Get your game notes: Blues at Devils

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New Jersey Devils hosting the St. Louis Blues at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Even with STL’s forward line combinations in flux this season due to a series of injuries and illnesses, RW Vladimir Tarasenko has stepped up, scoring 6 goals in his last 4 games and powering the Blues to a 5-game win streak heading into tonight.

• Top forwards David Backes (concussion), T.J. Oshie (concussion), Joakim Lindstrom (bacterial infection) and Paul Stastny (shoulder) have all missed time this season, causing Blues coach Ken Hitchcock to use whatever combination “pops out of the blender” during morning skate for his starting top line. Backes and Lindstrom are now back, but Oshie and Stastny are not expected to play tonight.

• Tarasenko leads STL with 13 points (7G-6A) this season. The 22-year-old Russian, who told NHL.com he talks to his grandfather Vladimir after every game, had his first career hat trick in a 4-3 OT win over DAL last week. He scored a highlight-reel power-play goal in regulation and the shootout winner in STL’s 4-3 (SO) victory over NYR on Monday. But his grandfather always tells him “it’s only one night” and “tomorrow” is always the most important.

• Tarasenko previously played with Blues teammate Jori Lehtera at Sibir Novosibirsk of the KHL and represented Russia at the 2014 Sochi Games.

• NJ has won 3 of its last 4 games, but in all 3 of those victories the Devils have had to come from behind, which has frustrated their two Czech veterans, 42-year-old RW Jaromir Jagr and 38-year-old C Patrik Elias. NJ beat OTT, 3-2 (OT), on Oct. 25 and ended their 0-for-18 shootout game skid with a 2-1 (SO) win over WPG on Thursday before beating CBJ, 3-2, on Saturday.

• Jagr after beating CBJ: “I’m getting frustrated. We’re just wasting energy away and we don’t make plays. The third period comes and you’re going to put it together, and the power is here to win the hockey games, but we can make it so much easier for ourselves and more enjoyable by playing games the right way.”

• Elias after beating CBJ: “We’re not skating as well as we should, for whatever reason. You saw how we played in the first few games of the season. For six or seven games, even though we lost some of them, we were still playing well. That’s what we’ve got to get back to.”

• This is NJ’s first season since 1992-93 without G Martin Brodeur – the NHL’s all-time wins leader (688) – starting in net. After facing questions on whether he could handle Brodeur’s workload, American G Cory Schneider has started all 11 of the team’s games, posting a 6-3-2 record, 2.83 GAA and .909 SV%.

QUICK HITS

• 101st regular-season meeting and the first of 2 meetings this season between STL and NJ. They will play again on Thursday in STL.

• STL leads all-time series 49-36-14-1 (W-L-T-OL).

• Last season, NJ won 7-1 at home on Jan. 21, and STL won 3-0 at home on Jan. 28. In the first game, 7 different players scored goals for NJ.

STANDOUT STATS

• STL: Since 2013, the Blues’ .781 (12-3-1 record) winning percentage in the month of November is the best in the NHL (Per Elias).

• NJ: 10-for-38 on the power play this season (26.3% – 3rd best in NHL).

• NJ: 33-for-48 on the penalty kill this season. (68.8% – 2nd worst in NHL).

MILESTONE TRACKER

• NJ: RW Jaromir Jagr needs 1 goal to tie Mike Gartner for 6th on the all-time goal list with 708. Jagr already has the most career goals among active NHL players with 707.

NOTABLE INJURIES

• STL: C Paul Stastny (shoulder) and RW T.J. Oshie (concussion) are both day-to-day.

• NJ: LW Mike Cammalleri (jaw/neck) and RW Jordin Tootoo (foot) are both day-to-day.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

• STL: C David Backes: 1G-5A in 7 career GP vs. NJ.

• STL: LW Alexander Steen: 2G in 2 GP vs. NJ last season, including one game-winner.

• NJ: RW Damien Brunner / D Eric Gelinas: Both had 1G-2A in NJ’s 7-1 win over STL on Jan. 21 last season.

• NJ: RW Jaromir Jagr: 8G-16A, including 3 PPG, in 27 career GP vs. STL.

BLUES TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Captain C David Backes, a two-time U.S. Olympian, returned to the lineup on Nov. 1 vs. COL after missing one game with a concussion. He was third on STL with 57 points last season, but has just 2G-3A so far this season, putting him seventh on the team with 5 points.

• RW T.J. Oshie is day-to-day after suffering a concussion vs. DAL on Oct. 30. He has 1 assist in 8 games this season, one in which he’s caring for both his 8-month-old daughter and his father with Alzheimer’s off the ice.

