Getty Images

NHL on NBCSN: Kings, Wild continue pursuit of important points

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Monday night when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

If there’s one thing the Kings need right now with 10 games left in the regular season, it’s some consistency. John Stevens’ charges have alternated wins and losses in their eight games in March, leaving them in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with 84 points.

LA is tied with the Dallas Stars in points, but have the ROW advantage (37-34) while also owning a game in-hand. The Kings are battling on two fronts. Not only are they in the mix for a wild card, but they are on the heels of the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division’s third seed.

So as the Kings begin a four-game road trip Monday night with three games against playoff teams (Minnesota, Winnipeg, Colorado), the road doesn’t get any easier. After a disappointing 3-0 loss at Staples Center on Saturday, they need to rebound quickly.

“You lose a game, you move on and get ready for the next one,” said Stevens via the Orange County Register. “We’ve got an important week coming up this week, so we’re in playoff mode. We’re thinking about Minnesota now, and we’ll get ready for the game after that when that comes.”

[WATCH KINGS-WILD LIVE – 8PM ET]

The Wild have a little bit of a cushion in the Central Division’s third spot and are looking at four days off following their meeting with the Kings before they host the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. Minnesota grabbed four huge points with back-to-back road wins over the weekend against Vegas and Arizona. In their favor is a very strong record at Xcel Energy Center (24-6-6) and the fact that they’ve taken points from 24 of their last 26 home games.

A victory would give Bruce Boudreau his 500th as an NHL head coach and make him the 26th bench boss to reach that milestone. In his 10 seasons as a bench boss, he’s won eight division titles and one Jack Adams Awards.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

————

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.

J.T. Compher scores twice as Avalanche down Wild 5-1

2 Comments

The Colorado Avalanche kept their playoff train chugging along nicely on Tuesday.

Sitting in the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference heading into the game, the Avalanche received some help from the Montreal Canadiens via a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars, and kept up their end of the bargain with a 5-1 win away to the Minnesota Wild to leapfrog the Stars into the first wildcard spot — three points behind the Wild for third place in the Central Division.

The Avs are a healthy 5-0-3 in their past eight games.

While Nathan MacKinnon has been doing much of the heavy lifting to position himself favorably in the Hart Trophy conversation, it was J.T. Compher who took a bit of that load off on Tuesday.

Compher got the ball rolling for the Avalanche, scoring on a nice wrist shot that beat Dubnyk high in the first period.

Colorado’s lead would last well into the second period before Mikko Koivu converted on a odd-man rush to bring the Wild level.

Minnesota — who lost 7-1 the last time these two teams met — came into the game 3-1-0 in their past four, and with the Winnipeg Jets falling 3-1 to the Nashville Predators earlier in the night, the Wild had a chance to close the gap on second place in the division to five points.

But 59 seconds after Koivu notched his 13th, Nikita Zadorov crushed a one-timer from the slot past Dubnyk to restore the 2-1 lead.

Nathan MacKinnon entered the game on an eight-game heater and pushed that number to nine games 11 seconds into the third period to double Colorado’s advantage.

MacKinnon has eight goals and 17 points during his streak and 18 goals and 42 points in his past 25 games.

Compher’s second of the night came in the second half of the third period, a goal that was challenged for goaltender interference but upheld after the review.


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

WATCH LIVE: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

Associated Press

[WATCH LIVE – 8:30 p.m. ET]

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Wild

Jason ZuckerEric StaalMikael Granlund

Zach PariseMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Nino NiederreiterJoel Eriksson EkTyler Ennis

Daniel WinnikMatt CullenMarcus Foligno

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Nick SeelerNate Prosser

Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk

[NHL on NBCSN: Avalanche, Wild meet with important points on the line]

Avalanche

Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen

Sven AndrighettoTyson JostJ.T. Compher

Matt NietoCarl SoderbergBlake Comeau

Alexander KerfootDominic ToninatoGabriel Bourque

Nikita ZadorovTyson Barrie

Patrik NemethSamuel Girard

Duncan SiemensDavid Warsofsky

Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov

NHL on NBCSN: Avalanche, Wild meet with important points on the line

Getty Images
7 Comments

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Tuesday as the Minnesota Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche at 8:30 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

After a week of playing against teams out of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Wild will see six of their next seven games against teams currently sitting in postseason spots. It begins tonight against the Avalanche, who romped to a 7-1 win when these teams met 11 days ago. Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon had himself a night with two goals and five points.

