The Wraparound: Pressure is on Golden Knights to close out series with Wild

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

• Vegas looks to do something they have struggled to do recently: Finish a series.

• The Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Saturday with the Bruins vs Islanders (8 p.m. ET; NBC). The winner of Vegas/Minnesota will play the Avalanche in Game 1 on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

• Want to catch up on Wednesday night’s action in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Read the NHL Playoff Buzzer.

Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Golden Knights.

They get a third crack at finishing their First Round series with the Wild on Friday night when the two teams meet in Game 7 (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at T-Mobile Arena. The Wild, a popular upset pick at the start of the playoffs, have refused to go away quietly in this series and have won each of the past two games when facing elimination to force the decisive game.

One of the biggest reasons they are still here is starting goalie Cam Talbot, who has been sensational in the two must-win games, allowing just two goals and recording his second shutout of the series.

It has given the Wild new life, and put added pressure on a Golden Knights team that has struggled to close out series over the past few years.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 First Round schedule, TV info]

Including their losses in Games 5 and 6 of this series, the Golden Knights are now just 2-8 in potential close out games over the past three seasons. Two years ago they blew a 3-1 series lead to the Sharks in the First Round (the infamous Game 7 loss with the five-minute power play) and lost three straight games. Last year they went 1-1 in close out games against Chicago in the First Round, before losing consecutive games against Vancouver with a 3-1 series lead to force a Game 7 (which they won 3-0).

It creates a sort of good news/bad news situation.

The good news is they are good enough to keep building huge leads in a series. It is not easy to win three in a row or three out of four against another Stanley Cup playoff team, so the fact they keep doing it so regularly is a good sign.

The bad news is they keep putting themselves in these winner-take-all games where anything can happen. They might be the better team overall, but sometimes the coin does not land your way.

Given the expectations around this Golden Knights team letting this series slip away would not be good for anybody within the organization. This is one of the league’s best teams and a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Losing another 3-1 series lead and going out in the First Round for the second time in three years would not be good enough for this roster.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The common theme in their close-out game struggles has been a lack of offense. In the aforementioned 2-8 sample, the Golden Knights have scored just 18 goals in those potential close out games. The offense always seems to dry up at the worst possible time. Is it bad luck? Are they doing something different? Just the hot-and-cold nature of offense in the NHL? Probably a combination of all three, and it is very similar to what used to happen to the current Lightning core when they struggled to finish series’ before finally winning the Cup this past season.

The Golden Knights have been missing their top goal scorer from the regular season, Max Pacioretty, in this series, and his availability for Friday night remains unknown. Getting him back would be an absolutely massive boost.

There is also the question of which goalie the Golden Knights will go with. Pete DeBoer has not publicly committed to a starting goalie at any point in this series (it has always been Marc-Andre Fleury) and has remained consistent with that going into Friday. Fleury has been mostly outstanding in the series, but you can not completely rule out the possibility of a switch to shake things up going into Friday. Is it an unlikely change? Yes. It is almost certainly going to be Fleury. But given how both Fleury and Robin Lehner split the playing time the past two years, and how DeBoer went with Lehner in the playoffs a year ago, and how Vegas has lost two in a row, you can not completely rule it out.

FRIDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 7: Wild at Golden Knights (Series tied 3-3), 9 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)

SATURDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 6: Maple Leafs at Canadiens (TOR leads 3-2), 7:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 1: Islanders at Bruins, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)

PHT’s 2021 Stanley Cup previews
• Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens
Golden Knights vs. Wild

• Stanley Cup playoff predictions
• Why your team can (and can not) win the Stanley Cup this season
• NHL odds: Division winners, 2021 Stanley Cup champion
 Which NHL playoff series has biggest upset potential?

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.

Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

“It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

“It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

“Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

“That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

“You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

UP NEXT

Capitals: At Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Devils: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.