Everything to know about Lake Tahoe as the NHL heads outdoors

Hockey returns to its roots on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21 with the NHL taking things outside on the biggest stage yet: Lake Tahoe.

The historic weekend kicked off at the storied site on Saturday with the Colorado Avalanche taking on the Vegas Golden Knights. After a first period of abundant sunshine and melting ice, the leagued postponed play until midnight ET. In the final 40 minutes, Nathan MacKinnon added a goal and second assist to lead the Avs past Vegas, 3-2.

Then, at 7 p.m. on Sunday on NBCSN (livestream), the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers clash in a rematch of the 2010 Winter Classic. Prior to the game, NBC Sports will premiere Doc Emrick – The Voice of Hockey, Presented by Discover at 5 p.m. ET.

“It’s a pretty picturesque event. If we were allowed to, we would have stayed out here all day,” Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith told reporters after skating outdoors.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

Where is Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is part of the Sierra Nevada. It is the largest alpine lake in North America, spreading nearly 22 miles across and lying at 6,225 feet. It spreads across the California/Nevada border and is considered California’s largest lake.

The average temperature in Stateline, Nevada for the month of February fluctuates between 21.7 degrees and 36.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can Lake Tahoe freeze over?

Colorado forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was mistaken in an early press conference that the teams were skating on Lake Tahoe until teammate Andre Burakovsky broke the news that they weren’t playing on the actual lake.

The thought of NHL hockey on top of one of North America’s most famous lakes brings back wholesome pond hockey memories and would truly be a sight to behold. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible, because Lake Tahoe doesn’t freeze over.

The science behind it? Lake Tahoe contains 37 trillion gallons of water and has a maximum depth of 1,645 feet, making it the second-deepest lake in the U.S. In fact, it is so deep that the Empire State Building could be submerged underwater.

As the temperature drops, the surface of the lake becomes cooler and mixes with the water below. Because of the amount of water and stored heat, Lake Tahoe doesn’t hit freezing point. Which can be a bit of a problem if you’re looking to lace ’em up. Luckily, the NHL found a way to combine the famous scenery and the game we love.

“I just told them, ‘Did you know you couldn’t skate on that lake?’ And they were like, “Oh yeah. No, I didn’t even think about it,'” Bellemare told the media. “Everybody made fun of me. Sometimes you have to give a little bit of yourself for people to have a positive day. And I guess that was my gift this time.”

[MORE: Players ready for ‘different vibe’ at NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe]

Where are the NHL games at Lake Tahoe being played?

Both games take place at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada, which lies on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. The rink itself is on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, and the closest corner of the rink sits about 50 paces from the lake.

This marks first time in NHL history that an outdoor game takes place on top of a golf course and the first time teams play outdoors without fans. The most common venue for outdoor games so far have been football stadiums (19 games), followed by baseball stadiums (10 games) and soccer stadiums (one game).

Mark Stone called it “probably the best outdoor rink you’ll ever see.”

“It really brings you back to the old-school outdoor rinks… this is obviously something we’ve circled on our calendars since the announcement,” Stone said. “We’re pretty excited to be here.”

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    Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

    Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

    “It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

    Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

    “That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

    Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

    Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

    Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

    Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

    “We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

    Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

    Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

    Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

    Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

    Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.

    STREAKING

    Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

    NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.

    UP NEXT

    Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

    Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

    Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

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    PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

    Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

    Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

    Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

    Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

    Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

    The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

    Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

    Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.

    Penguins prospect Sam Poulin taking leave of absence

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    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Sam Poulin is taking a leave of absence from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced on Wednesday that the 21-year-old Poulin, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is stepping away due to “personal reasons.”

    “The Penguins support Sam’s decision to take time away from hockey to focus on himself,” Hextall said in a release. “As with all of our players, our priority is them as individuals first. We look forward to having him back with the team when he is ready.”

    Hextall said Poulin will return home to Quebec and continue to work out on his own.

    Poulin made his NHL debut in October and had one assist in three games before heading back to the AHL. Poulin had four goals in 13 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the time of his decision.

    Nathan MacKinnon sidelined about a month with upper-body injury

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    DENVER — The injury-riddled Colorado Avalanche will be without leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon for about a month after he suffered an upper-body injury in a loss to Philadelphia.

    The team announced the news on social media.

    MacKinnon has eight goals and 26 assists for a team-best 34 points this season for the defending Stanley Cup champions. He joins a long list of banged-up players, including Valeri Nichushkin, Evan Rodrigues, Bowen Byram, Kurtis MacDermid, Josh Manson, Darren Helm and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Forward Artturi Lehkonen also missed the game in Philadelphia.

    The 27-year-old MacKinnon signed an eight-year extension in August. He was coming off a postseason in which he tied for the league lead with 13 goals, helping the Avalanche raise their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.