Regular season recaps – October 9

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From the Penguins losing their first two games at home, the Blackhawks suffering a defeat as they raise their Stanley Cup banner and the Devils going 0-2 (OK, 0-1-1) in their first games with shiny new toy Ilya Kovalchuk, the 2010-11 season has seen it’s fair share of spoilers* so far. Anyway, let’s get to the recaps. They will be brisk because this was a hefty night of hockey.

* – Not the kind of spoilers that movie Web sites hand out, like the fact that that Bruce Willis is that dude in a hairpiece in “The Sixth Sense.”**

Columbus 3, San Jose 2 (OT)

Steve Mason was the star of this one, stopping 33 out of 35 shots to help the Blue Jackets go 1-1 overseas. Joe Thornton now has two goals in two games, a goal-scoring trend I doubt will continue (then again, he is in a contract year). The Sharks might worry a bit about their 5-on-5 scoring, as four of their five goals this season have come on the power play so far.

Washington 7, New Jersey 2

My pick for the Eastern Conference finals ended up being a real blow-out in this one. Martin Brodeur allowed 5 goals in two periods before Johan Hedberg allowed two more while Michal Neuvirth made his Brodeur impression by stopping 31 out for 33 shots. Alex Ovechkin was his usual better-than-Ilya-Kovalchuk self, scoring two goals and one assist while his Russian pal was held pointless.

Dallas 5, NY Islanders 4 (SO)

The Stars almost coughed this one up, but Dallas is 2-0 on the road and in “extra innings” as they began the season with a shootout and overtime win. One trend that could make Stars fans giddy is that Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro seem like they’re finding the chemistry that helped them form one of the league’s most underrated duos a few seasons ago. Morrow already has three goals in two games and Ribeiro assisted on all of them.

Toronto 5, Ottawa 1

Well, would you look at that? With a 2-0 start, the Toronto Maple Leafs might be building the confidence to take a Northeast Division that lacks an elite team. Let’s not plan the parade just yet, but Brian Burke must be happy about his team’s solid start.

Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 2

Read all about it here.

NY Rangers 6, Buffalo 3

The story of this game was rookie Derek Stepan’s hat trick. Check out the video here.

Tampa Bay 5, Atlanta 3

Steven Stamkos had two goals and one assist, evildoer Steve Downie had a goal and an assist and the Lightning fought off a late charge by the Thrashers to begin the Steve Yzerman era with a win.

Nashville 4, Anaheim 1

The Ducks have been out-scored 9-1 in their first two games this season. That’s just horrible. The Predators hope to scrap their way to the playoffs yet again. So far, so good.

St. Louis 2, Philadelphia 1 (OT)

Jaroslav Halak began his time as the St. Louis Blues top starter by stopping 29 out of 30 shots to win the game. Brian Boucher was sharp, too, stopping 23 out of 25 shots. The Blues scored a power-play goal, but need to be more efficient than 1 for 10 if they want to return to the playoffs this season.

Detroit 3, Chicago 2

The Red Wings spoiled the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup banner raising party by narrowly beating them in this one. Valterri Filppula scored two goals, including the game-winner on the power play, while Chris Osgood stopped 26 out of 28 shots to give Marty Turco and the Hawks their second loss of the season.

Note: We’ll cover the Kings-Canucks game tomorrow morning.

** – Numerous cool points to anyone who knows what TV show that reference is from.

Tempers flare, penalty parade ensues between Lightning, Canucks

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Who knew the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Vancouver Canucks harbored so much hate for one another?

Wherever it came from, the apparent bad blood between the two teams was certainly flowing at a steady pace on Tuesday night in Vancouver.

Things were going well until around the 12-minute mark of the second period. It was then that Antoine Roussel landed a big hit on Lightning star Yanni Gourde.

Gourde, not impressed with being turnbuckled, took exception and the two squared off. He got five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct. Roussel was assessed two for roughing and five for fighting.

From there, Canucks defenseman was forced out of the game after an apparent head shot from Lightning forward Danick Martel.

Martel was skating back through the neutral zone when he saw that Stecher had the puck near the boards. The hit looked innocuous at first, but replays showed that Martel seemed to extend his shoulder into Stecher’s head.

Stecher left the game and the Canucks said he wouldn’t return.

With tempers already boiling, things got completely out of hand with under a minute left in the period.

Lightning forward Cedric Paquette took a run at Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, a no-no, and all hell broke loose as the two lines on the ice brawled.

Paquette received two for roughing and five for fighting. Canucks d-man Ben Hutton, who can be seen below throwing bombs, also got a fighting major.

In total, 14 penalties were doled out, with those adding up to 48 minutes in the second period alone.

Quite the game, one that Tampa won 5-2 in the end.


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

Blackhawks put in complete performance in 2-1 win against Predators

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Nothing has really gone right for the Chicago Blackhawks as of late.

