Get your game notes: Blues at Devils

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New Jersey Devils hosting the St. Louis Blues at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Even with STL’s forward line combinations in flux this season due to a series of injuries and illnesses, RW Vladimir Tarasenko has stepped up, scoring 6 goals in his last 4 games and powering the Blues to a 5-game win streak heading into tonight.

• Top forwards David Backes (concussion), T.J. Oshie (concussion), Joakim Lindstrom (bacterial infection) and Paul Stastny (shoulder) have all missed time this season, causing Blues coach Ken Hitchcock to use whatever combination “pops out of the blender” during morning skate for his starting top line. Backes and Lindstrom are now back, but Oshie and Stastny are not expected to play tonight.

• Tarasenko leads STL with 13 points (7G-6A) this season. The 22-year-old Russian, who told NHL.com he talks to his grandfather Vladimir after every game, had his first career hat trick in a 4-3 OT win over DAL last week. He scored a highlight-reel power-play goal in regulation and the shootout winner in STL’s 4-3 (SO) victory over NYR on Monday. But his grandfather always tells him “it’s only one night” and “tomorrow” is always the most important.

• Tarasenko previously played with Blues teammate Jori Lehtera at Sibir Novosibirsk of the KHL and represented Russia at the 2014 Sochi Games.

• NJ has won 3 of its last 4 games, but in all 3 of those victories the Devils have had to come from behind, which has frustrated their two Czech veterans, 42-year-old RW Jaromir Jagr and 38-year-old C Patrik Elias. NJ beat OTT, 3-2 (OT), on Oct. 25 and ended their 0-for-18 shootout game skid with a 2-1 (SO) win over WPG on Thursday before beating CBJ, 3-2, on Saturday.

• Jagr after beating CBJ: “I’m getting frustrated. We’re just wasting energy away and we don’t make plays. The third period comes and you’re going to put it together, and the power is here to win the hockey games, but we can make it so much easier for ourselves and more enjoyable by playing games the right way.”

• Elias after beating CBJ: “We’re not skating as well as we should, for whatever reason. You saw how we played in the first few games of the season. For six or seven games, even though we lost some of them, we were still playing well. That’s what we’ve got to get back to.”

• This is NJ’s first season since 1992-93 without G Martin Brodeur – the NHL’s all-time wins leader (688) – starting in net. After facing questions on whether he could handle Brodeur’s workload, American G Cory Schneider has started all 11 of the team’s games, posting a 6-3-2 record, 2.83 GAA and .909 SV%.

QUICK HITS

• 101st regular-season meeting and the first of 2 meetings this season between STL and NJ. They will play again on Thursday in STL.

• STL leads all-time series 49-36-14-1 (W-L-T-OL).

• Last season, NJ won 7-1 at home on Jan. 21, and STL won 3-0 at home on Jan. 28. In the first game, 7 different players scored goals for NJ.

STANDOUT STATS

• STL: Since 2013, the Blues’ .781 (12-3-1 record) winning percentage in the month of November is the best in the NHL (Per Elias).

• NJ: 10-for-38 on the power play this season (26.3% – 3rd best in NHL).

• NJ: 33-for-48 on the penalty kill this season. (68.8% – 2nd worst in NHL).

MILESTONE TRACKER

• NJ: RW Jaromir Jagr needs 1 goal to tie Mike Gartner for 6th on the all-time goal list with 708. Jagr already has the most career goals among active NHL players with 707.

NOTABLE INJURIES

• STL: C Paul Stastny (shoulder) and RW T.J. Oshie (concussion) are both day-to-day.

• NJ: LW Mike Cammalleri (jaw/neck) and RW Jordin Tootoo (foot) are both day-to-day.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

• STL: C David Backes: 1G-5A in 7 career GP vs. NJ.

• STL: LW Alexander Steen: 2G in 2 GP vs. NJ last season, including one game-winner.

• NJ: RW Damien Brunner / D Eric Gelinas: Both had 1G-2A in NJ’s 7-1 win over STL on Jan. 21 last season.

• NJ: RW Jaromir Jagr: 8G-16A, including 3 PPG, in 27 career GP vs. STL.

