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Therrien has high praise for Pacioretty after Habs bump slump

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Montreal’s long scoring drought ended with a five-goal outburst Thursday night, and that was just enough for the Canadiens to end a four-game losing streak.

Alex Galchenyuk scored 2:13 into overtime to give the Canadiens a 5-4 victory against the Arizona Coyotes. Max Pacioretty had two goals and two assists, one on the winning play.

“You know what? Pac was a true leader tonight,” Montreal coach Michael Therrien said. “He was a true captain. He took charge. He played a hell of a game and deserves a lot of credit for that win.”

Christian Dvorak scored twice for Arizona, his second tying it at 4 with 4:52 to play in regulation when he hit a wobbling puck into goalie Carey Price, who kicked it into the net.

Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist for Montreal. Max Domi, in his third game back since missing two months with a broken bone in his hand, had a goal and an assist for Arizona.

The Canadiens were shut out in their two previous games, the most recent an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Colorado.

“It was a big one for us,” Galchenyuk said. “It was an up-and-down game but, like we talked here in the locker room, we needed to get that win no matter what. It wasn’t a perfect game but we got the win and that’s the most important thing.”

The Coyotes took a 3-2 lead with a three-goal blitz over a 2:21 span late in the second period, but coach Dave Tippett said his team really had no business making the game as close as it was.

“We didn’t have enough guys play well enough to win the game,” he said. “When you don’t deserve to win the game, you don’t win a game very often.”

Tippett said Domi “was good.”

“That’s the first game since he’s come back that he really looked like he had his skating legs,” Tippett said. “We needed a few more players with skating legs tonight.”

Mike Smith made 35 saves for Arizona. Price had 20 for the Canadiens, who outshot the Coyotes 40-24.

Pacioretty’s 27th goal of a season, 2:52 into the third period, tied it 3-all. Montreal regained the lead at 4-3 when Alexander Radulov scored with 10:04 remaining in regulation.

The first Arizona goal came on a power play, when Dvorak took a pass from Domi and scored on a left wrister into the upper right hand corner of the net with 6:14 to play in the second period.

The next two Arizona goals came 23 seconds apart.

With both teams down a player, Domi got a goal on a reversal of a call on the ice. Arizona’s Peter Holland lost control of the puck at the net on a breakaway and Domi tried to jam the rebound past Price. At first, the ruling was no goal. But after a video review, Domi was awarded the score.

And 23 seconds later, the Coyotes caught Price looking the wrong way for a short-handed goal. Alex Goligoski knocked the puck into the open net to put Arizona ahead 3-2.

“It’s tough going into the third period with a lead in this league,” Domi said, “so when you do you’ve got to take advantage of that and find a way to win the last 20 minutes, and we came up a little short.”

Montreal entered the game having not scored in 137 minutes, 11 seconds, but the drought ended in a hurry when Pacioretty took a pass from Phillip Danault in front and sent the puck past Smith 57 seconds in.

The Canadiens made it 2-0 with 6:50 left in the first on Markov’s slap shot from the point. The puck glanced off Goligoski’s stick, hit the post and bounced into the net. It was Markov’s first goal since Nov. 18.

WATCH LIVE: Minnesota Wild at Detroit Red Wings

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The Minnesota Wild are looking to snap out of their recent slump that has seen them stumble down the stretch run of the regular season.

After getting embarrassed on home ice on Saturday afternoon against the Vancouver Canucks they are back in action on Sunday afternoon in Detroit against the Red Wings. It is their last ever visit to Joe Louis Arena before the building closes at the end of this season.

All of the action begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Follow all of the action there, or via our Live Stream.

Click here for the Live Stream

Preview: Wild look to bounce back from embarrassing loss

 

Crosby on criticism from Sens owner Melnyk: ‘He likes to hear himself talk, so let’s just leave it’

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One day after Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot had the tip of his finger busted apart by a Sidney Crosby slash, team owner Eugene Melnyk made an appearance on Ottawa radio and sounded off on Crosby. Along with calling for a lengthy suspension for the Penguins’ captain, Melnyk referred to Crosby as a “whiner beyond belief.”

It was all part of a pretty eventful for week for Crosby that saw him not only extend his lead in the NHL goal scoring race, but also be involved in a couple of stick incidents (the slash on Methot, a spearing incident involving Ryan O'Reilly) that should have been penalized.

On Sunday, Crosby was finally asked about Melnyk’s criticism and he did not really seem to have much interest in addressing it.

“I’m just going to leave it,” Crosby said following the team’s morning skate. “He likes to hear himself talk, so let’s just leave it. It was four days ago.”

As bad as the result was (and it was terrible for Methot), the NHL was never going to suspend somebody for that type of slash.

The department of player safety has only suspended two players for slashing since it came into existence (it has also never suspended a player for spearing).

