NHL on NBCSN: Reloaded Red Wings, Rangers set to battle tonight

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Detroit Red Wings host the New York Rangers at Joe Louis Arena at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

At this stage of the season, the Red Wings and Rangers have all-but secured a postseason berth and have their eyes on the playoffs. They were both active buyers in the lead up to the trade deadline with the Rangers adding defenseman Keith Yandle and forward James Sheppard while the Red Wings have welcomed blueliner Marek Zidlicky and winger Erik Cole to their ranks. Part of these final weeks of the regular season will be about integrating their new talent and getting into a playoff mindset, but they also have more immediate goals in mind.

Thanks to the parity in the conference, just about any team that makes the playoffs in the east will have a legitimate shot of going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. With the competition that tight, every little edge counts and both the Red Wings and Rangers have a chance to make life much easier for themselves in April and beyond by successfully securing the Atlantic and Metropolitan Division titles respectively.

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The Rangers are in a far better position to take their division going into this game. They’re just one point behind the leading Islanders despite having played in three fewer games. At the same time, the Rangers have to look over their shoulder as Pittsburgh has been surging lately and is just three points shy of overtaking them, making it still entirely conceivable that New York will not only miss out on first place, but also fail to secure the home ice advantage in the first round.

By getting Yandle, the Rangers arguably made the biggest splash in the trade market, so that gives them an advantage over their competition. Coming from Arizona, Yandle is thrilled to be part of a winning team.

“If you just look at the back end out, the Rangers are as strong as any team,” Yandle, who has been paired with Kevin Klein, said. “They are fast up front, have tons of speed and skill, and the goaltending is best in the league. I can’t find a weak flaw in the lineup so it’s pretty cool to be a part of it.”

Detroit’s in a more difficult position as it currently ranks third with 81 points behind Tampa Bay (84) and Montreal (87) in the Atlantic. However, the Red Wings have played in four less games than the Lightning and two fewer than the Canadiens, so they’re not entirely out of the race yet.

Cole and Zidlicky are projected to make their Red Wings’ debut tonight, but the big news out of Detroit is that Henrik Zetterberg (concussion) might be ready to return after skating with the team on Tuesday, per the team’s website. If the practice lines yesterday prove to be accurate, then Zetterberg will play alongside Cole and Justin Abdelkader, while Tomas Jurco, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar will form the other top-two line. Cole’s addition has also given the Red Wings the luxury of moving Gustav Nyquist to the third line. That provides them the depth needed to compete in a lengthy playoff run or, more immediately, take on New York tonight.

Ducks battle back for shootout win over the Wings

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Jakob Silfverberg scored the shootout winner as the Anaheim Ducks edged the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 Monday night.

The shootout goal was Silfverberg’s ninth in 13 attempts this season.

Anaheim has won four straight against Detroit and improved to 26-0-7 in one-goal games this season.

The Ducks beat Jimmy Howard three times in a 3:40 span of the third to erase a 2-0 deficit.

Andrew Cogliano got the comeback started with his 17th of the season at 9:17 of the third.

“We didn’t panic when we got down two,” Cogliano said. “We got the one, the crowd got into it and off we went.”

At 11:27 Emerson Etem scored his first goal since Nov. 15 to tie the game 2-2.

Francois Beauchemin gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead at 12:57 with his third in as many games.

“We just had to stick with it,” said Beauchemin. “We were more aggressive in the third, got some rebounds and converted.”

Pavel Datsyuk scored twice in the second period as the Wings out-shot the Ducks 11-3.

Monday was the second straight two-goal effort from the 36-year-old. Datsyuk scored twice and added a pair of assists in Saturday’s 7-6 overtime win against the Dallas Stars.

Riley Sheahan had the other Detroit goal.

Ducks’ forward Nate Thompson suffered a lower body injury in the second period and did not return.

Howard stopped 22 shots in the loss while John Gibson made 35 saves for the win.

Anaheim improved to 8-5 in shootouts this season while Detroit dropped to 3-9.

