Johnny Gaudreau

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The Buzzer: A scary night for leads in the NHL

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Three Stars

1. Austin Watson, Nashville Predators

Watson’s team didn’t get the win, but when he looks back on this Halloween, he’ll probably have fond memories.

For one thing, the Predators announced Watson’s three-year, $4.5 million extension during Thursday’s game. Watson responded with a four-point night, scoring two goals and two assists. His two helpers were the only assists on Calle Jarnkrok‘s consecutive shorthanded goals.

This outburst ended an eight-game pointless streak for Watson, which had to be a relief, even if he’s the type of gritty player whose main focus is to hit the opposition, rather than for his pucks to hit the net. Jarnkrok’s two shorthanded goals certainly put him in the conversation for a three stars nod, too.

2. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames

While the main parts of what is normally the Flames’ top line in non-semi-crisis mode (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm) spearheaded Calgary’s early push back from a 4-1 deficit, Tkachuk scored the goals that helped the Flames complete an unlikely comeback.

Tkachuk scored the 5-5 tally that sent the game to overtime, and he did it with just 39 seconds remaining in the third period.

His second goal came with less than two seconds remaining in that overtime frame, and considering the circumstances, it’s almost audacious that Tkachuk could pull off such a fancy between-the-legs move. Tkachuk ended Thursday with two goals and one assist, while adding three hits and a blocked shot.

3. Max Domi, Montreal Canadiens

Much like the Flames, the Canadiens found themselves down more than one goal, in the third period, on the road.

In Montreal’s case, the Golden Knights began the third period with two goals to transform a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 Vegas lead. Tomas Tatar got some revenge on his former team to score one goal, Brendan Gallagher sent it to OT with a bit less than two minutes remaining in the third, and Domi only needed 26 seconds to put the finishing touches on the OT-winner.

Domi also had an assist early in the game, so he had two points overall. Pretty impressive stuff from a Canadiens team closing out a back-to-back. Hot take: Domi will cost a lot more than his expiring $3.15M AAV after this season.

The overtime game-winners

On a spookily unusually quiet Thursday night (don’t hockey on a tummy full of treats), there were only two games, and both went to overtime. So why not expand the highlights of the night to both?

That said, the Tkachuk OT winner would take that spot if there was only one:

But, hey, Domi’s OT goal counts the same in the grand scheme of things:

Factoids

  • Max Pacioretty scored the 500th point of his NHL career on an assist, and he did it against his former team in Montreal. He didn’t get the last laugh, however.
  • Johnny Gaudreau reached his 400th career point with two assists, and only needed 409 games to get to that milestone. My expert math skills make me aware that he’s pretty close to a point-per-game.
  • Actually, he wasn’t alone in Flames milestones:

  • Via NHL PR, this is only the seventh time the Flames have faced a third-period deficit of three goals or more and won that game in any fashion.
  • Also via NHL PR, Calle Jarnkrok is the second Predators player to score two SHG in one game. The other was Scott Nichol. Remarkably, both did so in the same period, too.
  • Based off of Sportsnet’s earlier tweet, it looks like the Flames improved their Halloween record to 10-2-0. Save those boos for November, Calgary fans?

Scores

CGY 6 – NSH 5 (OT)
MTL 5 – VGK 4 (OT)

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 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.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins host Blues in Stanley Cup Final rematch

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Saturday’s Stanley Cup Final rematch between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. 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 Blues went their first 50 NHL seasons without a Cup before winning it in their 51st season. That leaves Toronto as the team with the longest active drought, and Buffalo and Vancouver as the teams with the longest drought among teams that have never won before.

Boston has not played since beating Toronto 4-2 at home on Tuesday. So, they’ve had three days off with no travel in between games. On the other hand, St. Louis hosted LA on Thursday, winning, 5-2, for its second straight victory, before traveling to play in Boston.

Vladimir Tarasenko, who is coming off his 5th straight 30-goal campaign, left Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury. He is out for their next two games and will be re-evaluated next week. Tarasenko has 10 points in 10 games this season.

Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak continues to be the team’s primary source of offense. They are the top three scorers on the team, and aside from solid production from d-man Torey Krug, no one else on the team has more than three points so far.

In the team’s last game on Tuesday, Tuukka Rask played in his 500th regular-season game. He is the 28th goalie in history to play 500 games for one team, and the first to do so with the Bruins.

David Krejci (upper body) is doubtful to play against the Blues after skating with the team on Friday. Krejci, who is coming off a career year in which he set a personal best in assists (53) and tied his high in points (73), has missed the last three games after suffering an injury against Anaheim on Oct. 14.

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

What: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins
Where: TD Garden
When: Saturday, Oct. 26, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Blues-Bruins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLUES
Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennOskar Sundqvist
Alex SteenRyan O'ReillyDavid Perron
Zach SanfordTyler BozakRobert Thomas
Mackenzie MacEachernIvan BarbashevSammy Blais

Colton ParaykoAlex Pietrangelo
Jay BouwmeesterJustin Faulk
Vince DunnRobert Bortuzzo

Starting goalie: Jordan Binnington

BRUINS
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBruskCharlie CoyleBrett Ritchie
Anders Bjork – Par LindholmDanton Heinen
Joakim NordstromSean KuralyChris Wagner

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt GrzelcykConnor Clifton

Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask

Mike Emrick, Mike Milbury and Brian Boucher will call Blues-Bruins from TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Kathryn Tappen will anchor Saturday’s doubleheader coverage with Keith Jones and Anson Carter.

After Bruins-Blues, coverage heads outdoors to Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, at 10 p.m. ET (livestream), when Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets face Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames in the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins remain ‘hungry’ for another Stanley Cup run

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Saturday’s Stanley Cup Final rematch between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. 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.

Family played a big part in helping Tuukka Rask and Torey Krug get over their Game 7 defeat to the Blues in last season’s Stanley Cup Final. Coming so close to the Bruins’ ultimate goal but falling short was difficult to accept, but getting away from the rink and back to their loved ones helped soften the blow.

“It’s such a long and intense run,” Rask told NBC Sports. “You play every other day for pretty much two-and-a-half months and then all of a sudden you just hit a wall and it’s over. Unfortunately for us we lost and that’s the way it ended. Personally, it didn’t take too long to get over. Obviously, you have family at home and other things to think about when you get home, but you just realize that it’s sports and it’s a game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and that’s that.

“But then again, I don’t think you ever get over that. You’re going to have flashbacks of the games and what went wrong and what went right, but you just have to deal with it and move on.”

For Krug, he had different kind of life moment take place in the days following that loss. Five days after the series ended, Krug’s wife Melanie gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Saylor Harper. But while the new family addition helped shift his focus as a player and a person, the sting from the missed opportunity remains.

[WATCH BLUES-BRUINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

“I don’t think it’s something you’ll ever get over,” said Krug. “I think it’s something you just have to live with and understand. I was part of the team that lost in ’13 to Chicago, but I never had a chance to actually clinch and win a Stanley Cup like we did [last season] in our own building. This one’s right up there as one of the hardest things you go through as an athlete. You’ve got to find a way to live with it and use it as motivation. You’ll never get the chance to go back and replay that game, so you’ve got to do something in the meantime to prove that you can go back and do it again.”

Four months after they last met, the Bruins and Blues will be back at TD Garden Saturday night for a Stanley Cup Final rematch. Boston is off to a good start with a 6-1-2 record, while the defending champions have come out of the gate at 5-2-3.

A win Saturday night won’t reverse the outcome from June, but it can provide an early season boost for a team that is experiencing no hangover from a long 2018-19 season.

Editor’s note: Need tickets for tonight’s game? Click here

“People always assume when you go through that and you play them the next year, ‘Are you going to get your revenge?’ Well, if we beat them we’re not getting a Stanley Cup back, so that’s forever theirs,” Krug said. “That’s unfortunate for us, but I think anytime you go through a series of that magnitude there’s going to be some rivalries that are renewed and you hate playing against certain players and that is just how it is. I’m sure it will be more of an intense game; There’s times even when we play Chicago today and from 2013 that Finals series, that are a little more intense than normal. It’ll pick up and that rivalry will be fun to be part of.”

Like the Blues, the 2019-20 Bruins roster doesn’t feature a whole lot of new faces. It’s a group that possesses a strong core, a handful of players with Cup rings, and some who were on their last two Cup Final teams that fell short. They remain hungry for another title run while their window remains open and the tough losses they’ve experienced can be galvanizing.

“I think in order to win you have to go through some really gut wrenching times,” said Krug. “A loss like that is pretty much as close as you can get to that. We have a great core group, we have great young players that are excited and want to be part of the team and want to be part of that core moving forward, guys that are never satisfied between winning awards and going to the Cup Finals, winning a Cup in 2011, those guys continue to remain hungry.

“That’s going to drive our bus and drive our team. We’ll get back there because we have a great goaltender and we have a great group moving forward, and we’re all hungry.”

Mike Emrick, Mike Milbury and Brian Boucher will call Blues-Bruins from TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Kathryn Tappen will anchor Saturday’s doubleheader coverage with Keith Jones and Anson Carter.

After Bruins-Blues, coverage heads outdoors to Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, at 10 p.m. ET (livestream), when Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets face Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames in the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.

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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.

Flames vs. Jets: 2019 Heritage Classic by the numbers

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the 2019 Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET from Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

2 – Number of regular-season games the original Jets played in Saskatoon during the 1992-93 NHL season. Winnipeg won both games, beating Hartford 8-7 and Ottawa 8-2.

3 – Victories by road teams in the four previous Heritage Classics. The Flames are the only home team to win after beating the Canadiens 4-0 at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium in 2011. 

5 – Jets vs. Flames will be the fifth Heritage Classic game and first since the Jets played the Oilers in 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.

10 – Number of goals scored in the first regular-season NHL game between Winnipeg and Calgary on Nov. 5, 1980, a 5-5 tie.

14 – Regina is the 14th Canadian city to host a regular-season NHL game (indoors or outdoors).

15 – Jets and Flames who have played in at least one NHL outdoor game. Cam Talbot has been a part of four outdoor games, serving as a backup in three of them.

