Associated Press

Barzal, Tavares shine as Islanders edge Canadiens 5-4 in overtime

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The scary thing about Mathew Barzal is that he may just be gaining steam.

Any time the New York Islanders play these days, it turns into Barzal Watch (in the Twitter world: #BarzalWatch). Even if the Islanders had plummeted as of late with five losses in their past six games heading into Monday, many are just tuning in to see what the dynamic rookie is going to do.

Indeed, Barzal has been lights this season, with 44 points in 44 games prior to Monday and coming off the buzz of a five-point game on Saturday — the second time he’s done that this season.

But John Tavares, who had just one goal in nine games coming into Monday, stole some of that spotlight back with a shorthanded goal in regulation and then the game-winner in overtime in a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

Tavares second of the game came 1:51 into over time and after Carey Price made quite the save to stop a redirected attempt by Tavares just before the latter scored the winner.

Barzal was at it again early in the first period as the Islanders jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead.

Barzal fed Anthony Beauvillier with a nice lead pass and the latter ripped home his eighth of the season just down the road from where he grew up in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, beating Carey Price with New York’s first shot of the game.

It was Barzal’s 30th assist of the season and he followed that up with his 16th goal of the year on the Islanders just over five minutes later for the two-goal advantage. Barzal finished with three points and now has 10 in his past three games.

The Canadiens entered the game 2-0-1 in their past three games but were without Phillip Danault due to a puck to the head on Saturday and Andrew Shaw, who was injured in the same game.

Despite their recent success, things looked grim early on, with Price allowing two goals on four shots.

The Hab battled back, first by forcing a turnover in New York’s zone, allowing Jakub Jerabek to quickly find a wide open Nicolas Deslauriers out front to make it 2-1.

Another defensive breakdown by the Isles led to the tying goal as Paul Byron snatched his 12th of the year on a rebound.

Barzal grabbed his third point of the night early in the second period as the Isles restored the lead with Adam Pelech‘s first of the season at 2:37. And the Islanders led by two for the second time as John Tavares scored shorthanded 1:59 later on New York’s 10th shot.

The Canadiens, down two again, needed a second comeback and they put it together beginning with Jonathan Drouin‘s marker with 34 seconds left in the second period.

Montreal completed the comeback on the power play in the third, with Max Pacioretty scoring his 14th at 13:01.

PHT Morning Skate: Best line combinations this season; Vanek on the move?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Up top, check out the highlights from the Penguins’ win over the Rangers on Sunday night.

J.T. Brown will begin a new adventure now that he’s been claimed off waivers by the Anaheim Ducks. (NHL.com/Ducks)

• Don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay hosts an outdoor game in the near future. (Tampa Times)

• If Jake Allen doesn’t put his struggles behind him soon, the Blues’ season could end in disappointment. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

• The South Korean women’s hockey team would like to invite players from North Korea to join their squad. (NBC Sports)

Nathan MacKinnon is grabbing all the headlines in Colorado, but Mikko Rantanen has been huge for the Avs this season. (Mile High Hockey)

• How is each team’s minor league affiliate handing out ice time? Is it mostly going to youngsters or minor-league veterans? (faceoffcircle.ca)

Thomas Vanek has been a pleasant surprise for the Canucks, which means he could be on his way out the door before the trade deadline. (The Province)

• Speaking of the Canucks, Derrick Pouliot has quietly been effective defensively with his new team. (Nucksmisconduct.com)

• Which line combinations have been solid for their respective teams this season? (Fan Rag Sports)

• Former NHLer Emerson Etem has signed a contract with HC Lugano of the Swiss League. (Swiss Hockey News)

Brian Elliott‘s wife, Amanda, has always given back to her community and country. She served as a intelligence officer in the United States Air Force in 2007. She also started a program called “Operation Shower” which is “a nonprofit geared toward hosting baby showers for military members who can’t be with family, friends and loved ones while on deployment.” (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• Mike Babcock not using Auston Matthews on the Leafs’ first power play unit is pretty puzzling. (National Post)

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.

Skate blade grazes Milan Lucic’s neck in scary incident


It was a tough night for gruesome injuries on Saturday.

If Phillip Danault‘s puck to the head of a slap shot from Zdeno Chara wasn’t enough, Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic came within millimeters of his life being in severe jeopardy.

Lucic appeared to fall in the neutral zone and when he did, he took Vegas Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek with him.

In the video below — and in a very serious event that wasn’t all that noticeable during the broadcast — Nosek’s skate grazed Lucic’s neck.

Lucic tweeted a picture of the cut following the Oilers 3-2 overtime win over the Golden Knights. As you can see, s some stitches were required to repair the wound.

In the tweet, he said, “Close call… but ok,” along with the hashtag. “#skategrazedjugular.”

Close call, indeed.

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

PHT Morning Skate: How the Sabres rebuild went horribly wrong

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Goalies David Leggio and Brandon Maxwell were added to Team USA’s roster for the upcoming Olympic Games. (NBC Sports)

• New Hurricanes owner Thomas Dundon admitted that the first thing he wants to do is improve fan experience in Carolina. (News & Observer)

• Jessica Platt is the first transgender woman to play in the CWHL and she’s happy to pave the way for others. (ESPN)

• Former NHLer Matt Johnson was arrested for allegedly causing $1900 worth of damages at a restaurant in California on New Year’s Eve. (TSN.ca)

• Golden Knights defenseman Luca Sbisa will miss up to two months of action after tearing ligaments in his hand. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• The Blackhawks believe there’s plenty of untapped potential in Anthony Duclair‘s game. (NBC Sports Chicago)

• Which teams are legitimate contenders? Sportsnet’s Dimitri Filipovic has data that might surprise you. (Sportsnet)

Jonathan Huberdeau has been shooting the puck a lot more and the results have been impressive. (Fan Rag Sports)

• Coyotes GM John Chayka made some interesting comments about trading Duclair away. “My job is to build a team here and part of building a team is getting players that go out and work hard every night and are coachable.” (Arizona Sports 98.7 FM)

• Even though NHL players won’t be going to the Olympics, Peter Forsberg still believes the hockey will be entertaining. (Reuters.com)

• NHL players won’t be heading to the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine what Team Russia would look like if they were able to send their best players. (Bruins Daily)

• The Rangers need to find defense pairings that could limit the damage against in games. (Blue Seat Blogs)

• AHL referee Tim Mayer is thrilled about going to the Olympics. (MLive.com)

• Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier is hoping to use his stint in the minors to regain confidence. (The Sports Daily)

• Kings and Dodgers organist Dieter Ruehle has been able to come away with some pretty cool experiences over the last couple of years. (NHL.com/Kings)

• Over the last couple of years, the Sabres have shown us what not to do during a rebuild. (Sporting News)

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.

PHT Morning Skate: Pierre McGuire feels ‘great’ after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Buffalo Sabres had an emotional practice yesterday, as Evander Kane and Justin Falk got into it.  As if that wasn’t enough, Zach Bogosian also suffered an injury during the session. (Buffalo Hockey Beat)

• Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk triggered a “fat trick” when he scored a big goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning the other night. The goal allowed ‘Canes fans to take advantage of a bunch of promotional food specials at different local restaurants. (Charlotte Observer)

• Bruins defenseman have done a much better job defending the slot in front of their goaltenders. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

• William Hill sports book will take a pounding if the Golden Knights make the playoffs (that seems likely). They’d lose $1 million if Vegas takes home the Stanley Cup. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

• NBC Olympics announced unveiled their hockey commentary teams for the upcoming Pyeongchang games. (NBC Sports)

• USA Today recently sat down with Team USA GM Jim Johannson to discuss the potential his team possesses. (USA Today)

• Some people in the hockey world were stunned when they found out Alex Carpenter had been cut from Team USA’s women’s team. She led the U.S. in goals as a 19-year-old at the Sochi Olympics. (Sporting News)

• Former NHLer Richard Park has been serving as an assistant coach for South Korea’s hockey team that will be making their Olympic debut this year. (USA Hockey)

• Next week, Team USA’s women’s team will play exhibition games against the NWHL’s best players. 10 of the league’s best players come from the Metropolitan Riveters, who are undefeated this season. (The Ice Garden)

• Cale Makar just won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship, but he turned down an invitation to play for his country at the upcoming Winter Olympics. (TSN.ca)

• Here’s a nice love story. A Bruins fan and a Canucks fan got married in a cool hockey-themed wedding. (Daily Hive)

• Nic Riopel, who’s a goaltender in the Lightning organization, helped get Louis Domingue drafted in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The two knew each other because Riopel had been dating Domingue’s sister. (Syracuse.com)

• NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. McGuire underwent surgery to remove the tumor already. We want to wish him all the best in his recovery. (USA Today)

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.