We’ll get the chat started about 1:45 p.m., but in the meantime here’s some reading material for your perusal:
It still probably wasn’t the exact way they want to play, but the Washington Capitals found a way to end their four-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon. Thanks to a four-goal third period they were able to rally for a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins to regain the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Washington now sits in sole possession of first place in the division with 82 points, two points ahead of Pittsburgh.
The Penguins still have one game in hand while the two teams will meet two more times this season with both games in Pittsburgh.
In the end, this was a gutsy win for Washington. Despite being outshot 36-23 and struggling to find much sustained offensive zone time, they still managed to cause enough havoc around the Pittsburgh net and feasted on a couple of glaring mistakes by the Penguins in the third period.
After Patric Hornqvist and Sidney Crosby scored two goals less than 30 seconds apart in the second period, the Penguins entered the third period holding a 2-1 lead. But Washington quickly struck for a pair of goals early in the third period.
The Penguins seemed to steal momentum back thanks to a highlight reel goal from Evgeni Malkin, but a T.J. Oshie goal just a few minutes later ended up being the game-winner. Hagelin added an empty-net goal (his second goal of the game) in the final minute.
A few other takeaways from this game:
1. It might get lost in the madness that was the third period, but Braden Holtby played a great game in net for the Capitals. He did give up the three goals, but two of them were great individual efforts from two of the best players in the world (Sidney Crosby and Malkin) and, well, sometimes that is just going to happen. That also should not take away from how strong he was overall. He stood tall on a couple of Penguins power play opportunities, while also shutting down a handful of odd-man rushes. His overall production has rapidly declined the past couple of years but he is still capable of getting hot and taking over a game.
2. Malkin’s third period goal will not be showing up on John Carlson‘s Norris Trophy highlight reel this season, but it was still a big day for the Capitals’ defenseman on Sunday. His assist on Hagelin’s first goal was the 475th point of his career, making him the highest scoring defenseman in Capitals franchise history, passing Calle Johansson.
3. As for the Penguins, this is their third consecutive loss and it is becoming obvious that the injury situation is finally starting to catch up to them defensively. There is not a single trade that general manager Jim Rutherford can make before Monday’s trade deadline (3 p.m. ET) that will do more to help the team than the return of injured players Brian Dumoulin, John Marino, Dominik Kahun, and Zach Aston-Reese. That quartet represents two of their top-four defenseman (perhaps their two best defensive defensemen) and two outstanding defensive forwards. That is a lot to overcome, and it is not a coincidence that their injuries have coincided with a downward trend in their defensive performance.
On Saturday afternoon few in the NHL knew the name David Ayres.
But after the 42-year-old emergency goalie was forced into action in an emergency role for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, he is the talk of the league on Sunday.
Ayres stopped eight out of 10 shots (and recorded a shot on goal of his own) in the Hurricanes’ stunning 6-3 win.
Now, if you want, you can buy an Ayres No. 90 t-shirt through the Hurricanes’ team shop.
“Zamboni driver by day, emergency goaltender by night” David Ayres earned First Star honors and saved the day for the Canes in Toronto! Grab your t-shirt jersey to support the Canes’ newest legend!
The Hurricanes also add that Ayres will receive royalties from the sales, while a portion of the proceeds will go a kidney foundation. Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004.
He has served as a fill-in goalie for the Maple Leafs during practices and has also dressed as an emergency backup in the AHL, where he also is a Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies.
The Hurricanes also announced that Ayres will be in Raleigh on Tuesday night to sound the siren before their game against the Dallas Stars.
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
To put things mildly, Vegas has been through some challenging times in 2019-20. Yet, after navigating many bumps in the road, the Golden Knights are heating up, and hope to keep that surge going against the Ducks on NBCSN on Sunday.
Golden Knights gathering steam under DeBoer
And yet … whatever the explanation might be, the Golden Knights seem like they’ve regained their swagger.