• Oshie became a worldwide star last February at the Sochi 2014 Games, converting 4 of 6 shootout attempts vs. Russia to give the U.S. a 3-2 victory in the preliminary round. He is 27-for-49 (55.1%) in shootouts in six-plus seasons with STL, including an NHL-leading 9 shootout goals last season. He is 0-for-1 on shootout attempts this season.

• D Alex Pietrangelo, part of Canada’s gold-medal winning Sochi 2014 Olympic team, leads STL this season with 25:38 TOI/G. For the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, he shaved his head in late October to support his girlfriend’s niece, Ellie, who was diagnosed with cancer last August.

• Following the departures of G Jaroslav Halak and G Ryan Miller, G Brian Elliott took over as the team’s top goaltender to start the season despite having never played more than 38 games in a season in three years with STL. Because Elliott played Monday against NYR, G Jake Allen is expected to make the start at NJ tonight.

• STL is allowing 2.00 goals/game this season (T-6th best in NHL). Allen is 2-1-0 in 3 starts so far in his first full NHL season with a 1.34 GAA and .944 SV%.

DEVILS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• C Adam Henrique leads NJ with 9 points (4G-5A) this season and has an upbringing unlike any of his teammates. Henrique and his three brothers were raised on a family tobacco farm in Burford, Ontario, and it was his job to prime the leaves.

• In May 2012, Henrique told the New York Times that priming tobacco growing up made him chase a career in hockey a little harder: “You’re like this, picking leaves, putting the leaves in your bag, and the leaves are hitting you in the face, and it’s wet. You got tar all over you, and you’ve got an 80-pound bag that you’re filling up. It’s no fun.”

• Henrique is expected to be put on the same line with C Patrik Elias tonight to give the Devils offense a jolt. Elias has gone 10 straight games without a goal.

• At 42, RW Jaromir Jagr is in his 21st season with his 7th NHL team and is tied for second on NJ with 8 points this season. He leads all active players in goals (707), assists (1,056), points (1,763) and games played (1,484).

• The 5-time Olympian and 5-time Art Ross Trophy winner (NHL scoring leader) is one of 25 players in the Triple Gold Club, having won two Stanley Cups with PIT (1991, 1992), an Olympic gold with the Czech Republic (1998) and two IIHF World Championships with the Czech Republic (2005, 2010).

• D Damon Severson, 22 years younger than Jagr, already has 4G-4A and in 21:59 TOI/G in his rookie season.

NHL Bubble Wrap: McDavid, Svechnikov put on hat trick shows; Rangers on brink

McDavid Svechnikov hat trick Game 2 NHL scores highlights stars
Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Andrei Svechnikov and Connor McDavid treated fans with not one, but two hat tricks. Very generous.
  • Carey Price played about as well as you could without actually winning.
  • The Rangers are the first team facing pending elimination, while other series are now 1-0 or tied 1-1.

Monday’s NHL scores, recaps

Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1 (Carolina leads series 2-0)

The Hurricanes have yet to trail in this 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier series, and the Rangers are running out of time to get back into this. The series could end as soon as Tuesday; either way, the Rangers face serious odds in overcoming this deficit in a best-of-five series. Andrei Svechnikov collected a hat trick, with Sebastian Aho generated three assists of his own. The gap between the Hurricanes and Rangers only seems to get more pronounced as this series goes along. Things will need to change on Tuesday for this not to be a very short series for Artemi Panarin & Co.

Jets 3, Flames 2 (Series tied 1-1)

With Calgary up 1-0, and without both Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, the deck seemed stacked against the Jets. Despite those absences, and seeing the Flames tie things up after Winnipeg went up 2-0, the Jets just found a way to hang in there and tie this series 1-1. Connor Hellebuyck continues to play at a very high level, but the Jets must feel great about their overall team effort to grind out this tough win.

Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO) — Eastern Conference Round Robin

Early on, the Lightning dominated puck possession against the Capitals, eventually taking a 2-0 lead. That wouldn’t be enough, as the Capitals were the ones striking lighting-quick with two fast goals. Ultimately, the Lightning won in the shootout to tie the Flyers early on in the race for the East’s top seed.

Golden Knights 5, Stars 3 — Western Conference Round Robin

The biggest story from this one came before the game, as Golden Knights (Ryan Reaves and Robin Lehner) joined Stars (Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson) in kneeling during both national anthems. The game itself featured wild swings. After the Golden Knights built a 1-0 first period lead, the Stars rattled off three consecutive goals. The Golden Knights ended up owning the third, however, scoring four straight goals to win.

