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NHL on NBCSN: Caps put 15-game home winning streak on the line against Stars

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Washington Capitals host the Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

It’s been a long time since the Capitals have dropped a game on home ice. Their last defeat at the Verizon Center was over two months ago, when they dropped a shootout decision to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 29.

If you’re looking for their last home loss in regulation, you have to go back two weeks before that defeat to the Devils, when they fell 2-1 to the Canadiens on Dec. 17.

We knew the Capitals would be good this season, but that’s simply an incredible run for them to go on. The fact that we’re over two months into the new year and they still haven’t stumbled on home ice is remarkable.

The run could have ended on Saturday night against Philadelphia, but thanks to a power play goal by Nicklas Backstrom in overtime, the streak hit 15.

When the Capitals acquired Kevin Shattenkirk from St. Louis last week, everyone expected him to give their already lethal power play a significant boost. That hasn’t exactly been true so far.

The Caps had just one shot on goal on their first three power play attempts against Philadelphia before Backstrom cashed in.

Clearly, they’re still adjusting to their new teammate, and Shattenkirk is still getting used to them.

“Sometimes you’re going to have these games [when] the power play is not going,” Backstrom said after the win over Philadelphia, per the Washington Post. “It’s a little bit frustrating. But at the same time, you just have to try to work through it and get better at it.

“We have a new player in there. It’s a lot of new things he needs to take in. I think when we’re all five are clicking, it’s going to look better, from the breakouts to the end zone and where we are. But I thought overall maybe it wasn’t our best game. Obviously the power play was struggling, too.”

Here’s a fun fact for you via the Capitals PR staff:

Kevin Shattenkirk has recorded 24 points (4g, 20a) in 26 career games against the Stars, marking the most points he has earned against an NHL team. In addition, he ranks tied for second among active NHL defensemen in points against Dallas.

As we see every year, when teams that are out of the playoff picture have nothing left to play for, they can become dangerous. So if you expect the Capitals to steamroll the Stars tonight, that might not necessarily happen.

The Stars are coming off a 2-1 win over the Panthers, who are fighting for their playoff lives. That’s not to say that Dallas doesn’t have a chance to sneak into the postseason, but they’re seven points out of the final Wild Card spot and they have to find a way to make up five ROWs.

The win over Florida also snapped Dallas’ six-game losing streak away from home. Prior to Saturday’s victory, their last win away from American Airlines Center was on Jan. 17. It’s also the first time the Stars have given up less than two goals in a game since Dec. 17 (32 games).

So here’s what you’ll have tonight: A Capitals team that hasn’t lost a home game in 2017 taking on a Stars team that has just one road win since Jan. 18. It should be fun!

 

PHT Morning Skate: Zdeno Chara shot catches emergency goalie in a sensitive spot

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–Sean McIndoe looks at five players who became the unlikeliest first 50-goal scorers in their franchise’s history. McIndoe chose Rick MacLeish (Flyers), Rick Vaive (Maple Leafs), Vic Hadfield (Rangers), Guy Chouinard (Flames) and Mickey Redmond (Red Wings). (The Hockey News)

–A lot of people think hockey players are the toughest athletes, but Islanders forward Anders Lee is here to tell you that they aren’t tough at all. In his story for The Players’ Tribune, Lee writes about a tough, young friend, who is battling cancer. “In the seven years since he has been diagnosed, he has gone through multiple surgeries. He’s had countless radiation treatments. He’s gone through chemotherapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplants. And he does it all with a smile on his face. So when I hear people refer to me as tough because I play hockey, I think of Fenov and kids like him.” (The Players’ Tribune)

–The Boston Bruins needed an emergency goalie for their practice yesterday, and they settled on Massachusetts state trooper Kevin Segee. Surely, it was the experience of a lifetime for him, but it didn’t come without pain. Segee was clearly shaken up after getting a Zdeno Chara in the…well, you know. (CSN New England)

–Blackhawks forwards Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane and Tanner Kero each had multi-point games in Wednesday’s 5-1 thumping of the Pittsburgh Penguins. You can watch the highlights from the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–What was the world like the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs? Thanks to Sports Illustrated, we don’t have to wonder. In 1990, J.K. Rowling had just started writing the Harry Potter series, Donald Trump walked out of an interview with CNN because they were asking tough questions about his casino, the first known webpage was written and much, much more. (Sports Illustrated)

–Edmonton Oilers players and their significant others came together to make 400-500 bowls of homemade soup for charity. It’s pretty cool to see most of the team be involved in such a nice event, even though the onion chopping station gave some of the guys a hard time. (Edmonton Oilers on Twitter)

–Sportsnet has assembled the top hits of the week for your viewing pleasure. Hits from that Toronto, Columbus game made the video a couple of times:

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.