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NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Bruins vs. Penguins; Flyers vs. Avalanche

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2016-17 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Wednesday night. It all gets going at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins. You can watch the game online by clicking here

The Boston Bruins came into this week having lost three straight games, but they managed to put together a solid effort in Monday’s 2-1 overtime win in Montreal.

Despite the low goal total, that was arguably one of the most physical and entertaining games of the season so far.

“As a team, it was a good response (given) what our trend had been, losing three straight and knowing we were up against a tough opponent,” David Backes said, per the Boston Herald. “The guys were engaged, battling for each other, standing up for each other. You like to see that character come out.”

It took a total team effort to knock off the Habs, and the Bruins will need more of the same tonight.

The Penguins are the top team in what is looking like the best division in hockey. Pittsburgh’s won six straight games and they’re currently sitting atop the Metropolitan with a 19-7-3 record (12-2-1 at home).

By now, you may have heard about this guy, Sidney Crosby, who’s lighting the lamp at a crazy pace.

The Pens captain missed the first six games of the year because of a concussion, but since coming back, he’s put the puck in the net 21 times in 23 games.

“He creates offense so many different ways,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune. “He can beat you with a speed game. He can beat you with a power game. He can beat you with a finesse game.”

Of course, this isn’t just a one-man team. The Penguins have also benefited from balanced scoring, some solid production from the blue line and they have a pair of goalies that can win them games on any given night.

The late game gets going at 10:00 p.m. ET, as the Philadelphia Flyers travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche. To watch that game online, click here.

The Pens might be the top team in the Metro, but the Flyers are the hottest team. Philadelphia has put together a nine-game winning streak, and they trail Pittsburgh by just two points in the standings.

“I think it’s definitely pretty cool for us,” Shayne Gostisbehere said of his team’s winning streak, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But right now the coolest thing is to look at the standings. We’re sitting pretty good. It’s a good thing for our team, and it’s a good thing for us to not get complacent. Just because you rattle off some wins in a row doesn’t mean you can’t lose that many, too.”

When you win nine games in a row, it likely means that you’ve received contributions from different players. That holds true for the Flyers, but the work Jakub Voracek has put in this season is undeniable.

After a disappointing 2015-16 that saw him score just 11 goals and 55 points, the Flyers forward has clearly taken the necessary steps to bounce back in a big way. He currently has 11 goals and 32 points in 31 games, which is pretty crazy.

“I’ve been here six seasons. Five years, I’ve been great,” Voracek said. “Last season was a fluke. I look at it that way.”

The Avalanche are a hard team to figure out because they have plenty of young, speedy talent, but they just can’t win with any regularity.

The Avs are 2-4-0 in the month of December. No loss was uglier than that 10-1 decision in Montreal last Saturday night. To their credit, they bounced back the very next night by beating Toronto.

One of the issues with Colorado, is their abysmal home record (4-8-1). No team in the league has won less games at home than the Avs.

“I don’t know why our road record’s so much better,” forward Matt Duchene said, per the Denver Post. “That’s got to change a little bit, obviously. We have to be a lot better. But we’ve had some bad games on the road too, games where we haven’t shown up. When we lose, we’re doing the same things, and it’s not a home versus road thing. When we win, we’re doing the same things. It’s not a home versus road thing there, either.”

Scoring goals has also been an issue for them. Through 27 games, no team has found the back of the net less than the Avs (60 goals).

Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Rene Bourque have scored 10, 8 and 8 goals respectively, but the rest of the roster isn’t pulling their weight in that department.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog has missed some time this year, but he only has four goals in 17 contests. Carl Soderberg has four in 27, Jarome Iginla has three in 27, Mikko Rantanen has four in 22 and Blake Comeau has five in 23.

Ducks’ Perry being evaluated at hospital for lower body injury

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The injury woes for the Anaheim Ducks continued on Monday night.

On the same night they got Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg back in the lineup, they lost forward Corey Perry to some sort of a lower body injury.

Perry exited the game after playing just 3:49 in the first period.

After the game Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said that Perry is being evaluated at a local hospital for the injury and that there was no other update at this time.

According to Ducks beat writer Eric Stephens of the OC Register Perry did not suffer a skate cut.

In 31 games this season Perry has scored six goals to go with 16 assists for the Ducks. The Ducks have been absolutely crushed by injuries this season, a development that has no doubt played a major role in their slow start.

The Ducks were 3-2 winners on Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Bernier shines for Avs, Rangers waste Pavelec’s great night

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Player Of The Night: Jonathan Bernier, Colorado Avalanche

After losing six out of their past seven games the Colorado Avalanche finally got back into the win column on Saturday night by crushing the Florida Panthers. They followed up that performance by marching into Pittsburgh and stealing two points from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 2-1 win that was highlighted by a stellar showing from starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

Bernier was the Avalanche’s best player on Monday night, turning aside 39 of the 40 shots he faced.

It was not until the final 11 seconds, when the Avalanche were already holding a two-goal lead, that he finally surrendered a goal.

It was probably Bernier’s best performance of the season and just the fifth time in 12 starts that he managed a save percentage higher than .900 in a game.

Wasted Effort Of The Night: The New York Rangers

Maybe “wasted” is too strong of a word considering the Rangers did get a point out of the night in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars, but let’s be honest be here. They did not even deserve that.

The Rangers were thoroughly dominated by the Stars and only managed to get the game to overtime thanks to a stellar performance from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Pavelec stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced and almost single handedly got the Rangers to overtime.

After the game Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had this to say about the game: “There are two positives, Pavs played unreal and because of his performance we were able to get a point. Other than that….we weren’t good.”

That was it.

Ducks Get Some Help Back In The Lineup

The Anaheim Ducks got some much needed help back in their lineup on Monday night when Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg both returned to the lineup.

Silfverberg made an immediate impact after missing the past five games. He scored his sixth goal of the season in the Ducks’ 3-2 win.

Getzlaf did not factor into the scoring, but having him back in the lineup was still a huge lift for the Ducks. He played 20 minutes in the win.

Highlight Of The Night

The Winnipeg Jets have an outstanding offense. It was on display here with some nifty tic-tac-toe passing to take the lead against the Vancouver Canucks.

Factoid Of The Night

Brock Boeser scored another goal for the Canucks in their loss to the Winnipeg Jets. He is having a tremendous rookie season.

Scores

New York Islanders 3, Washington Capitals 1
Dallas Stars 2, New York Rangers 1
Colorado Avalanche 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1
Florida Panthers 2, Detroit Red Wings 1
Winnipeg Jets 5, Vancouver Canucks 1
Anaheim Ducks 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Panthers and Red Wings had a fight night (Videos)

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The Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings seemed to be in a fighting mood on Monday night, dropping the gloves three times in the first two periods of their game in the Motor City.

Things started early in the first period when Red Wings tough-guy Luke Witkowski, playing in his first game back since serving a 10-game suspension, dropped the gloves with Micheal Haley of the Panthers.

Have a look…

The two would square off once again in the second period.

Not long after the Witkowski-Haley rematch, Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Red Wings forward Luke Glendenning took part in a rather vicious fight that left Glendenning bloodied on his way to the penalty box.

Given Ekblad’s history of concussions the Panthers can’t exactly be thrilled to see him taking part in a fight like that.

Ekblad is not much of a fighter, with Monday’s fight being just the third of his NHL career. It is, oddly enough, his second fight of the season with the first one also coming against the Red Wings.

Back in October he fought Justin Abdelkader.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Big centers back: Getzlaf in for Ducks, Panthers regain Barkov

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The Anaheim Ducks would probably qualify as unlucky so far in 2017-18 even beyond an extremely unfortunate bounce of a puck fracturing Ryan Getzlaf‘s cheekbone.

That loss was especially severe with Ryan Kesler already recovering, as Getzlaf missed 19 games, last appearing in a contest on that painful night of Oct. 29. The Ducks get quite the treat, then, as both Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg are slated to return as they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

Check out how much better everything fits together with the returns of Getzlaf and Silfverberg, not to mention the recent addition of Adam Henrique (line combos via the Ducks website):

Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry
Cogliano-Henrique-Silfverberg
Blandisi-Vermette-Kase
Wagner-Grant-Shaw

The Ducks are still without Kesler, and Patrick Eaves is fighting a serious physical battle that puts hockey on the backburner, so there’s still some mystery to how the Ducks might look if they can get anywhere near full-strength this season.

As is, they look a whole lot better going into Monday’s game, something the Florida Panthers could relate to.

While Anaheim’s dealt with bad luck, you could chalk up Florida’s troubles to a mix of unforced errors (jettisoning depth, particularly to Vegas) and tough breaks of their own (Roberto Luongo‘s injury issues). Either way, management will look infinitely smarter when Aleksander Barkov is in the lineup than when he’s not, so the Panthers must be happy to welcome him back tonight.

Interestingly, Left Wing Lock lists Barkov along with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, rather than Denis Malgin taking Bjugstad’s spot (Malgin received looks, at least, once Evgenii Dadonov suffered an injury).

That would be quite the top-heavy approach for Florida, even if Malgin can mesh well with Vincent Trocheck.

While the Panthers have floundered at times, the Ducks seemed like they were finally starting to crater under the pressure of all those injury losses, as Anaheim only boasts two wins (2-4-4) in its last 10 games.

It’s true that the return of Barkov and Getzlaf would be important in just about any context for their teams, but each team likely feels especially relieved on Monday, as they can use all the help they can get.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.