Penguins 3, Canadiens 1 (Series tied 1-1)

When Sidney Crosby scored earlier on, it seemed like it might begin an explosive game. Instead, Carey Price proved very difficult to beat, but the Penguins pulled it off. It wasn’t always pretty — the Penguins’ power play was particularly pungent — but Pittsburgh tied the series 1-1 on Monday.

Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3 (Series tied 1-1)

Connor McDavid didn’t waste a minute shutting his critics up. He barely “wasted” a second. McDavid scored the 1-0 goal just 19 seconds into Game 2, and ultimately managed a hat trick. Nothing bland about that.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars from Monday’s NHL games

1a. Andrei Svechnikov (with Sebastian Aho); 1b. Connor McDavid (with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins)

How do you pick between hat tricks, in the cases of Svechnikov and McDavid? Especially since, remarkably, both McDavid and Svechnikov managed their hat tricks on three shots on goal apiece? Oh yeah, both McDavid and Svechnikov both scored the game-winning goals on their way to hat tricks, and each player was accompanied by three-assist teammates in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sebastian Aho respectively.

Well … you really need to split hairs. Svechnikov and McDavid both, naturally, dominated play in collecting their hat tricks. Svechnikov was on the ice for two even-strength goals for and none against, while McDavid (two for, one against) had slightly less of a “net positive” at five-on-five. So let’s consider Svechnikov “1a” for Monday.

Also, more people will (understandably) focus on McDavid, so let’s get Svechnikov some love, too. The dude did entertain us with lacrosse-style goals, after all.

3. Carey Price

It’s tough to hand the third star spot to the goalie of a losing team. You could make the point for the three-assist men above, along with another three-helper in Miro Heiskanen of the Stars. Connor Hellebuyck was sharp in helping the Jets manage a hard-fought win.

But goodness, was Price ever outstanding against the Penguins in Game 2. Via Natural Stat Trick, the Penguins’ expected goals at all strengths was 5.51, the most of any team on Monday. That was due in large part to the power-play opportunities the Penguins received, but they truly dominated the Habs. Price kept the Canadiens in the game by stopping 35 out of 37 shots.

It wasn’t enough to steal Game 2 for the Canadiens, but it was enough to impress.

2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers — top highlights from Monday

Who in their right mind would call McDavid bland? He certainly isn’t boring on the ice:

Svechnikov: not bland, either.

Factoids

  • By collecting his 68th career playoff goal, Crosby tied Gordie Howe for 18th most in NHL playoff history. That tally also pushed Crosby’s career playoff point total to 188, tying Crosby with Joe Sakic and Doug Gilmour for eighth all-time.
  • For all of the Golden Knights’ accomplishments as a young team, Monday’s win marked the first time Vegas overcame a multi-goal deficit in the third period to win.
  • This marks McDavid’s first playoff hat trick. Four Oilers managed a hat trick in the last 20 years: McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Bill Guerin, and Doug Weight.

Tuesday NHL schedule: Six 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier games

Game 2: Panthers vs. Islanders, 12 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Islanders lead series 1-0)

Game 2: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Coyotes lead series 1-0)

Game 2: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Blue Jackets lead series 1-0)

Game 3: Flames vs. Jets, 6:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Series tied 1-1)

Game 3: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Rangers lead series 2-0)

Game 2: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Wild lead series 1-0)

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.

McDavid responds with hat trick in Game 2; Oilers tie series with Blackhawks

Leave a comment

Connor McDavid haters: hold onto your hats. Then throw them to the ice/at your TV sets. After an embarrassing overall performance in Game 1, the Oilers tied their 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier Series 1-1 with the Blackhawks by running away with Game 2 by a score of 6-3.

McDavid delivers hat trick in Game 2 as Oilers tie series with Blackhawks

McDavid set the tone right away by scoring the 1-0 goal just 19 seconds into Game 2. The Oilers superstar fattened the Oilers’ lead to 2-0 a bit more than four minutes into Game 2, and eventually McDavid recorded a hat trick by the second period.

The hat trick ceremony was almost as good as watching McDavid hit top speed:

(OK, maybe not, but pretty cool.)

If you look only at box scores, you’d maybe think that McDavid’s Game 2 wasn’t that different than his Game 1 experience. After all, McDavid was productive in Game 1, getting credited with a goal and two assists.

The difference was pretty stark, though, as McDavid and the Oilers struggled mightily all-around in Game 1, while they controlled most of Game 2.

Not perfect, but a big response from the Oilers

Granted, the final score might make Game 2 seem like more of a cakewalk than it truly was.