The bigger issue is that slashes like that are, unfortunately, accepted as part of the game and get overlooked so consistently during games.

NHL analyst Mike Johnson put together a pretty lengthy compilation over the weekend of Senators players (including Methot) being guilty of the same type of slashing incidents. They should be penalized, including this one. But the unfortunate result of this particular one was never going to escalate it to any sort of supplemental discipline. Keep in mind that earlier this season Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau had his hand broken in a game after he was on the receiving end of no fewer than 15 slashes from the Minnesota Wild, resulting in no discipline from the league (and only one penalty during the game).

This is not the first time Melnyk has gone off regarding an incident with the Penguins.

A few years back he launched a “forensic investigation” into determining whether or not Matt Cooke intentionally sliced Erik Karlsson‘s achilles tendon with his skate blade during the 2012-13 season. He continued to seek out ways to have Cooke punished for the incident following it.

It sure would be something if these two teams ended up meeting in the playoffs this season.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins host Flyers as chase for top spot in Metropolitan continues

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The second game on the NBC networks on Sunday will feature Keystone state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET, and you can catch all of the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

The Penguins, currently in a three-team race (along with the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets) for the Metropolitan Division crown, are still dealing with a mountain of injuries that has them playing without Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta, and Ron Hainsey. Even with that injured list they are still finding a way to collect points in the standings and enter Sunday’s game with an 8-1-3 record over their past 12 games.

They enter the day three points back of the Capitals for the top spot in the division and the entire league.

They have dropped two consecutive games in a shootout and are looking to avoid what would be their first three-game losing streak since January (it is also their only three-game losing streak of the season).

Given that they have been without their second best player, pretty much an entire top-four on defense (including their No. 1 defenseman), and a couple of other key forwards this has been an incredible run over the past few weeks. It speaks not only to the depth of the organization, but also to the way the top players, specifically Sidney Crosby, have been able to carry the team through the injuries in recent weeks.

Crosby has eight goals and 12 points over the past eight games alone as he tries to secure his second goal scoring crown and keep pace with Connor McDavid in the Art Ross race.

On Sunday evening the Penguins will wrap up their season series with the Flyers and are looking to win it. The Penguins won the first two meetings of the season, including a 4-2 win in the Stadium Series at Heinz Field back in February. The Flyers however won the last meeting, shutting out the Penguins 4-0 in Philadelphia earlier this month.

While the Penguins are competing for the top spot in the NHL, the Flyers are simply looking to salvage something from a season that has turned into a pretty big disappointment after appearing to be trending in the right direction back in December when they put together a 10-game winning streak. Since that winning streak however the Flyers have gone just 15-22-5 and are going to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years and the third time in the past five.

The one bright spot for the Flyers this season has been the play of power forward Wayne Simmonds who is just one goal away from recording his second straight 30-goal season.

NHL on NBC: Wild look to bounce back after embarrassing loss

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With losses in 10 of their 13 games so far in the month of March the Minnesota Wild are fading during the stretch run of the 2016-17 season.

It is a slump that has almost certainly cost them the Central Division crown (something they seemed destined to win as recently as a month ago) and has caused some concern with the playoffs just around the corner.

Things seemed to only get worse on Saturday when they were embarrassed on home ice by the Vancouver Canucks, a defeat that prompted coach Bruce Boudreau to pretty much rip into his team’s effort.

The only good news is they do not have to wait long to get back on the ice and get rid of the sour taste that effort left.

They will be making their final trip to Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon when they visit the Detroit Red Wings. All of the action can be seen on NBC or via our Live Stream. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.

While the Wild, a team that is headed to the playoffs and had been in contention for a division crown, is playing some of its worst hockey of the season right now, the Red Wings, a team going nowhere this season with nothing to play for, has put together a nice little run in recent weeks with a 3-1-1 record in its past five games, collecting seven out of a possible 10 points. Henrik Zetterberg, still the team’s best player even at age 36, has been playing especially well for the Red Wings over the last quarter of the season, collecting 30 points in his past 26 games. That includes five multi-point games in the month of March alone.

After Saturday’s loss to Vancouver the Wild now find themselves eight points back of the Blackhawks in the standings with eight games to play. This after the Wild held a five-point lead over the Blackhawks (with a game in hand) when the month of March began. That is a massive swing in the standings in a very short period of time, and will likely result in Boudreau failing to win a division title for just the second time in his career as an NHL coach.

Still, the Wild know they are going to the playoffs (they actually clinched a spot on Saturday, even with the loss to Vancouver) and they know they are now likely to be the second place team in the Central Division and get a first-round matchup with either the Nashville Predators or St. Louis Blues. Still, this is not the way they want to be heading into the playoffs.

They would probably like to start getting things back in the right direction on Sunday.