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%.

NHL stars praise Alex Ovechkin as he hits 700 career goals

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There’s a new member of the 700-goal club and his name is Alex Ovechkin. At 4:50 of the third period against the Devils on Saturday, the Capitals captain fired one by Mackenzie Blackwood to reach the historic mark.

Ovechkin scored goal No. 699 in an OT loss to the Canadiens after five straight games without a point. No. 8 controlled a rolling puck after Nicklas Backstrom won a faceoff cleanly in the offensive zone, then fired a wrist shot past Carey Price.

The Washington Capitals captain is now the eighth member of the exclusive NHL club. He joins Mike Gartner (708), Phil Esposito (717), Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741), Jaromir Jagr (766), Gordie Howe (801), and Wayne Gretzky (894).

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Ovechkin has been doing this since he broke in the league in 2005 and his peers continue to marvel at his goal-scoring exploits.

NBC Sports recently sat down with T.J. Oshie, Patrick Kane, Eric Staal, Sidney Crosby, David Pastrnak, Max Pacioretty, Nathan MacKinnon, and John Carlson to talk about Ovechkin’s career and his pursuit of Gretzky’s all-time record.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Alex Ovechkin scores 700th goal vs. Devils with a blast

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He did it. Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th career goal on Saturday as the Capitals faced the Devils.

Ovechkin scored his historic goal from the opposite faceoff circle from his typical “office.” It was a significant goal, tying Washington 2-2 with New Jersey a few minutes into the third period. Ovechkin reaching his 700th goal with such gusto really adds to the experience.

(Watch video of Ovechkin scoring his 700th goal in the video above.)

It marks his second goal in as many games after sitting at 698 goals for five agonizing contests. Well, they were agonizing for those anxiously awaiting number 700. Ovechkin’s response was basically “Whatever.” Ovechkin scored 30 of his 700 career goals against the Devils.

Ovechkin joins an illustrious group including Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708). Ovechkin became the second player to score 700+ goals with a single team, as Howe scored 786 with the Red Wings before continuing a hockey journey that eventually included playing alongside his sons.

Jagr was the most recent player to reach 700 on March 1, 2014.

Ovechkin scored goal No. 699 in an OT loss to the Canadiens after five straight games without a point. No. 8 controlled a rolling puck after Nicklas Backstrom won a faceoff cleanly in the offensive zone, then fired a wrist shot past Carey Price.

Ovechkin, 34, became the second youngest and fastest player (1144 games) to score 700 goals, trailing Gretzky who was 29 years old (886 games) when he scored his 700th in January 1991 as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

Earlier this month, Ovi also became only the second player to score 40 goals in 11 seasons, trailing Gretzky’s record of 12. Ovechkin now has 42 goals in 60 games this season, giving himself a shot at another Maurice Richard Trophy.

Ovechkin’s quest for 700th goal:

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.

Islanders honor John Tonelli by retiring his No. 27

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John Tonelli’s No. 27 has been raised to the rafters at Nassau Coliseum, joining some of his former teammates from the New York Islanders’ Stanley Cup dynasty.

Tonelli, known as a gritty player who worked to get the puck in the corners, became the seventh player to have his number retired by the team when he was honored before Friday night’s 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings.

“Tonight is not about me,” Tonelli said. “It’s all about giving thanks to my extended family, each and every one of you here and at home tonight. All of you have played a starring role in the journey that has brought this extremely honored and humbled man before you. Tonight is about my teammates, some of whom are standing with me. … I feel incredibly honored to have skated alongside each of you and to be part of the success that we achieved as a team.”

Tonelli is the first Islander to get his number retired since Bryan Trottier (19) in 2001. Dennis Potvin (5), Clark Gillies (9), Mike Bossy (22), Bobby Nystrom (23) and Billy Smith (31) had their numbers retired previously. They were all part of the teams that won four straight Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83.

Five of the six were in attendance for Tonelli’s big night. Bossy was unable to make it, but a congratulatory video message was played in the arena.

The 62-year-old Tonelli also was joined by his wife, Lauren, sons Jordan and Zach, and his mother, Joy. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was in attendance as well.

Tonelli, who had 206 goals and 338 assists in 594 games over eight seasons with the Islanders, was shown a bronze plaque that will be displayed in the team’s Hall of Fame. Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin presented him with a framed No. 27 jersey and painted portrait by Tony Capparelli among other gifts.

In a speech that lasted about 15 minutes, Tonelli thanked coaches from his WHA and juniors days, as well as former teammates for sharing in his success. He also praised Al Arbour, the late longtime coach of the Islanders, who has a banner with 1,500 – the number of games he coached the team – also hanging in the rafters.

“Thank you Al for believing in all of us,” Tonelli said. “Thank you for making us all feel important, to be proud of our roles, for knocking us down when were too cocky and for picking us up when we were down.”

Tonelli referenced the goal in overtime of Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers that gave the Islanders their first championship, when he sent a pass through two defenders to a streaking Nystrom for the win.

“Bob, that magical moment on May 24, 1980, will live with me forever,” he said.

He also spoke glowingly about Butch Goring, who will have his No. 91 retired on Feb. 29 before the Islanders’ game against Boston.

“Prior to his arrival, we were a pretty good hockey team but we were missing something,” Tonelli said. “Butch you were an inspiration to play with and I’m truly looking forward to standing at ice level next Saturday and watching this tremendous honor bestowed upon you.”

