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NHL on NBCSN: Hall-less Devils look to climb out of funk vs. Capitals

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Washington Capitals host the New Jersey Devils at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Devils come into tonight’s game in the basement of the Eastern Conference standings with 33 points in 35 games.

They’ve also come up with just one victory in their last 10 games (1-8-1) and although they have a solid 9-3-2 record at home, they’ve been abysmal on the road (4-12-5).

New Jersey is coming off back-to-back losses to the Penguins, and tonight will be the first of two consecutive matchups with the Washington Capitals. So the schedule isn’t doing them any favors either.

Oh, and as CSN’s Tarik El-Bashir points out, they’ve also dropped seven straight games to the Caps dating back to December 2014.

As you can imagine, a slump this bad has frustrated some of the players on the team, including goalie Cory Schneider, who vented after his team’s loss on Tuesday night.

This all comes just a week after management made it clear that the team needed to play “[bleeping] harder“.

It’s not surprising, but the Devils have had issues putting the puck in the net in 2016-17. They’re one of just four teams that have yet to hit the 85-goal mark at this point (they’re at 82). The other three teams are Arizona, Buffalo and Colorado.

To make matters even worse, they won’t have Taylor Hall in the lineup, as he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

After the Washington Capitals ran away with the President’s Trophy last season, many expected them to be a dominant force in the Metropolitan Division in 2016-17.

Don’t get me wrong, the Caps are still in a good spot, but they aren’t among the top three teams in their own division.

Through 33 games, they’ve accumulated 44 points, which is good enough for the top Wild Card spot.

One of the things they need to improve is their discipline. In Tuesday’s loss to the Islanders, Washington took a mind-boggling four penalties in the second period.

“We’ve been taking penalties all year,” said forward Justin Williams, per the Washington Post. “Regardless of what they look like, how they are, if we agree or disagree, penalties are killing the momentum of our team and letting teams hang around. . . . It’s too many. It’s way too many penalties, certainly myself included. We shouldn’t be taking as many.”

According to the Post, the Capitals have taken the seventh-most minor penalties (81) over the last 20 games. Thankfully for Washington, their penalty-kill has come through for them, as they’ve killed off 87.8 percent of those penalties.

Even though they’ve managed to kill most of their opposition’s power plays, it’s still physically draining to defend five-on-four so often in the course of a game.

Starting tonight, they’ll have a golden opportunity to climb up the standings. Washington will be playing seven of their next 10 games at the Verizon Center.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

Hurricanes’ Lack taken off on stretcher after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision during Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

Drouin triggers second-period rally for Lightning vs. Blackhawks

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Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.

It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.

But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.

Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.

First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:

Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:

And … just like that, the Lightning tied things up. Wow.

Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:

Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.

Video will be added when available.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.