Get your game notes: Bruins at Penguins

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

TOP STORYLINES

• Boston’s struggles: Since the start of December, Boston has won just 5 of 16 games (5-6-5).

• The B’s enter having dropped 4 of their last 5 games (1-1-3), including their last 3 – all in OT/SO.

• The Bruins (44 points) are 5th in the Atlantic Division, and trail TOR by 1 point for the 2nd Wild Card spot. On Tuesday, new Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs had critical remarks for the team’s performance this season: “I’d say without question this has been a very disappointing year. It’s unacceptable the way this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team. To see it deliver the way it has is unacceptable.”

• BOS is coming off a 2-1 (SO) loss at CAR on Sunday.

• Patrice Bergeron netted the lone goal for Boston.

• Tied 1-1 after 2 periods, the Bruins managed just 2 shots in the 3rd period, and finished with 20 in the game for their 3rd-lowest total of the season (BOS was outshot 36-20).

• BOS has not allowed more goals than it has scored in a season since 2007-08. That season, the Bruins qualified for the playoffs as the 8th seed in the East and lost in the Conference Quarterfinals.

• Pittsburgh also hitting a snag: The Pens have just 2 wins in their last 7 games (2-4-1)…

• PIT is coming off a 4-1 loss vs. MTL last Saturday.

• David Perron – acquired from EDM last Friday for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round pick – scored the lone PIT goal in his Penguins debut.

• PIT (53 points) is tied in points with NYI for the Metropolitan Division lead (with one game in hand) – those two teams trail only TB and MTL in the Eastern Conference.

• The Pens have won their division each of the past 2 seasons

• Of key players, currently forwards Patric Hornqvist (lower-body), Blake Comeau (wrist), Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), and defensemen Olli Maatta (shoulder) and Paul Martin (undisclosed) are all on IR.

• Martin practiced on Tuesday and coach Mike Johnston said the trainers believe Martin is “really close” to returning. He hasn’t played since Dec. 18.

• The Penguins are 15-1-1 when scoring on the power play this season, but just 1-for-15 in their last 6 games with the man-advantage.

HEAD TO HEAD

• Nov. 24 at BOS: PIT def. BOS 3-2 (OT)

• Evgeni Malkin tied the game at 2 with a power-play goal midway through the 2nd period before scoring the OT-winner 32 seconds into the extra frame.

• Sidney Crosby had a goal and assisted on both of Malkin’s tallies.

• Milan Lucic and Joe Morrow scored 28 seconds apart early in the 2nd for BOS.

• This game was the 300th career victory for Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, making him the 3rd-fastest and 3rd-youngest goalie to reach the milestone.

BOSTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins in assists (20) and points (28). He scored the lone Bruins goal in the loss to Carolina, and has 6 points (2G-4A) in his last 6 games.

• Bergeron: “We’re halfway in, and we’re not in the playoffs. It’s definitely unacceptable.”

• Loui Eriksson has played well of late, with 10 points (4G-6A) and a +6 rating in his last 9 games.

• Overall, Eriksson is 3rd on the team with 25 points (9G-16A).

• Career vs. PIT: Eriksson has 11 points (5G-6A) in 10 GP.

• Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in goals (11), and he is the only Bruin with 10+ goals this season.

• Vancouver (Radim Vrbata – 16 goals) and Buffalo (Zemgus Girgensons – 11) are the only other NHL teams that have just one 10+ goal scorer this season.

• Milan Lucic scored 24 goals in 80 games last season, but he has just 6 in 39 GP so far this season.

• Lucic is in the middle of an 8-game goal drought, and he has just 1 goal in his last 15 games.

• David Krejci will play in his 10th game since returning to the lineup following a month-long absence (groin).

• Krejci led the Bruins in scoring in October (9 points), and has 4 points (1G-3A) in his last 4 games.

• Zdeno Chara is also trying to find his stride since returning to the lineup last month from a knee injury that sidelined him for 19 games.

• Chara has 5 points (all assists) in the 12 games since returning, but is without a point in his last 4.

• Career vs. PIT: Chara has 16 goals vs. PIT – his most vs. any NHL opponent – along with 15 assists.

• Tuukka Rask has made 4 straight starts for Boston, getting at least 1 point in each (1-0-3). However, he has been the hard-luck loser in the past 3 games, dropping 2 in a shootout and one in overtime.

• The reigning Vezina Trophy winner stopped 35 of 36 shots in the SO loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday.

• Rask hadn’t allowed 1 or fewer goals in a game since Nov. 28 – a span of 13 games.

PITTSBURGH TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Evgeni Malkin is one of just 3 Pens to have played in all 39 games this season (Nick Spaling, Rob Scuderi).

• Malkin leads the team in goals (17 – T-9th in NHL) and is tied for the team lead in points with Sidney Crosby (43 – T-6th in NHL).

• Malkin leads the team in power play goals (8 – T-5th in NHL).

• Malkin has just 2 points in his last 5 games (1 goal, 1 assist in 6-3 win vs. TB last Friday).

• Career vs. BOS: Malkin has 28 points (13G-15A) in 24 GP.

• Sidney Crosby may be locating his scoring touch. He has 6 points (1G-5A) in his last 4 games, including a 4-assist game in the win over Tampa Bay.

• Crosby is tied with Malkin for the team lead in points (43 – T-6th in NHL).

• Career vs. BOS: Crosby has 38 points (11G-27A) in 26 GP.

• PIT acquired David Perron from EDM last Friday in exchange for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round pick. The 8-year NHL veteran scored the lone Penguins goal in his debut last Saturday in the 4-1 loss to MTL.

