap through all this bad luck.

Then again, if opponents can slow the top-end guys, you wonder what kind of supporting cast the Bruins will have left through this run of attrition. David Krejci is the latest name to land on Boston’s troubling list of walking wounded.

Here’s hoping that it isn’t a big issue for a veteran center who’s dealt with nagging injuries in recent years.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Kucherov’s goal run ends, but he helped Sergachev make history, Bolts win

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Gosh, that Nikita Kucherov is such a slacker.

The underrated, rising star saw his historic, season-opening seven-game goal streak end with eight in seven games. This leaves him just one game short of tying Wayne Gretzky.

It’s fitting, though, that Kucherov made a little history even as his historic run ended. He earned two primary assists on the first two goals of Mikhail Sergachev‘s NHL career, factoring into the Tampa Bay Lightning’s surprisingly low-scoring 2-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

(C’mon, you pictured some fireworks there too, didn’t you?)

Here’s the first-ever goal for Sergachev, who matched trade mate Jonathan Drouin‘s two goals with tonight’s outburst.

And here’s the second:

Yeah, you can’t give Sergachev that kind of space and time; then again, maybe the Blue Jackets were a little preoccupied with stopping Kucherov and his red-hot partner-in-crime, Steven Stamkos?

The real star of tonight’s game/reason why it was so low-scoring was probably Andrei Vasilevskiy. Another key Russian for the Lightning, Vasilevskiy stopped all 43 shots for an impressive shutout. This marks his first of the season and only the fifth of what’s been a promising young career.

After falling just short against the New Jersey Devils via a shootout, the Bolts improve to 6-1-1 while winning another early temperature check against Columbus, who are still off to a strong start at 5-2-0.

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McDavid dazzles again, Oilers break slump with OT win vs. Blackhawks

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Update: The Edmonton Oilers ended up needing every bit of Connor McDavid‘s brilliance, as goals weren’t coming easily against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

(Even though, as you can see with that highlight-reel assist, McDavid often makes it look easy.)

McDavid also managed a secondary assist on Mark Letestu‘s overtime-winner, ending the Edmonton Oilers’ losing streak at four games. The Blackhawks continue to be resourceful in getting standings points, in this case falling 2-1 in OT.

Anton Forsberg made 40 of 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough against a driven group led by number 97.

Here’s the OT goal.

If you haven’t seen the more amazing of McDavid’s two helpers, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.

***

Connor McDavid’s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.

To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.

You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.

If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Schneider injury puts damper on Devils win, Hischier’s big night

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Update: Nico Hishier was one of the biggest stories as the game went along, but a lot happened in an eventual 5-4 OT win for the Devils.

Tonight served as an “I’m back” moment for Erik Karlsson, who served up three assists as the Senators turned a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 edge after a dominant second period. Ottawa wasn’t able to sit on that lead, however, as the Devils rallied to send the game to overtime.

Hischier didn’t get his hat trick, but he did manage a third point, assisting on John Moore‘s overtime-winner.

Karlsson and the Senators fell short of spoiling this big night for Hischier, yet the Devils have something to worry about, as Cory Schneider suffered an injury that ended his evening early.

***

One remarkable thing about the New Jersey Devils’ hot start is that Nico Hischier, the top pick of this past draft, had yet to score his first NHL goal.

Of course, there’s a danger to looking at only goals. After all, the 18-year-old had four assists in six games, with three coming in his last two contests. The Devils were justified in all of those comments about it being just a matter of time …

… As it turns out, it didn’t take Hischier much time against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Not only did the Swiss scorer find the net for his first goal by roofing a nice setup from Taylor Hall and Drew Stafford.

He also showed some savvy in scoring his second goal less than two minutes later.

Hischier now has two periods and change to collect his first-ever hat trick in that same game.

A quick look at how he’s been doing, overall

Even when other Devils stole some of his thunder in what might have been an opening statement of a first win for New Jersey, Hischier showed some dynamic moves.

Nice.

As NJ.com’s Chris Ryan reported, Devils coach John Hynes was left raving about Hischier after he collected two assists in the Devils’ shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week.

“He was very good in all aspects,” John Hynes said on Wednesday. “Defensively he was excellent, going back to the video this morning, some of the chances he had that he didn’t score on were excellent. When you look at the chances he created, the assists he had, the assist on the game-tying goal, he set up (Taylor Hall) very well in the offensive zone. I’d say that was his most complete game to date.”

Hischier began the season being used sparingly, but he logged more legitimate top-six minutes the past couple games. He sure seems like a quick study so far. Hischier’s getting some protected zone starts and other situations, but there’s also sense that Hynes is going to take off the training wheels very quickly.

Thursday seems like the reward, or the flashing light, for all that good early work. This post will be updated as we wait to see if Hischier can manage that hat trick.

***

Look, it’s very, very early.

All we can judge Hischier and the Devils on, right now, is how they’ve played so far … and with each game, this team looks more and more legit. And so does their prized prospect.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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