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NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Sabres both need to bounce back after ugly losses

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Buffalo Sabres aren’t completely out of the playoff picture just yet, but they’ll have to rattle off a few wins in the second half of the season if they hope to play a little deeper into spring.

The Sabres are currently seven points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the last Wild Card spot in the east, and they have two games in hand. That’s not an insurmountable hill to climb, but the problem is that they need to leap over seven teams to get there.

They had been playing some decent hockey going into the All-Star break, which was encouraging. Unfortunately for them, their first game back was a bit of disaster, as they were thoroughly dominated in Montreal, 5-2, on Tuesday night.

Buffalo will have to put that poor performance behind them, and it starts at home against the Rangers tonight.

“That can’t be how we play. That can’t be who we are as a group,” head coach Dan Bylsma said, per the Buffalo News. “… That wasn’t a good game from from the group but that’s also not who we are as a group and how we play. There’s got to be a rebound as to how we respond.”

Even though the Rangers lost their last game before the break and their first game back, they’re still in a much better spot than the Sabres.

New York currently owns the top Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with a somewhat comfortable lead over the rest of the pack (they’re seven points ahead of the other Wild Card team, Philadelphia).

The one thing that’s concerning is the up and down play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He went through a particularly bad slump last month, but it appeared as though he was coming out of it after he beat the Red Wings and Kings in back-to-back games.

But on Tuesday night, he showed that he might not be over the slump that has plagued him this season, as he was yanked after allowing three goals on 16 shots against Columbus.

“I know I need to be better,” Lundqvist said, per the New York Post. “That third goal is a killer. As a group, we responded really well in the third. Especially the third goal bothers me. It’s back to work [Wednesday] to get better [and] improve.”

This is the third goal he was referring to:

After tonight, one of these teams is going to say they were able to bounce back, while the other will keep searching for answers.

It should be a good one!

 

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

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Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

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Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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