• In 38 games with EDM this season, Perron had 19 points (5G-14A).

• Last season, Perron had a career-high 28 goals and 57 points.

• Perron was a 2007 1st round pick (26th overall) by STL.

• In Patric Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis absences, Steve Downie has benefitted from playing alongside Sidney Crosby on the top line.

• Downie has as many points (10) in his last 8 games as he did in his previous 26 to start the season:

• Marc-Andre Fleury only has 1 win in his last 6 starts (1-3-1, 3.16 GAA, .898 SV%), but the 30-year-old is still having his best season statistically as a pro.

• His 6 shutouts through 31 games lead the NHL, and are already his career-best for a season. His 2.18 GAA and .926 SV% this season would be his best season averages in his 11-season career (current bests: 2.32 GAA in 2010-11, .921 SV% in 2007-08).

• Career vs. BOS: Fleury is 12-6-3 with a 2.30 GAA and .922 SV%.

Devils, Hischier agree to seven-year, $50.75 million extension

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While the Devils don’t know yet if Taylor Hall will sign an extension to remain in New Jersey or find a new home next summer in free agency, GM Ray Shero has young locked down one of the team’s core pieces.

On Friday, Nico Hischier agreed to a seven-year, $50.75 million extension that carries a $7.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 NHL season. The deal buys three unrestricted free agent years since the Devils forward has been playing since he was 18, per Cap Friendly.

“Nico is a special person who possess a team-first mentality combined with an inner drive to succeed,” said Shero in a statement. The entire organization is thankful to him and his family for believing in our future. We are excited that he will continue to play a prominent role with us for many years to come.”

According to the Devils, here’s the year-by-year breakdown:

2020-21: $7,000,000 (includes $3 million signing bonus)
2021-22: $7,250,000
2022-23:  $4,500,000
2023-24:  $7,750,000
2024-25:  $7,750,000
2025-26:  $8,000,000
2026-27:  $8,500,000

The extension also features a modified no-trade clause in the final three years.

In 157 NHL games, Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has 37 goals and 101 points while averaging over 17 minutes a night. His offense has been just fine with a 20 and 17 goals in his first two seasons, but his two-way game is what’s really boosted his talent.

The 20-year-old center joins the list of NHLers who passed on restricted free agency in 2020 to put pen to paper on a new deal, joining the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Clayton Keller, Thomas Chabot, and Sam Girard.

Mathew Barzal, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dylan Strome, and Mikhail Sergachev are some of the other potential 2020 RFAs who will be looking for extensions before next season.

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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.

Helm fined $5K for slash on Flames’ Lindholm

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Darren Helm and Elias Lindholm had a little battle in the third period of Thursday’s 5-1 Flames win and it has resulted in a $5,000 fine for the Red Wings forward.

It all began during a face-off when Lindholm got taken down by Helm. The Flames forward took exception and skated after Helm as the puck entered the Calgary zone. The tiff continued on with Lindholm throwing an elbow at Helm, who responded by getting up off the ice and slashing Lindholm in the back of the leg.

“Their guy comes with an elbow that should have probably been called right away,” said Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill. “Then Darren reacts to that as most guys would, you get an elbow to the face for no reason you’re going to react. We got to be more disciplined in those situations, but he slashed him. I don’t think the slash was that super-hard, but it sure looked hard the way he went down.”

The fine is the maximum amount allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Helm was given a major for slashing and a game misconduct, while Lindholm got off with just an interference minor. Lindholm was helped to the dressing room and there’s been no update yet on his condition.

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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.

LA Kings set Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Laser Show’

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The Los Angeles Kings may have dropped their third in a row Thursday night and fell to 2-5-0 on the season, but they set a world record during the first intermission.

The Kings’ game presentation department used 642 lasers as part of the Guinness Book of World Records “Largest Laser Show” at STAPLES Center. So, yeah, they were shutout, but they made history.

For the record, the first-period goals by Casey Mittelstadt and Conor Sheary did not, in fact, count toward the final laser total.

With Thursday being the 20th anniversary of the opening of the arena, which featured a Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band concert back in 1999, the Kings wanted to do something special, so they went and shattered the previous record of 342, per the team.

Now, if only one of those lasers could have destroyed the “cursed” Taylor Swift banner

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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.

Kempny returns to Capitals’ blue line for first time since March

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Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer doing the ceremonial puck drop honors won’t be the only thing Capitals fans can look forward to Friday night. Defenseman Michal Kempny will make his long-awaited return to the ice against the Rangers after tearing his hamstring in March.

Kempny, who was paired with Radko Gudas during Friday’s morning skate, was given a four-to-six month timeline after undergoing surgery right before the end of last season.

“Yeah, I’m playing tonight. It’s been a long time. I’m very excited,” Kempny said. “There was a lot of hard days, especially from the beginning of the rehab, small steps make me happy. I think it’s part of rehab and all the bad is behind me and I’m just focusing now [on] today’s game.”

Kempny knows he won’t be logging heavy minutes just yet and wants to focus on getting back into the normal routine of a regular player. How his ice time is managed will be something his head coach has to worry about.

“We have a range we’d like to have him in and we’ll see how the game goes,” said Todd Reirden. “Obviously he’s fresh, he’s skating really well, he’s in unbelievable condition, so now it’s just to see how it transfers into game action and how his wind is and his conditioning.”

Braden Holtby is back between the pipes are being given a one game “reset,” as Reirden put it. How he fares against the Rangers will either pause the goalie controversy talk with Ilya Samsonov for now or only add more fuel to the fire.

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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.