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NHL on NBCSN: Oilers hoping ‘bounces’ start going their way vs. Predators

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues as the Edmonton Oilers visit the Nashville Predators at 8 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

The Predators and Oilers are two teams living different lives in the NHL this season. After impressive 2016-17 campaigns, Nashville remains a contender for another year in the Western Conference while Edmonton is looking to use the second half to salvage a disastrous season — one that has seats getting pretty hot.

While they currently sit third in the Central Division, the Predators are having some issues of their own at the moment. They’re 4-4-2 in their last 10 games and two of their top stars are some difficulty scoring, all while their top point-getter, Filip Forsberg, is out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury. His absence has negatively affected linemates Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, who have combined for three goals in their last 11 games.

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“(Forsberg’s) one of the best players in the league,” Johansen told Adam Vingan of The Tennesean, “so obviously he’s going to make me look like a better player and make (Arvidsson) look like a better player and make our line altogether better.”

It’s going to take a lot to make the Oilers better. Where to start? First, if things are to improve, it’s going to be with head coach Todd McLellan behind the bench. General manager Peter Chiarelli gave him a vote of confidence this week and isn’t planning on making any changes.

The team that was seventh in scoring last season is 15th as we approach the All-Star break. Their power play has dropped from 22.9 percent last season to 16.1 percent through 43 games. The penalty kill? It’s an ugly 71.5 percent, which is the 8th-worst output of all-time since the NHL started tracking the stat.

“It starts with a couple of shifts, then a full period, then a couple of periods, then a game,” said forward Zack Kassian via the Edmonton Journal. “That’s how you build momentum. “If you’re looking for excuses that’s normally when you’re not working hard enough. When you’re working hard and things are happening you tend to get bounces. We’re not getting bounces right now.”

The trade deadline arrives on Feb. 26. At what point does Chiarelli make the decision to either look toward next year or try and throw his team a life line by making a trade or two to try and spark the lineup? This is Connor McDavid‘s final year on the cheap. Next year, his cap hit jumps up to $12.5 million and the challenge to ice a competitive roster around him begins.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Merry Christmas Edition

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Players of the Night:

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders: Barzal recorded his first career NHL hat trick against the Winnipeg Jets and took over the rookie scoring lead with 35 points. Not a bad day.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning, John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks, James Reimer, Florida Panthers, Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights, and Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks: Each of these goaltenders recorded shutouts on Saturday night. Vasilevskiy got his fourth of the season, stopping 22 shots to tie Sergei Bobrovsky for the NHL lead in shutouts; Gibson made 29 saves, including one you will see below on Sidney Crosby; Reimer stopped all 38 shots sent his way by the Ottawa Senators; Fleury kept the Capitals in check, stopping 26 shots for his first shutout of the season; and Jones dethroned the Kings, stopping all 28 shots he faced.

Dallas Stars penalty killers: The Stars appeared dead in the water after Jamie Benn and Dan Hamhuis took penalties in overtime against the Nashville Predators, but Ben Bishop and Co. weathered the storm, which included 31 seconds of 5-on-3 time, and ended up taking the game in a shootout on Tyler Seguin‘s winner.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: Kane became the fifth player in Blackhawks history to record his 300th NHL goal on Saturday.

Highlights of the Night:

John Gibson did this to Sidney Crosby tonight:

Barzal’s hatty deserves its spot here:

Taylor Hall scored on this ridiculous deke. Poor Anton Forsberg:

Alexander Radulov‘s shootout goal was pretty filthy:

Factoids of the Night: 

More Barzal:

Vegas keeps, well, Vegasing.

Brock Boeser smashes Pavel Bure’s record by 15 games:

“Merry Christmas to me,” Brock Boeser said, probably.

MISC: 

Scores: 

Bruins 3, Red Wings 1

Islanders 5, Jets 2

Oilers 4, Canadiens 1

Lightning 3, Wild 0

Panthers 1, Senators 0

Devils 4, Blackhawks 1

Ducks 4, Penguins 0

Hurricanes 4, Sabres 2

Blue Jackets 2, Flyers 1 (SO)

Golden Knights 3, Capitals 0

Avalanche 6, Coyotes 2

Stars 4, Predators 3 (SO)

Sharks 2, Kings 0

Blues 3, Canucks 1

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!


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

Are the Edmonton Oilers finally coming around?

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Don’t look now, but the Edmonton Oilers appear to be mounting their assault.

Whether it’s all a tease seems to be seen, but they sure look like the team most expected them to be these days.

