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Pittsburgh Penguins are rolling

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The Pittsburgh Penguins sure look like a team that has won back to back Stanley Cups these days.

And there’s no shortage of reasons why.

Scoring has come in abundance during their current four-game winning streak, their longest of the season after taking down the hapless Buffalo Sabres 5-1 on Saturday. The Pens have lit the lamp no less than four times in each of those four games, scoring 19 during that span.

Some of their resurgence stems from Sidney Crosby returning to Sidney Crosby form.

Crosby has been lights out, sporting a six-game point streak (including a five-game goal-scoring streak) with six goals and seven assists. Crosby had struggled prior to his recent outburst, with just one goal and five assists in his previous 14 games before embarking on the heater.

Stick with scoring, another one of Pittsburgh’s keys to success during their winning streak has been scoring first.

The Penguins are now 13-2-2 when scoring first, as opposed to 2-8-1 when their opponent finds twine before they do. Furthermore, Pittsburgh has yet to lose in regulation when leading after 20 minutes, going 9-0-1 this season.

And perhaps most importantly, the fall off in the crease with Matt Murray out of the lineup with a lower-body injury has been non-existent.

Tristan Jarry has been a godsend to a team that looked to be in trouble when Murray exited a game earlier this week.

But Jarry recorded a shutout on Friday night against the Sabres and then allowed just one goal on 32 shots on Saturday against that same Buffalo team.

Jarry and Co. have a much stiffer schedule on the horizon, with dates against the high-flying New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs over the next week.

But they’re far from looking ill-equipped, even with Murray out for the next couple of weeks.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canadiens coach Claude Julien receives stent, heads home

Claude Julien Montreal stent heart
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TORONTO — Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien is returning home to Montreal a day after a stent was placed in a coronary artery. The team said doctors expect a full recovery.

Julien was rushed to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto overnight Wednesday with chest pain. He had surgery Thursday.

“Coach Julien would like to convey his most sincere thanks to everyone at St. Michael’s Hospital for the wonderful care he received during his stay,” the Canadiens said in a statement Friday. “He also wishes to personally and sincerely thank everyone who has sent their well wishes during this time.”

Since Julien left the NHL bubble in Toronto, he will have to follow quarantine protocol if he wishes to re-enter it.

Team members wanting to return to the bubble must provide four consecutive negative COVID-19 tests carried out over four days. They will be quarantined for at least that time period, and possibly up to 14 days depending on risk of exposure while outside the bubble.

Kirk Muller will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers led the series 1-0 entering Game 2 on Friday.

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

Canadiens-Flyers stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup First Round

Canadiens-Flyers stream
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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Friday’s First Round matchup between the Canadiens and Flyers. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Canadiens-Flyers stream at 3 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Montreal Canadiens look to even their series against the Philadelphia Flyers, following Philadelphia’s 2-1 win in Game 1. Carter Hart recorded 27 saves in goal for the Flyers in the win, topping his idol Carey Price. That said, Price had his moments, including making a highlight-reel save.

Even with that low score, Canadiens – Flyers Game 1 featured a lot of speedy action. Could we see players like Claude Giroux break out with bigger offensive displays in Game 2? Kirk Muller serves as Canadiens coach while Claude Julien recovers from being hospitalized with chest pains.

(The Canadiens announced that Julien is returning to Montreal “to rest following stenting of the coronary artery.”)

An hour-long edition of NHL Live will immediately follow game coverage at 5:30 p.m. ET.

WHAT: Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto
WHEN: Friday, August 14, 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: John Forslund, Mike Milbury, Brian Boucher
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Canadiens-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 8 Montreal Canadiens (PHI leads 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Philadelphia 2, Montreal 1 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 14: Montreal at Philadelphia, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: Philadelphia at Montreal, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Philadelphia at Montreal, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Montreal at Philadelphia – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Philadelphia at Montreal – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Montreal at Philadelphia – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

Coyotes-Avalanche stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup First Round

Coyotes-Avalanche stream
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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Friday’s First Round matchup between the Coyotes and Avalanche. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Coyotes-Avalanche stream at 2 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

After Darcy Kuemper held the Avalanche at bay for most of Game 1, Colorado broke through with three quick goals in the third period. Just like that, the fast-striking Avs built an insurmountable lead, winning Game 1 by a score of 3-0.

The Coyotes only ended up firing 14 shots on goal against Philipp Grubauer in Game 1. Even as a defense-oriented team, Arizona will need to create at least a little more offense to keep up with the well-rounded Avs in Game 2 on Friday.

