Get your game notes: Wild at Blackhawks

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Minnesota Wild starting at 9:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Wild defeated Colorado in seven games to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Their Game 7 win at Colorado on Wednesday ended an eight-game road losing streak in playoff games, and raised their record in their last 14 road games to 2-12. The Blackhawks, who won all three games at United Center versus St. Louis in the first round, are 14-2 at home since the beginning of their Stanley Cup-winning run last postseason.

• Fourteen of the 46 first-round games went to overtime. Both the Wild and Blackhawks went to overtime four times in the opening round, the most among any of the remaining teams, and became the 11th and 12th teams in NHL history to go to OT four or more times in one series. Minnesota played 21:04 of extra hockey, going 2-2 in those games. Chicago played more than three times that much (65:09), also going 2-2.

• This will be the second-ever postseason meeting between the Wild and Blackhawks; Chicago beat Minnesota last year in the first round in five games, outscoring the Wild 17-7. Chicago’s lone loss in the series came in Game 3, a 3-2 OT loss at Minnesota. The Blackhawks outscored the Wild 12-4 at home in the series, scoring five goals in two of the games and holding Minnesota to no more than two goals in all three home games. Chicago has won 11 straight playoff series with home-ice advantage dating back to 1993, when they were swept by St. Louis in the Norris Division Semifinals.

• Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp (one goal) was held in check by the Blues in round one. However, he was the star of last season’s series versus Minnesota, scoring five goals in five games, on his way to a playoff-leading 10 goals. Since 2009, the Blackhawks are 23-4 in the playoffs when Sharp scores a goal.

• One Blackhawks career postseason record was broken, and another was matched versus St. Louis. In Game 4, winger Patrick Kane scored his third-career overtime goal, tying him with Jeremy Roenick for the most in franchise history. Center Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goals for Chicago in Games 5 and 6. The second of those gave him nine for his career, one more than Roenick for the franchise high.

• In Game 7 versus Colorado, Wild winger Nino Niederreiter scored two goals, the second of which was the OT winner. Niederreiter became the third player in NHL history whose first two postseason goals came in a Game 7. (Pittsburgh’s Jiri Hrdina, 1991; New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, 2012). Elias Sports Bureau

• For Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who made one save in relief of the injured Darcy Kuemper and was credited with the victory in Game 7, the “Madhouse on Madison” has been a house of horrors. In seven starts since the 2007-08 season (all in the regular season), he is 0-5-2, with a 3.81 GAA and .873 save%. In his only start with Minnesota (Apr. 3), he allowed two goals on 26 shots in a shootout loss.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (4-2, 1.98 GAA, .935 save%) was one of three goaltenders with a goals-against average under 2.00 and save% over .930 in the first round. (Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Philadelphia’s Steve Mason were the others.). In the past two postseasons, Crawford has the most starts (29), wins (20) and goals allowed (60) of any goalie, and the second-most shots faced (889) and saves (829). Only Rask has faced more shots (946) and made more saves (890) during that span.

• The Blackhawks had the best penalty kill among all teams in the first round (27/29, 93.1%) after finishing the regular season T-10th worst in the NHL (81.4%). The Wild also improved significantly in the opening round, with the fourth-best PK efficiency (22/25, 88.0%) after posting the league’s fourth-worst PK (78.8%) during the regular season.

The Buzzer: Thornton moves up all-time scoring list; Kings snap six-game losing skid

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Players of the Night:

Brian Elliott looked solid in Philadelphia’s overtime win over the Capitals, as he turned aside 27 of 28 shots. This was the first time in eight games that the Flyers netminder allowed fewer than three goals in a game, but he’s still been victorious in three of his last four outings.

• How about that goalie duel between Connor Hellebuyck and Anders Nilsson. The Jets won the game, but both goaltenders were fantastic during this all-Canadian matchup.

• Sticking with the goalie theme, Aaron Dell was fantastic between the pipes for in San Jose’s win against Anaheim. Even when starter Martin Jones comes back from a lower-body injury, Dell should continue to be a factor for the Sharks.

• Sharks forward Mikkel Boedker had a solid night at the office, as he racked up two goals and an assist against the Ducks. That’s impressive considering he only had 12 points on the season coming into tonight’s action.

• The Kings’ power play isn’t a player, but it came to play tonight against the Rangers. Los Angeles got three goals on the man-advantage from Jake Muzzin, Michael Amadio and Tanner Pearson. Those three power play markers helped them snap their six-game losing skid.

