Pavel Buchnevich

Rangers end Penguins winning streak in 4-3 win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins threw everything and then some at the New York Rangers in the dying moments of the third period.

But their efforts, valiant as they were for a Penguins team trying their darndest to push their winning streak to five games, came and went in vain in a 4-3 defeat on Wednesday night.

The Rangers simply stuck around in the game and pounced on their opportunities presented to them.

Pittsburgh appeared to get a favorable break on the night after it was announced Henrik Lundqvist would miss the game because of the flu. That left the Rangers to send out Ondrej Pavelec, the owner of just a single win this season and a save percentage well below .900.

But Pavelec stopped 41-of 43 en route to his second win of the season.

It appeared to be going well early for Pittsburgh, who took a 1-0 lead past not too long after the midway point in the first period, with Conor Sheary ending an eight-game goal-less run with his ninth of the season.

Rangers rookie forward Boo Nieves (one of the best nicknames in the league) scored his first NHL goal to tie the game 1-1.

Phil Kessel would restore the advantage for the Penguins in the second frame, scoring his fifth goal in his past six games to make it 2-1.

The Rangers would lead before the second period ended. Jesper Fast and Mats Zuccarello scored just under five minutes apart to take a 3-2 advantage into the final period.

The Pens tied it up 3-3 through Patric Hornqvist, who wired a wrist shot on a breakaway past Pavelec.

But Pavel Buchnevich would seal it for the Rangers just after the midway point of the period.

Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry lost his first start since taking over for Matt Murray, who suffered a lower-body injury last week.

Jarry had strung together two solid outings, allowing just one goal over both contests prior to Tuesday.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Mika Zibanejad’s concussion a tough pill to swallow for the Rangers

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It’s a not a deathblow, but the loss of Mika Zibanejad certainly packs a devastating punch to the New York Rangers lineup that has a tough divisional schedule on the horizon.

The Rangers announced Thursday that Zibanejad is out indefinitely with a concussion after a hit he sustained from Darren Helm last Friday against the Detroit Red Wings.

It’s a tough pill to swallow in the Big Apple, for a couple reasons.

Zibanejad is the team’s top goal scorer with 11 and point producer with 22. He’s also the team’s top-line center on a line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich that has combined for 58 points this season.

And there might not be a worse time for Zibanejad to be out of the lineup. The Rangers, who have won 10 of their past 13 games and sit four points adrift of third place in the Metropolitan Division, play half of their next 12 games against divisional opponents.

David Desharnais filled in for Zibanejad on Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to the Florida Panthers. He collected three assists in the game, but his long-term viability between Krieder and Buchnevich is questionable.

The loss of Zibanejad leaves the Rangers a little light on center depth as well. The Rangers traded Adam Cracknell to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday for center Peter Holland. Holland is expected to start with the Hartford Wolfpack of the American Hockey League but could be an option down the middle at some point.

Perhaps the most concerning part, for both Zibanejad and the Rangers going forward is that Zibanejad has been concussed five times dating back to his final season in Sweden in 2011-12. 

His last came during the 2015-16 season when he was with the Ottawa Senators.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Faksa’s hot hand cools Vegas

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Player of the Night: Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars.

In a span of 6:46, Faksa scored all three of the Stars’ goals in a 3-0 win, slowing down the Vegas Golden Knights for at least one night. (That face he’s making in the post’s main image is actually a reaction to all of the gambling/”Facts of Life” puns that thankfully didn’t make it into headlines.)

This is the first hat trick of Faksa’s career. He now has eight goals this season, putting him in a position to crush last season’s career-high of 12 goals.

Troll of the Night: Glen Gulutzan

There’s believing in your team and then there’s challenging an empty-netter with less than a second remaining.

Someone should break down the environmental impact of the NHL actually having to go through the motions of doing a blog post and everything else they would normally do on this tally.

Wasted Rally

The Rangers admirably fought back from a three-goal deficit to tie things up against the Panthers, with Chris Kreider (two goals, one assist) and Pavel Buchnevich (1G, 2A) leading the way. For those who question Kreider’s efforts, consider this goal:

It was all for naught, as Denis Malgin – new addition to Florida’s top line – scored the game-winner, and didn’t even have the decency to wait until overtime.

Highlights of the Night

Bo Horvat made a great play, with bonus points for it this goal coming at John Tavares‘ expense. Save that puck, kid.

To little surprise, Tavares got the last laugh, powering the red-hot Islanders to a 5-2 win.

Malcolm Subban made some sweet saves for Vegas in a losing effort, too:

Factoids

Anze Kopitar is about as hot to start this season as he was cold in all of 2016-17, basically:

Circling back to Tavares, maybe the Islanders should stay in Brooklyn a little longer, after all?

A friendly reminder that Auston Matthews is a premium “volume shooter,” among other skills.

John Tortorella isn’t just good at landing gigs, he usually makes his presence felt.

Scores

Lightning 2, Sabres 0
Islanders 5, Canucks 2
Panthers 5, Rangers 4
Sharks 3, Flyers 1
Blue Jackets 3, Hurricanes 2 (SO)
Kings 4, Red Wings 1
Predators 3, Blackhawks 2
Maple Leafs 4, Flames 1
Oilers 3, Coyotes 2 (OT)
Stars 3, Golden Knights 0

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.

WATCH LIVE: New York Rangers at Chicago Blackhawks

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Two Original Six teams will be facing off on Wednesday Night Rivalry when the New York Rangers visit the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Rangers enter the game on a roll with wins in eight of their past 10 games, including six in a row. They look to keep that streak going against a Blackhawks team that has been trending in the opposite direction with a 5-8-1 mark in its past 14 games.

Pavel Buchnevich has been especially strong for the Rangers in recent games with five points in his past three games, including three goals (one in each of the past three games).

You can watch the game live on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET or on the NBC Sports app.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Preview: Rangers look to push their winning streak to seven against Blackhawks.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Negative experience’ with Vegas helped Shipachyov appreciate KHL days

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–Team USA announced that their men’s and women’s hockey team rosters will be unveiled on New Year’s Day. (NBC Sports)

–Former Olympic rivals Julie Chu (Team USA) and Carolina Ouellette (Canada) welcomed a baby last Sunday. (NBC Sports)

–For the first time ever, the IIHF will be compensating teams that will be sending players to the Olympics. The teams will get roughly $8,000 per player that participates in the tournament. (eurohockeyclubs.com)

–Former NHL defenseman Darius Kasparitis played for Russia on the international stage, but he’s going to represent Lithuania at the upcoming World Hockey Championship Division I Group B tournament next spring. (IIHF.hockey)

Jonathan Drouin and his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, finally settled a dispute over a $212,500 performance bonus. Drouin needed to hit 0.73 points-per-game last season to get the money, and he did. But the Lightning contended that it was actually 0.726 points-per-game. In the end, they had to pay him most of the money. (Sportsnet)

–Since being put back on the first line, Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich has been playing some great hockey. There’s no doubt that the chemistry between Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider is alive and well. (blueshirtbanter.com)

–The Ottawa Senators were able to land Matt Duchene in a three-way deal with Nashville and Colorado last week. Duchene is the biggest name involved in the trade, but it sure seems like the Preds are the team that improved the most. (Sporting News)

–The pairing of Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton don’t come to mind when thinking of the top defense duos in the NHL, but their numbers show that they’ve been remarkably good together. Incredibly enough, Tanev and Hutton have been on the ice for just four even-strength goals against. (vancourier.com)

–The New Jersey Devils thought so highly of Pavel Zacha that they made him the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But sixth-rounder from 2016 Jesper Bratt has been the better of the two players this season. Somehow, they need to get Zacha playing like Bratt. (allaboutthejersey.com)

–Former Vegas Golden Knight Vadim Shipachyov signed a new contract with SKA Saint Petersburg last week. In a Q & A with the team’s website, Shipachyov admitted that his negative experience in the NHL helped him appreciate what he had in Russia. (SKA.ru)

–Here’s an incredibly sad story. Arianna Dougan, who was a young girl that had a special connection with the Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko, passed away at the age of 11. As you’d imagine, the news shook up the team. “The world is a sadder place without Ari, but we’re thankful to have gotten to know her and to have given her a distraction from her battle with cancer, if only for a few days,” the Blues wrote on their website. “Her road trip was supposed to create lasting memories for her, but it ended up meaning the world to us.” (NHL.com/Blues)

–Sorry for ending today’s Skate with another sad story, but we have to mention the passing of former Providence College hockey player Drew Brown, who had a courageous battle with cancer. He was just 25 years old.  “Drew touched everyone with whom he came into contact with his energy, his smile and his big heart,” said head coach Nate Leaman. “Drew was a thoughtful, soft-spoken teammate who would do anything for his team. Drew showed amazing courage in his battle with cancer. Our Friar family will miss him dearly. With the support of one another, we will find strength to honor Drew.” (Friars.com)

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.