Forsberg scores two, Predators outlast Blackhawks in overtime

How nice is it to have Filip Forsberg back, Nashville?

After missing more than a month because of injury, Forsberg re-entered the fray earlier this week and in his second game back, produced two goals, including the clincher in overtime to down a stingy Chicago Blackhawks team 4-3 on Wednesday Night Hockey.

The Predators are flying, now 5-0-1 in their past six games — including three straight — after losing six straight and back on top of the Central Division, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.

For a stretch, Nashville looked human. Injuries took their toll and the slump ensured.

It’s only within the past week that they’ve been running with a few more cylinders. Before that, it was Nov. 18 when the likes of Forsberg, P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson, for example, suited up in a game together.

Alex DeBrincat continued to abuse the back of the net, scoring his 21st of the season. He has goals in each of his past three games and seven in his past 10.

His goal tied the game briefly late in the first period, only to be countered eight seconds later by Arvidsson’s 13th.

Patrick Kane continued his red-hot play with two more assists, pushing his point total to 21 (nine goals, 12 assists) in his past 12 games.

Forsberg scored his first goal since Nov. 21 In his second game back after missing more then a month because of injury, Forsberg was flying in the game and was rewarded on the power play with a top that beat Blackhawk’s goalie Collin Delia top corner.

The Blackhawks are now 1-3-1 in their past five games after going 5-1-0 in their previous six games. It might be time to stop sleeping on them, however. They’re five points back of a playoff spot, which is still a mountain to climb, but it’s no Everest. Chicago has found their game despite not having Corey Crawford behind them.

That game helped them earn a point in this one. They pulled the game to 3-2 on Jonathan Toew’s 18th, a shorthanded goal with 20 seconds left in the second period and then found an equalizer with 2:21 left in regulation on an Artem Anisimov strike.

The Predators head to Columbus on Thursday to play Game 5 of a six-game road trip. They’ll face the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets next week, with the latter set up to be one of the biggest games in the Central this season.

Chicago hosts the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.


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

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks face off against Predators on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

After a losing six straight games (0-5-1) in December, Nashville has rebounded with a five-game point streak (4-0-1) since New Year’s Eve. Their latest win was an impressive 4-0 victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday. Rinne had 18 saves in his third shutout of the season.

Filip Forsberg returned to the lineup on Monday after missing 17 games with an upper-body injury. The team was 8-7-2 without him. Monday was Nashville’s first game since Nov. 10 with Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and P.K. Subban all in the lineup.

The Blackhawks have climbed out of the basement of the NHL by going 7-4-2 since mid- December, but still have several teams to leapfrog if they want to make the playoffs. Still, they have become a tough out, as evidenced by their 4-3 loss to the Conference-leading Flames on Monday.

Patrick Kane has been red hot with 19 points (9G, 10A) in his last 11 games. He also has had multi-point games in four of his last six games. Jonathan Toews had a six-game point streak snapped on Monday, but still has 39 points (17G, 22A) in 45 games overall. Toews is on pace for 71 points and 30 goals, which would be his most productive season since 2010-11.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: United Center
When: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Predators-Blackhawks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

[P.K. Subban sends inspirational message to young fan after racist taunts]

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLACKHAWKS
Alex DeBrincat – Jonathan Toews – Dominik Kahun
Artem AnisimovDylan Strome – Patrick Kane
Brandon SaadDavid Kampf – Drake Caggiula
John HaydenMarcus KrugerBrendan Perlini

Duncan KeithErik Gustafsson
Carl DahlstromConnor Murphy
Brandon Davidson – Henri Jokiharju

Starting goalie: Collin Delia

PREDATORS
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin FialaColton SissonsCraig Smith
Calle JarnkrokNick BoninoAustin Watson
Ryan HartmanFrederick GaudreauRocco Grimaldi

Roman JosiRyan Ellis
P.K. Subban- Mattias Ekholm
Matt IrwinDan Hamhuis

Starting goalie: Pekka Rinne

Six-time Emmy Award-winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk, and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will have the call from United Center. Kathryn Tappen hosts NHL Live alongside analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones, as well as NHL insider Bob McKenzie.

MORE: Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat can’t stop scoring

Wednesday Night Hockey: Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat can’t stop scoring

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Alex DeBrincat could have quit hockey. Dogged by his size — 5-foot-7 — he went through the Ontario Hockey League draft twice without being selected. But quitting would have been too easy and taken the Farmington Hills, Mich. native away from his dream of playing professionally. So he stuck with it and signed a free agent deal with the Erie Otters, putting him on a team that featured a young center named Connor McDavid.

“Hockey’s pretty much my whole life,” DeBrincat told Pro Hockey Talk recently. “[I’ve] always wanted to get to this point and be able to play hockey for a living. It’s been a lot of fun. That’s the main part — you try to not think about all the negativity that people try to put on you and just keep going forward. I wasn’t going to let a few words stop me.”

In Erie, DeBrincat found plenty of success. The Otters made the OHL Championship twice, winning once before falling in the 2017 Memorial Cup. The forward would reach the 50-goal mark in all three seasons, something that hadn’t been done since the early 1970s. He’d finish his junior career with 167 goals and 332 points in 191 games.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

“I went into an Erie team at the right time and got to play with some really good players and learn from them,” he said. “That was a big step in my career. I don’t think I’d be here without that.”

His scoring prowess has continued since graduating into the NHL as one of the Chicago Blackhawks’ three second-round picks in 2016. DeBrincat has reached the 20-goal in each of his first two seasons and after finishing as the team’s leading goal scorer (28) in 2017-18, he’s currently second through 45 games this season. Not bad for someone who’s playing the sixth-most even strength minutes (14:11) per game among the team’s forwards.

The 21-year-old DeBrincat has avoided the sophomore slump that affects many young NHL players following strong rookie seasons. Being put in the middle of a veteran-heavy Blackhawks dressing room has certainly helped.

“It’s huge, especially last year we were a pretty old team at the start of the year,” he said. “You take that knowledge and try to put it in your own game. [You] take as much of their advice as you can and ask questions. They were good with trying to get you to open up and ask questions about the league and ask what they like to do. I think that helped me a lot and helped me last year and it’s definitely helped me this year, too.”

In late November DeBrincat was reunited with an old teammate when the Blackhawks acquired Dylan Strome from the Arizona Coyotes. The two haven’t played much together since the trade but Strome has enjoyed his time in Chicago so far with seven goals and 14 points in 21 games, his best output since he joined the NHL.

“It’s been awesome. It’s been a lot of fun,” DeBrincat said. “He’s really helped us a lot. He’s been playing pretty well, so it’s good to have him here.”

Consistency has been a key goal for DeBrincat over the last two seasons. He’s not had a point drought last more than four games during his career and has been put in positions to succeed under former head coach Joel Quenneville and current bench boss Jeremy Colliton.

“You’re going to go through slumps at times, you’ve just got to try to minimize the damage and keep it as short as possible,” he said.

Six-time Emmy Award-winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk, and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will have the call from United Center. Kathryn Tappen hosts NHL Live alongside analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones, as well as NHL insider Bob McKenzie.

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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.

The Buzzer: Talbot stops all the shots

Getty

Three Stars

1. Cam Talbot

After getting glowed up for a 4-0 loss on Saturday, the Oilers turned around and won 4-0 on Sunday.

Talbot enjoyed a similarly dramatic leap. He surrendered seven goals to San Jose on Dec. 29, but has started 2019 off right, giving up only one goal in relief on Saturday before pitching a 39-save shutout against the Ducks.

This marks just his first shutout of the season, and despite this sterling performance, Talbot’s save percentage remains just under .900 at .899 through 23 games. Talbot’s in a contract year, so as unlikely as a big run feels, there’s at least added motivation, as he’s just as desperate as the team he’s playing for (at least for now).

2. Alex Galchenyuk

Galchenyuk joins Patrick Kane as the only two players to hit three points on Sunday. Remarkably, Galchenyuk did so in six fewer minutes (14:42) than Kane (20:43) in their respective games.

The Coyotes forward got there with one goal and two assists, enjoying a +2 rating and firing three shots on goal. He’s heating up a bit lately, with six points in his last five games, and 11 points in 15 contests since December began.

3. Patrick Kane

Kane generated three assists as Chicago rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Penguins 5-3.

This gives Kane 54 points in 43 games so far this season, with 31 of those points being helpers. Kane finishes Sunday tied for seventh in NHL points scoring with Tampa Bay Lightning wunderkind Brayden Point, although Point’s do so in one fewer game played.

Kane’s pass on Alex DeBrincat‘s goal was especially crisp and impressive:

Highlights

Fantastic work from Dylan Larkin, setting up this goal by Filip Hronek:

Yet the pass of Sunday might go to Evgeny Kuznetsov feeding Tom Wilson. Alex Ovechkin had a nice apple of his own, by the way.

Kuznetsov crossed the 300-point barrier on Sunday.

Factoids

Yes, this was an unusual rebound for Edmonton. You could even call it unique, at least to the Oilers franchise:

Kane’s making some history as a prolific passer.

The Blackhawks have dominated the Penguins lately, while the Red Wings have had even more trouble beating the Capitals.

The wins stay in Vegas for the Golden Knights. (More on them here.)

Scores

CAR 5 – OTT 4
ARI 5 – NYR 0
VGK 3 – NJD 2
WSH 3 – DET 2
WPG 5 – DAL 1
CHI 5 – PIT 3
EDM 4 – ANA 0

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Blackhawks rally to end Penguins’ run at eight games

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By generating a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into Sunday’s game, it looked like the Pittsburgh Penguins would cruise to their ninth consecutive win, ending a run of futility against the Chicago Blackhawks in the process.

Pittsburgh’s losing ways against the Blackhawks ended up continuing instead, as Chicago won 5-3. The Blackhawks have now won 10 straight games against the Penguins.

Patrick Kane dished out three assists in this one, including Alex DeBrincat‘s goal to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1 in the first period, and Dylan Strome‘s game-winner. There was some great puck movement on that Strome goal:

After former Penguin Chris Kunitz tied things up at 2-2, the Penguins gained another lead after Derick Brassard finished on a great Phil Kessel pass, but that would be the last time Pittsburgh would end up beating Cam Ward in this game. Kane’s playmaking ways paved the way for an impressive milestone:

This loss saw the end of a personal six-game point streak for Sidney Crosby, who went without a goal and an assist after rattling off three goals and 10 assists for 13 points during that span.

The Blackhawks were only credited with going 1-for-3 on the power play, but Duncan Keith‘s goal came mere moments after a man advantage ended. Combine that with Pittsburgh going 0-for-3 (including some 5-on-3 time), and it’s clear that special teams went Chicago’s way.

Keith’s teammates would remind you that he hasn’t scored many goals lately, with that being his first in 2018-19 after scoring only two last season.

The Capitals, Blue Jackets, and Islanders all won their most recent games, so updated versions of various Metro races look quite a bit worse for the Penguins:

1. Capitals: 25-12-4 for 54 points, 41 GP, 22 ROW
2. Penguins: 23-13-6 for 52 points, 42 GP, 22 ROW
3. Blue Jackets: 24-14-3 for 51 points, 41 GP, 24 ROW
4. Islanders: 23-13-4 for 50 points, 40 GP, 21 ROW

It’s tough to imagine the Blackhawks rallying to a spot in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, yet they’ve been picking up steam lately, going 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. If nothing else, contending teams shouldn’t look at them as an easy two points when they see the Blackhawks on their schedules.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.