Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Get your game notes: Penguins at Rangers

15 Comments

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

• Tonight, the Rangers will become the first team since 1989 to play five playoff games in seven nights. In the 1989 playoffs, the first five games of all eight first-round, best-of-seven matchups were scheduled to be played in seven nights. Two of those series never got to the fifth game in seven nights, however, as Montreal swept Hartford, and Pittsburgh swept the N.Y. Rangers in their first-ever postseason meeting.

• For the fourth time this season, the Penguins will be playing the same opponent on back-to-back nights. On each of the previous three occasions, they either won both or lost both of the games. This will be the Rangers’ second time playing the same opponent on back-to-back nights, both times in the playoffs.

• Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 22 Rangers shots on goal for his 50th career postseason win and seventh career postseason shutout. The latter number established a new franchise record, surpassing the mark that he shared with two-time Stanley Cup winner Tom Barrasso (1991 & 1992) on the franchise’s all-time postseason shutout list.

• Rangers winger Rick Nash (336) and Penguins center Sidney Crosby (274) have combined for 610 career regular-season goals, but their struggles in the playoffs continued in Game 2. Both star players went without a goal, extending lengthy goalless streaks dating back to the 2013 playoffs. (Note: The shifts, time on ice and shots on goal tallies begin immediately following their last playoff goals.)

• The Rangers went 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 2, and have now failed on their last 29 opportunities with the man advantage. Even after starting the playoffs 3-for-8, their current rut has dropped them to 3-for-37 (8.1%) for the playoffs, worst among all remaining teams in the playoffs. The Penguins killed off 20 of 27 power-play opportunities (74.1%) in the first round vs. Columbus, but have bumped that figure up to 80.0% by going 8-for-8 in this series.

• The Penguins, who lead all playoff teams with 36.2 shots per game, outshot the Rangers 71-49 in the first two games of this series (36-27 in Game 1, 35-22 in Game 2). For New York, it is a sharp reversal from Round 1, in which they allowed a first-round low 25.6 shots per game, outshooting Philadelphia in five of the seven games and allowing more than 30 shots only once, in Game 3.

NBC and NBCSN have you covered for Hockey Day in America

Leave a comment

With two games on NBC and then two more on NBCSN, your Sunday should be jam-packed with Hockey Day in America action. A look at the hockey hotbed of Warroad, Minnesota adds a delectable cherry on top, too.

If you need a guide to this party of pucks and patriotism, look no further than this post.

Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and the dominant Capitals take on Ryan McDonagh and the Blueshirts. The Metropolitan Division represents some of the NHL’s upper crust, so don’t be fooled by the Rangers being the first wild card while the Caps are tops in the East; both of these teams can go. Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher will be there to call the action.

MORE: For Oshie, ties to Warroad run deep

Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk will be in the booth for this battle between teams that met in back-to-back Stanley Cup Final series in 2008 and 2009. Along with usual suspects like Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg, these teams feature American scorers such as Dylan Larkin and, of course, Phil Kessel.

Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres, 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The action shifts to NBCSN as Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks hope to teach Jack Eichel and the upstart Sabres a lesson or two. The Blackhawks are in playoff position, as usual, while Buffalo is rallying to try to make a push of its own. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti will be your guides.

MORE: Islanders forward Brock Nelson’s journey from Warroad to the NHL

Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Hockey Day in America’s coverage closes off with this matchup between David Backes‘ Bruins and Joe Pavelski‘s Sharks. Randy Hahn, Andy Brickley and Bret Hedican will take you through this match between the Pacific Division’s top team and a Bruins team fighting to stick in the East playoff picture.

Barkov’s beautiful goal pushes Panthers into playoff position

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers circles the net with the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1 in a shoot out. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

The Florida Panthers just won’t be denied as they end the night in the East’s top eight.

It’s fitting, then, that Aleksander Barkov wouldn’t be denied on his game-winner against Los Angeles on Saturday.

Barkov bursts beyond multiple Kings, fights off what would have been an obstruction penalty and then beats Peter Budaj by the narrowest of margins to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead 15 seconds into the third period. They would never relinquish that edge to Los Angeles, winning their fourth game in a row.

In the process, the Panthers – a team that seemed to be fledgling when it fired Gerard Gallant – now find themselves in the East’s top eight. Heck, they’re actually above the wild card fray by a hair.

Before we get to that … just bask in the glow of this Barkov goal:

Again, it was such a small window to beat Budaj, too:

(If the Panthers’ place in the standings doesn’t sway you into taking them seriously, maybe note plays like that and the fact that Barkov has 20 points in his last 17 games.)

OK, so with this win, the Panthers did some serious leapfrogging. They now rank third in the Atlantic Division (thanks to a game in hand on Boston) and have more points than Toronto as far as wild card concerns go, anyway.

Atlantic Division rankings

1. Canadiens – 70 points in 59 games
2. Senators – 68 points in 56 games
3. Panthers – 64 points in 57 games

Bruins – 64 in 58
Maple Leafs – 63 in 47
Sabres – 62 in 59
Lightning – 58 in 57
Red Wings – 56 in 58

From a wild card perspective

Third in Atlantic – Panthers – 64 points in 57 games
Second wild card – Bruins – 64 in 58

Maple Leafs – 63 in 47
Islanders – 62 in 57
Sabres – 62 in 59
Flyers – 61 in 58
Devils – 60 in 58
Lightning – 58 in 57
Hurricanes – 56 in 54
Red Wings – 56 in 58

Everything’s so close that the Panthers can’t pop champagne bottles, but they’re also very much in control over their hopes. While it never hurts to see your competitors stumble, the Panthers can take care of business. They “control their own destiny,” to use silly sports parlance.

And considering how they’ve been playing lately, they might be as tough to handle in the playoffs as Barkov was to stop on that outstanding 3-2 goal.

Stars made Dave Strader’s return to the booth special

starssalutestrader
via Dallas Stars
1 Comment

It was a special night as the Dallas Stars beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in overtime, but the most memorable moment wasn’t the win or Antoine Roussel‘s hat trick.

Instead, it was how the team embraced Dave Strader’s return to the broadcasting booth as he continues to fight cancer.

Don’t be ashamed if his comments to the Dallas Morning News leave you emotional:

“This is the first time, to be honest with you, that for four hours I didn’t feel like I was sick at all,” Strader said after the game. “Maybe it was the adrenaline high, but I really, really feel great right now.”

Again, the team really did some great things to welcome him back, but the highlight was saluting him after the game. Incredible stuff.

“What a gesture by the boys … meant so much to me and my wife! Thank you.” Strader tweeted after the game.

As this post notes, Strader is expected to do play-by-play for four more Stars games.

Add allowing center-ice goal to Brian Elliott’s rough season

Leave a comment

So far, there’s just one goal in tonight’s Calgary Flames – Vancouver Canucks game. And it wasn’t a good one.

The Canucks couldn’t manage a shot on goal for more than half of the first period, maybe putting Brian Elliott to sleep … as Alexander Edler scored the 1-0 goal from center ice on Vancouver’s first shot that actually got on net. Ouch.

It’s already been a tough season for Brian Elliott, who came into Saturday with an .898 save percentage.

Elliott was perfect through the rest of the first two periods, so we’ll see if Calgary can overcome that gaffe.

Update: The Canucks ended up winning 2-1 in overtime. Ryan Miller was the better of the two goalies in this one.