On one hand, the Oilers hogged the puck for significant spans of play. On the other hand, there was some sloppiness. Edmonton saw a 3-1 lead evaporate into a 3-3 tie as both the Blackhawks and Oilers made plenty of mistakes during Game 2.

McDavid’s hat-trick goal gave Edmonton a 4-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish, though. With two goals 40 seconds apart in the third period, James Neal and Alex Chiasson put Game 2 out of reach.

If these first two games are any indication, this could be a wild series. Blackhawks – Oilers might create a lot of chances for offensive stars like McDavid and Patrick Kane (1G, 1A), and a lot of headaches for the goalie in both nets.

(5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks (Series tied 1-1)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Oilers vs. Blackhawks, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*, TBD

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

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.

Penguins tie series with Canadiens despite Carey Price’s brilliance

Leave a comment

Some people nodded their heads at the “Carey Price could steal a series against the Penguins” talking points; others rolled their eyes. During much of Game 2 of the Penguins – Canadiens 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier, most people were just shaking their heads in disbelief at how great Price was. Even so, the Penguins did just enough to tie the series 1-1 via a 3-1 win.

Price was righteous; Penguins’ power play needs serious work

Carey Price and the Canadiens penalty kill already impressed in Game 1, keeping an on-paper-potent power play to an inefficient 1-for-7. Price & Co. were even stingier in Game 2, keeping the Penguins off the board (0-for-5) despite a steady stream of early opportunities.

In both games, the Penguins failed to score on 5-on-3 power play opportunities.

As with a lot of these situations, special teams successes and failures come down to a mix of factors. On one hand, the Canadiens performed admirably on the PK, and Price was brilliant whenever that structure broke down. But the Penguins’ power play looked flat, and almost cost Pittsburgh Game 2.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Crosby’s goal proved crucial; Penguins dominated Canadiens at even strength in Game 2

When Sidney Crosby scored the 1-0 goal just 4:25 into Game 2, it seemed like it would merely be a prelude to a busy game. Instead, it served as the only goal of Game 2 for significant chunk of the night.

Crosby made some history with that goal, his second in two games. By collecting his 68th career playoff goal, Crosby tied Gordie Howe for 18th most in NHL playoff history. That tally also pushed Crosby’s career playoff point total to 188, tying Crosby with Joe Sakic and Doug Gilmour for eighth all-time.

Late in the third period, Jason Zucker connected on a nice 2-0 goal, while Conor Sheary collected his second assist of Game 2. Jesperi Kotkaniemi then broke Matt Murray‘s shutout attempt to make it 2-1, but that goal came far too late for Montreal to push Game 2 into OT. Like Crosby, Kotkaniemi has two goals in as many games in this best-of-five series. Jake Guentzel‘s empty-netter ended any hint of late-building drama in Game 2.

Overall, the Penguins find themselves breathing a sigh of relief, and maybe catching their breath. Meanwhile, the Canadiens must feel decent about having this series tied 1-1, although they’ll need to give Price more support to advance. For all of the criticism the Penguins’ power play may receive, the Canadiens likely need to work beyond a “bend but don’t break” approach.

5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens (Series tied 1-1/Habs lead series 2-0)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Penguins vs. Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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.

Blackhawks-Oilers stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

Blackhawks-Oilers stream
Getty Images
Leave a comment

NBC’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Monday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Blackhawks and Oilers. Coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Blackhawks-Oilers Game 2 stream at 10:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Connor McDavid scored 2:34 into the game to give Edmonton the early lead before Chicago scored four straight goals – two by captain Jonathan Toews – to take a 4-1 lead after the first period. Rookie Dominik Kubalik was the story the rest of the way.

While Toews, Patrick Kane, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl all found the score sheet, it was Kubalik who made the headlines. The Calder Trophy finalist, who led all rookies with 30 goals during the regular season, set an NHL record for most points (5) in a playoff debut.

Mike Smith allowed five goals on 23 shots before being pulled in the second for Mikko Koskinen.

“We’ll talk about where we are with our goaltenders, and I thought Mikko was fine in net,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said. “We have confidence in both our guys, we had long discussions about it. We think we’ll use both in the [postseason]… We started the season 5-0 (with) Smitty. We thought we wanted to start the postseason the same way. We were very confident in Smitty. Other than the giveaway that went off his back, he was kind of left on his own out there.”

Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula has been suspended for Game 2 following an illegal check to the head of Tyler Ennis.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Monday, August 3, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Kenny Albert, AJ Mleczko, Pierre McGuire
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Blackhawks-Oilers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

(5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks (Blackhawks lead series 1-0)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Oilers vs. Blackhawks, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*, TBD

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule