PHT Morning Skate: Bruins seek to even-up, Ducks-Kings face Game 1

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Got any plans today? Let’s hope they involve spending the day in front of the TV.

Game 2 between Boston and Montreal starts off a day filled with sports fun and is closed out by Game 1 of the Southern California battle between Anaheim and Los Angeles.

The Bruins are hoping to head to Montreal with the series tied up 1-1, but the Canadiens would be giddy to steal two at TD Garden. Meanwhile in Orange County, the Ducks and Kings face off in the postseason for the first time.

Game 2: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens [Montreal leads series 1-0] (12:30 p.m. ET — NBC)

It’s safe to say the Bruins hope the same Carey Price doesn’t come to play this afternoon. Price stopped 48 shots in Montreal’s double-overtime win on Thursday and looked every bit the part of a guy who had a great season in goal.

While the Bruins were able to overcome an early deficit in Game 1, the number of shots poured in by Boston has to be a concern for the Canadiens. Giving the likes of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron more time to create and fire away seems like a bad battle plan.

One thing the Canadiens have to expect is for Tuukka Rask to bounce back with a big game. After Game 1, Rask was less-than enthusiastic about his own play and knowing his style of play, he might turn into a Finnish wall in Game 2.

Game 1: Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

Seeing the Ducks and Kings face each other in the playoffs for the first time is a momentous occasion for SoCal hockey. What makes it even better is having a pair of teams who are strong Stanley Cup contenders facing each other.

The Ducks had a dominant season led by Ryan Getzlaf. Even with a busted jaw against the Dallas Stars, Getzlaf was a force to be reckoned with.  Where things get a bit curious for Anaheim is in goal. Frederik Andersen played the majority of the first round, but Jonas Hiller appears to be the go-to guy against L.A.

Los Angeles got their flow back in the nick of time against San Jose coming back from being down 3-0 in the series and winning four in a row to move on. A wide cast of characters helped the Kings move on, but none more impressive than Anze Kopitar. Kopitar had four goals and 10 points against the Sharks. Justin Williams matched him with four goals and Marian Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli each had three. If the Jonathan Quick we saw late in the series shows up, the Ducks will have trouble containing everyone.

During the regular season, the Ducks went 4-0-1 against the Kings and included four one-goal games. What does that mean? Get ready for a great, tight series.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues

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This week’s edition of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night will feature a central division clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

It’s still early days, but the two sides are battling atop the Central, with the Blackhawks powered by great starts from a number of players including Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking to halt a two-game skid after winning their first four games of the season. The game also features the return of NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to the booth.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blues get Alexander Steen back against Blackhawks

Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk’s ‘best medicine’

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS: