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NBC Sports releases ‘most diverse schedule ever’ for 2017-18 NHL season

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Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid will each make three appearances on NBC/NBCSN in 2017-18.

On NBC, Matthews’ Maple Leafs will take on the Capitals March 3 at the U.S. Naval Academy. The two NBCSN games featuring Toronto will be Jan. 24 at Chicago and March 5 at Buffalo.

McDavid’s Oilers, meanwhile, will make all three appearances on NBCSN: at St. Louis Nov. 21, vs. Los Angeles Jan. 2, and at Nashville Jan. 9.

“We’re proud to offer our most diverse NHL schedule ever to fans across the country,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President of Production, NBC Sports. “From classic rivalries and historic franchises, to young stars such as Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, a hockey-crazed market in Nashville, and a new franchise in Vegas, this schedule represents our commitment to present the NHL’s diverse and emerging stars, teams, and stories.”

Click here for the full NHL on NBC/NBCSN schedule.

Highlights include:

— NBCSN will televise seven games through the first week of the season, highlighted by the season-opener between the St. Louis Blues and two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins; the Detroit Red Wings’ first-ever regular-season home game at Little Caesars Arena vs. the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 5; the Vegas Golden Knights’ first-ever home game vs. the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 10; and a Wednesday Night Rivalry clash between the Penguins and Washington Capitals on Oct. 11.

— NBC will present the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres from Citi Field in New York City, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, on Jan. 1, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET.

— NBC will air exclusive coverage of the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series in primetime on March 3, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET, when the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Capitals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., home of the U.S. Naval Academy.

— NBC will present coverage of the NHL All-Star Game from AMALIE Arena in Tampa, Fla., home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. NHL All-Star Weekend will take place Saturday, Jan. 27 and Sunday, Jan. 28, and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game.

— The 2017-18 regular season on NBCSN will feature 23 Wednesday Night Rivalry telecasts, plus five Wednesday Nightcaps and five Sunday Night Hockey exclusive games. WNR will feature the biggest rivalries in the NHL, including Penguins-Capitals, Blues-Blackhawks, and Canadiens-Bruins.

— The defending Western Conference champion Nashville Predators will make seven appearances this season on NBCSN, including a pair of home matchups against the Blackhawks on Nov. 28 and Jan. 30.

— The Blackhawks lead all clubs with 17 total appearances on NBC and NBCSN, followed by the Penguins and Flyers with 16, and the Capitals, Red Wings, and Bruins with 15 appearances apiece, respectively. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights will be featured on NBCSN five times this season. *Note: some games are subject to local blackouts*

— At least 53 of NBC and NBCSN’s 99 telecasts will feature at least one Western Conference team, and every U.S. team will appear on NBC or NBCSN in the regular season.

The Buzzer: Ovechkin’s blast lifts Capitals in OT, Sheary speeds by Panthers

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Player of the night: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin has already reached double digits in goals scored in this new campaign. The Capitals’ star recorded his 10th goal of the season on Friday and it counted as the overtime winner against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Capitals trailed late in the third period, but T.J. Oshie scored the tying goal and Ovechkin won it on a power play less than two minutes into the extra period, as he deployed that famous one-timer slap shot from his off-wing. This time, Petr Mrazek was victimized by the wicked slapper.

Ovechkin is now only two goals behind the entire Montreal Canadiens team — in the same amount of games.

Highlight of the night:

What a weapon speed is in today’s National Hockey League. Conor Sheary illustrated that once again, as he saw a little bit of room down the left side and flew around Alex Petrovic before making a move to the backhand on James Reimer. That goal counted as the eventual winner, as the Penguins defeated the Panthers 4-3. Earlier in the third period, Sheary and Roberto Luongo came together near the Florida net, causing Luongo’s right hand to get caught against the post, injuring the Panthers’ netminder.

Factoid of the night:

It was a milestone night in Winnipeg for Blake Wheeler and coach Paul Maurice.