BLUES TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Captain C David Backes, a two-time U.S. Olympian, returned to the lineup on Nov. 1 vs. COL after missing one game with a concussion. He was third on STL with 57 points last season, but has just 2G-3A so far this season, putting him seventh on the team with 5 points.

• RW T.J. Oshie is day-to-day after suffering a concussion vs. DAL on Oct. 30. He has 1 assist in 8 games this season, one in which he’s caring for both his 8-month-old daughter and his father with Alzheimer’s off the ice.

• Oshie became a worldwide star last February at the Sochi 2014 Games, converting 4 of 6 shootout attempts vs. Russia to give the U.S. a 3-2 victory in the preliminary round. He is 27-for-49 (55.1%) in shootouts in six-plus seasons with STL, including an NHL-leading 9 shootout goals last season. He is 0-for-1 on shootout attempts this season.

• D Alex Pietrangelo, part of Canada’s gold-medal winning Sochi 2014 Olympic team, leads STL this season with 25:38 TOI/G. For the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, he shaved his head in late October to support his girlfriend’s niece, Ellie, who was diagnosed with cancer last August.

• Following the departures of G Jaroslav Halak and G Ryan Miller, G Brian Elliott took over as the team’s top goaltender to start the season despite having never played more than 38 games in a season in three years with STL. Because Elliott played Monday against NYR, G Jake Allen is expected to make the start at NJ tonight.

• STL is allowing 2.00 goals/game this season (T-6th best in NHL). Allen is 2-1-0 in 3 starts so far in his first full NHL season with a 1.34 GAA and .944 SV%.

DEVILS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• C Adam Henrique leads NJ with 9 points (4G-5A) this season and has an upbringing unlike any of his teammates. Henrique and his three brothers were raised on a family tobacco farm in Burford, Ontario, and it was his job to prime the leaves.

• In May 2012, Henrique told the New York Times that priming tobacco growing up made him chase a career in hockey a little harder: “You’re like this, picking leaves, putting the leaves in your bag, and the leaves are hitting you in the face, and it’s wet. You got tar all over you, and you’ve got an 80-pound bag that you’re filling up. It’s no fun.”

• Henrique is expected to be put on the same line with C Patrik Elias tonight to give the Devils offense a jolt. Elias has gone 10 straight games without a goal.

• At 42, RW Jaromir Jagr is in his 21st season with his 7th NHL team and is tied for second on NJ with 8 points this season. He leads all active players in goals (707), assists (1,056), points (1,763) and games played (1,484).

• The 5-time Olympian and 5-time Art Ross Trophy winner (NHL scoring leader) is one of 25 players in the Triple Gold Club, having won two Stanley Cups with PIT (1991, 1992), an Olympic gold with the Czech Republic (1998) and two IIHF World Championships with the Czech Republic (2005, 2010).

• D Damon Severson, 22 years younger than Jagr, already has 4G-4A and in 21:59 TOI/G in his rookie season.

The Buzzer: Avalanche keep rolling; Capitals clip Bruins

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Three Stars

1. T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals.

With only one goal in his previous 10 games, Oshie scored two beautiful goals in the Capitals’ 3-2 win against the Bruins on Wednesday Night Hockey. The American forward recorded a power-play goal early in the second period to knot the score 1-1. Oshie rang a shot off the crossbar after a crafty deke and then found the loose puck behind Jaroslav Halak to pick up his 12th of the season. Then, Oshie scored the goal of the night when he avoided Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton and converted a breakaway opportunity to give Washington a 2-1 lead.

2. Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche.

In his sixth game back since suffering a lower-body injury that kept him out of the lineup for 16 games, Rantanen notched two goals to help the Colorado Avalanche earn a 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Finnish forward tapped in a pretty pass from Nathan MacKinnon to extend the Avalanche advantage to 2-0 in the second period. In the third, Rantanen sealed the game after Nazem Kadri delivered a perfect pass. Colorado has kept pace in the competitive Central Division with Rantanen sidelined, but will now look to emerge as the class of the division with the return of its star forward.

