Get your game notes: Bruins at Wild

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Minnesota Wild hosting the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Oct 28 – MIN def. BOS 4-3: The Wild and Bruins are meeting for the 2nd and final time this season. In their first meeting in Boston…

• MIN scored 3 unanswered goals in the 3rd period in a 4-3 comeback win over BOS.

• Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Justin Fontaine, and Marco Scandella (game winner) all scored for the Wild, while Bruins rookie Seth Griffith factored in all 3 Bruins goals with 2G-1A.

• The Wild outshot the Bruins 42-28, including 18-8 in the final frame.

• This was 1 of 4 times in Wild history that the team came back from down at least 2 goals in the 3rd to win in regulation (Elias) – the Wild also did this earlier this month vs. NYI.

• Minnesota has been up and down recently: The Wild have alternated wins and losses over the past 12 games (6-5-1) dating back to Nov. 20…

• This includes the 3-game road trip MIN is returning from in which they went 1-2-0, with a shootout win over AZ on Dec. 13 sandwiched by a 2-1 loss in San Jose on Dec. 11 and a 5-3 loss in Chicago last night.

• The Wild rallied to tie the game last night after trailing 3-1 in the 3rd period, but surrendered the game-winning power-play goal to Patrick Kane with less than 4 minutes to go.

• Tonight, the Wild open a 4-game home stand.

• Minnesota is 9-3-1 at Xcel Energy Center this season.

• Boston in a slump: The Bruins have just 2 wins in their last 10 games (2-5-3) since beginning the season 13-8-0.

• The B’s are in the midst of their worst stretch (lost 8 of 10) since dropping 10 straight (0-6-4) back in Jan. 2010.

• Boston has just 1 win in 7 games in December (1-4-2).

• This is the 2nd of a 3-game Central Division road trip for Boston.

• Boston is 6-7-1 away from TD Garden this season.

• Bruins on the mend: The B’s have been without two important pieces, D Zdeno Chara & F David Krejci, most of this season, but…

• This will be Chara’s 4th game back since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for 19 games.

• Chara has 1 assist (Sat. vs. OTT) since rejoining the lineup, and has played more than 20 minutes in each game.

• However, Coach Claude Julien said after the loss to Ottawa that Chara was, “fighting the puck a little bit.”

• Krejci led the Bruins in scoring in October (9 points), but a groin injury has limited him to just 11 games overall this season. He has missed the last 11 games, but has been practicing and traveling with the team and is considered day-to-day.

• Special teams matchup: Boston’s PP has been struggling, while Minnesota enters with one of the NHL’s top
PK units…

• The Bruins have gone just 1-for-24 in their last 13 games on the man-advantage.

• Despite letting up one power-play goal in each of their last 4 games, the Wild rank 3rd in the NHL on the PK overall (86.7%) this season.

• The Bruins have gone 3-for-7 on the PP in their last 2 meetings with the Wild after going 0-for-36 in the first 13 games in this series.

BRUINS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• F Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins in points (21) in 31 GP, and with an assist last night now has 5 points (all assists) in his last 5 games.

• Bergeron is in a goal-scoring slump, however, with no goals in his last 11 games.

• The Bruins’ 2nd-leading point-getter, F Carl Soderberg, is mired in an even longer drought.

• He has 19 points this season, but has 0 goals in his past 15 games dating back to Nov. 12.

• Boston is getting the best production of late from F Brad Marchand and F Reilly Smith.

• Marchand had an assist last night, and now has 6 points (2G-4A) in his last 5 games.

• Marchand is tied for the team lead in goals (8, w/ Smith) and ranks 3rd in points (18) this season.

• Smith had a goal last night for BOS, and also has 6 points (4G-2A) in his last 5 games.

• Smith has 8G-8A playing in all 31 games this season.

• G Tuukka Rask stopped 38 of 40 shots through OT last night, but ultimately lost in the shootout against NSH.

• Rask has started all 3 games during the Bruins current 3-game losing streak. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been a tough-luck loser with a 2.23 GAA and .924 SV% in those games.

• Overall this season, Rask is 12-9-3 with a 2.52 GAA and .914 SV%.

WILD TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• D Ryan Suter is 1 of 5 Wild players (Keith Ballard, Jonas Brodin, Christian Folin, and Marco Scandella) to get diagnosed with mumps this season, but he only missed 2 games.

• Suter leads the NHL in TOI/G at 29:28, slightly above his league-leading mark of 29:24 last season. He was the NHL’s leader in this category in 2012-13 as well.

• On Monday, Suter was named the NHL’s 2nd star of the week after posting 5 assists in 3 games.

• Suter leads the Wild in assists (17) and ranks T-3rd on the team in points (18).

• F Zach Parise has 9 points (3G-6A) in his last 8 games, and leads MIN with 23 points in 24 GP this season.

• F Thomas Vanek has scored 20+ goals in each of his first 9 NHL seasons, but he has just 4 goals through 29 games this season.