Over the past week, the Oilers have rattled off four straight wins, capped off by a 4-1 win on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.

It’s not something they’ve done this season. Hell, winning three straight wasn’t something they’d done this season until they beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Thursday.

These past four games have one common denominator: Cam Talbot.

The man who played in 73 games last year, winning 42 of them, has begun to look like the goalie that posted a .919 save percentage last season and helped carry the Oilers to the playoffs.

Since Talbot returned from injury on Dec. 16, he’s played a part in each of the wins on the four-game heater.

And it hasn’t just been a supporting role.

Talbot has allowed two goals or fewer in three of those four starts (and only three in the other one). He’s won seven straight dating back to Nov. 22 and has allowed two or fewer in six of those contests.

It’s the type of goaltending Oilers fans came to expect after last season, and with the team not lighting the lamp on a regular basis every night, limiting the pucks behind him has been pivotal as Edmonton tries to climb back up the ladder in the Western Conference.

The return of Andrej Sekera has provided a boost to the Oilers back end, with the defenseman playing over 20 minutes on Saturday in his second game back after a seven-month layoff due to knee surgery.

They’ll certainly need Talbot, Sekera and a host of others to continue their recent form after the Christmas break.

And they’ll certainly be hoping that this isn’t serious either:

McDavid had a goal and an assist in the game, but lost a faceoff late in the game and then had to make up for it by blocking the ensuing shot.

We’ll have to wait and see what McDavid’s prognosis is, but Oilers fans will surely be trying to get a last-minute addition to Santa on their Christmas wish lists.


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: Seven overtimes, four shootouts and a shutout

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Players of the Night:

Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars: Bishop made 24 saves en route to his second shutout of the season. Bishop had lost his previous four starts, so it was a nice bounce-back from the veteran netminder. He can also say he backstopped Ken Hitchcock’s 800th win as a head coach now.

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks: Thornton scored twice in Thursday’s 5-4 overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks. His second goal was his 1,415th point of his NHL career, moving him into sole possession of 18th spot all-time, one point ahead of Doug Gilmour.

Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings: Talk about embracing the moment. Brown, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, scored the overtime winner for the Kings as they squeaked out a 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche.

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins: It was the dude’s birthday, and much like Brown did, he took hold of the moment, scoring the shootout winner in a 2-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

Coach of the Night: 

Ken Hitchcock, Dallas Stars: These don’t make regular appearances in The Buzzer, but then again, coaches don’t often record their 800th career NHL win. In fact, only three have even done it and Hitchcock is now one of them. Can you guess the other two? The answer is below.

Highlights of the Night:

Thornton’s second of the night was a pretty nice clap bomb:

Jake Virtanen went coast-to-coast on this fine effort:

Cam Talbot nearly gave up a goal and then he gave us this save:

This dog dropped a puck. It was cute because dog:

Factoid of the Night:

Ken Hitchcock joined some pretty elite company on Thursday:

MISC:

Scores:

Bruins 2, Jets 1 (SO)

Devils 4, Rangers 3 (SO)

Ducks 5, Islanders 4 (OT)

Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 2 (SO)

Lightning 4, Senators 3 (SO)

Hurricanes 4, Predators 1

Stars 4, Blackhawks 0

Oilers 3, Blues 2

Sharks 5, Canucks 4 (

Kings 2, Avalanche 1 (OT)


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: Henrique back in Jersey, McAvoy channels Howe

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Players of the Night:

Adam Henrique, Anaheim Ducks: Henrique had a goal — a beauty of a goal — and an assist in his return to New Jersey, just three weeks after being dealt there. His Ducks didn’t get the last laugh though. The Devils had a solid third-period comeback to win 5-3.

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins: Who doesn’t like a Gordie Howe hat trick? McAvoy certainly liked his tonight. He scored the game-winner, assisted on two goals and fought Pierre-Luc Dubois to cap off the feat.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Quick stopped 36-of-37 to end the Philadelphia Flyers six-game winning streak and ended the Kings’ three-game losing streak. The Kings have been very good this season and Quick has been front and center in that.

Highlights of the Night:

For this one, we start by going back to New Jersey and we go back to Henrique’s sensational goal against his former club.

Jesper Bratt scored this cheeky yet wicked wrist shot for the Devils tonight:

Brian Elliott didn’t have much luck against the Kings tonight, but he produced quite the glove save:

Factoid of the Night:

MISC: 

Scores:

Kings 4, Flyers 1

Devils 5, Ducks 3

Bruins 7, Blue Jackets 2

Avalanche 4, Penguins 2

Oilers 5, Sharks 3


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