3. Cayden Primeau, Montreal Canadiens.

The first NHL win for any goaltender is always a special moment. Primeau made 35 saves as the Montreal Canadiens skated to a 3-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators.  Primeau, 20, was the No. 199 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft and is the son of former NHL All-Star forward Keith Primeau. He was recalled from the Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate on Tuesday after Montreal placed Keith Kinkaid on waivers.

Highlights of the Night

Oshie performed a nifty deke around a Bruins defender, then converted a breakaway while drawing a penalty.

Carter Hart submitted another candidate for the save of the year with this impressive glove save.

Factoids

  • Carlson (33 GP) required the fewest games by a defenseman to record his 45th point of a season since Al MacInnis in 1990-91 (32 GP w/ CGY). [NHL PR]
  • Carlson’s five game-winning goals (33 GP) are one shy of the Capitals single-season franchise record by defensemen (Kevin Hatcher: 6 in 83 GP, 1992-93). [NHL PR]

  • Only four goaltenders in Canadiens history recorded their first NHL win at a younger age than Primeau. [NHL PR]

  • Primeau is the second goalie in as many seasons to record his first NHL win prior to his 21st birthday. The other: Carter Hart on Dec. 18, 2018 w/ PHI (20 years, 127 days). [NHL PR]
  • Rantanen has collected 20 points in 15 or fewer games for the second time in his career [NHL PR].

Scores

Capitals 3, Bruins 2

Canadiens 3, Senators 2 (OT)

Avalanche 3, Flyers 1

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Rantanen’s goals help Avalanche defeat Flyers, extend point streak

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mikko Rantanen scored twice and the Colorado Avalanche extended their point streak to eight games with a 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Matt Calvert also scored, and Pavel Francouz made 32 saves in Colorado’s seventh win over the past eight games.

Claude Giroux scored the lone Flyers goal late in the third period and Carter Hart made 25 saves, but the Flyers fell in regulation for only the second time in the previous 10 outings (7-2-1).

Francouz provides boost between the pipes

With Avalanche starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer sidelined with a lower-body injury, Francouz made his fourth straight appearance and collected his eighth win of the season with a strong performance against the Flyers.

After a rocky showing against the Flames earlier this week which resulted in a 5-4 overtime loss, Francouz bounced back and was a steadying force in the crease. Claude Giroux ended Francouz’s shutout bid late in the third period, but the Czech goalie held off a late push from Philadelphia.

After a second-round defeat in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Avalanche have eyes on home-ice advantage in the 2020 postseason. If Francouz can provide consistent goaltending when called upon, they certainly have the star power up front to be a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.

Kadri acquisition paying early dividends

Colorado general manager Joe Sakic acquired Nazem Kadri this past summer to help the Avalanche become a deeper team with improved secondary scoring. With 21 points in 28 games this season, Kadri has added another element to Colorado’s dynamic offensive attack.

Early in the third period Wednesday, Kadri patiently waited behind the Flyers’ net until Rantanen skated into position to convert a one-timer to give Colorado a three-goal third-period lead.

The Avalanche’s top line is one of the most lethal trios in the NHL, but Colorado is that much more dangerous if Kadri continues to provide an extra boost.

Looking ahead for Flyers

The Flyers began a three-game road trip against Central Division opponents with a loss against the Avalanche, but cannot let one game ruin the momentum they have generated with strong play in recent weeks. The Flyers will travel to Minnesota and Winnipeg over the weekend and need to continue to secure points to keep pace in the Metropolitan Division.

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Oshie, Carlson lift Capitals over Bruins in mid-season test

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 82-game regular season is a marathon for NHL teams, but at various points of the season you want to measure yourself up against a top team in your conference.

On Wednesday Night Hockey, the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals defeated the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins 3-2 at Capital One Arena.

John Carlson scored the go-ahead goal 4:42 into the third period to help propel the Capitals. T.J. Oshie scored twice and Braden Holtby made 30 saves as the Capitals collected their seventh win in the previous eight games.

David Pastrnak scored his NHL-leading 26th goal for Boston but the Bruins have dropped four consecutive games (0-3-1).

Oshie often overlooked

Whether it’s Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Carlson or Holtby, Oshie is often neglected when listing the Capitals’ star power.

