Getty

Goalie Nods: Matt Murray makes sixth straight start for Penguins

It appears that the starting net in Pittsburgh belongs to Matt Murray.

He will be in the lineup once again on Thursday night when the Penguins visit the Boston Bruins, making his sixth consecutive start (and seventh in the past eight games) since returning to the lineup from a lower body injury.

The distribution of playing time between Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh has been a big focus for much of this season, and at times it seemed to be a matter of each goalie simply getting the starts until they lost a game or had a clunker of a performance. That does not seem to be the case lately, especially with Murray getting the start on Thursday following a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues earlier this week and getting a start in Montreal a week ago after giving up seven goals in a wild 8-7 overtime win over the Washington Capitals.

In 25 appearances this season Murray has a .922 save percentage (Fleury is currently at .905) this season. Since making his NHL debut a year ago his .925 career save percentage in the regular season (minimum 35 games played) is the third best mark in the league, behind only Thomas Greiss and Braden Holtby.

No official word yet from the Bruins on their starter, but it would be a surprise if it was not Tuukka Rask.

The Penguins enter the game having won four of their past five games, while the Bruins, whose 4-3 overtime win against Detroit on Tuesday snapped what had been a four-game losing streak, enter the evening on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Murray and the Penguins beat the Bruins on Sunday, 5-1, with Murray making 44 saves on 45 shots.

Elsewhere…

— Braden Holtby looks to get the Washington Capitals back into the win column after their 3-0 loss in Ottawa on Tuesday. He will be opposed by New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid.

— Thomas Greiss has allowed just five goals in his past four games (a stretch that has seen the Islanders collect seven out of eight points) and will look to continue his recent strong play against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens. With 30 saves on 31 shots in his most recent start Price is looking to break out of his recent slump.

Frederik Andersen gets the night off for Toronto after his shutout against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. It will be Curtis McElhinney going for the Maple Leafs when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have not announced their starter but Steve Mason started on Wednesday, shutting out the New  York Rangers. It could be a Michal Neuvirth night with this being their second game in 24 hours.

Cam Ward has been mired in a pretty significant slump in recent weeks but he gets another start for the Hurricanes on Thursday when they host the Los Angeles Kings. Ward has allowed 21 goals in his past four starts. Look for Peter Budaj to go again for the Kings.

— After stopping 36 shots against Chicago on Tuesday, Andrei Vasilevskiy goes again for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night when they take on the Florida Panthers in a game where both teams should be desperate for two points. Roberto Luongo goes for the Panthers.

Brian Elliott gets a chance to snap a personal four-game losing streak on Thursday when he gets the call for the Calgary Flames when they visit the Ottawa Senators. The Senators have not announced their starter.

Sergei Bobrovsky gets a chance to rebound from a rough start earlier this week against the New York Islanders when he goes for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the surging Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne is the man in net for a Nashville team that has earned a point in seven of its past eight games (6-1-1).

— After shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, Carter Hutton gets another start for the St. Louis Blues when they take on the first place Minnesota Wild. As expected, Devan Dubnyk gets another start for the Wild.

— As Corey Crawford continues to struggle a bit Scott Darling gets another chance for the Chicago Blackhawks when they take on the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. The Jets go with Connor Hellebuyck.

— It will be Anders Nilsson for Antti Niemi when the Dallas Stars host the Buffalo Sabres.

— After Jacob Markstrom went for the Canucks in their win over Colorado on Wednesday, Ryan Miller is back in the crease on Thursday against another of the NHL’s worst teams when they take on the Arizona Coyotes. Mike Smith gets the call at the other end of the ice.

— The Oilers and Sharks have yet to announce their starters for the late game, but it is a good bet that it will be Cam Talbot vs. Martin Jones.

The Buzzer: Celebrating genius of McDavid, Bergeron, Karlsson

Getty
Leave a comment

Player of the Night: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Nico Hischier collected two goals and an assist in a blistering effort as the Devils beat the Senators in overtime. Erik Karlsson almost ruined things for New Jersey with three assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy pitched an impressive 43-save shutout as the Lightning edged the Blue Jackets. Ben Bishop narrowly kept Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan from even bigger nights, yet each player scored two goals and one assist apiece in a slim Stars win vs. the Coyotes.

Even Bergeron’s teammates made some waves.

There were great choices for player of the night, but ultimately, Bergeron’s return to the Bruins lineup stands tallest. He scored a goal and three assists, soothing injury-bummed Bruins fans as part of Boston’s victory against Vancouver.

Bergeron didn’t ease right in. He won half of his draws, fired six shots on goal, and almost logged 21 minutes of ice time. Maybe he can hold things together for Boston?

