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The Buzzer: Kucherov dominant; Ovechkin makes history

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Three Stars

1. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning. It is starting to get insane. Nikita Kucherov had another four-point game for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, extending his league-leading point total to 69 on the season and his current point streak to 12 games. He also has points in 22 of his past 23 games. Thursday’s performance, which came in a 6-2 rout of the Los Angeles Kings, is already his 10th game this season with at least three points and fourth with at least four points. He has recorded multiple points in seven consecutive games, a stretch that has seen him record 21 total points. That is a three-point per game average. He also reached the 400-point mark for his career with that performance. The Lightning are now a league-best 32-7-2 on the season and sit 12 points ahead of any other team in the league. At this point a year ago they were only 29-9-3. They are somehow even better this season.

2. Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabres. With Jack Eichel, their captain and best player, sidelined for at least the next two games the Buffalo Sabres needed somebody to step up to help them get out of their recent funk. That somebody on Thursday night was Eichel’s usual linemate, Jeff Skinner. Skinner scored a pair of goals in the Sabres’ 4-3 win to help them snap their three-game losing streak. Since the end of their 10-game winning streak earlier this season the Sabres have won just five out the 16 games that have followed. Skinner’s second goal on Thursday was his 28th of the season as he sits just two behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the league lead. It was also his seventh game-winning goal of the season, putting him in a three-way tie with Vancouver Canucks rookie forward Elias Pettersson and Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog for the league lead.

3. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. Playing in his first game since December 22, Carey Price stopped all 33 shots he faced for the Montreal Canadiens in their 2-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks for his second shutout of the season. Price has not played up to his usual standard this season but has a save percentage of .920 or better in three of his past four starts. Perhaps he is starting to get back on track.

Highlights of the Night

Mathew Barzal continued his incredible play with this ridiculous goal in the New York Islanders’ 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jeff Skinner’s first goal was as absolute beauty for the Buffalo Sabres in their win over the Florida Panthers.

Oskar Sundqvist scored the game-winning goal for the St. Louis Blues in what was a nice revenge game for him against Tom Wilson and the Washington Capitals.

Factoids

It came in a loss, but Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the season on Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues. By doing so he has now done something that only one other player in NHL history has done by scoring at least 30 goals in 14 consecutive seasons to begin his career. What is perhaps most remarkable about this stat is that Ovechkin was able to maintain his 30-goal season run through a lockout shortened 48-game season. Gartner had his run ended by the 1994-94 lockout shortened season before scoring at least 30 goals in each of the next two seasons. Ovechkin is only the third player to ever record 14 consecutive 30-goal seasons at any point in their career, and just the sixth player to record at lest 14 30-goal seasons in a career. He is a remarkable goal-scorer. The best ever.

The Calgary Flames did not beat the Boston Bruins thanks to a pair of goals from Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk on Thursday night but they did record another shorthanded goal. They lead the league in that category this season.

Devon Toews scored the game-winning goal in overtime for the New York Islanders on Thursday night. It was also the first goal of his NHL career. Not many players have done that in the history of the NHL.

The Minnesota Wild were the latest team to overcome a two-goal deficit this season to win.

 

Sebastian Aho continued his great season for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

Scores

Minnesota Wild 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 3

Boston Bruins 6, Calgary Flames 4

Buffalo Sabres 4, Florida Panthers 3

Carolina Hurricanes 5, Philadelphia Flyers 3

New York Islanders 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2

Montreal Canadiens 2, Vancouver Canucks 0

St. Louis Blues 5, Washington Capitals 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 6, Los Angeles Kings 2

MORE: Your 2018-19 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.

Ref pushing Blues’ Barbashev gives us some comic relief

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In these trying times, sometimes you just need to see a zany mishap where a hockey player loses a skate blade, and hilarity ensues.

OK, that might be highly specific, but such bits of bad luck usually do provide some real comedy. Even by those standards, this was some good stuff, as Blues forward Ivan Barbashev got a boost from an on-ice official, and it was quite a boost down the ice.

You can watch that moment in the video above this post’s headline, and likely have a nice chuckle.

