James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues – Wednesday Night Rivalry

The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues boast a long-standing rivalry, but even if you ignore the longer history, there are plenty of recent reasons for bad blood between the two teams.

Back in 2013-14, the Blackhawks bounced the Blues from the first round of the playoffs, only for St. Louis to return the favor in 2016. Even with some key figures gone – Jonathan Toews likely won’t miss David Backes – this should be a zesty bout between the Central Division’s top two teams.

The game is being telecast on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET, but you can also enjoy NHL Live to get you caught up on big stories and tonight’s action. Watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Here’s the stream link.

For first time since 1997, Red Wings win in Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA (AP) Andreas Athanasiou tied it midway through the third period and had the only score in the shootout, helping the Detroit Red Wings snap a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit, which ended a 12-game regular season losing streak in Philadelphia dating to Jan. 25, 1997. The Red Wings did win the first two games of the 1997 Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia on their way to a four-game sweep.

Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux scored and Jakub Voracek had a pair of assists for the Flyers.

In the shootout, all three Philadelphia skaters – Travis Konecny, Giroux and Voracek – missed.

After Gustav Nyquist and Frans Nielsen misfired for Detroit, Athanasiou beat Steve Mason on the forehand. Athanasiou pumped his fist along the side boards as his teammates came out to congratulate him.

Couturier made it 2-1 off a setup by Voracek 6:51 into the third period. After his wraparound attempt was denied by Jimmy Howard, Voracek sent the puck back in front of the net and Couturier poked it home for his fourth goal of the season but first in 11 games.

Athanasiou tied it with 8:47 left when he raced past the defense before deking around Mason with a forehand shot.

Mason, making his first start since Oct. 29, made 33 saves.

Howard made consecutive starts for the first time this season after making 26 stops in Detroit’s 2-1 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. He stopped 23 shots.

The Flyers recorded a 4-3 overtime win over Detroit last Tuesday in Philadelphia in the teams’ previous meeting this season.

Giroux gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal 6 1/2 minutes in. Voracek sent a cross-ice pass to Giroux and the Flyers captain went to his knees as he one-timed it high over Howard’s left shoulder.

The Red Wings answered just over two minutes later when Tatar netted his second goal of the season after a Flyers miscue. Philadelphia’s Brandon Manning attempted to clear the puck from next to his own goal but it was blocked by Henrik Zetterberg, who set up Tatar from behind the net for the point-blank shot.

Notes: Red Wings D Tyler Bertuzzi made his NHL debut in place of Thomas Vanek, who missed his seventh game with a lower body injury. Vanek is on longterm IR and is out until at least Nov. 20. Bertuzzi is the nephew of former NHL player Todd Bertuzzi. … Flyers F Wayne Simmonds got a knockout of Jonathan Ericsson with a left hook during a second-period fight. … The teams wrap their three-game season series on Dec. 11 in Detroit. … Konecny delivered big second-period hits to Justin Abdelkader and Steve Ott.


Flyers: At Maple Leafs on Friday night.

Red Wings: Host Vancouver on Thursday night.

Sharks get back on track, end Capitals’ winning streak


WASHINGTON (AP) The San Jose Sharks used a tight-checking defense and solid goaltending to snap a three-game losing streak and get a lengthy road trip off to a positive start.

Martin Jones stopped 24 shots and Brent Burns scored his fifth goal of the season to lead the Sharks past the Washington Capitals 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Burns had second-period goals for the defending Western Conference champions, who scored only four goals during their three-game slide.

“That was a big win for us, just to kind of right the ship a little bit,” Jones said. “We’ve had moments where we’ve been good, and today everything kind of came our way.”

It was Jones’ 14th career shutout and the first of the season for the Sharks, who were coming off a 5-0 loss at home to Pittsburgh.

“We defended really well. We didn’t give up a lot of looks from the middle of the ice, which was huge for us,” Jones said. “That was a good bounce-back game for us.”

The game marked the beginning of a season-long swing through six cities for the Sharks.

“You always want to win that first one on the trip, start it off right, get the good mojo going,” Burns said.

Joe Thornton scored an empty-netter with 1:32 left, but by that time it was evident Washington’s five-game winning streak was done. San Jose blunted three power plays and has killed 27 of the last 28.

“I didn’t think we played poorly at all,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “They did a really good job defending, so you had to really fight to get in the interior. I don’t think we had the desperation we needed until the third period.”

Washington took 10 shots in the third period, none of which severely challenged Jones.

“We defended well,” Jones said. “The looks that they did get, those are the saves they expect you to make.”

It was the first shutout against Washington during the regular season since April 10.

Vlasic broke the scoreless duel at 12:23 of the second period, notching his second goal of the season with a shot that deflected off Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner and past goaltender Braden Holtby.

Burns made it 2-0 at 17:26 with a wrist shot from the right circle that whizzed inside Holtby’s left shoulder. Burns had an unobstructed view of the net because Washington’s defense crowded low around Logan Couture, who passed to his wide-open teammate.

“The way they were playing, when they got that second goal I thought it would be a tough hole to come out of,” Trotz said.

That was more than enough backing for Jones, who came in with a 5-6 record and a 2.56 goals-against average. His last shutout came against Arizona on April 9.

San Jose outshot the Capitals 9-4 during a first period in which each team failed to convert a power play. It was only the third time in 12 games that Washington didn’t score in the first period.

The Capitals were denied a chance to break on top with 11 minutes gone in the second period. Andre Burakovsky broke free down the right side and fired a wrist shot from the top of the circle that Jones trapped under his right arm.


Holtby’s four-game winning streak ended. He had a 1.98 GAA during the run. He made 20 saves in this one. … San Jose improved to 25-9-2 against Washington. … The Capitals fell to 5-2 against Western Conference foes. … Washington star Alex Ovechkin was limited to four shots on goal. He had 12 points in his previous 14 games against the Sharks.


Sharks: Continue the road trip with a matchup against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Capitals: Hit the road after a three-game homestand to face the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night.

Laine nets hat trick as Jets fuel more goalie sadness for Stars


Here’s some comfort for the Dallas Stars: they only face Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets two more times this season, and not again until February.

They should probably mutter those facts to themselves throughout Tuesday night, as Laine & Co. have put on a clinic, shining a harsh light on the Stars’ deficiencies once more.

Laine generated a hat trick already, and he has a period to add to his stats as Winnipeg currently leads the Stars 6-1. To little surprise, both Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi have appeared in this game … and neither have been able to stop the bleeding.

Laine, incredibly, already has two hat tricks in an NHL career that’s only spanned 14 games. He’s now at 11 goals in 2016-17.

Update: Laine ended the night with that hat trick and an assist as the Jets throttled the Stars 8-2.

Canucks finally win, Rangers finally lose


On paper, you’d expect the team with a nine-game losing streak to fall to the squad that’s been highly impressive in reeling off five straight wins. Some of the best sports moments come from the unexpected, however.

The Vancouver Canucks were that embattled team, and they were even on the road after a dispiriting loss against the New York Islanders on Monday. They kept plugging along, however, beating the New York Rangers 5-3 on Tuesday.

It was a bit of a weird ending.

The Rangers seemed like they were going to ride the momentum of Rick Nash‘s 400th career goal, but it was not to be.

Antti Raanta was taken out of the game, possibly because of concussion protocols, and perhaps the Canucks took advantage of Henrik Lundqvist coming in cold. They scored two goals on five shots against King Henrik while Raanta jumped through some hoops.

This goal, in particular, argues for a little Vancouver luck:

Either way, two very different streaks ended on Tuesday night, the latest example that you never know how things might shake out.

/Hopefully tonight’s only vague election reference.

//No guarantees, though.