Get your game notes: Lightning at Hurricanes

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Carolina Hurricanes hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• TB’s All-Stars were Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Jonathan Drouin (rookie selection).

• Stamkos had 2G, 1A for Team Foligno on Sunday.

• Johnson did not participate in either Saturday or Sunday’s activities due to a lower body injury.

• Drouin won the fastest skater competition as a member of Team Foligno, with a time of 13.103 seconds.

• CAR’s only All-Star was Justin Faulk.

• Faulk had 2 assists in the win for Team Toews.

TAMPA BAY FIRST-HALF REVIEW

• TB begins play after the All-Star Break as the Atlantic Division leader, the top team in the East, and the NHL’s highest scoring team (3.21 goals/gm).

• The Lightning enter on a 3-game win streak, and are 6-3-0 overall in January.

• Last Game: TB def. VAN 4-1 last Tuesday. This marked the Lightning’s 8th straight home victory.

• With 64 points, the Bolts are off to the best 48-game start in the 22-season history of the franchise.

• TB trails league-leading ANA (68 pts) by 4 points; the Lightning have never won the President’s Trophy.

CAROLINA FIRST-HALF REVIEW

• The Hurricanes enter in last place in the Metropolitan Division (37 pts). Only BUF (31 pts) and EDM (33 pts) have fewer points in the NHL this season (AZ also has 37 pts).

• However, the Canes’ play has improved in 2015. CAR enters on a 2-game win streak, and the team has a 6-2-1 record overall in January.

• Last game: CAR def. TOR 4-1 last Monday.

• The win vs. TOR capped off a 2-0-0 Ontario road trip (also beat OTT 3-2) – the first time CAR has won back-to-back road games this season.

• TB injury woes: The Lightning have injuries to key players currently, especially on the blue line…

• D Matt Carle (torn abdominal muscles) had surgery last week and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

• Carle leads the team in blocked shots (74) and ranks 3rd in TOI/G (20:34) in 46 games this season.

• D Radko Gudas (knee) was expected to miss 4 months at the time of his arthroscopic knee surgery at the beginning of January.

• Despite playing in just 31 games, Gudas leads TB in hits (115), and is 2nd in blocked shots (63).

• F Tyler Johnson (lower-body) did not participate in the skills competition or the All-Star Game, and though he practiced Monday, is still considered day-to-day.

• Johnson leads TB in assists (31) and points (48) and is 2nd in the NHL with a +26 rating this season.

TAMPA BAY TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Steven Stamkos had an assist in TB’s most recent game – a 4-1 win vs. VAN last Tuesday.

• With 26 goals this season, Stamkos trails league-leaders Tyler Seguin and Rick Nash (28 goals) by just two. Alex Ovechkin is 3rd in the NHL with 27 goals this season.

• The Lightning captain is a two-time winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy (NHL leading goal-scorer); he captured the title in 2010 (tied w/ Sidney Crosby) and in 2012 by himself.

• Career vs. CAR: 24 points (12G-12A) in 31 career games.

• Ryan Callahan, who signed a 6-year/$34.8 million contract extension with TB this summer through 2019-20, is on pace for a career season points-wise with 35 points in 43 games played so far.

• Callahan set his career-high with 54 points (29G-25A) in 2011-12 with the New York Rangers.

• He has 5 points (3G-2A) in his last 6 games.

• Alex Killorn scored twice against VAN for the first 2-goal game of his career.

• Nikita Kucherov is t-2nd on the team in goals (17), but he has gone 9 straight games without a goal (0G-6A).

• Kucherov leads the NHL with a +28 rating this season.

• Ben Bishop has started all 3 games during the Lightning’s win streak (3-0-0 record, 1.62 GAA, .951 SV%), and he ranks t-4th in the NHL with 24 wins this season. He has great numbers all-time vs. the Hurricanes…

• Career vs. CAR: 5-0-0 record, 1.19 GAA, .967 SV%, 2 SO.

CAROLINA TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Jordan Staal missed the first 35 games of CAR’s season (fractured fibula). The team’s offense — and overall record — has been much improved with him in the lineup this season.

• Jordan had 2 assists in the win vs. TOR, and he has 6 points (1G-5A) in 10 games overall since his return.

• Eric Staal has benefitted from Jordan’s return – he has 8 goals in the 11 games since Jordan returned on Dec. 29 (8G-1A). The two have been playing on the top line together.

• Eric had 2 goals – both assisted by his brother Jordan – in the game vs. TOR.

• Career vs. TB: 67 points (31G-36A) in 63 career games. The 31 goals are his most vs. any NHL opponent.

• Khudobin stealing the show: While veteran Cam Ward has started 31 of the team’s 46 games this season, Anton Khudobin is the hot goalie for Carolina of late.

• Ward has won just 3 of his past 14 starts (3-9-2 record, 2.42 GAA, .910 SV%) dating back to Dec. 7.

The Buzzer: Namestnikov’s revenge game; Crosby keeps dominating

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Three Stars

1. Vladislav Namestnikov, Ottawa Senators. Two years ago Namestnikov was skating on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top line alongside Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. After boosting his value, he was then used as a trade chip for the team to land defender Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers before the 2017-18 trade deadline. After a mostly disappointing stay on Broadway, he was traded to Ottawa this past week for another fresh start. So far, so good, and it came at the Lightning’s expense. Namestnikov scored two goals — including the game-winner — for the Senators on Saturday to help his new team get its first win of the season. On paper, this game should have been a mismatch, but the Senators drastically outplayed the Lightning in what was probably the biggest surprise of the day.

2. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. After scoring 50 goals and 100 points a year ago and finishing in the top-four of the league in both categories, Draisaitl is picking up where he left and is once again looking like a superstar. He finished with three points on Saturday afternoon — including two goals — to help the Oilers improve to 5-0 on the season. He and Connor McDavid (two more points on Saturday) are carrying the offense again.

3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Penguins’ forward lineup dealing with a ton of injuries they are going to need their captain and his line to dominate for them to have a chance to win. Right now, they are dominating. Crosby was great once again on Saturday night, picking up two more points in a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild, including a highlight reel backhand goal off the rush. He has recorded at least one point in every game this season and already has eight in the Penguins’ first five games. The Penguins also received some surprising production from their recent call-ups with Adam Johnson and Sam Lafferty both recording their first NHL goals.

Other notable performances on Saturday

  • Brendan Gallagher finished with three points for the Montreal Canadiens as they handed the St. Louis Blues their first regulation loss of the season.
  • Rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov was amazing again for the Washington Capitals as they defeated the Dallas Stars. In his first two NHL starts Samsonov has allowed a total of two goals. He is the future of the position in The District.
  • Ilya Kovalchuk continued his strong start with another goal in the Kings’ 7-4 win over the Nashville Predators.
  • The Winnipeg Jets overcame an early 2-0 deficit against the Chicago Blackhawks to win in overtime on Mark Scheifele‘s second goal of the season. The Blackhawks remain winless.
  • Mark Stone, Will Carrier, and Max Pacioretty all had two points for the Vegas Golden Knights in their big 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
  • Semyon Varlamov picked up his first win as a member of the New York Islanders by stopping all three shootout shots against the Florida Panthers. He also made 35 saves through regulation and overtime.
  • Tanner Pearson scored a goal in regulation and then added the game-winning goal in the shootout for the Vancouver Canucks in their win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • The Boston Bruins’ top line was once again dominant as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron both scored goals in a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils to keep them winless. Tuukka Rask was also brilliant again and has stopped 90 of the first 94 shots he has faced this season.

Highlights of the Night

It may have come in a losing effort but Kaapo Kakko‘s first NHL goal for the New York Rangers was a beautiful play.

Jacob De La Rose had one of the few highlights of the night for the Detroit Red Wings with this nice looking goal.

The Columbus Blue Jackets handed the Carolina Hurricanes their first loss of the season thanks to this great effort from Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The Colorado Avalanche improved to 4-0-0 on the season and it was new addition Andre Burakovsky scoring the game-winning goal for the second game in a row.

Blooper of the Night

There is really no other choice here, it has to be Jimmy Howard‘s gamble in Detroit that turned into a rather easy goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rest in Peace

Factoids

  • The Capitals’ win against the Stars was their first regulation win in Dallas since the 1995 season. [NHL PR]
  • Phil Kessel played in his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday night, making him the third youngest active player to play in 1,000 games. [NHL PR]
  • Penguins goalie Matt Murray recorded his 100th career win on Saturday night, making him just the eight goalie since the 1966-67 season record 100 wins in 166 games or less. [NHL PR]
  • The Los Angeles Kings set a franchise record for fasted three goals, scoring three goals in 30 seconds during their win over the Nashville Predators. [NHL PR]
  • The Oilers are the first team in NHL history to come-from-behind to win each of their first five games of the season. [NHL PR]

Scores
Edmonton Oilers 4, New York Rangers 1
Ottawa Senators 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 2
Los Angeles Kings 7, Nashville Predators 4
Winnipeg Jets 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (OT)
Boston Bruins 3, New Jersey Devils 0
Montreal Canadiens 6, St. Louis Blues 3
Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Detroit Red Wings 2
New York Islanders 3, Florida Panthers 2 (SO)
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2
Washington Capitals 4, Dallas Stars 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 7, Minnesota Wild 4
Colorado Avalanche 3, Arizona Coyotes 2 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights 6, Calgary Flames 2
Vancouver Canucks 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2 (SO)

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Jimmy Howard’s gamble goes poorly, results in easy Maple Leafs goal (Video)

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Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard had a great start to Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He was giving his team a chance to hang around against one of the best offensive teams in the league and keeping them in it when they were not at their best. But with 30 seconds to play in the second period of what was a tie game, he decided to gamble and charged out of his net to try and win a race to a loose puck so he could knock it away from Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev.

His gamble did not work.

That is unfortunate.

It was all downhill for Howard and the Red Wings from there as they surrendered three more goals to the Maple Leafs in the third period to drop a 5-2 decision.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Devils lose again, remain winless: 3 takeaways on slow start

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The New Jersey Devils were one of the biggest stories of the offseason thanks to some aggressive roster moves by general manager Ray Shero.

Along with the return of a healthy Taylor Hall, the Devils won the NHL’s draft lottery and selected Jack Hughes No. 1 overall to add to a young core that already included the No. 1 overall pick from the 2017 class (Nico Hischier). They surrounded their newly formed core with the big summer acquisitions of P.K. Subban, Nikita Gusev, and Wayne Simmonds.

Expectations immediately skyrocketed and there was a ton of optimism around the team.

That optimism might be starting to quickly disappear.

Following Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Devils remain winless (0-3-2) through the first five games of the season and you have to wonder how much longer it is going to be until head coach John Hynes’ seat starts to get a little warmer.

What has gone wrong for the Devils so far? Here are three key factors.

1. It has been a slow start for the new faces

Out of all the big offseason acquisitions, Gusev is the only that has found the back of the net through the first five games (he has two goals). Other than that, it has been a giant goose egg for everyone else that was expected to make a difference.  Simmonds and Subban have combined for just two assists, while Hughes is going through some early growing pains with zero points and only 10 shots on goal through the first five games.

When it comes to Hughes you had to expect some struggles at times. He is 18 years old and making a massive jump to the NHL. Not everyone is going to step in and immediately be Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, or Connor McDavid. And while Subban is off to a slow start and might be starting to slow down a little, he has enough of a track record and is still good enough that you have to think he is going to shake off this slow start.

Adding to the problems offensively is that Hall, Hischier, and Kyle Palmieri have combined for just two goals so far (both belonging to Palmieri). If you wanted to put a positive spin on this for the Devils it’s that their best players haven’t yet played anything close to their best hockey. They are not going to struggle this much forever.

But as long as they do, goals — and wins — are going to be few and far between.

2. The power play has been awful

Calling it awful might actually be an understatement. After their 0-for-4 performance against Boston on Saturday night the Devils are now 0-for-15 on the season. That is zero goals in 30 minutes of power play time, and it is not like they have been unlucky. Entering play on Sunday their power play unit was one of the worst in the league when it comes to generating shot attempts and getting shots on goal.

3. Goaltending is still an issue 

It is not the biggest issue, but it is still an issue and it was the single biggest question mark the team had entering the season. Through five games the Devils have allowed at least three goals in every game, with Saturday’s game in Boston being the first one where they did not allow at least four. While the team in front of them has not been particularly good on any given night, the duo of Cory Schneider and Mackenzie Blackwood has an .863 save percentage after Saturday. No matter what is happening around them, your team has no chance with that sort of production from your goalies.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Kakko scores first goal, but Rangers fall to still unbeaten Oilers

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It was a pretty significant afternoon at Madison Square Garden on Saturday as the Edmonton Oilers won their fifth consecutive game to open the 2019-20 season with a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers.

This is the Oilers’ first 5-0 start since the 1985-86 season, while they also set an NHL record with their fifth straight come-from-behind victory to open a season.

This particular comeback wasn’t too daunting as they only needed to overcome a one-goal deficit after falling behind late in the first period. That Rangers goal was scored by prized rookie Kaapo Kakko, his first of what the team hopes will be many goals in his career. It was also a pretty spectacular way to get on the board as the 2019 No. 2 overall pick took a perfect pass from Ryan Strome and finished a slick play to beat Oilers goalie Mike Smith.

Have a look.

That would be the lone highlight of the day for the Rangers.

From there the Oilers’ stars took over with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each tallying multiple points in the win. McDavid finished with a goal and an assist, while Draisaitl scored two goals and added a helper on McDavid’s goal.

The big day continues what have been incredible starts for the Oilers’ top two players. McDavid is now up to 12 points through the first five games, while Draisaitl has 11.

In a lot of ways this season is still very similar to what we have seen from the Oilers in recent years. When McDavid and Draisaitl are at their best they can carry the team on their own, just as they have done through the first five games this season (with a lot of help from offseason acquisition James Neal).

The real test for the Oilers this season will be what happens when their two superstars cool down, because they simply will not keep scoring at a pace like this all season.

Still, these early games count just as much as any other game and it is always important to stack wins and bank points whenever you can, and a 5-0-0 start to a season is always something big to build on.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.