The Buzzer: Hurricanes fish for another win celebration

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Three Stars

1. Robin Lehner

Both the Islanders and Coyotes had incentive to win on Sunday, but only the Isles could score any goals, as Lehner continues his fantastic season.

Lehner earned his fifth shutout of 2018-19 by stopping all 31 shots by Arizona. He’s pushed his excellent save percentage to .928 on the season, improving to a 22-12-5 record. On a day full of strong goalie performances – even by those who lost, such as Philipp Grubauer – Lehner stood out as the brightest of the bright.

It’s truly remarkable to see the goaltending the Isles have enjoyed from Lehner and Thomas Greiss.

2. Josh Anderson

It’s tempting to run with the goaltending theme, as Sergei Bobrovsky‘s up-and-down season persisted with another very “up” moment: a shutout, his seventh of 2018-19. Yet, Bob only needed to make 21 saves against the lowly Canucks to do so.

Of the Blue Jackets who contributed to an absolutely crucial win, Anderson had the best game, scoring two goals and one assist.

The first of Anderson’s two goals ended up being the game-winner, while he enjoyed a +4 rating, fired three SOG, and delivered one hit. He was also reasonably close to a hat trick, but just missed on that attempt.

It turns out the Blue Jackets can be pretty dangerous when they get at least a few bounces.

3. Braden Holtby

The Capitals maintained their lead on the Metro Division title despite Lehner pitching a shutout because Holtby was his steady self.

Holtby stopped 35 out of 36 shots in this win, only allowing a power-play goal on Sunday. After losing despite only allowing two goals in his last appearance against the Wild, Holtby improved to 28-19-5 record on the season. With two more victories, Holtby will generate his fifth consecutive 30+ win season.

How did the Hurricanes celebrate their latest win?

Carolina went fishing. Goofy-fun:

Highlights of the Night

Duncan Keith already impressed in containing Nathan MacKinnon during an overtime one-on-one chance, and that outdid himself with a tremendous game-winner:

[More on that game here.]

Lehner’s been a revelation for the Islanders this season, and he could do worse than showing this clip when it comes time for contract negotiations:

Factoids

Scores

WSH 3 – PHI 1
NYI 2 – ARI 0
CAR 2 – MTL 1 (OT)
CHI 2 – COL 1 (OT)
CBJ 5 – VAN 0

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 keep slim playoff hopes alive; Grubauer gets Avs a point

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It only made sense that Philipp Grubauer finished the weekend laying down, and exhausted.

After leading the Avalanche to their fourth consecutive win on Saturday, Grubauer was asked to beat the Blackhawks again on Sunday. He fell just short of accomplishing that task, too, but Chicago eventually won 2-1 in overtime.

Blackhawks overcome Grubauer

The winning play was really something. First, Duncan Keith was able to thwart Nathan MacKinnon as the two found each other in a one-on-one situation in three-on-three overtime. Keith then looked far younger than a 35-year-old, as he was able to overcome a 23-year-old speedster in MacKinnon and score a thrilling overtime game-winner.

The effort left Grubauer on his belly, on the ice, and you could forgive him if he took an extra breather after going all-out in willing his team to crucial points.

With both Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog out of the lineup, the Avs have been asking a lot of Grubauer, and he’s mostly delivered. The Blackhawks generated a 42-20 shots on goal advantage, including a 15-3 third period, yet Grubauer was often brilliant, basically dragging the game to overtime.

Grubauer has now allowed two goals or fewer in every appearance since Feb. 12. While his personal four-game winning streak ended with Colorado’s own run, he’s shown why the Avs believed in his ability to become a No. 1 goalie in the first place. That’s refreshing, especially since he’s been a bit up-and-down during his first year with Colorado.

Big win for Blackhawks, almost a win for Colorado

Really, both goalies were great, as the regulation goals came via power-play goals that involved deflections. Corey Crawford had a comparatively breezy night, but he was still sharp in stopping 19 out of 20 shots to help Chicago keep its slim playoff hopes alive.

This win leaves the Blackhawks (76 points in 75 games played, 31 regulation/overtime wins) five points behind the Avalanche for the West’s second wild-card spot.

Grubauer can keep his held high, because this all feels close to a win for Colorado. They’ve strengthened their playoff lead with 81 points in 76 GP (33 ROW), giving them two points of cushion. Now, sure, they might wonder “What if?” in falling short again during an overtime period, but when you consider the back-to-back set and injuries, credit the Avs for gutting this one point out.

The Coyotes were blanked 2-0 against the Islanders on Sunday, leaving them with 79 points in 76 games played, with 32 regulation/OT wins. Meanwhile, the Wild (79 points, 76 GP, 34 ROW) were idle after falling 5-1 to the maddening Hurricanes on Saturday.

So, again, this was mostly a great weekend for the Avalanche, while the Blackhawks can at least daydream about an unlikely run. It’s all a fitting reward, considering how grinding and exhausting this affair seemed at times.

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.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks face Avalanche on NBCSN

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

The Avalanche head into Sunday in a solid position, as they hold a one-point lead and game in hand on the closest teams behind them vying for the West’s second wild-card spot. That rosy outlook can change in a big way if the Avs can’t beat the Blackhawks, though.

Looking at The Push for the Playoffs, things don’t look very good — at all — for Chicago, but this proud team likely isn’t waving the white flag on the 2018-19 season just yet. Beating the Avalanche (particularly in regulation) would certainly improve their odds of making an unlikely run, too.

With the stakes in mind – not to mention the star power in Nathan MacKinnon, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews – this should be a fun one at the United Center.

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

What: Colorado Avalanche at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: United Center
When: Sunday, March 24, 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Avs-Blackhawks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINES

AVALANCHE

Derick Brassard — Nathan MacKinnon — J.T. Compher

Colin WilsonCarl SoderbergAndrew Agozzino

Alexander KerfootTyson JostMatt Calvert

Gabriel BourqueSven Andrighetto

Samuel GirardErik Johnson

Ian ColeTyson Barrie

Nikita ZadorovPatrik Nemeth

Ryan Graves

Starting goalie: Philipp Grubauer

[More: check out this preview for Sunday’s game.]

BLACKHAWKS

Dylan Sikura — Jonathan Toews — Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincatDylan StromeBrendan Perlini

Brandon SaadArtem AnisimovDominik Kahun

Chris KunitzDavid KampfMarcus Kruger

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Carl DahlstromErik Gustafsson

Gustav ForslingConnor Murphy

Starting goalie: Corey Crawford

Gord Miller (play-by-play) and Joe Micheletti (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from United Center in Chicago, Ill. Pre-game coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick.

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.

Penguins vs. Flyers: 2019 Stadium Series by the numbers

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NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Saturday’s Stadium Series matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers from Lincoln Financial Field. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

0 – Flyers’ total number of wins in outdoor games, which have featured two regulation losses and one in overtime.

0 – Number of hat tricks in NHL outdoor game history.

3 – Number of NHL outdoor games Flyers captain Claude Giroux has played in. He’s the only Flyer to have played in each of the franchise’s outdoor games.

4 – Number of NHL outdoor games Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have played in. They are the only Penguins to have played in each of the franchise’s outdoor games.

5 – Number of NHL outdoor games played in by Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk. Should he play Saturday night he’ll tie Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook for most in league history with six.

5 – NHL outdoor games have needed overtime, with three being decided by a shootout.

13 – Number of Flyers and Penguins on each team (head coaches included) who have participated in an NHL outdoor game.

16 – Total number of wins by road teams in NHL outdoor games (16-8-2).

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 8 P.M. ET – NBC]

26 – Total number of NHL outdoor games prior to the 2019 Stadium Series: 11 Winter Classics, nine Stadium Series, four Heritage Classics, one Centennial Classic and one NHL100 Classic.

50 – Hits by the Penguins against the Flyers in the 2017 Stadium Series, tied for most in NHL outdoor game history since 2008.

154 – Regular wins by the Flyers over the Penguins, their most against any NHL team.

288 – Total regular season meetings, including Saturday’s Stadium Series game, between the two teams.

300 – Ton capacity of refrigeration trailer that will keep the ice cool at Lincoln Financial Field.

735 – Number of players who have participated in NHL outdoor games.

2017 – Last time these teams met outdoors – a 4-2 Penguins win at Heinz Field.

44,592 – Attendance of the 2017 World Junior Championship outdoor game between the U.S. and Canada at New Era Field in Buffalo. The Americans won 4-3. Carter Hart was in goal for Canada.

69,696 – Capacity of Lincoln Financial Field.

MORE 2019 STADIUM SERIES:
Penguins ready to enjoy Stadium Series, but focus is on two points
Why Scott Gordon chose Elliott over Hart for Stadium Series start
Rain could be an issue for Penguins-Flyers Stadium Series game
Scott Hartnell Q&A

Six-time Emmy Award-winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk (analyst), and Emmy Award-winner Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. Liam McHugh will anchor studio coverage on-site in Philadelphia alongside Mike Milbury, Keith Jones, and Jeremy Roenick.

WATCH LIVE: Red Wings host Blackhawks on Wednesday Night Hockey

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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 Detroit Red Wings. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 11 games (9-2-0), including seven straight wins from Jan. 20 – Feb. 10, to climb right back into the playoff race. On the morning of January 20, exactly one month ago, the Blackhawks had 41 points and were dead last in the NHL. Now, as of Tuesday morning, they have 59 points, and are just one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who currently owns the second wild card in the Western Conference.

Patrick Kane is having arguably the best year of his career, and should the Blackhawks rally to make the playoffs, he could perhaps win his second career Hart Trophy. He’s currently on a season-best 18-game point streak (40 points: 14 goals, 26 assists), and is averaging 1.53 points/game, which would be the best of his 12-year career. He has an assist in 17 straight games… only two players in NHL history have posted a longer assist streak than Kane – Wayne Gretzky (23 games – 1990-91) & Adam Oates (18 games – 1992-93).

The NHL Trade Deadline is less than a week away and Detroit has a few key players that are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season: Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Vanek, Niklas Kronwall, Nick Jensen, Luke Witkowski and Jimmy Howard.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland has been weighing whether he should try to sign some of the pending free agents or trade them – with a focus on Howard, Nyquist and Jensen specifically. Holland said he’d like to sign all three to extensions – and all three players have expressed a desire to stay – but a deal must work for both sides.

“I need to weigh which of them we consider re-signing because they can help us in ’19-20 and then we maybe need to do something to add to that in the summer of ’19 because if you just trade all those players away your team is worse,” he said. “So now you got to make moves to get back to where you’re at and even beyond and that’s hard to do in the summer.”

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings
Where: Little Caesars Arena
When: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Blackhawks-Red Wings stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLACKHAWKS
Drake CaggiulaJonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatDylan StromeDominik Kahun
Brandon SaadArtem AnisimovDylan Sikura
Chris KunitzMarcus KrugerJohn Hayden

Duncan KeithErik Gustafsson
Carl DahlstromConnor Murphy
Slater KoekkoekGustav Forsling

Starting goalie: Cam Ward

RED WINGS
Tyler BertuzziDylan LarkinAnthony Mantha
Thomas Vanek – Frans Nielsen – Gustav Nyquist
Andreas AthanasiouLuke GlendeningChristoffer Ehn
Darren HelmJacob De La RoseJustin Abdelkader

Niklas Kronwall – Mike Green
Danny DeKeyser – Nick Jensen
Trevor DaleyFilip Hronek

Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard

MORE: Jonathan Toews is back

For the first time in his career, Mike Tirico will call play-by-play for an NHL game on Wednesday when the Red Wings host the Blackhawks. He’ll be joined in the booth by Eddie Olczyk and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Brian Boucher. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Bob McKenzie.