Since being acquired in July of 2015, Oshie has been a consistent offensive threat for the Capitals in the previous four-plus seasons. He has averaged 25.5 goals and added his 12th and 13th of this season in stellar fashion on Wednesday.

Oshie made a quick deke to his forehand before ringing a shot off the crossbar, but then finished his own rebound to even the score early in the second period.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead with a highlight-reel goal. The American forward danced around Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton before converting a nifty deke 3:30 after his first of the game.

While other players in Washington’s lineup receive credit for the Capitals’ strong play in recent years, Oshie should not be forgotten about as he has proven to be a key piece to the puzzle in Washington.

Pastrnak remains red-hot

The Czech winger has solidified himself as one the best pure goal scorers in the NHL today and recorded his 26th goal of the season on Wednesday. No. 88 is on pace for 67 goals this season and has helped the Boston Bruins secure a 10-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

Pastrnak tallied a short-side snipe to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead against the Capitals Wednesday. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy was able to complete a cross-ice pass because centerman Patrice Bergeron skated hard to the net in order to create an open passing lane.

If Pastrnak is able to continue this torrid pace, he could be in line to collect a lot of hardware at the NHL Awards show and help the Bruins collect a trophy they fell just short of last season.

Ovechkin’s office

The sign of dominance in any competitive sport is if you can continue to repeat an action while your opponent is aware of what is coming.

For Alex Ovechkin, his presence from the left circle throughout the course of his career has been spectacular. The captain of the Washington Capitals has recorded 299 of his 679 goals (44%) from the left circle or above. And since the 2012-13 season, 54% of his goals have come from that spot on the ice.

NHL teams will continue to game plan and know exactly where No. 8 will be on the ice, especially when Washington is on a power play, but his excellence from that area should be viewed in the same breath as Wayne Gretzky’s operation from behind the net.

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Flyers vs. Avalanche livestream: How to watch Wednesday Night Hockey

Leave a comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Flyers and Avalanche have both won six of their last seven games and each enter this matchup in playoff position in their respective conferences. This is the first of two meetings this season as these two will play at Philadelphia on Feb. 1.

Nathan MacKinnon, the first overall pick in 2013, is having another standout season. After MacKinnon’s breakout season in 2017-18 (39 goals, 97 points), he upped those totals last season with two more goals and this season he’s tracking towards another career-best year. MacKinnon ranks third in the NHL in points (47) and is tied for fourth in goals (19) this season.

Travis Konecny leads Philadelphia with 28 points this season and is tied with Oskar Lindblom for the team lead in goals (11). Konecny took a hard, open-ice hit from Mark Borowiecki late in the first period on Saturday and did not return – he’s out indefinitely with a concussion. The 22-year-old Konecny was having a career season, on pace for 30 goals and 76 points.

Sean Couturier (22 points), Claude Giroux (21) and Jakub Voracek (21) are next on the team in scoring. Couturier has scored 30-plus goals each of the last two seasons as he’s totaled 76 points both years (his career high). Giroux already has four game-winning goals this season (as many as he had all of last year). Voracek has five points in the last five games (all assists).

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 9:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

WHAT: Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche
WHERE: Pepsi Center
WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Flyers-Avalanche stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLYERS
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk – Morgan Frost – Tyler Pitlick
Scott LaughtonKevin HayesJoel Farabee
Chris Stewart – Mikhail Vorobyev – David Kase

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen
Travis SanheimJustin Braun
Shayne GostisbehereRobert Hagg

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Andre BurakovskyNazem KadriJoonas Donskoi
Matt CalvertPierre-Edouard BellemareValeri Nichushkin
Matt NietoJ.T. CompherTyson Jost

Nikita ZadorovSamuel Girard
Ryan GravesIan Cole
Calle Rosen – Mark Barberio

Starting goalie: Pavel Francouz

Kathryn Tappen will host Wednesday’s coverage on NHL Live alongside analysts Patrick Sharp and Keith Jones and NHL insider Darren Dreger. Chris Cuthbert will handle play-by-play duties alongside Pierre McGuire at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.