Get your game notes: Islanders at Capitals

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This evening on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the New York Islanders starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Islanders visit Washington tonight having allowed 21 goals in dropping their last 5 games (0-4-1). New York’s 3.28 goals-against average is 2nd-worst in the league, better only than Edmonton’s 3.34 GAA. The Capitals, meanwhile, has scored 21 goals in their last five games, a 3-1-1 stretch that followed a season-worst seven-game skid.

• The Islanders are 5-14-3 vs. the Metropolitan Division, the worst record of any NHL team within its own division. With 50 points, the Islanders sit in last place in the Metro, 12 points out of a playoff spot and trying to avoid a 6th last-place finish in 7 seasons.

• Washington’s Joel Ward has 4 goals and an assist in his last 3 games to raise his season total to 17, matching his career high from 2009-10 as a Predator. Ward hasn’t scored against the Islanders since Nov. 5, 2011 (0- 2=2 in 8 games since).

• Alex Ovechkin’s game-winning goal vs. Detroit on Sunday was his league-leading 39th of the season and the 15th overtime winner of his career, tied for the third-most all-time (Mats Sundin, Sergei Fedorov). Only New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr (18) and Patrik Elias (16) have more.

• The Capitals’ power play (23.2%, 3rd in NHL) awoke with 4 goals in 8 chances over the weekend home-and home with Detroit, following a 3-for-42 stretch spanning 11 games. It will look to keep rolling tonight against the Isles’ league-worst penalty kill (76.8%) – although the Isles are near the top of the league with 5 shorthanded goals while the Caps’ PP has been burned for 7.

• Washington has split its goals evenly over home and away games (79 home goals, 77 away goals, 28 games each). But Ovechkin hasn’t: 24 of his 39 tallies have come on home ice.

• New York’s Evgeni Nabokov is 12-2-3 in his career vs. the Caps, but was roughed up in his last outing against them, allowing a season-high 6 goals in a 6-2 loss Nov. 5 at Verizon Center. Nabokov is 0-2-0 with a 2.32 GAA since missing 10 games with a leg injury and will be seeking his first win since Jan. 2.

• Braden Holtby (WSH) counters with a 4-1-0 record and 1.77 GAA vs. the Islanders, though Holtby has been burned for 9 goals in his last two starts. Since Dec. 10, Holtby is 2-4-1, 3.77 GAA, .863 save%.

• Kyle Okposo, the Isles’ leader in goals (24 – matching career high), has points in 7 of his last 8 games. The St. Paul, Minn., product has 18 multi-point games this season, tied with Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel (both U.S. Olympians) for 2nd-most in the league (Sidney Crosby, 22). Since Dec. 17, no NHL player has scored more points than Okposo, and his usual linemates – with whom he’s been split at times recently – aren’t far behind.

Kyle Okposo, NYI 29
Phil Kessel, TOR 29
Sidney Crosby, PIT 28
John Tavares, NYI 27
Claude Giroux, PHI 27
Taylor Hall, EDM 26
Thomas Vanek, NYI 25
Wayne Simmonds, PHI 25

Tavares, however, is in the thick of his longest goal drought since 2011-12, with no goals in his last 6 games. Both Tavares and Vanek have gone without a point in their last 3 contests, though Tavares has a 6-game goal streak vs. the Caps.

Watch Kenan Thompson’s fantastic NHL Awards monologue

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While the Adam Sandlers, Steve Martins, and Chris Rocks of the world are the most famous people to come from “SNL,” the performers who were “lifers” land among the most talented. Kenan Thompson is one of those performers who stood the test of time, much like Darrell Hammond and Tim Meadows.

So, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising just how great Thompson was as a host of the 2019 NHL Awards, but either way, he knocked it out of the park on Wednesday.

It says a lot about the quality of the show that, even deep into the telecast – award shows are long, basically always – people were still laughing and smiling. From the emotions of Carey Price surprising a young fan, to Robin Lehner‘s speech about mental health, to the bonkers segments with “Tony Babcock,” the show had a little bit of everything.

And Thompson’s fantastic monologue really set a fun tone with legitimately great jokes.

Considering that the NHL wouldn’t want Thompson to go scorched earth like Norm MacDonald did during that unforgettable ESPYS appearance, this was a great mix of funny and wholesome.

Though, that’s not to say that there weren’t any spicy zingers.

  • Watch as the Tampa Bay Lightning go stone-faced when Thompson makes a great barb about the Bolts getting swept.

Actually, it was mainly Andrei Vasilevskiy looking displeased. Also, notice Nick Foligno grinning widely in the background. Hmm, I wonder why he might enjoy that joke?

  • Enjoy the juxtaposition of many hockey people generally not reacting to jokes while their significant others laugh like the rest of us.
  • Enjoy some great deep cuts, from jokes you’d be more likely to expect, to a really creative bit about The Pope Mobile being a penalty box on wheels, and the Pope getting five minutes for “cross-checking.” (Thompson deserved cheers, not boos, for that one.)
  • Also, Thompson has a point about the Blues using “Gloria” instead of the actual Blues.