The Ducks won the only other meeting between the two clubs 3-2 on Oct. 11 at Joe Louis Arena.

Video: Datsyuk goes top-shelf on Gibson

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Pavel Datsyuk scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season during the second period tonight in Anahiem as the Red Wings out-shot the Ducks 11-3.

Datsyuk opened the scoring at 3:54 of the second beating John Gibson top-shelf.

He added his second at 6:50 of the middle frame as the Wings lead the Ducks 2-0 after 40 minutes.

Its Datsyuk’s second straight multi-goal game; he netted a pair in Detroit’s 7-6 overtime win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

The 36-year-old now has six goals and eight assists in 10 games.

Get your game notes: Red Wings at Blackhawks

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

MATCHUP/TOP STORYLINES

• Both 3rd in their respective divisions…CHI has 2 more points this season but has played 2 more games.

• Top PP (DET) vs. top PK (CHI)…1st meeting of season: DET 0-3 on PP (4-1 home win on Nov. 14)

• Last game: On Monday night, DET lost to MTL, 2-0…On Sunday afternoon, CHI beat PIT, 2-1 (SO).

• Tonight DET-CHI meet for the 729th time in the reg.-season – tying BOS-MTL for most in NHL history.

• Before DET was relocated to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season, DET and CHI were in the same division for 31 consecutive seasons, most recently together in the Central Division from 1993-2013.

• DET minor slump only sees a tougher road ahead…1 week ago the Wings were considered one of, if not the, hottest team in the league having won 9 of 10…since last Wednesday however:

• DET: 3-game losing streak (0-2-1)

• Worst stretch since dropping 6 straight in mid-December (0-2-4).

• DET last lost consecutive games in regulation back on Mar. 25 & 27, 2014.

• Despite the slump, the Wings are still well positioned in the Atlantic but face a brutal upcoming schedule:

• Detroit is through 3 games of a 12-game stretch in which it faces 10 teams currently in a playoff position, including 3 of the top 5 teams in the NHL (NSH, MTL, ANA).

• Tonight’s game is the start of a 6-game road trip (ties a season high) where DET will leave the Midwest and head west (@ DAL next on Saturday) before a California trip through ANA, LA & SJ, and then close out the stretch at league-leading NSH…DET is not home again until Mar. 4 vs. NYR.

• Who is in net for DET?…Last Wednesday, All-Star selection Jimmy Howard returned for the Wings, after injuring his groin back on Jan. 10 (missed 10 games), when he played the 3rd period at PIT for Petr Mrazek, who was pulled (4 GA). Howard has started DET’s 2 games since and fared much better in his 2nd start: vs. WPG on Sat.: 4 GA on 38 shots (5-4 SO loss) vs. MTL on Mon.: 1 GA on 28 shots (2-0 loss)

• Mrazek, who started all of Detroit’s games while Howard was out, has been sent back down to Grand Rapids (AHL) after going 8-2-0 with a 2.78 GAA since Jan. 13.

• Hawks 2-0-2 so far on the home stand: Tonight CHI plays its 5th gm of a season-high (and long; 16-day) 8-gm home stand…CHI got off to a poor start with consecutive losses, though both in extra time (to AZ & VAN), but has won 2 straight & looks for its first 3-gm win streak since running off 8 straight wins from Nov. 26 – Dec. 11.

• Central Division scope: Though the Hawks have points in 6 straight games (4-0-2 record), reaching 1st place in the Central is looking increasingly less likely.

DETROIT TEAM/PLAYER NOTE

• DET ranks first in the league on the power-play at 26.0%. The Wings PP goal streak of 5-games was snapped vs. MTL but they are still 7-for-their-last-20 (35.0%) over the last 6 games.

• Tomas Tatar has 7 points (2G-5A) over his last 6 games.

• Tatar has 41 points in 55 GP this season (23G-18A) establishing new career highs in goals & points.

