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NBC Sports Group will be airing a record number of NHL games during the 2016-17 season (with key dates)

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The NBC Sports Group announced that they’ll be airing a record 106 games during the 2016-17 NHL season. 14 of those games will be on NBC while the other 92 games will be on NBCSN. Every game will be available via the NBC Sports Live Extra app and on NBCSports.com.

Here are some of the key dates you may want to circle on your calendar:

  • An opening night doubleheader on NBCSN on Wednesday, Oct. 12, featuring a pair of 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff rematches. The Chicago Blackhawks will host the rival St. Louis Blues at 8 p.m. ET, followed by a matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks at 10:30 p.m. ET.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins will raise their 2016 Stanley Cup Champion banner to the rafters on NBCSN on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. ET, when they open their season at home against the Washington Capitals in a rematch of their 2016 Second Round playoff series.
  • NBC will present the 2017 NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, home of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, on Jan. 2, 2017, at 1 p.m. ET.
  • NBC will air exclusive coverage of the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs from BMO Field in Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, at 3 p.m. ET, and the 2017 NHL Stadium Series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins from Heinz Field, home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, on Feb. 25, 2017, in primetime.
  • NBCSN will present coverage of the NHL All-Star Game from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Calif., home of the Los Angeles Kings. NHL All-Star will take place Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29, and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game.
  • NBC and NBCSN will combine to showcase a quadrupleheader on Hockey Day In America on Sunday, February 19. The action starts on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET, when the Capitals host the Rangers, followed by the Red Wings and Penguins at 3 p.m. ET.Hockey Day In America shifts to NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET, when the Buffalo Sabres host the Blackhawks, and concludes with the final matchup of the day at 8:30 p.m. ET, when the Sharks host the Boston Bruins.
  • The 2016-17 regular season on NBCSN will feature 24 Wednesday Night Rivalry telecasts, plus six Wednesday Nightcaps that will showcase Western Conference teams, including the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks. WNR will feature the biggest rivalries in the NHL, including Penguins-Capitals, Blues-Blackhawks, and Rangers-Islanders.
  • NBCSN will air 11 Sunday Night Hockey matchups on NBCSN, beginning on January 8. Matchups include Wild-Blackhawks, Flyers-Rangers, and Canadiens-Bruins, the most-played rivalry in NHL history.
  • The Blackhawks lead all clubs with 21 total appearances on NBC and NBCSN, followed by the Flyers with 20, and the Rangers and Bruins with 16 appearances apiece, respectively. *Note: some games are subject to local blackouts*
  • Capitals-Penguins, Kings-Sharks, and Flyers-Rangers are the most featured regular-season matchups, each appearing four times across NBC and NBCSN.
  • At least 54 of NBC and NBCSN’s 106 telecasts will feature at least one Western Conference team, and every U.S. team will appear on NBC or NBCSN in the regular season.

Here’s the full NBC Sports hockey schedule for 2016-17:

Date  

Away  

Home  

Network

Time (ET)

Wed., Oct. 12

St. Louis

Chicago

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 12

Los Angeles

San Jose

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Thur., Oct. 13

Washington

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Fri., Oct. 14

Chicago

Nashville

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Oct. 18

Philadelphia

Chicago

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 19

Detroit

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Oct. 25

Buffalo

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Oct. 25

Anaheim

San Jose

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 26

Boston

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

 8 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 1

Tampa Bay

N.Y. Islanders

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 1

San Jose

Arizona

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 2

Detroit

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 9

Chicago

St. Louis

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 15

Tampa Bay

Detroit

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 16

Pittsburgh

Washington

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 22

St. Louis

Boston

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 23

Philadelphia

Tampa Bay

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 23

Chicago

San Jose

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Fri., Nov. 25

N.Y. Rangers

Philadelphia

NBC

1 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 29

Boston

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 30

Pittsburgh

N.Y. Islanders

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 30

San Jose

Los Angeles

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 7

Boston

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Dec. 13

Chicago

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 14

Boston

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 14

Philadelphia

Colorado

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 16

Los Angeles

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 21

Washington

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 28

Philadelphia

St. Louis

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Dec. 29

New Jersey

Washington

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 1

Detroit

Toronto

NBC

3 p.m.

Mon., Jan 2

Chicago

St. Louis

NBC

1 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 3

Buffalo

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 3

Los Angeles

San Jose

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 4

N.Y. Rangers

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 5

Buffalo

Chicago

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 8

Minnesota

Anaheim

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 10

Boston

St. Louis

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 11

Pittsburgh

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 12

Montreal

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 15

Minnesota

Chicago

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 16

Washington

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 17

Chicago

Colorado

NBCSN

9 p.m.

Wed., Jan 18

Boston

Detroit

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 18

San Jose

Los Angeles

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 22

Boston

Pittsburgh

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 23

San Jose

Colorado

NBCSN

9 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 24

St. Louis

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 25

Philadelphia

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 26

St. Louis

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 1

Boston

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 1

Colorado

Los Angeles

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 2

N.Y. Rangers

Buffalo

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 5

Los Angeles

Washington

NBC

12 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 6

St. Louis

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Tue., Feb. 7

Los Angeles

Tampa Bay

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 8

Chicago

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 9

N.Y. Islanders

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Fri., Feb. 10

Tampa Bay

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 12

Detroit

Minnesota

NBC

3 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 12

Montreal

Boston

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 13

N.Y. Rangers

Columbus

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 15

St. Louis

Detroit

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 15

Florida

San Jose

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 16

Colorado

Buffalo

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 19

Washington

N.Y. Rangers

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 19

Detroit

Pittsburgh

NBC

3 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 19

Chicago

Buffalo

NBCSN

6 p.m.

Sun. Feb. 19

Boston

San Jose

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Tue., Feb. 21

Chicago

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 22

Washington

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 23

N.Y. Islanders

Montreal

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sat., Feb. 25

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

NBC

8 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 26

Boston

Dallas

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 26

St. Louis

Chicago

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 27

Los Angeles

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Feb. 28

Colorado

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 1

Pittsburgh

Chicago

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Mar. 2

N.Y. Rangers

Boston

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 5

St. Louis

Colorado

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 6

Dallas

Washington

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Mar. 7

Philadelphia

Buffalo

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 8

Detroit

Boston

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 12

N.Y. Rangers

Detroit

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 12

Minnesota

Chicago

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 13

Carolina

N.Y. Islanders

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Mar. 14

Chicago

Montreal

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 15

Pittsburgh

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 15

Detroit

Colorado

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 20

Buffalo

Detroit

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Mar. 21

San Jose

Minnesota

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 22

N.Y. Islanders

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 26

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 26

Minnesota

Detroit

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 27

Chicago

Tampa Bay

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 29

Chicago

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Mar. 30

Dallas

Boston

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sun., Apr. 2

Boston

Chicago

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Apr. 2

Philadelphia

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Apr. 4

Chicago

Colorado

NBCSN

9 p.m.

Wed., Apr. 5

N.Y. Rangers

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Apr. 6

Nashville

Dallas

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Fri., Apr. 7

Tampa Bay

Montreal

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sat., Apr. 8

Washington

Boston

NBC

3 p.m.

Sat., Apr. 8

TBD

TBD

NBCSN

TBD

Sun., Apr. 9

TBD

TBD

NBCSN

TBD

The Buzzer: Elvis, Ovechkin, and others who rocked

Elvis Ovechkin three stars pht buzzer
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Three Stars beyond Elvis and Ovechkin

1. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago blowing out Toronto will lead to some hand-wringing, no doubt. Yet, as much as that was on a tough night for Frederik Andersen, give the Blackhawks some credit. Toews topped all in that game with an outstanding four-point performance (two goals and two assists).

Saturday continued what’s been one heck of a month for Toews. The Blackhawks captained pushed his January total to 15 points (5G, 10A). Toews reached that total in just eight games, scoring at least one point in seven contests.

Scratch that. Toews has been on fire for a while now. He started off ice-cold with only two points in 11 October games. Toews took off after that, and has generated an impressive 41 points in his past 28 contests.

Underrated rookie Dominik Kubalik contributed to Chicago’s win, too, with three points (2G, 1A).

2. Riley Sheahan, Edmonton Oilers

Sheahan scoffs at Toews’ slow start. The journeyman forward failed to score a point in 12 October games, and managed one in 11 November contests. Sheahan went and matched his December points total (four in 14 GP) in one contest on Saturday.

That’s right, he generated four points, scoring an empty-netter plus three assists. Connor McDavid dominated in his own right with two goals, but Sheahan helped the Oilers rout the Coyotes. Josh Archibald generated three points (1G, 2A) as well.

This just in: the Oilers have a lot of “that guy’s still around?” forwards. It’s honestly cool to see some of them have such a strong day, and maybe take a bit of the pressure off McDavid here and there.

3. Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets

It’s as though Atkinson never missed any time. After scoring a goal and an assist in his first game in almost one month on Thursday, Atkinson generated three points (2G, 1A) on Saturday. This gives Atkinson seven points (4G, 3A) in his past four contests.

Others give Atkinson a run for his money, even beyond the next section. Jason Zucker (1G, 2A) and James van Riemsdyk (1G, 2A) both contributed to their respective teams’ blowouts. Atkinson’s extra goal gives him the edge.

OK, now let’s consider Elvis and Ovechkin

Saturday featured enough strong performances that it feels better to give these two a mention. After all, they already received their own posts. Yes, these two probably rank as the “real” third and fourth stars of Saturday, or higher, depending upon your personal taste.

Highlight of the Night

Marc-Andre Fleury is suffering through a tough season, big-picture wise. “The Flower” keeps adding to his resume of breathtaking saves, though:

Comic relief

Jamie Benn provides us with a reason to laugh. At least those of us who aren’t immediately transported to our own memories of hilarious blunders.

That video summarizes the Stars’ night succinctly, as the Wild beat them 7-0.

Factoids

  • Ovechkin nabbed consecutive hat tricks to push his career goals total to 692. He passed Mario Lemieux (11th all-time, 690) and tied Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time (692). Mark Messier sits just two goals away at eighth with 694. Ovechkin also generated consecutive hat tricks for the third time in his career. In doing so, Ovechkin joined Joe Malone (four times) and Wayne Gretzky (three) as the only players to generate consecutive hat tricks three or more times, according to NHL PR. Again, this post delves deeper into Ovechkin’s latest accomplishments.
  • Ovechkin’s teammate John Carlson reached 60 points. Carlson managed the feat in just 49 games, getting to 60 faster than any Capitals defenseman; Mike Green held the previous mark with 60 by game 57. Opinion: Green deserved better treatment from hockey folks during his peak years.
  • Merzlikins authored the 18th instance of a rookie goalie getting a shutout of at least 41 saves, via NHL PR.
  • Cale Makar scored his 11th goal, setting a new record for goals by a rookie Avalanche defenseman.
  • Dominik Kubalik reached 20 goals in his 47th game. NHL PR points out that Kubalik ranks among sixth Blackhawks to reach 20 goals in 50 games or less.

Scores

WSH 6 – NYI 4
COL 5 – STL 3
EDM 7 – ARI 3
OTT 5 – CGY 2
CHI 6 – TOR 2
MTL 5 – VGK 4 (SO)
FLA 4 – DET 1
PHI 4 – LAK 1
CBJ 5 – NJD 0
NSH 2 – BUF 1
MIN 7 – DAL 0
VAN 4 – SJS 1

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.

Elvis thrives: Merzlikins is on fire for Blue Jackets

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Elvis Merzlikins advanced a bold goal lately: to be more than just a funny name. He is leaving opponents all shook  up absolutely red-hot for the Columbus Blue Jackets right now.

Elvis absolutely hound-dogged shut out the New Jersey Devils in Columbus’ 5-0 on Saturday, and that 41-save performance was far from his first standout evening. Merzlikins generated three shutouts in his last four games, allowing just two goals overall. The Blue Jackets won all four of those games.

(OK, this post includes enough cheesy Elvis jokes … arguably.)

During seven appearances between October and November, the 25-year-old goalie languished with sub-.900 save percentages. Since then, he’s started to take off.

Some “too perfect” moments for Elvis Merzlikins and the Blue Jackets

Maybe Merzlikins made a New Year’s Eve resolution to dominate? Perhaps it was because Elvis asked reporters to leave him alone? Merzlikins suffered only two losses since Dec. 31, winning eight of 10 games.

The lights-out play already makes the story endearing, but there are notes of the surreal. Consider a few facts about his hot streak:

“That’s what you like about him. He’s strong mentally,” Tortorella said after the Jan. 11 Vegas shutout, via Rob Mixer of First Ohio Battery. “He’s a piece of work as far as his personality, which I like. A lot of things have been thrown at him here…but he’s handled himself really well. I’m happy for him.”

  • Merzlikins ended up making it back-to-back shutouts, as he also blanked the Bruins with a 34-save shutout. His three shutouts have upped the ante each time: first 27 saves, then 34, then 41 against the Devils on Saturday.

Tortorella deserves ample credit for creating a cocoon for his goalies, of course.

Regardless, Merzlikins is playing a big role in helping the Blue Jackets stay in the East wild-card races. Here’s hoping that our jokes rise up the charts or we might just need to leave the building.

(Sorry. I’m so, so sorry.)

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.

Hat trick helps Ovechkin pass Lemieux, tie Yzerman for ninth on NHL goals list

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An historic week for Alex Ovechkin was capped off with a hat trick Saturday afternoon during a 6-4 win over the Islanders. His three goals pushes him past Mario Lemieux and into ninth place with 692, tying him with Steve Yzerman.

Ovechkin opened the scoring and then passed Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time in the third period as the Capitals mounted their comeback. He ended his day with an empty-netter to seal the win and tie Yzerman. The Islanders led 4-1 entering the third period.

Powered by two consecutive hat tricks, Ovechkin has eight goals in his last three games and 10 in his previous six.

That’s now three consecutive multi-goal games for Ovechkin, the first time he’s done that in his career. Earlier this week he not only passed Teemu Selanne for 11th on the all-time goals list but also hit the 30-goal mark for the 15th time in his career. He, along with Jaromir Jagr and Mike Gartner, are the only players to ever record 15 consecutive 30-goal seasons.

With three goals Saturday — the third time he’s recorded hat tricks in consecutive games — Ovechkin now has 34 on the season as he eyes a ninth 50-goal season. His hat trick was the 26th of his NHL career, tying him with Maurice Richard for eighth all-time.

Next in Ovechkin’s sights? Mark Messier, who finished with 694 goals in his career.

————

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.

Stars’ Stephen Johns activated after missing almost 22 months

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Dallas Stars activated Stephen Johns before their game Saturday night in Minnesota, clearing the way for the defenseman’s first game in almost 22 months.

Forward Radek Faksa was placed on injured reserve to make room for Johns on the active roster.

Johns has been out since late in the 2017-18 season because of post-traumatic headaches. The Stars have said the condition isn’t related to concussions.

The 27-year-old Johns hasn’t played since March 29, 2018, at the Wild. It was the last of a career-high 75 games in his third NHL season. Johns missed the last five games that year before sitting out all of last season as headaches persisted.

He played two games on a conditioning assignment with the Texas Stars of the AHL before rejoining Dallas on Thursday.

The return of Johns could coincide with the Stars’ first game without defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The 20-year-old standout left Thursday’s loss to Buffalo with an upper-body injury.

Johns made his debut for Dallas late in the 2014-15 season and played in all 13 of the team’s playoff games as a rookie. He has 13 goals, 15 assists and 306 blocked shots in 150 career regular-season games.