The Blues ended up beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Saturday, so Barbashev & Co. can share a bigger laugh after the game.

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.

Bruins’ Rask helped off ice after huge collision

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Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask needed help off of the ice – and took quite a while to leave the ice – after a frightening collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil.

Moments after this post went up on Saturday, the Bruins provided an unsettling – if, sadly, not surprising – update that Rask suffered a concussion and will not return to the game.

You can see the collision (and get an idea of how long it took Rask to leave the ice) in the video above this post’s headline.

This is the Bruins’ final game before the All-Star break, and they won’t play again until they host the Winnipeg Jets in Boston on Jan. 29, so at least there isn’t much pressure for Rask to rush back to action too soon.

Rask began the game tied with Tiny Thompson at 252 wins, the most in Bruins’ franchise history.

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.

Erik Karlsson misses Sharks game on Saturday

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Considering how much Erik Karlsson has been heating up along with the San Jose Sharks lately, it would have been fun to see him skate against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that once tried to acquire him.

That’s not happening on Saturday, as Karlsson was a late scratch for the game.

The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reports that Karlsson was “limping noticeably” and favoring his left side following the Sharks’ 6-3 loss to the Coyotes on Wednesday. Kurz also reports that Karlsson hasn’t participated in practice or pregame skates for about a week.

Paul Gackle of the Mercury News points out that Karlsson was held out for most of the third period of Tuesday’s 5-2 win against the Penguins for “precautionary reasons,” yet Sharks coach Peter DeBoer indicated that the 28-year-old was expected to play on Saturday. Instead, Karlsson must have determined that he wasn’t good to go after skating a bit during warm-ups.

Saturday’s game against the Lightning marks the second of a four-game road trip. The Sharks are set to play against the Panthers in Florida on Monday (Jan. 21) and the Capitals in Washington on Tuesday (Jan. 22), then they’ll be off for the All-Star break.

Karlsson was one of the Sharks’ three selections to the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, but we’ll see if what seems like a lower-body injury ends up sidelining him from the event. Either way, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Swede miss at least one of the Sharks’ remaining two games before the break, considering that it’s a back-to-back set.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic is also out with an injury, so the Sharks are limping – can Sharks limp? – a bit into that run of off time.

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.

Hurricanes’ Brind’Amour latest coach to put his team on blast

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Sure, you can have a high-up team executive call you out and compare you to horse excrement.

That’s one thing.

But when your coach, who is nearly a decade removed from playing his last NHL game, contemplates dressing because his team is that bad, that’s another.

And then to top it all off, that coach then apologies to a newly-acquired player on behalf of the team that he coaches.

That stings.

We’ve seen a couple of outbursts this year that haven’t been seen in some time — if ever.

Carolina Hurricanes legend Rod Brind’Amour is the latest to eviscerate his team publicly in what seems to be the in-fashion way to get the message across these days.

Who can forget Jim Lites’ tirade in Dallas?

Or Bruce Boudreau’s rant?

Or David Quinn putting his team on blast earlier this week?

Now you can add Brind’Amour to the list.

“We were so bad, I almost dressed and got out there,” Brind’Amour said after the Hurricanes fell 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators on Friday. “I might have been as good as what we were throwing out there. We just didn’t want to play the way we were supposed to. I didn’t know what I was watching. That’s the first time all year I can say that.”

If that wasn’t the kill shot, Brind’Amour then feeling the need to apologize to Nino Niederreiter certainly was.

The latter was picked up in a trade earlier this week for Victor Rask. In his first game, his new teammates crapped the proverbial bed.

“Good. I thought he was fine,” Brind’Amour said about Niederreiter’s debut. “He had a couple chances. I think the first shift he almost had a breakaway. … I apologized to him for that effort. That’s not our team, and that’s his first game.”

It’s not often you hear about that sort of thing.

The Hurricanes had won seven-of-eight before dropping a 6-2 decision to the New York Rangers and Friday’s loss to the visiting Senators.

The Hurricanes are now nine points adrift from the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.


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