Overall, the 2019 NHL Awards are going to be a tough act to follow. Here’s hoping Thompson gets to try it in 2020, because he (and basically everyone else involved, Jillian Fisher was a great addition, too) did a truly fantastic job.

While it’s not quite at the same level as Thompson’s monologue, the cold open included John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Laila Anderson (!), so you might enjoy it, too:

More: Rounding up the NHL Awards.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

2019 NHL Awards: All the winners, video, more

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A lot naturally happened during the 2019 NHL Awards and there are still some winners left to highlight. Before we do that though, let’s recap some of tonight’s big winners:

Calder Trophy: Elias Pettersson

Lady Byng: Aleksander Barkov

GM of the Year: Don Sweeney

Norris Trophy: Mark Giordano

Masterton Trophy: Robin Lehner

Selke Trophy: Ryan O’Reilly

Jack Adams: Barry Trotz

Vezina Trophy: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay: Nikita Kucherov

Now let’s tackle the other winners.

King Clancy Trophy: Jason Zucker,

Zucker and his wife Carly began the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio with a $160,000 donation and have raised over $1.2 million in under a year. The project allows kids and their families at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital to watch Minnesota Wild games in a space that mimics the experience of being at the game.

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award: Wayne Simmonds

Before being traded to the Nashville Predators in February, Simmonds was deeply involved with the Flyers’ community efforts. Among other things, he was a board member for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation for six years. He also spent four years as an honorary chairman of their annual golf tournament, which is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser.

Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award: Rico Phillips

Of course, the Art Ross Trophy went to Nikita Kucherov, the Rocket Richard Trophy went to Alex Ovechkin, and the Jennings Trophy was shared by Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss.

First All-Star Team:
G: Andrei Vasilevskiy
D: Brent Burns
D: Mark Giordano
C: Connor McDavid
RW: Nikita Kucherov
LW: Alex Ovechkin

Second All-Star Team:
G: Ben Bishop
D: Victor Hedman
D: John Carlson
C: Sidney Crosby
RW: Patrick Kane
LW: Brad Marchand

All-Rookie Team:
G: Jordan Binnington
D: Rasmus Dahlin
D: Miro Heiskanen
F: Elias Pettersson
F: Anthony Cirelli
F: Brady Tkachuk

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

Nikita Kucherov caps NHL Awards haul with Hart Trophy

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Things didn’t go as planned for Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning once the postseason began, but the 2019 NHL Awards serve as a helpful reminder that they made history through the 82-game regular season.

No Lightning player enjoyed a better season than Kucherov, and he was awarded appropriately on Wednesday. Kucherov won the 2019 Hart Trophy, which joins the 2019 Ted Lindsay Award (the player-voted version of the Hart), and the scoring title, i.e. the 2019 Art Ross Trophy.

He also enjoyed a wonderfully awkward comic segment with “Tony Babcock,” aka Thomas Middleditch, so it was a big night for Kucherov.

Kucherov beat finalists Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) for the Hart Trophy, which is the sort of sentence you lead with when you’re making a Hall of Fame argument.

Here are the voting results:

Taylor Hall won the Hart Trophy last year, McDavid captured the 2016-17 Hart Trophy, and Sidney Crosby last won it in 2013-14.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Carey Price surprises young fan in NHL Awards’ most touching moment

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The 2019 NHL Awards celebrates the best players and moments in hockey, but it’s also a great reminder of how much of an impact players can make off the ice.

As you can see from this roundup, Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker won the King Clancy for his humanitarian work, while the Willie O’Ree Community Award went to Rico Phillips, who’s doing tremendous work in Flint, Michigan.

Those were great moments, but the most emotional moment happened when Carey Price surprised young Montreal Canadiens fan Anderson Whitehead with a jersey, hug, and what sounds like a trip to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game.

Warning: you’re very likely to cry while watching this clip. At first, it seems like Price’s video is coming from off site, as he spoke of Whitehead’s mother, who died of cancer at age 44. Price then interrupted his own message, and then surprised Whitehead on stage at the 2019 NHL Awards, and … it’s a goosebumps moment.

The look of shock and surprise on Anderson Whitehead’s face is the sort of thing that will stick with most of us far beyond who won the Hart Trophy and any awards debates, and even beats out the comedy bits, which were expertly deployed by SNL’s Kenan Thompson.

(Honestly, it might be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen at a sports awards show.)

As a reminder, Price first gave Anderson Whitehead a hug earlier this season, and the moment went viral:

Great stuff … and good luck booing Carey Price.

If you need some comic relief after experiencing all of those feelings, enjoy Thompson’s opening monologue, which was really good stuff. May I lead the charge in getting Thompson to do the 2020 NHL Awards, and maybe become as much of a fixture during these ceremonies as he’s been a lifer with SNL? Just throwing my vote (which doesn’t count for anything) out there.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.