Author: James O'Brien


David Backes ejected after boarding, bloodying Karl Alzner


It might be a Sunday matinee, but the Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues aren’t playing a sleepy game. At least not physically.

Kevin Shattenkirk was injured after a collision with Alex Ovechkin and now David Backes’ night is over early after he received a game misconduct and five-minute boarding major for this hit on Karl Alzner:

The Blues might have made that the turning point of the season period instead of the Capitals taking advantage, as St. Louis killed the major power-play opportunity. In fact, Washington only managed two shots on goal on that man advantage.

Not that much later, Alexander Steen scored his second goal so far to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead. We’ll see if there are more fireworks going forward.

Here’s a shot of the hit:


The aftermath:


It may take some time to find out if Backes, 30, will be fined or suspended.

Video: Shattenkirk injured, won’t return after collision with Ovechkin

Kevin Shattenkirk

The St. Louis Blues have been red-hot lately, and Kevin Shattenkirk has been a big part of their success, but Sunday showed how quickly such things can change.

Shattenkirk took an ugly spill after a collision with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin in the first period. He won’t return.

It’s currently labeled a lower-body injury, which might be the best news for St. Louis:

Just moments ago, David Backes was ejected for boarding Karl Alzner, so it’s been a physical contest so far. Tune in on NBCSN.

Ovechkin becomes fifth player to start career with 10 straight 30+ goal seasons

Alex Ovechkin

As Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin approaches 30, the milestones are starting to really come.

He hit a very impressive one on Sunday, as he scored his 30th goal of 2014-15, giving him at least that many tallies in 10 straight seasons. As’s Adam Vingan notes, Ovechkin is just the fifth player in NHL history to accomplish that feat to start a career, joining Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mike Gartner.

Ovechkin deserves some bonus points for managing this feat even with the 48-game, lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, when he scored 32 goals. This represents his 452nd career regular season tally, so one assumes it might not be long before he hits the big 500 plateau. He tied Rod Brind’Amour for 56th all-time in goals as of this writing.

The 29-year-old found the net today in a familiar way: from the faceoff dot area on the power play (with assists by Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom):

Update: Ovechkin scored his second goal in the second period, giving him 31 on the season and 453 career regular-season tallies.

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Capitals

Washington Capitals v St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues are looking pretty super. The Washington Capitals aren’t exactly bowling over opponents lately.

In case it wasn’t too obvious, the two teams are playing before a certain big game kicks off, so you can watch some high-octane action before football and ludicrously expensive advertisements get in gear later on today. The Blues and Capitals lock horns on NBCSN; you can also watch the game online via NBC Sports Live Extra:


Check out this preview to get revved up a bit more.

End nearing? Lightning waive Nabokov

Evgeni Nabokov, Ben Bishop

In an ideal scenario, the Tampa Bay Lightning likely envisioned Evgeni Nabokov providing veteran experience behind Ben Bishop, at least until Andrei Vasilevskiy was ready for the jump.

That just hasn’t been the case in reality, however, and the Lightning responded as such by placing him on waivers Sunday (according to a wide variety of reporters including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman).

The team hasn’t officially backed that up yet, so we can’t be sure that Vasilevskiy, 20, will get the call to back up Bishop. That would certainly seem to be the logical case, especially since the promising prospect has three wins in four starts this season.

Hey, at least Bishop is playing extremely well:

Looking further, it’s difficult to shake the impression that Nabokov, 39, is approaching the end of the line.

The veteran netminder’s overall numbers are lousy (3-6-2 with a .882 save percentage). He hasn’t won since Dec. 11 and only saw the ice for two abbreviated appearances in January.

Nabokov floundered a bit in his third season with the New York Islanders in 2013-14, managing just a 15-14-8 record with a mediocre .905 save percentage. That disappointing output limited his offseason options to backup gigs, and now we’ll need to wait and see how many opportunities he gets going forward.

Of course, there’s always the chance a team scoops him up at full price and he shows that he still has something left in the tank …