The Wild are on 85 points and reside in the third spot in the Central Division, but the Dallas Stars (82 points) and Avs (80) are right on their tail. Now is not a time for a March swoon.

“We know every point matters (over the course of the season),” said Mikko Koivu via the Pioneer Press. “That said, it’s a different feeling playing a game in March. … It’s a good feeling to come to the rink. It’s all business this time of the season.”

[WATCH LIVE – 8:30 p.m. ET]

With wins over Minnesota by scores of 7-2 and 7-1 this season, the Avs might feel a bit confident heading into tonight’s game with big playoff race implications. Semyon Varlamov will likely get the start in goal as he searches for his first win since that rout on March 2. His last three starts have not gone well as he’s allowed 11 goals in three overtime losses.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

With Jonathan Bernier sidelined after taking a puck to the head following his return on Saturday, the Avs need Varlamov to get his game right with a month to go in the regular season. Just as the Wild have teams nipping at their heels, Colorado is clinging to the final wild card spot with Anaheim, St. Louis and Calgary all within striking distance.

“(Varlamov) has been great,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said via the Denver Post. “He had some time off when he re-tweaked his groin there midseason (with) three weeks or so off. He’s been getting lots of rest on practice days, so he looks good and feels good. Not a problem there for him carrying the load right now.”

————

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.

NHL on NBCSN: Detroit Red Wings visit the Minnesota Wild

Getty Images
1 Comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a Sunday meeting between the Detroit Red Wings, who visit the Minnesota Wild at 7 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here

In terms of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings’ chances of earning a postseason berth tucked nicely between incredibly slim and nil.

With 18 games left coming into Sunday’s action, the Red Wings sit seven points behind the surging Carolina Hurricanes in the battle for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, and there are four other teams in front of them vying for that same spot, with two of those on lengthy winning streaks.

They’re, of course, not mathematically eliminated, but if they lose their third straight game on Sunday in Minnesota against the Wild, mathematics may just become a formality in what’s been a disappointing season for Detroit.

The Wings have been involved on the wrong end of a pile of one-goal games this season, and their latest — a 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets — produced some frustration after the game.

“It’s another one-goal loss here,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We can say that we were close and that we battled hard in the third but there’s no reason for us to be in that situation.”

Asked if losing tight affairs is getting old, defenseman Niklas Kronwall didn’t shy away from an honest answer.

“Yeah. To say the least,” Kronwall said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s been said before. It’s one of the reasons why we are where we’re at.”

The Wild, meanwhile, enter the game sporting the same two-game losing streak as the Red Wings, but with much more on the line.

Minnesota got beat by the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday and then followed that up with getting rocked 7-1 by the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

Both losses, including Friday’s embarrassment, came on the road, where the Wild have been far from productive. Sunday’s game brings Minnesota back to Xcel Energy Center, where they sport one of the best home records in the league.

A lengthy losing streak in the Central Division can spell disaster for postseason hopes (just ask the St. Louis Blues), and with the Anaheim Ducks and the Colorado Avalanche vying alongside the Wild for one of the two wildcard spots, Minnesota is well aware the bleeding needs to stop.

“That’s the way this game goes,” Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said, per Sarah McLellan. “It’s tough to watch it. That’s why when it’s your turn, you gotta win.”

It has all the markings of a proverbial trap game for the Wild, and one they’d best avoid if they’re to keep their three-point cushion for the first wildcard spot in the West.


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