Tonelli had a frosty relationship with the Islanders after he was traded to Calgary on March 11, 1986. It began to thaw the last few years after Malkin and Ledecky took over control as majority owners and began actively honoring former players. It’s part of the buildup to the team’s planned move to a new arena at Belmont Park for the 2021-22 season.

“Jon and Scott, thanks for bringing me back home,” Tonelli said. “This barn is the place where I came prepared to play the game with the responsibility to play it hard for my family, my teammates, my coaches, the training staff and most of all my extended family – all of you, the fans.”

Tonelli said he had “trust” in general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz, and thanked the current Islanders – all of whom watched the ceremony wearing No. 27 Tonelli jerseys on the bench – for “the pride you bring to us alumni.”

He also singled out team captain Anders Lee, who currently wears the number that was retired for Tonelli.

“I am so proud and so honored you will continue to wear our No. 27,” Tonelli said. “I also look forward to the day we can share it all the way to the top of the rafters.”

How Al Michaels ended up calling the ‘Miracle on Ice’

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Hockey was not alien to Al Michaels before he became ABC Sports’ hockey announcer for the 1980 Olympic Games. Growing up in Brooklyn, he would attend New York Rovers and later New York Rangers games at Madison Square Garden. He knew the game, that was no question.

But Michaels’ resume of calling hockey prior to Lake Placid consisted of one single game: USSR vs. Czechoslovakia at the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. The Soviets would win 5-2 for their third of what would be four straight Olympic gold medals.

When Michaels was preparing to cover the ’80 Olympics, he wasn’t sure what his assignment would be. ABC had an announcing roster highlighted by Keith Jackson, Jim McKay, and Howard Cosell and covering Eric Heiden’s quest for five speed skating golds was a coveted gig.

Michaels’ one game of experience was enough for ABC Sports head Roone Arledge to put him on hockey.

“I was pretty happy about it because among other things, when you’re doing a Winter Olympic sport, you want to be inside,” Michaels said on a conference call with reporters this week. “So I was staying nice and toasty and warm, and of course as it progressed, there was never any opportunity for anybody else to come in and do those games, because again, at that point, by the time the Soviet game had taken place, I had done six games, and none of those guys had done any still. 

“So I was fairly confident we would roll down to the end of the tournament and away we went. But you talk about getting fortunate. As I tell people to this day, there were not a lot of miracles on the biathlon course. I could have been assigned to that. So it all worked out.”

Miracle on Ice celebration Al Michaels
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No time to script the final call

It all worked out and resulted in one of the biggest upsets and most legendary calls in sports history. The Soviets pressed as the U.S. led 4-3, leaving Michaels unable to script a final call.

“To think about what would be said at the end of the game or how it would be said never could enter my mind as the Soviets are putting pressure on,” he recalled. “I’ve got to call it, I’ve got to call it pass by pass, shot by shot.

“And then just serendipitous that with six or seven seconds to go, the puck comes out to center ice, and now the game is going to be over. The Soviets have no time to mount a last rush. The puck is in the neutral zone. And the word that popped into my head was miraculous. That’s just the word that popped in, and it got morphed into a question and quick answer, and away we went.

“But all I’m trying to do at that point is call the game, don’t blow a call. But the Soviets could have tied the game. How insane would that have sounded if I would have said that as the Soviets tie the game with one second to go? 

“It was from my heart. It had nothing to do with what it meant to the country or anything beyond sports, but as somebody who’s loved sports since I was five years old, this was an upset. This was a gigantic, gigantic upset, and so that’s why the word miraculous came into my brain, and I said what I said. But that had everything to do with what an incredible moment this is, and not something that I ever thought would live in posterity, because remember in those years, too, nobody had a home video machine, videotape machine, so this is not something you think lives forever.”

(Even 40 years later, the ties to the home of the “Miracle on Ice” continue for Michaels. His 13-year-old grandson plays travel hockey in Southern California and his team won an October tournament in Lake Placid.)

The better line, according to Eruzione

The American public didn’t hear Michaels’ call live because the game was on tape-delay and aired in primetime. Mike Eruzione, who scored the winning goal, didn’t hear the legendary line until weeks later. After “Miracle” game, the rest of the team watched it on television as he and goaltender Jim Craig did interviews.

While “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” lives on, it’s a different line from the Finland game that’s stuck with Eruzione.

“You know, I never thought it was a miracle, but it was a catchy phrase and it sounded right,” Eruzione said. “I thought Al’s best call, which I thought got lost in this whole thing, was ‘This impossible dream comes true,’ when we beat Finland, because it was an impossible dream, and I’m not talking about the Red Sox. I’m talking about this was a dream that we had as players to go to the Olympic Games and win a medal, let alone have a chance to win the gold medal.

“Everybody gets caught up in ‘Do you believe in miracles? Yes,’ but I thought ‘This impossible dream comes true’ was even greater, and Al and I have played some golf together in some celebrity events, and we’re talking down the fairway and we always hear it, ‘Hey, Mike, hey, Al, do you believe in miracles? Yes.’ I walk through an airport and somebody will say, ‘Hey, Mike Eruzione, do you believe in miracles?’

“So it’s the catch line that everybody talks about, and it was spectacular, and that’s why Al is such a great commentator. He captured the moment and what it was. But I still think the second line after Finland kind of got lost in the shuffle because I thought that was spectacular as well.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.