NHL on NBCSN: Flyers look to turn things around against Sabres

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Things have gotten exciting for the Philadelphia Flyers in all the wrong ways.

The Flyers are winless in six of the past seven games and now find their hold on third place in the Metropolitan Division getting slippery. The Columbus Blue Jackets are two points behind them and the New Jersey Devils are three back.

In those six losses, the Flyers have given up 17 goals and scored eight. Seeing the offense dry up at a time of the season when they need to get everything together for the playoffs is disconcerting. Getting shutout in back-to-back games against the Blues and Blue Jackets has helped add to the uneasiness in Philly and for good reason.

If there’s one Flyers player to keep an eye on it’s Vincent Lecavalier. In 51 career games against the Sabres, he has 40 points including 21 goals. While he’d recently been relegated to fourth line duty, he has three goals in the past five games, albeit goalless in the last three.

 

If the Flyers want to avoid facing the Boston Bruins in the first round, they have to get back on the winning track. The schedule might appear to be smiling upon the Flyers as the worst team in the NHL comes to town in the Buffalo Sabres, but appearances can be deceiving.

The Sabres are 1-5-1 in the past seven, but in the last two games they’ve given the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings a handful despite losing. With a pair of one-goal games, what the Sabres lack in talent they make up for in tenacity. Tyler Ennis is the guy to watch for them as he has two goals and an assist in the past three games.

If the Flyers want to get their offense sparked, they’ll do it against either Matt Hackett or Nathan Lieuwen in goal.

The tandem spent most of the season in the AHL, but with injuries to Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth, they’ve had to hold down the fort. If there’s anything that’s been a trademark of coach Ted Nolan’s team it’s that if they’re given opportunities to steal points, they’ll do it.

Look for the Sabres to face Steve Mason in goal for the Flyers. Ray Emery took a 4-2 loss against the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

Penguins’ Guentzel makes ‘kick save’ to stop Capitals

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It doesn’t get much better than a player making the type of save you’d only expect from a goalie. OK, how about this: when it happens amid the high stakes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had already been distinguishing himself with a red-hot scoring start to the postseason, but he made a big difference in a way that won’t show up in the box score (aside from maybe as a blocked shot) for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

In one of the few golden opportunities in a notably tight first period, Guentzel made a “kick save” to keep it 0-0. He also managed to avoid giving the Capitals a penalty shot in the process, so this was quite the effort from the impressive rookie.

Video will be added soon. Here’s the moment in GIF form first:

Lundqvist snubs Sens with 21 saves in first (Video)

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You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.

The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.

As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.

In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.

That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.

Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.

Kunitz is in for Penguins vs. Capitals in Game 1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.

So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.

He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:

Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano vie for Messier Leadership Award

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The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).

In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):

Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone. 

So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.

Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.

Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?