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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.

WATCH LIVE: Sharks visit Avalanche on Wednesday Night Hockey

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Sharks and Avalanche meet for the first time this season in a matchup of teams that would each be in the playoffs if the season ended today but enter the new year on very different paths. San Jose won nine of 15 games in December (9-4-2) including a 7-2-2 stretch in its last 11. Colorado, on the other hand, is mired in a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) and has lost nine of its last 11 games (2-6-3).

San Jose has been streaky over the last five weeks or so, losing four straight at the end of November into December followed by winning seven of eight and then losing three straight prior to Christmas before winning two in-a-row ahead of Monday’s loss.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski leads the Sharks with 23 goals. The 34-year-old finished with 22 goals last season in a full 82 games. Pavelski picked a good time to be on a career pace (on track for 46 goals – career high is 41 from 2013-14), since he will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

The Avs are led by their trio – what was known as the MGM line – of Landeskog, last year’s Hart Trophy runner-up in MacKinnon and rising star Rantanen. Like the team, the three of them have come a long way since Colorado’s disastrous 2016-17 season when they finished last in the NHL.

Rantanen ranks second in the NHL in points and MacKinnon sits third. Not since Evgeni Malkin (1st) and Sidney Crosby (3rd) in 2008-09 has a pair of teammates finished in the top three in scoring in the same season.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS 9:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche
Where: Pepsi Center
When: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Sharks-Avalanche stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

SHARKS
Lukas RadilLogan CoutureTimo Meier
Marcus SorensenJoe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Evander KaneTomas HertlJoonas Donskoi
Kevin LabancBarclay GoodrowMelker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun
Joakim RyanBrent Burns
Brenden DillonErik Karlsson

Starting goalie: Martin Jones

AVALANCHE
Tyson JostNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen
Gabriel LandeskogAlex KerfootJ.T. Compher
Matt NietoCarl SoderbergMatt Calvert
Gabriel Bourque – Sheldon Dries – Logan O’Connor

Sam GirardErik Johnson
Ian ColeTyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth – Ryan Graves

Starting goaliePhilipp Grubauer

John Forslund (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will call Sharks-Avalanche from Pepsi Center.

Wednesday Night Hockey: Avs look to snap ‘unacceptable’ skid vs Sharks

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Avalanche have split up their top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, but that hasn’t helped them much of late. Unfortunately for the Avs, splitting those three players hasn’t prevented them from going on a five-game losing skid. One of the things that jumps off the page regarding this skid, is that four of the five losses have come against teams that aren’t anywhere near a playoff spot (Chicago (twice), Arizona and Los Angeles).

“You know, it hasn’t been good enough in overtime and it hasn’t been good enough as of late,” Avs defender Erik Johnson said. “You’ve got to find a way to get two points and right now; it’s unacceptable. We have to find a way to change it.”

The good news for Colorado, is that they’ve managed to hang on to a playoff spot despite their poor play. Heading into tonight’s game, the Avs find themselves in third place in the Central Division. They’re still just four points behind Nashville, who is in second place, and six points behind Winnipeg, who is in top spot.

MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen have combined to score 11 points in five games, which is far from terrible, but it’s clear that this team needs more from them if they’re going to compete. Of course, getting some more help from the supporting cast would help, too. Maybe head coach Jared Bednar will opt to put them back together, again, soon.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS 9:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Like the Avs, the Sharks also find themselves in third place in their division. San Jose three points behind Calgary and Vegas, who are currently first and second in the Pacific.

San Jose finished 2018 on an ugly note, as they dropped an 8-5 decision to the Flames on New Year’s Eve, but they had a pretty strong month of December, overall. The Sharks managed to pick up an impressive 20 points throughout the month. Only the Lightning (27), Penguins (23), Jets (22) and Golden Knights (21) had more points in December than San Jose.

Brent Burns, who finished Monday’s game with a goal, an assist and a minus-4 rating, currently leads the Sharks in points, with 40 in 41 games.

Fellow defender Erik Karlsson got off to a slow start this season, but he’s quietly getting himself back on track. The 28-year-old has six points in his two games since serving his two-game suspension. Karlsson has picked up at least one point in each of his last 10 games. He’s up to three goals and 32 points in 39 games with his new team. Whether or not Karlsson is one-and-done in San Jose remains to be seen, but that’s a story for another day.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Chris Kunitz ejected after elbow to head

Sportsnet
16 Comments

It sure feels like there’s been a lot of game misconducts for dastardly things this weekend.

The latest comes on Sunday night after Chicago Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz got his elbow up into the face of Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic in the second period.

Here’s the tape:

Kunitz was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct.

Hamonic was bloodied on the play and had to leave the game to get fixed up. He was able to return later in the period.

The ordeal proved costly for the Blackhawks, who surrendered two goals on the ensuing penalty.

Other ejections this weekend include:


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

The Buzzer: Backstrom nets hat trick; Wilson, Johnson get ejected

Associated Press

Three stars

1. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

Tom Wilson’s tomfoolery shouldn’t detract from the night Nicklas Backstrom had on Friday. Backstrom recorded a hat trick, including scoring the game-winner and assisting on a fourth Capitals goal for a four-point night. The hat trick goal was placed into an empty net and the first goal of the game was him, as well. The secondary assist he picked up led to Andre Burakovsky‘s third-period marker that put the Caps up 3-1.

A man known for his elite passing abilities, the three-goal night was just Backstrom’s second of his career.

2. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

For roughly 54 minutes of the game, Curtis McElhinney was penciled into this spot. Just a day after the Carolina Hurricanes placed both faith in him and pressure on him following the waiving of Scott Darlin, McElhinney looked destined for his first shutout of the season.

It was not to be, of course. The Ducks scored to force overtime and then Ryan Getzlaf slotted home the winner in the extra frame. And lost in the shuffle, perhaps, was the performance of Gibson, who made 33 saves in the win.

The Ducks don’t score a lot of goals, so Gibson needs to keep as many pucks out of the back of the net to make up for the lack of run support. He did that on Friday, giving Anaheim a chance to win, which they obliged.

3. Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames

Backlund put his stamp on the game early, scoring 36 seconds into the first period. He’d then give the Flames a 3-1 lead to seal it with 32 seconds remaining in the game and assisted on the 4-1 goal with eight seconds remaining.

A three-point night for Backlund, then, who is now riding a three-game point streak. Calgary sits atop the Pacific Division with 32 points. They’re 6-3-1 in their past 10 games.

Ejection(s) of the night

Highlights of the night

Tremendous:

Gritty, still king:

Holtby:

Head fake:

One-hander in OT:

Factoids

Scores

Panthers 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

Capitals 6, Devils 3

Ducks 2, Hurricanes 1 (OT)

Flames 4, Kings 1

Blues 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)


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