Scores:

Vancouver 4, Buffalo 2

San Jose 3, New Jersey 0

Washington 4, Detroit 3 (OT)

Pittsburgh 4, Florida 3

Winnipeg 4, Minnesota 3

Anaheim 6, Montreal 2

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Video: Price takes out his frustration, as the Habs were crushed again

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It’s gone from bad, to worse, to an absolute nightmare for the Montreal Canadiens.

A three-game trip through California is never fun for opposing teams, but this was misery for the Habs. They were outscored a combined 16-5 in three games against the Sharks, Kings and Ducks, with few, if any positives beyond the second period in a 6-2 loss in Anaheim on Friday.

Montreal hasn’t won since its season opener on Oct. 5, and is now on a seven-game losing skid, unable to generate much offensively with a league worst 10 goals scored through seven games before tonight, while giving up plenty of goals at the other end.

That is a recipe for disaster and even though it’s still early in the season, this has to be a major concern for coach Claude Julien and, in particular, general manager Marc Bergevin.

Read more: Is there a trade to be made between the Penguins and Canadiens?

Down by three after the first period, Montreal had 30 shots on goal during the middle frame and managed to trim Anaheim’s lead down to one heading into the third period. And then, just when it seemed like maybe they were on a path toward an inspirational comeback on the road, it all fell apart.

Three straight goals for Anaheim, with journeyman forward Derek Grant scoring the first two goals of his NHL career — in game No. 93.

As you can probably tell from the clip below, Carey Price was visibly irritated, as he whacked his goalie stick against the post after the sixth Anaheim goal.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Canucks defeat the Sabres, as the losing continues in Buffalo

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The Buffalo Sabres remain stuck on just a single win to begin the season. Jack Eichel is sick of losing, but the losing continues.

Returning home from a four-game road trip out west, the Sabres had an opportunity ahead of them to get back into the win column. The Vancouver Canucks, hardly a powerhouse in any way, were in town. They had played — and lost — the night before in Boston. And then the Sabres went out and were thoroughly outplayed in a 4-2 loss that, one could argue, flattered the hosts.

They weren’t able to take advantage of an early lead after Justin Bailey was allowed access to the net off the rush. They couldn’t hold the lead after Eichel dangled Ben Hutton and then scored on a shot Jacob Markstrom should’ve stopped. They gave up yet another short-handed goal, putting that number at six for the Sabres just eight games into the season.

Instead, Buffalo spent most of the night in its own end, giving up 37 shots through two periods. Hard to pin this, in any way, on goalie Chad Johnson.

“First of all, I thought we didn’t defend well and close quick enough in our defensive zone. We were a little bit slow there tonight. We need to be more aggressive and on the puck,” said head coach Phil Housley after the game.

While the Sabres were badly outplayed, one of the deciding moments in this game was a controversial video review in the second period. Vancouver took the lead on a goal from Daniel Sedin, although Housley challenged for a potential offside after it looked like Jake Virtanen didn’t have control of the puck as he entered the zone.

The linesmen looked over the play for a lengthy review before officials came to the conclusion that Virtanen did have control of the puck as he broke in over the blue line. The goal stood and the Canucks controlled the remainder of the game.

“I disagree with the call, totally,” said Housley. “In my opinion, he knocks the puck out of the air. He never has possession.

“But I call that 10 out of 10 times offside and I would continue to challenge that again.”

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Roberto Luongo leaves game with apparent injury, as Panthers fall to Penguins

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The Florida Panthers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Making matters worse was the fact their goalie Roberto Luongo left the game in the third period with an apparent hand injury.

The injury occurred after a collision in the crease with Penguins forward Conor Sheary.

Luongo immediately went down to the ice in pain. A replay from above the net showed Luongo’s right hand getting caught in an awkward position against the post after coming into contact with Sheary as he cut through in front of the crease in pursuit of the puck.

The injury forced James Reimer off the bench and into the game with the Panthers trailing by a goal. MacKenzie Weegar tied the game for Florida before Sheary scored the eventual winner about eight minutes later, on a night when the Penguins fired 48 shots on the two Panthers goalies.

Luongo gave up three goals on 36 shots before leaving the game. The Panthers now head out on the road. They’ll visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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