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Kings bicker over who covers Erik Karlsson; We all win

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With Halloween approaching, hockey fans are already getting rare glimpses into the lighter side of NHL players. Still, it’s a special sensation when something whimsical actually happens during a game.

Such was the case in 3-on-3 overtime during the Los Angeles Kings’ eventual 3-2 shootout win against the Ottawa Senators last night.

Even if you (understandably) give a lot of credit to Anze Kopitar, the resurgence of Dustin Brown has been one of the least expected, under-the-radar stories of this early season. Perhaps some of what makes Brown effective is knowing his limitations, however, as even Erik Karlsson had a laugh when Brown told Drew Doughty that he wanted no part of Karlsson with all of that open nice:

The #Kings debating who will cover #ErikKarlsson in overtime is everything 😂😂

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Tremendous. Since we’re on the subject of lighter moments, this Minnesota Wild fan possibly becoming a Vancouver Canucks fan should brighten your day:

That face is the understated, hockey version of “kid going nuts after getting a Nintendo 64.”

(Hold on, let me search for my childlike wonder for a second.)

Circling back, the first clip seems like a decent excuse to take a really quick look at how Karlsson and Brown are doing so far.

Erik eases back in, as much as Karlsson can ease back in

So far, it seems like Karlsson is still a special player, even with a chunk of his ankle bone missing (again, hockey players).

Through four games, it seems like business as mostly usual for the freakishly talented defenseman. Karlsson has six assists in those contests, with a healthy 13 shots on goal. The Swede averages just under three SOG per contest for his career, a big part – but not the only element – of why he tends to be such a possession monster.

While Guy Boucher is likely easing Karlsson back in (at least relatively speaking, as the Senators still need him badly), the clever coach might want to consider saving number 65’s energy for the playoffs. At least if this team has the breathing room for such luxuries.

In 2015-16, Karlsson approached Ryan Suter-like useage by averaging an absurd 28:58 TOI per game. Last season, Karlsson was down to 26:50, while he’s currently averaging 25:50. That really might not be such a bad bar to set for all of 2017-18.

Brown does it for Kings

Looking at Dustin Brown’s career stats, it’s almost as if the last lockout broke him. He scored 29 points in 46 games in 2012-13, and then his numbers stayed in that range even during full seasons.

So, cut to 2017-18 and Brown has five goals and 11 points in nine games, of course.

With a 14.3 shooting percentage, some of this is luck. He hasn’t been in the double digits in shooting percentage since that 2012-13 campaign, when he connected on 12.7 percent.

It’s not just his scoring and shooting luck that’s going up. Brown has 35 SOG in nine games, close to four per night. He only averaged 2.19 per contest last season. He’s generally been a player who fires the puck quite a bit, so while that number should slip, it might not go down as much as you might expect.

… At least, if he sticks with Kopitar. The Selke-level center isn’t just boosting Brown’s scoring opportunities through the roof, he’s also transforming Brown’s overall opportunities. Since 2013-14, Brown has clocked in at about 16 minutes of ice time per night. In 2017-18, he’s at 20:03.

Again, much like Kings trying to pass the Karlsson matchup torch around, it’s plain to see that Kopitar deserves an enormous chunk of the credit here. Still, with Jeff Carter on IR and the Kings still fairly challenged from a depth standpoint, Los Angeles is likely to give that top line every chance to keep things going, so the Brown rebound could be a real(-ish) thing.

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.

The Buzzer: MacKinnon the hero; Lundqvist gives up zero

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Players of the night:

Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes:

Teravainen picked up two goals and an assist in Carolina’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, while Aho had a goal and two helpers. It was a positive weekend for the ‘Canes as they were able to pick up victories over Buffalo and New York on Saturday and Sunday.

William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights:

The Golden Knights, who are currently second in the Pacific Division, took down the division-leading Kings, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Karlsson in the first period.

Just a hunch, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is probably going to want this one back:

Highlights of the night: 

The Hurricanes may have come up with the victory, but it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy that scored the most impressive goal of the game, as he split two players before beating Cam Ward.

Nathan MacKinnon was up to his old tricks, as he helped the Avs come back to beat the Red Wings. MacKinnon registered the primary assist on Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. He also added this incredible goal in overtime:

Who knew that Ducks defenseman Josh Manson had these kind of moves?

Factoids of the Night:

King Henrik is moving up the all-time list:

Hey, shutouts are never easy, so the fact that King Henrik has 63 of them is pretty impressive. He had to make a key save on Mike Hoffman in the first period:

Ducks goalie John Gibson faced a lot of rubber. He turned away 50 of 52 shots in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

Suspensions of the Night: 

Sunday was a big night for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, as they handed out two suspensions.

The first one was given to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head. Gudas will sit for 10 games. He’ll also forfeit over $408,000 in salary. 

Predators forward Austin Watson was also disciplined for boarding Avalanche rookie Dominic Toninato. Watson, who isn’t a repeat offender, was suspended for two games. 

Hall of Fame Tribute of the Night: 

The Ducks players wore Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’s jerseys during the pre-game warmup. As you probably remember, both players entered the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

I prefer the white “Kariya” jersey, but that’s just me.

Scores:

Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

Rangers 3, Senators 0

Golden Knights 4, Kings 2

Ducks 3, Panthers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head

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We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

“He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per TSN.ca  “It could have been worse, I guess.

“He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Flyers will host Penguins in outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019

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The battle of Pennsylvania will take a new twist, as the NHL announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) on Feb. 23, 2019.

This will be the second time that these two teams play each other in an outdoor game. Last season, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It’s always a special opportunity to take the game back to its roots and have NHL players skate outdoors,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a release. “We competed against the Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh 2017 and look forward to completing the in-state ‘home-and-home’ series at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. It should be a great atmosphere.”

This will be the fifth time that the Penguins are involved in an outdoor door since 2008. They won a shootout decision against Buffalo (2008), they lost a home game to Washington (2011), they lost in Chicago (2014) and they beat the Flyers earlier this year.

It’s the second time the Flyers host an outdoor game (the first one was at Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium). The game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the fourth outdoor game for the Flyers. They lost in Boston in overtime (2010), they dropped home decision to the Rangers (2012), and they had the loss to Pittsburgh last year.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.