• Henrik Zetterberg has 51 points (19G-32A) in 53 career games vs. CHI

• No active player has ever scored more goals in a Red Wings uniform against CHI than Zetterberg.

• His 51 points are the 3rd-most among active players vs. CHI (D. Legwand – 62, R. Nash – 52)

• Pavel Datsyuk has 7 pts (2G-5A) in his last 7 games including a 3-point performance (2G-1A) vs. WPG on Sat.

• Datsyuk is in the top-3 on the team in goals, assists & points despite playing just 44 of the team’s 55 games.

CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Chicago has the league’s best penalty kill at 87.9%. The team is 14-for-15 on the PK (93.3%) in the last 8 games.

• Patrick Kane has 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 6 games and ranks 1st in the NHL in scoring with 63 points.

• No American has ever won the Art Ross Trophy, and only one American (Billy Burch from Yonkers, NY in 1925 playing for the Hamilton Tigers) has won the Hart Trophy as league MVP (Kane is from Buffalo, NY)

• Stan Mikita in 1968-69 was the last Blackhawk to lead the league in scoring.

• Marian Hossa was held without a point vs. PIT snapping a 4-game goal/point streak in which he had 8 points (7 goals) including 3 straight 2-goal games to begin the stretch.

• Hossa became the 6th Blackhawk all-time with a multi-goal game in 3 straight team games of one season.

• Hossa’s performance last week earned him the NHL’s first star of the week.

• Back in 2008-09, Hossa had 71 points (40G-31A) as a member of the Red Wings. Hossa signed with DET as a free agent, lost to PIT in the SCF that season, then signed a 12-year deal with Chicago, where he has been ever since.

• Career vs. DET: 27 points (11G-16A) in 33 games.

• 19 points (5G-14A) in 22 games vs. DET since 2009-10.

• Jonathan Toews has 5 points (1G-4A) during a 4-game point streak after going the 4 previous games without a point.

• Career vs. DET: 25 points (11G-14A) in 34 games.

• Brandon Saad has 4 points (1G-3A) during a 3-game point streak and 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 6 games.

• Saad needs 2 goals to tie his career high of 19 set last season.

• Patrick Sharp, last season’s team leader in goals (34) & points (78), has been quiet lately (0 points in last 5 games) but has 35 career points (16G-19A) vs. DET (46 GP)…Sharp scored the shootout winner vs. PIT after Toews & Kane made their attempts.

• Since returning from a foot injury which kept him out for 3 weeks (occurred Dec. 1), Corey Crawford has finally gotten back on track:

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins, Red Wings kick off latest Rivalry Night

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings at the Consol Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight as part of a back-to-back set of games on NBCSN on Wednesday. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

A lot has changed since the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Final, but in some ways, plenty of key factors remain.

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still the go-to guys for the Red Wings offense, even with the rise of younger players such as Gustav Nyquist. The Penguins still seemingly go as far as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang can take them, even if the supporting cast (and front office) has changed dramatically.

From a more recent perspective, Pittsburgh hasn’t played since the Vancouver Canucks crushed them 5-0 on Saturday.

That sour end to their Western Canada road trip should provide plenty of inspiration as they host the Red Wings. Getting plenty of rest – at least by season standards – might be the biggest thing, really.

(Then again, the Red Wings have been off since Saturday as well, so each team should be as fresh as possible on Feb. 11.)

While the Penguins have been stumbling a bit, the Red Wings have been hot more or less since 2015 rolled around, most obviously considering their three-game winning streak. They’ve also won nine of 10 games as Petr Mrazek has really softened the blow of losing Jimmy Howard (who’s expected to suit up as a backup tonight).

The Penguins may or may not get Blake Comeau back in the lineup on Wednesday. Whenever Comeau can play, he might feel a little dizzy trying to fit into a lineup that’s changed quite a bit since he last played six weeks ago.

Whatever each team is going through at the time, the Penguins and Red Wings shouldn’t struggle to drum up some interest for the first of Wednesday’s two Rivalry Night games on NBCSN.