Highlight of the Night: Connor McDavid‘s ridiculous assist

This post goes into greater detail on that and Edmonton’s win, so we’ll just stick this GIF in here because you need to see it either way:

OK, but to avoid an overly redundant buzzer, check Hischier here, David Pastrnak‘s great goal, and Mikhail Sergachev‘s big night. And, as a bonus, Will Butcher must have nodded to Karlsson after sending this ridiculous outlet pass:

Outstanding.

You know what? Enjoy Bishop robbing Derek Stepan as a bonus bonus.

Misc.

Click here for Erik Gudbranson‘s hit and fight. Zack Kassian‘s hit on Ryan Hartman is mentioned there, but just in case you missed it, here it is one more time:

Factoids of the night

Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators continued their hot streak by blanking the Flyers. Rinne enjoys a milestone moment:

Two impressive bits regarding how dominant McDavid and Karlsson have been:

Scores and more

Bruins 6, Canucks 3 (more)

Devils 5, Senators 4 [OT] (more)

Islanders 4, Rangers 3 [SO]

Predators 1, Flyers 0

Lightning 2, Blue Jackets 0 (more)

Oilers 2, Blackhawks 1 [OT] (more)

Blues 4, Avalanche 3

Hurricanes 2, Flames 1

Stars 5, Coyotes 4

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.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Should Erik Gudbranson get suspended for boarding Frank Vatrano?

8 Comments

The Boston Bruins power play made Erik Gudbranson and the Vancouver Canucks pay with three goals during the major for his hit on Frank Vatrano, but the NHL might decide to go further.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety confirmed that Gudbranson, 25, will receive a Friday hearing for the boarding check. The league tends to be vague about this, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that it’s expected to being an interview over the phone, rather than the in-person variety that can bring about harsher punishments.

Vatrano returned to the Bruins’ eventual 6-3 win against the Canucks, yet there’s a chance that he might have a setback. (Knowing Boston’s recent luck, don’t count on good news until you see it.)

Watch the video and Gudbranson’s fight with Tim Schaller in the video above, via Hockey Fights.

Fans responded to that announcement by pointing out one of Thursday’s other questionable hits: Zack Kassian on Ryan Hartman, which only drew a minor penalty:

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.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

McDavid dazzles again, Oilers break slump with OT win vs. Blackhawks

Getty
9 Comments

Update: The Edmonton Oilers ended up needing every bit of Connor McDavid‘s brilliance, as goals weren’t coming easily against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

(Even though, as you can see with that highlight-reel assist, McDavid often makes it look easy.)

McDavid also managed a secondary assist on Mark Letestu‘s overtime-winner, ending the Edmonton Oilers’ losing streak at four games. The Blackhawks continue to be resourceful in getting standings points, in this case falling 2-1 in OT.

Anton Forsberg made 40 of 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough against a driven group led by number 97.

Here’s the OT goal.

If you haven’t seen the more amazing of McDavid’s two helpers, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.

***

Connor McDavid’s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.

To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.

You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.

If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:

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.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Bergeron bombastic in return, but Bruins lose Krejci to injury

Getty
2 Comments

The roller coaster isn’t slowing down for the Boston Bruins.

With Tuukka Rask‘s concussion looming over the proceedings, the Bruins gave fans some reason to celebrate; Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and three assists in an impressive 6-3 output by the B’s top guns against the overmatched Vancouver Canucks.

Even Anders Bjork enjoyed some measure of redemption after bowling over Rask in practice, as the young player scored two goals and an assist despite being limited to 12:29 TOI.

Other big guns like Brad Marchand did their increasingly reliable damage, with David Pastrnak probably providing the most exhilarating goal of the contest:

Yeah, that might get some attention from Canucks coach Travis Green in film sessions, assuming he doesn’t just burn the tape.

Bergeron broke down his night to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the game:

The Bruins really made Erik Gudbranson and the Canucks pay for boarding Frank Vatrano, as they scored three power-play goals on the major penalty. Vatrano’s another health situation to watch, although it’s heartening that he returned during the game.

MORE: Gudbranson faces hearing for hit

***

So … solid stuff overall, as the Bruins provided ample evidence that they might have the weapons to scrap through all this bad luck.

Then again, if opponents can slow the top-end guys, you wonder what kind of supporting cast the Bruins will have left through this run of attrition. David Krejci is the latest name to land on Boston’s troubling list of walking wounded.

Here’s hoping that it isn’t a big issue for a veteran center who’s dealt with nagging injuries in recent years.

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.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS: