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

WATCH LIVE: Predators visit Blackhawks on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

This is the second of four meetings between these Central Division foes. The Predators beat the Blackhawks 5-2 on Dec. 1 in Nashville. Pekka Rinne made 19 saves and five different Predators scored a goal.

During the 2016-17 season, the Blackhawks finished as the top team in the Western Conference with 109 points and faced the upstart Predators (94 points) in the First Round of the playoffs. Since Nashville delivered a surprising sweep in that series, the Preds have become one of the premiere franchises in the NHL, while the Hawks have taken a nosedive:

Last night in Ottawa, the Preds went down 3-0 in the first period and pulled Rinne, rallied back to force overtime, but fell 4-3 on Thomas Chabot’s OT winner. They have now lost seven straight on the road (0-5-2) after starting the season 8-0-0 away from Bridgestone Arena.

The Blackhawks snapped an eight-game losing streak last week with a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh, but have since lost each of their last two games — a 4-3 OT loss to Winnipeg on Friday and a 7-3 defeat on Sunday to San Jose. They have won just four times in their past 25 games (4-17-4) and are 4-13-3 under Jeremy Colliton.

Entering last week’s game against the Penguins, the Blackhawks had allowed the first goal of the game in 11 straight. Since then, they’ve tallied the first goal in two of their last three games. Chicago actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the Sharks and led 3-2 after the first period. But San Jose scored five unanswered goals from there.

When they do score the first goal of the game, Chicago is 8-2-4. When they allow the first goal of the game, they are 2-17-2.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: United Center
When: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 7:30 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.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PREDATORS
Ryan HartmanRyan JohansenKevin Fiala
Calle JarnkrokKyle TurrisCraig Smith
Colton SissonsNick BoninoAustin Watson
Miikka SalomakiFrederick Gaudreau – Rocco Grimaldi

Roman JosiRyan Ellis
Dan HamhuisMattias Ekholm
Matt IrwinYannick Weber

Starting goalie: Pekka Rinne

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsDominik Kahun
Dylan StromeArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatDavid Kampf – Dylan Sikura
John HaydenMarcus KrugerBrendan Perlini

Duncan KeithErik Gustafsson
Gustav ForslingBrent Seabrook
Carl Dahlstrom – Connor Murphy

Starting goalie: Cam Ward

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

The Buzzer: Brown, Kopitar dominate for Kings

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Three Stars

1. Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings. It has been a tough year for the Los Angeles Kings but they were at least able to give their home fans something to be happy about on Sunday night. Their 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers featured a turn-back-the-clock performance from their two top players, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, as the Kings were able to win at home for the first time since Nov. 6 (they had lost five consecutive home games). This is the type of game they used to get from Kopitar and Brown when the Kings were dominating the Western Conference and competing for the Stanley Cup every year. Brown was the big star of the night on Sunday as he recorded a hat trick in the win, snapping what had been an eight-game goal drought. He is now up to six goals and 10 total points this season.

2. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. He is not only the Lightning’s latest draft steal, he is currently one of the hottest players in the NHL and helped the Lightning roll to a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday with another mutli-point game. With 31 points in 24 games so far this season he is now the NHL’s fifth-leading scorer. Along with Nikita Kucherov (currently in fourth place with 32 points) the Lightning now have two of the top-five point producers in the league.

3. Noah Hanifin, Calgary Flames. The Flames’ special teams made a huge impact in their big win over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, scoring three shorthanded goals and a power play goal. Defenseman Noah Hanifin played a big role in all of that by scoring the first of their shorthanded goals to give them a 2-0 lead in the first period, and then adding to that lead with the power play marker midway through the second period. Those two goals were his first two of the season and his first as a member of the Flames since going to Calgary in the big Dougie Hamilton trade over the summer.

Highlights of the Night

Dustin Brown was not the only Kings star to have a big game on Sunday night. Anze Kopitar also recorded three points in the win, including the game-winning goal in the third period. Here it is.

As for the other side of that game, here is Connor McDavid doing what he does on a nightly basis for the Edmonton Oilers. It did not result in a goal, but it is still worth watching. When he gets the puck on his stick and is going at top speed there is nobody in the NHL that can match him. Nobody.

Factoids

The Arizona Coyotes have made a habit out of scoring shorthanded goals this season. On Sunday, they got a taste of their own medicine against the Calgary Flames.

The Predators and Lightning have spent a lot of time at the top of the NHL standings recently.

More factoids from Sunday’s NHL action…

— Kings rookie forward Matt Luff extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with an empty net goal in their win over the Oilers.

— Flames coach Bill Peters needed some stitches after getting hit in the face by a puck during their game.

Austin Watson recorded his first career hat trick for the Nashville Predators in their 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

 

— Not long after their game against Calgary, the Arizona Coyotes made yet another trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, sending forwards Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini to Chicago in exchange for forward Nick Schmaltz.

Scores

Calgary Flames 6, Arizona Coyotes 1

Tampa Bay Lightning 5, New Jersey Devils 2

Nashville Predators 5, Anaheim Ducks 2

Los Angeles Kings 5, Edmonton Oilers 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.

Add Turris to Predators’ troubling injury list

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Sometimes, when it comes to injuries, it can be about quality instead of quantity.

If you peak at the Nashville Predators’ list of injuries at Rotoworld, you won’t see a ton of names. They won’t receive much sympathy from Sunday’s opponents, the Anaheim Ducks.

Even so, in placing Kyle Turris on injured reserve on Sunday, the Predators lack some key names, as Turris joins P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson. That’s two of the Predators’ top-six forwards, not to mention arguably their best defenseman.

This unfortunate Turris news does give us a reason to take a look at his 2018-19 season so far.

Through 23 games, the 29-year-old scored five goals (including an OT-winner) and 11 assists for 16 points, making for a .7 points-per-game average, which is slightly ahead of the pace he ended up with during his first campaign with Nashville (Turris had 42 points in 65 contests after being traded from Ottawa).

Turris definitely had a cushy gig, though. Via Hockey Reference, Turris began a whopping 70.7-percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, easily the highest rate of his career. That’s a significant change from his Senators days, when he began just 52-percent of his shifts in the attacking zone. It’s fair to wonder if Peter Laviolette might want to shift some of those opportunities to the dangerous top line during Turris’ absence, and maybe once he returns?

This bad news could have had the silver lining of giving the Predators a chance to take another look at Eeli Tolvanen, a promising prospect who (somewhat surprisingly) decided to stay in North America instead of exercising a clause to go to the KHL. Instead, the Predators called up tiny forward Rocco Grimaldi.

Such injury challenges put the Predators’ lines in a blender. Austin Watson is getting a look on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. Calle Jarnkrok is grabbing Turris’ spot in the middle of Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith (at least when Fiala isn’t being demoted to the bottom-six). Nick Bonino remains an expensive third-line center for Nashville, even with Turris out.

The Predators currently lead the Western Conference with 33 points, tying the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL’s second-best record with an identical 16-6-1 mark. Those two teams currently trail the (wait for it …) Buffalo Sabres for the league lead.

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.

NHL conducts ‘investigation’ as Voynov applies for reinstatement

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While unveiling tentative plans for more Global Series games overseas next season, the NHL provided an update: defenseman Slava Voynov has applied for reinstatement into the league.

Voynov, 28, was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Oct. 21, 2014 stemming from domestic violence charges, bringing his days with the Los Angeles Kings to an end, at least temporarily.

“Mr. Voynov has applied for consideration of reinstatement,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said via NHL.com. “We’re in the process of what will be a fairly comprehensive investigation, a factual investigation into the events surrounding initially his arrest and his ultimate departure from North America.

“I’m not in a position to give a timeline on that investigation. When that investigation is done, the Commissioner will deal with his application for reinstatement.”

From 2015-16 to 2017-18, Voynov played for St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL. He also won a gold medal with Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics, opening the door for this photo op, via Getty:

via Getty

Voynov hasn’t played so far in 2018-19, likely because he’s keeping the door open in hopes of an NHL return.

The league recently suspended Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson 27 games for a domestic incident it labeled “unacceptable off-ice conduct.” That suspension was appealed down to 18 games.

It’s unclear how Voynov’s situation may compare to Watson’s, at least once the NHL completes its “investigation.” Again, the league didn’t give much of an indication about when decisions will be made, one way or another.

Back in June, The Athletic’s Katie Strang went over some of the details surrounding the charges Voynov has faced. Here’s an unsettling excerpt (though you should read Strang’s full article):

Those clubs must remember that, according to the police report obtained by The Athletic, Voynov and Varlamova got into an argument that turned physical, and the details are grotesque. A statement included within that report states that, while attending a team Halloween party, the two began arguing, during which Voynov removed [Varlamova’s] costume glasses and stomped on them in front of the guests. When they continued arguing outside the venue, Voynov “punched her in the left jaw with a closed fist.”

Court documents detail how the fight continued when the two arrived home and the contents are equally grim. In one motion, filed on behalf of the District Attorney’s office, it states that Voynov “wrapped both of his hands around Ms. Varlamova’s neck and began to squeeze, making it difficult for her to breathe.” Voynov, according to the motion, “continued to choke her while repeatedly pushing her to the floor of the bedroom,” telling her to “get out,” that there would be “no more money for her,” and that she would be “gone.”