The firing of Joel Quenneville and hiring of Jeremy Colliton hasn’t done much to rekindle the club’s glory days.

They had actually won more games (six) under Quenneville than they have under the new guy (four) coming into Tuesday’s game.

Corey Crawford, perhaps their ray of hope if he could get it together between the pipes, suffered another concussion this week and is out indefinitely.

Even their mascot, Tommy Hawk, hasn’t been immune to the frustrations in the Windy City.

So Tuesday’s 2-1 win at home at United Center against the mighty Nashville Predators on NBCSN, however insignificant it ends up being at the end of the season, was a welcomed change.

If recent history is to be believed, the Blackhawks might have even been slight favorites heading into the game.

Nashville began the season a perfect 8-0-0 outside of Tennessee, but have now lost eight in a row (0-6-2) since. They’re also pretty banged up, so that helped, too.

Despite Nashville’s shortcomings on the road this as of late, it shouldn’t take away from Chicago’s performance.

They played a tight, offensive-minded game, outshooting the Predators 36-31, including 16-7 in the second period as they erased Nashville’s 1-0 lead and replaced it with a 2-1 advantage of their own.

Any hope of the Blackhawks not falling further from grace rests in the hands of Cam Ward at this point.

With Crawford out, Ward will be leaned on to provide the best netminding he can.

On Tuesday, he did just that, turning aside 30 shots. Ward was especially solid in the third, including the last two-and-a-half minutes of the third after the Preds pulled Pekka Rinne for the extra attacker.

Other things that went well: Chicago’s last-ranked power play was 1-for-3, producing five shots on goal. Their last-ranked penalty kill was 2-for-2, allowing just two shots on goal.

It all equates on some good stuff to build on. It’s been a while since Chicago produced an effort like that. The blueprint is there.


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

Stars’ Bishop returns to game after taking shoulder to the head

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Dallas Stars fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the team came out for the third period on Tuesday.

Nearing the mid-way point fo the second period, Calgary Flames forward Garnet Hathaway went to challenge Bishop, who was playing the puck behind the net.

Bishop was able to move the puck to his defenseman but the incoming Hathaway’s shoulder caught him in the mask. The impact knocked Bishop over and he was slow to get up before being pulled from the game.

Here’s the hit:

Hathaway was given a two-minute minor for goaltender interference. Stars defenseman Roman Polak got a roughing minor after going after Hathaway following the hit.

Bishop stopped all nine shots he faced in the 33:37 he played. Anton Khudobin logged 6:23 in relief before Bishop led the Stars out for the third period.

Bishiop had a 10-8-1 record coming into Tuesday with a .920 save percentage. The Stars were leading 2-0 in the third.


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: Predators visit Blackhawks on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

This is the second of four meetings between these Central Division foes. The Predators beat the Blackhawks 5-2 on Dec. 1 in Nashville. Pekka Rinne made 19 saves and five different Predators scored a goal.

During the 2016-17 season, the Blackhawks finished as the top team in the Western Conference with 109 points and faced the upstart Predators (94 points) in the First Round of the playoffs. Since Nashville delivered a surprising sweep in that series, the Preds have become one of the premiere franchises in the NHL, while the Hawks have taken a nosedive:

Last night in Ottawa, the Preds went down 3-0 in the first period and pulled Rinne, rallied back to force overtime, but fell 4-3 on Thomas Chabot’s OT winner. They have now lost seven straight on the road (0-5-2) after starting the season 8-0-0 away from Bridgestone Arena.

The Blackhawks snapped an eight-game losing streak last week with a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh, but have since lost each of their last two games — a 4-3 OT loss to Winnipeg on Friday and a 7-3 defeat on Sunday to San Jose. They have won just four times in their past 25 games (4-17-4) and are 4-13-3 under Jeremy Colliton.

Entering last week’s game against the Penguins, the Blackhawks had allowed the first goal of the game in 11 straight. Since then, they’ve tallied the first goal in two of their last three games. Chicago actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the Sharks and led 3-2 after the first period. But San Jose scored five unanswered goals from there.

When they do score the first goal of the game, Chicago is 8-2-4. When they allow the first goal of the game, they are 2-17-2.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: United Center
When: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Predators-Blackhawks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PREDATORS
Ryan HartmanRyan JohansenKevin Fiala
Calle JarnkrokKyle TurrisCraig Smith
Colton SissonsNick BoninoAustin Watson
Miikka SalomakiFrederick Gaudreau – Rocco Grimaldi

Roman JosiRyan Ellis
Dan HamhuisMattias Ekholm
Matt IrwinYannick Weber

Starting goalie: Pekka Rinne

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsDominik Kahun
Dylan StromeArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatDavid Kampf – Dylan Sikura
John HaydenMarcus KrugerBrendan Perlini

Duncan KeithErik Gustafsson
Gustav ForslingBrent Seabrook
Carl Dahlstrom – Connor Murphy

Starting goalie: Cam Ward

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule