Jamie Benn

Get your game notes: Stars at Ducks

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Anaheim Ducks hosting the Dallas Stars starting at 10:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Jamie Benn scored the Stars’ first goal in Game 4 to extend his point streak to nine games dating back to the regular season. The Dallas captain is the first player in franchise history to register at least one point in each of his first four postseason games since Steve Payne and Bobby Smith posted points in five consecutive games for the Minnesota North Stars in 1980. Elias Sports Bureau

• Tyler Seguin, the Stars’ leading scorer in the regular season (37-47=84 points, 4th in the NHL), scored his lone goal of the series in Dallas’ Game 1 loss. With his next goal, the 22-year-old Seguin will eclipse his goal output from last season’s playoffs, when he scored once in 22 games in Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

• Tonight’s game marks the 17th postseason game in three all-time series between the Stars and Ducks. The previous two series ended in six games (Anaheim won in 2003, Dallas won in 2008). This is the first time the teams enter Game 5 tied at two games apiece. Each team has won five home games and eight total games.

• Jonas Hiller started every game in net for the Ducks during their postseason appearances in 2009 (13 games) and 2013 (seven games). When the Swiss goalie took over for Frederik Andersen in Game 4, it was the first time that Hiller had come on in relief in a playoff game. Since the start of the 2011 playoffs, which Hiller missed due to vertigo, Anaheim has used four different starting goaltenders: Ray Emery, Dan Ellis, Hiller and Andersen. Only Philadelphia (5) has used more during that span.

• Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf missed the first playoff game of his nine-year NHL career in Anaheim’s Game 4 loss. In the past two seasons, the Ducks have played 141 games, regular season and playoffs. Their captain has multi-point games in 39 of those. Anaheim went 35-2-2 in those games, including 2-0 this series (Games 1 and 2).

• In Game 4, Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen scored his first goal in 139 games (128 regular season, 11 postseason) and first-ever in the playoffs. (His previous goal came on Feb. 28, 2012, as a member of Carolina.) That ended the NHL’s longest active goal drought by a non-goalie. With Allen’s goal, the longest active goalless drought among 2014 Stanley Cup playoff participants (skaters only) belongs to Pittsburgh’s Rob Scuderi (122 games – 100 regular season, 22 postseason).

• The Stars and Ducks combined for 140 penalty minutes in Games 3 and 4, with the Ducks picking up 79 of them. The Ducks, who were middle of the pack (T-14th) during the regular season with 10.9 penalty minutes/game, have committed 29 penalties for 101 minutes (25.2 PIMs/game) in four games, not including two bench minors for four more minutes. In Game 4, Anaheim fell to 3-9 all-time when committing 30 or more penalty minutes in a playoff game (0-7 on the road).

• The Anaheim-Dallas series is one of two series that have not featured overtime. (N.Y. Rangers-Philadelphia is the other.) Despite the lack of extra playing time, two Stars defensemen are among the NHL leaders this postseason in average time on ice. Alex Goligoski (29:08, 7th in the NHL) and Trevor Daley (26:13, 16th) are the only skaters who have played 25+ minutes per game, all in regulation.

Sharks flip the script, tie Penguins heading into third period

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.

Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.

The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.

Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:

Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:

Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.

Report: Blues will bring back Hitchcock with one-year deal

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.

That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.

Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:

When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”

“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.

For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.

Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.

That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.

While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.

If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.

Crosby, Rust and Sheary lead Penguins’ early charge

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Evgeni Malkin #71 after scoring a first period goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.

It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.

Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.

Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.

First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.

Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.

There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.

Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

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Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.