• Vanek has enjoyed success against Boston in his career; his 30 goals and 63 points in the regular season are his most vs. any other NHL opponent.

• Last season, Vanek had 6 points in 6 regular season games vs. BOS, and totaled 4G-1A in last year’s 2nd-Round playoff series against Boston as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

• F Nino Niederreiter leads the Wild in goals (14), and through 29 games has equaled his goal output from a season ago, in which he played 81 games.

• Niederreiter scored on his first career penalty shot attempt in the 3rd period yesterday – his 3rd goal in 4 games, and 10th in the last 15.

• G Niklas Backstrom got the last-minute start last night after G Darcy Kuemper reportedly came down with the same illness that has sidelined D Jared Spurgeon (stomach virus).

• Backstrom also battled an illness during the game, making 34 saves on 38 shots in the 5-3 loss to Chicago.

• If Backstrom starts tonight, he will bring a stellar head-to-head record vs. the Bruins to the ice.

• Backstrom is 5-0-1 in his 6 career starts vs. BOS, with a 1.32 GAA, .957 SV%, and 2 shutouts.

• Overall this season, Backstrom is 5-3-1 in 12 appearances (9 starts) with a 2.43 GAA and .903 SV%.

Capitals’ Hathaway ejected for spitting on Ducks’ Gudbranson

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway has been ejected from a game for spitting on a player from the Anaheim Ducks.

Hathaway spit on defenseman Erik Gudbranson during a brawl late in the second period Monday night with referee Peter MacDougall standing a few feet away. Officials reviewed video before confirming the five-minute match penalty that triggers a game misconduct.

Tempers flared during the first 40 minutes between Washington and Anaheim and boiled over with 33.4 seconds remaining in the second. Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic bulldozed the Ducks’ Derek Grant behind the net, sparking several fights between the teams’ fourth lines.

Hathaway was involved with Grant, Gudbranson and Nick Ritchie during the scrum before being thrown out.

Unexpected hat trick gives Ducks’ Grant rare opportunity

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If you weren’t expecting Anaheim Ducks forward Derek Grant to record a hat trick this season — as he did in the Ducks’ 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night — you weren’t alone in that thought.

That thought also extended to his closest friends and resulted in a friendly wager over the summer that now gives the Ducks’ forward an opportunity to name a childhood friend’s first-born child.

Grant first mentioned it during a between periods interview on Saturday, and expanded on it on Monday.

From the Ducks’ Adam Brady:

Another buddy had suggested that if he made a hole-in-one the next day on the links he should be allowed to name the baby.

“My one friend said he should get to name it if he gets a hole-in-one that day golfing,” Grant recalled with a chuckle. “I’m not quite as good a golfer, so he made it real for me if I get a hat trick this year, I’d get to name his first child.”

Grant added that even though his friend’s fiancee was a little skeptical of the idea at first, the couple is fully on board with him naming their child.

This probably seemed like a safe bet for his friend to make because before Saturday Grant had scored just 18 goals in 228 career games and had only scored two goals in a game once. He played 92 NHL games before scoring his first career goal during the 2017-18 season.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

Hurricanes’ Haula out with more knee issues

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A couple of years ago the expansion draft process gave Erik Haula an opportunity to get an increased role with the Vegas Golden Knights.

He took advantage of that opportunity with a breakout season that saw him score 29 goals and become a key part of one of the most improbable Stanley Cup Final teams ever.

It has been a tough road for Haula in the two seasons since due to injuries, and now his first year with the Carolina Hurricanes is being sidetracked by more knee issues.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour announced on Monday that Haula is “going to be out for a while” and that he does not think the forward will be playing anytime soon due to continued issues with his knee. Haula had recently missed four games this season due to soreness in his surgically repaired knee before returning to the lineup on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. He played in each of the Hurricanes’ past two games, logging 27 minutes of total ice time in a more limited role.

Haula was originally injured a little more than a year ago when an awkward fall during a game in Toronto resulted in him being stretchered off the ice. He did not play another game for the Golden Knights and was traded over the summer in salary cap-clearing deal.

He was off to a great start this year with eight goals in his first 16 games with the Hurricanes. That total has him just one goal off the team lead where he trails Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and Dougie Hamilton (all three have nine goals, while all three have played in all 20 games so far).

This is a tough injury for both the Hurricanes as a team and for Haula on a personal level.

First, the Hurricanes are losing one of their most productive forwards and a player that had already seemed to be a perfect fit in their lineup. His addition was a huge boost to their forward depth and so far everything had been working exactly as planned for a team that has its sights set on becoming a championship contender.

As for Haula himself, he is currently in the final year of his contract and given the way he has produced the past three years when healthy he was playing his way toward what could be a fairly significant raise this summer, whether it was with Carolina or another team. There is obviously still a chance he can return at some point this season and pick up where he left off, but the short-term outlook is definitely concerning.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Power Rankings: Most dangerous duos in the league

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In this week’s PHT Power Rankings we take a break from ranking all 31 teams and instead look at some of the best, and most dangerous forward duos in the league.

We are looking at forward duos that are regularly used together on a line and can not only produce offense, but help carry their teams and drive play.

Which duos make the list? Let’s get to the rankings!

1. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. There is not a duo in the NHL right now that is even close to these two.

Individually, the are the top-two point producers in the league since the start of the 2018-19 season and both are among the top-three in goals scored.

When they are on the ice together during 5-on-5 play the past two seasons the Oilers have outscored their opponents by an 82-57 margin (when neither is on the ice the Oilers have been outscored 67-97) while they have been on the ice for more than 55 percent of the Oilers’ total goals (all situations) during that time. As they go, the Oilers go. It is not a stretch to say this is the most dominant offensive duo the league has seen since the days of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh. Breaking them up should be a fireable offense.

2. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins. These two are so good that they have made Patrice Bergeron (still one of the best players in the league) arguably the third best player on his own line.

While Bergeron does drive a lot of the defensive play and plays the shutdown role to near perfection at center, the Pastrnak-Marchand duo on the wings is behind the offense. So much so that Pastrnak and Marchand have scored goals at a higher rate the past three years when they are playing without Bergeron than they do with him.

Goals per 60 minutes since start of 2017-18 season:

  • Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron together: 3.64
  • Pastrnak and Marchand without Bergeron: 3.89
  • Marchand and Bergeron without Pastrnak: 3.49
  • Pastrnak and Bergeron without Marchand: 2.75

That is not to say the team would be better off without Bergeron centering the line, it is just a testament to how good Pastrnak and Marchand are offensively.

3. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche. They have been to the Avalanche what the McDavid-Draisaitl duo has been to the Oilers. Top producers individually, completely dominant as a duo, and until this season the line that had to carry what was an incredibly top-heavy team. The Avalanche did serious work to address those depth concerns over the summer and it’s helped them stay afloat in the current absence of Rantanen (and the third member of that line, Gabriel Landeskog). When MacKinnon gets his regular wingers back the Avalanche should be considered one of the top Stanley Cup contenders.

4. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins. It is easy to write off Guentzel’s success as being a product of playing next to Crosby, but here is the thing about that: A lot of players, many of them very talented, have spent significant time alongside Crosby throughout his career and have never approached the level of production that Guentzel has. He is the consistent finisher that Crosby never really had earlier in his career, and together they are the biggest driver of the Penguins’ offense.

5. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers. These two have really emerged as top-tier offensive players the past two years. Barkov still carries the “underrated” label even though everyone around the league knows exactly how good he is (you should know how good he is, anyway). The truly underrated one in this duo at this point is Huberdeau. Both players are among the top-10 scorers in the league the past two years and have been outstanding this year. If Sergei Bobrovsky ever plays like the big money goalie the Panthers signed him to be this duo will take the Panthers to the playoffs.

6. Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. They haven’t been quite as dominant as they were a year ago, but no one in Tampa Bay has been just yet. Plus, they are still both around a point-per-game offensively and they are carrying the play when the Lightning use them together (3.50 goals per 60 minutes; dominant possession numbers). They could be on the verge of a breakout at any moment.

7. Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights. This duo became a thing last year after Vegas’ in-season trade for Stone last season, and it has been their best line ever since. Stone is one of the best all-around wingers in the NHL and should once again get serious Selke Trophy consideration, while Pacioretty still has the lightning quick release that can make him a 30-goal scorer. These two may not score as many goals as some of the duos on this list, but they control the pace of play and dictate the game as well as any duo in the league.

8. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals. You might consider this a nod to past dominance or their reputation, but these two still have it. The Capitals mix their line combinations up a bit (Ovechkin has spent a lot of time in recent years with both Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov as his center) but this is still the one that seems to work the best. Both players are in their 30s and still on track to put up huge numbers this season for a Capitals team that looks like it could win another Stanley Cup.

9. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks. This duo might change everything in Vancouver. The Canucks have had comically bad luck in the draft lottery during this rebuild, never picking higher than fifth despite being one of the league’s worst teams the past few years. They have still managed to find some incredible building blocks with their top picks including Pettersson, Boeser, and Quinn Hughes. The Boeser-Pettersson duo is a must-see every night and has helped rapidly  accelerate the rebuild. The only thing that has held them back so far in their young careers are injuries.

10. Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, Calgary Flames. Going from Carolina to Calgary has completely turned around Lindholm’s career thanks to the instant chemistry he found alongside Gaudreau. In the three years prior to his move to Calgary he scored just 38 goals in 235 games. He already has 37 goals in only 104 games with the Flames. Since the trade the Flames have outscored teams 68-48 with the Gauderau-Lindholm duo on the ice and averaged close to three-and-a-half per 60 minutes.

(Data in this post via Natural Stat Trick)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.