Highlights:

Poor Markus Granlund never saw Hellebuyck coming:

That’s a pretty sweet shot from Kevin Labanc:

Here are two pretty sweet backhand passes leading up to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare‘s goal:

Alex Ovechkin scored a power play from his favorite spot on the ice:

Non-called Penalty of the Night:

That’s a pretty dangerous hit by Dmitry Orlov on Claude Giroux. No boarding call?

Factoids:

That’s a lot of power play goals for Ovechkin:

Joe Thornton keeps movin’ on up:

The Rangers have received some balanced scoring this season:

The Golden Knights simply can’t be stopped. What a season they’re having:

Scores:

Flyers 2, Capitals 1 (OT)

Golden Knights 5, Hurricanes 1

Jets 1, Canucks 0

Sharks 6, Ducks 2

Kings 4, Rangers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Fight Video: Kempe comes to Lewis’ defense by dropping gloves with Smith

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It’s not every day that you see Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe drop the gloves, but he did so against the Rangers tonight.

Things got chippy at the end of the first period between the Rangers and Kings. As both teams were mixing it up, New York’s Brendan Smith shoved Trevor Lewis from behind. Kempe wasn’t impressed with Smith’s move, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Here’s Smith’s shove on Lewis:

And this is the fight between Smith and Kempe:

(h/t: hayyyshayyy on Twitter)

As you can tell from the above video, Smith is the more experienced fighter. Also, Kempe has great hair, but it’s clearly not practical when dropping the gloves.

Thanks to Smith, the Kings got a power play to start the second period. Defenseman Jake Muzzin cashed in on the man-advantage to cut Los Angeles’ deficit to 2-1.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Expansion Golden Knights are officially in first place (Update)

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Just like we all predicted in September, the Vegas Golden Knights are sitting in first place in the NHL.

The Golden Knights’ 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes allowed them to collect their 65th and 66th points of the season, which moved them one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the league (both teams have played 46 games).

PHT’s Adam Gretz wrote a terrific piece about Golden Knights’ amazing first season to date.

It’s only fitting that Vegas got a good amount of production from some of their most pleasant surprises tonight. Jonathan Marchessault, Colin Miller and James Neal also found the back of the net.

As you’d expect, the Golden Knights’ Twitter account is having fun marking this occasion.

“Maybe a little unexpected, right?,” Marc-Andre Fleury said of his team’s success, per NHL.com. “It’s been a lot of fun. We started this team from scratch and chemistry was built very quick between us. Every night, all the guys bring their best effort. I’m proud of our team to be where we’re at right now.”

We’ve had over three months to come to grips with everything the Golden Knights have done, but it’s still amazing to see how some of the players on their roster have produced during Vegas’ inaugural season.

 

43 points in 43 games for Marchessault? 25 goals at the midway point of the season for William Karlsson? Nobody saw those things coming. What makes this even more impressive is that they’ve had to roll four goalies (Fleury, Oscar Dansk, Malcolm Subban and Maxime Lagace).

“Early on in the year, I think we surprised some teams. Now I think every team will get up to play us. It’s just something that will be another test for this group,” Miller told NHL.com.

Now the question is, how far can this pesky expansion team go?

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Struggling Lightning lose Ondrej Palat for indefinite period of time

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have been going through a difficult stretch lately and things got a lot more difficult on Sunday. The team announced that Ondrej Palat is out indefinitely after taking a spear from Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon on Saturday night.

The Bolts, who are on an eight-game road trip, have confirmed that Palat will head back to Tampa on Monday for further testing. He’s accumulated eight goals and 30 points in 46 games this season.

Although the video isn’t the clearest, this is the play that led to the injury:

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, as the Lightning have been slumping badly of late. They’ve dropped three games in a row to Calgary, Vegas and Minnesota.

Their once giant lead atop the Atlantic Division has dwindled to three points over the Boston Bruins, who have a game in hand.

“We’re just out of synch, it’s unreal,” head coach Jon Cooper said, per The Tampa Times. “The guys didn’t forget how to play hockey in the last week and a half. We’re just out of synch. One guy zigs, the other guy zags. It’s crazy that in the last week and a half, we kind of lost our swag.”

The Bolts will continue their road trip in Chicago, Nashville and Philadelphia before the All-Star break. On top of their difficult schedule, they’ll also be without number one defenseman Victor Hedman for the next few weeks.

Their spot in the playoffs isn’t in any danger, but the number one seed in the league (Vegas is coming in a hurry) and top spot in the division is in doubt.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.