Now, it’s worth noting that the Golden Knights didn’t take off right away under Peter DeBoer. Their struggles extended from coach to coach, as Vegas suffered through a 4-7-2 stretch from Jan. 7 – Feb. 11. But now? Now they’re starting to look like the dangerous team many expected.
The Golden Knights have rumbled through some stout competition lately, beating the Blues, Islanders, Capitals, and maybe most impressively, the Lightning on Thursday.
They needed to make the most of a five-game homestand in Vegas, and they have, winning all of those games after they made the Maple Leafs’ Saturday a little less disastrous by beating the Panthers.
Sunday closes off a back-to-back set, and represents a rare road game. The Golden Knights’ Sunday NBCSN contest against the Ducks serves as a bridge between that five-game homestand and another four-game stretch in Vegas starting on Wednesday.
Golden Knights, Ducks approach trade deadline very differently
The Golden Knights and Ducks already rank as buyers and sellers, even if they’re done with their deadline dealing.
The Ducks may have sold a bit low on Ondrej Kase, particularly since they took on David Backes’ contract from the Bruins. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights already seem pleased with the addition of Alec Martinez.
“I thought he did awesome,” Jon Merrill said of Martinez’s debut, via The Athletic’s Jesse Granger (sub required). “He’s a veteran defenseman with a lot of poise in his own zone. He’s a great defender and blocks a ton of shots. You have to read the play, and it’s timing when to step into the lane. It’s definitely an acquired skill. I think the more you do it, the more you get a sense of when the shots are going to come. He’s done a great job at it his whole career.”
Get a glimpse of Martinez and the Golden Knights as they face the Ducks Sunday on NBCSN.
John Forslund and Brian Hayward will call the action at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Sunday’s studio coverage on NBC will be hosted by Liam McHugh with analysts Keith Jones and Mike Milbury.
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Blues and Wild are in very different situations, yet both teams have dealt with tumultuous times heading into their Sunday game on NBCSN.
Blues starting to heat up again?
Things were starting to look a little dicey for St. Louis. The Blues lost five in a row from Feb. 6-16, with a game against the Ducks postponed following Jay Bouwmeester’s health scare. Pulling back further, the Blues managed just two wins from Jan. 15 – Feb. 16 (2-7-3).
Now the Blues are on an upward trend again. In dispatching the Stars 5-1 in Dallas, St. Louis is now on a three-game winning streak.
“The way the guys in front of me and [Jordan Binnington] have played the last four games has been pretty remarkable,” Jake Allen said, via the Blues’ website. “Scoring chances created, back-checking and blocked shots. It’s great to see.”
There are also positive vibes regarding trade acquisition Marco Scandella. Craig Berube provided a positive early review to how Scandella is working with Colton Parayko, as the Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reported (sub required).
“He’s a big guy,” Berube said. “Plays physical, good defender, good stick. Two big guys out there that we can play against anybody, be hard on the other team, be hard on top players on the other teams. (Jay Bouwmeester) was there for a long time with Parayko. This is a similar fit that I see.”
Wild try to hang in there
Minnesota’s been through quite a bit in 2019-20, as well.
After quite a few instances where he seemed to be on the hot seat, Bruce Boudreau got the axe. Plenty of Wild players have wondered about their future, a thought highlighted by Jason Zucker being traded. Interim head coach Dean Evason has had his hands full in trying to keep the Wild in the West playoff hunt.
“We had a real scramble-fest going there in the third period,” Evason said, via the Wild website. “But guys were committed and it didn’t really matter who we called up, they just played and played the right way. It’s very encouraging.”
With all of that in mind, will it be the Blues or Wild who end Sunday’s NBCSN game feeling encouraged?
Chris Cuthbert will call the action from Xcel Energy Center alongside analyst Pierre McGuire. Sunday’s studio coverage on NBC will be hosted by Liam McHugh with analysts Keith Jones and Mike Milbury.