Will the Coyotes’ bigger names like Taylor Hall, Clayton Keller, and Phil Kessel make an impact? After collecting two assists in Game 1, what does Nathan MacKinnon have in store for Game 2? We’ll get a better sense of where this Coyotes – Avalanche series after Friday’s action.

WHAT: Arizona Coyotes vs. Colorado Avalanche
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Friday, August 14, 2 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Kenny Albert, Pierre McGuire
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Coyotes-Avalanche stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 7 Arizona Coyotes (COL leads series 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Colorado 3, Arizona 0
Friday, Aug. 14: Arizona at Colorado, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Colorado at Arizona, 3 p.m. ET – CNBC
Monday, Aug. 17: Colorado at Arizona, 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Arizona at Colorado – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Colorado at Arizona – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Arizona at Colorado – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

The Wraparound: Short turnaround for Stars-Flames after dramatic Game 2

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down all of the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

• Check out NHL Bubble Wrap to look back at all of Thursday’s action.

• Claude Julien was hospitalized with chest pains and will not coach the Canadiens for the remainder of the First Round.

Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom is out for Game 2 and in concussion protocol after taking an Anders Lee hit early in Game 1.

NHL GAMES TODAY

Game 2: Coyotes vs. Avalanche (COL leads 1-0) – 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN; live look-in streamIt wasn’t until 53 minutes had gone by that the Avalanche finally broke through. Scoreless through more than two and a half periods, Colorado got on the board with Nazem Kadri’s power-play goal and then doubled its lead 10 seconds later when J.T. Compher scored. Mikko Rantanen scored his first goal of this postseason 1:13 later, for a total of three goals in 83 seconds, and Philipp Grubauer stopped all 14 shots he faced for Colorado’s second shutout win this postseason.

Game 2: Canadiens vs. Flyers (PHI leads 1-0) – 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN; livestream: The top seed in the East came out strong in the opening period, scoring on a Jakub Voracek power-play goal and holding the Canadiens to just five shots. Shea Weber’s goal late in the second period marked the first time this postseason that any Flyers opponent scored and tied the game. It was short lived, however, as rookie Joel Farabee netted the game-winner 16 seconds later and Philadelphia’s D held Montreal to just six shots.

[Full NHL First Round schedule]

Game 2: Canucks vs. Blues (VAN leads 1-0) – 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN; live look-in stream: The Canucks beat the defending Stanley Cup champs 5-2 in Game 1 on Wednesday. The game was tied 2-2 going into the third period before Vancouver scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to seal the win. Vancouver lost their first game of the qualifying round versus Minnesota, being shut out in a 3-0 loss. Since then, they have won four straight games, scoring three-plus goals in every game.

Game 2: Capitals vs. Islanders (NYI leads 1-0) – 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN; livestream: T.J. Oshie scored two power play goals in the second period to put Washington ahead 2-0 before the Islanders scored four unanswered to take Game 1. Anders Lee was heavily involved in the action, laying a big hit on Nicklas Backstrom in the first period. Backstrom did not play in the final two periods and has been ruled out for Game 2. Lee was assessed a minor penalty for interference on the play, and then received another two minutes for roughing after being challenged by John Carlson. He then fought Tom Wilson later in the period.

Game 3: Stars vs. Flames (Series tied 1-1) – 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN; livestream: It’s a short turnaround for both teams after their dramatic Friday night finish. Jamie Oleksiak‘s goal with 40 seconds left gave the Stars a 5-4 win to knot their series at one. Both teams have question marks heading into Game 3. Stephen Johns was “unfit to play” after taking part in Game 1, while Matthew Tkachuk left Game 2 early in the third period and did not return.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

SATURDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 3: Bruins vs. Hurricanes (Series tied 1-1) – 12 p.m. ET – NBC
Game 3: Avalanche vs. Coyotes (COL leads 1-0) – 3 p.m. ET – CNBC
Game 3: Lightning vs. Blue Jackets (Series tied 1-1) – 7:30 p.m ET – NBCSN
Game 3: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights (VGK leads 2-0) – 8 p.m ET – NBC

PHT’s 2020 Stanley Cup playoff previews
Flyers vs. Canadiens

Lightning vs. Blue Jackets
Capitals vs. Islanders
Bruins vs. Hurricanes

Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks
Avalanche vs. Coyotes

Blues vs. Canucks
Stars vs. Flames

First Round predictions
Power Rankings: Best First Round matchups
Conn Smythe Watch: Korpisalo, Aho leading entering First Round
Roundtable: NHL playoff surprises; vulnerable top seeds