James O'Brien

Advantage Connor: McDavid scores seconds into first game vs. Eichel

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If Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby isn’t enough for you tonight, there’s also Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel.

Much like Ovechkin and Crosby, McDavid and Eichel aren’t experiencing a ton of team success in their rookie seasons, but you don’t have to watch long to see both players do dazzling things.

In Tuesday’s case, you didn’t even need to wait a minute into McDavid’s first shift to see him score a goal. Enjoy that clip in the video above.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins' Ian Cole (28) and Washington Capitals' Stanislav Galiev (49) collide during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. The Capitals won 4-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP
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Consider this: if the playoffs began today, fans would be treated to a marquee first-round matchup between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

(Does that make Caps fans at least a little nervous?)

As much as some groan about any mention of Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin, they’re both huge stars, and they’re supported by some other great talents on display tonight.

You can watch a bout between the East and NHL-leading Capitals vs. the intriguing wild card (in more ways than one) Penguins on NBCSN. It’s also available for streaming via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Brayden Schenn’s first hat trick helps Flyers cool Flames

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Patric Hornqvist wasn’t the only player who generated his first career hat trick on Monday.

Brayden Schenn accomplished that feat, too, guiding the Philadelphia Flyers to an important 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames.

Schenn is on quite the hot streak as his contract year enters its stretch run. He now has six points during a three-game point streak and 12 points in his past eight contests.

That’s a well-timed run of momentum considering Philly’s tough news from today, as Jakub Voracek is expected to miss about two weeks with a lower-body injury.

The Flyers are going to need a lot from guys like Schenn as well as Wayne Simmonds, who enjoyed a two-goal game of his own.

Sure, there were tense moments when the Flyers saw a 4-1 margin slim to 4-3 before Simmonds’ insurance goal locked things up, but Philly’s going to need to find ways to win (and some of them might be ugly).

It remains to be seen if the Flyers can keep pace with their buddies in Pittsburgh and the rest of the East’s bubble bunch, and Schenn has a golden opportunity to profit off of this bid.

Rangers grind out win in Eric Staal’s quiet debut

Referee Greg Kimmerly (18) avoids Columbus Blue Jackets' Cam Atkinson (13) as he fights for control of the puck with New York Rangers' Eric Staal (12) and Keith Yandle (93) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP
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Eric Staal didn’t set the world (or Madison Square Garden) on fire during his New York Rangers debut, but a win is a win.

The Rangers beat their old pal Torts and the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Monday, riding a Derek Stepan shorthanded game-winner to victory.

This might shock you, but John Tortorella wasn’t very happy about the Stepan goal, pleading the fifth when asked to comment:

Here’s the tally itself:

Staal didn’t make much of an impact, generating a shot on goal and zero points in a little under 16 minutes of ice time.

On the bright side, he seemed to avoid what would have been a pretty frustrating injury:

Eric Staal might not appreciate the novelty of playing with his brother, but Marc seems delighted.

Now, playing for a contender? Eric Staal hasn’t experienced that sensation in some time.

If the Rangers want to go deep, they’ll eventually need Staal to lead the way, at least on certain nights.

Coyotes ugly: Arizona suffers sixth straight loss in 6-0 defeat to Pens

Pittsburgh Penguins' Patric Hornqvist, center, is congratulated by Olli Maatta, left, and Sidney Crosby after scoring his second goal against Arizona Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
AP
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The Arizona Coyotes plummeted to the West basement last season. It’s starting to look like they might see a similar drop toward the end of 2015-16.

They didn’t just lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. Instead, they got destroyed by a score of 6-0, which fits in well with their six-game losing streak.

To some the story of this game was Patric Hornqvist, who collected his first career hat trick and added an assist for good measure. This really might spotlight Arizona’s fall from bubble contender to lottery fodder as well, however.

The Coyotes only have three wins since Jan. 26. This slump isn’t as extreme as the one that saw the Coyotes manage just four wins for about two months in 2014-15, but the broader result may be similar.

Arizona sold off some talent during the trade deadline, so it’s not as if management is in denial. Still, a really bad finish may dampen some of the optimism fans may have developed in seeing strong work, especially from young players like Max Domi and Anthony Duclair.

Hey, at least they ended up with Dylan Strome for their troubles last year, so maybe a big fall might be worth it in the long run.