[COVERAGE OF FLAMES-JETS BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

16 – Number of NHL outdoor games that have taken place at football stadiums. Baseball stadiums have hosted 10 and one game has been played in a soccer stadium.

27 – Number of outdoor games in NHL history to date: 11 Winter Classics, 10 Stadium Series, four Heritage Classics, one Centennial Classic and one NHL100 Classic.

Editor’s note: Need tickets for the Heritage Classic? Click here.

105 – Number of meetings between the original Jets and Flames in the regular season from 1980-81 to 1995-96. Calgary had the edge in the series with a record of 51-38-16.

350 – Gallons of paint used to make the ice at Mosaic Stadium white.

444 – Total litres of Heinz ketchup, mustard and relish that will be consumed by attendees on game day at Mosaic Stadium, per the NHL.

516 – Number of Saskatchewan-born players in NHL history. They’ve combined to win 171 Stanley Cups.

560 – Total number of regular-season games played by Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Housley with both the Flames and the original Jets. In two stints in Calgary, Housley suited up 328 times, and played 232 games with Winnipeg.

20,000 – Gallons of water needed to create a two-inch ice surface at Mosaic Stadium.

NBC Sports presents a special Saturday night NHL doubleheader on NBCSN this week, highlighted by a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, when Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly and the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues visit David Pastrnak and the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m. ET (livestream). Coverage heads outdoors to Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, at 10 p.m. ET, when Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets face Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames in the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.

Kathryn Tappen will anchor Saturday’s doubleheader coverage with Keith Jones and Anson Carter.

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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.

NHL Power Rankings: Early season surprises and slow starts

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In this week’s edition of the PHT Power Rankings we take a look at some of the early season results around the league.

The first couple of weeks can be tricky to analyze because there is a lot of random noise still taking place, and that can cloud our early outlook on a lot of teams. Over the course of an 82-game season every team is going to hit hot streaks and cold streaks, and if one of those streaks happens early in the year with nothing else around it we can easily jump to some wrong conclusions.

So far some Stanley Cup contenders have struggled, while a couple of teams that were thought to be at the bottom of the league have excelled.

Which teams are for real and which ones are not? Let us try to figure some of that out now.

To the rankings!

The early elites

These teams are at the top and will likely stay here…

1. Carolina Hurricanes. Anyone that thought this team’s second half and postseason run was a fluke was mistaken. They are for real and they are not going away. If they get the goaltending they could be a serious contender to win it all.

2. Colorado Avalanche. So far the preseason hype is legit. They still have the superstars at the top of the lineup, and now they have some actual depth to go with it. Cale Makar looks like a potential Calder Trophy winner.

3. Boston Bruins. When Tuukka Rask is on his game — as he has been so far — the Bruins can be close to unbeatable.

4. Vegas Golden Knights. They do have two losses (a one-goal loss to a great Boston team, and a random off night in Arizona) but they have absolutely steamrolled every other team they have played, including several division foes. Mark Stone could be a real sleeper MVP contender this season.

Great starts but still have something to prove

These teams have started fast, but may not stay here…

5. Edmonton Oilers. The good news: They won their first five games, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl look unstoppable, and James Neal is doing exactly what they hoped. The bad news: The roster after those three is still littered with questions and their underlying numbers point to an unsustainable hot streak. We will see where this goes.

6. Buffalo Sabres. Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin is a heck of a duo to build around, but after the way they started last year and fell apart after the first two months the rest of the team has to prove they can do it all year before anyone buys into them.

7. Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson might be the best goalie in hockey, and because of that they always have a chance on any given night. Having Ryan Miller is a backup is a pretty darn good Plan B in net, too.

8. Philadelphia Flyers. Still not quite sure what to make of the Flyers. The top of their lineup is great but the rest of the roster has question marks. A lot here still depends on what Carter Hart does. They started the season with three games in three different countries and managed to collect five out of six points during that stretch. Nice start.

The contenders that you know will be there

These teams are almost certainly going to be in the playoffs, and maybe even have a chance to play for the Stanley Cup, but have not yet played their best (or close to their best)…

9. St. Louis Blues. Brayden Schenn is responding to his new eight-year contract extension by scoring a ton of goals. We know he is good now, but that contract comes down to how good he looks four or five years from now.

10. Nashville Predators. Matt Duchene has been everything they could have hoped for so far. If he continues that he will be a significant addition to this roster.

11. Washington Capitals. They have not really played their best yet but are still managing to collect points in the standings almost every night. Good thing to do when you are not yet at your best.

12. Pittsburgh Penguins. The injury situation has left their forward lines a jumbled mess, but they are still finding ways to score goals and win. Sidney Crosby has been completely dominant.

13. Toronto Maple Leafs. The defensive questions that have followed this team around for the past few years are still there right now.

14. Tampa Bay Lightning. Something seems a little off so far. This is the best roster in the league on paper, but they have been really hit-and-miss so far this season. Their 4-2 loss in Ottawa over the weekend was ugly.

15. Calgary Flames. Some regression was to be expected this season, but they still have enough talent to be a factor in the Western Conference. Johnny Gaudreau is superb with the puck and is off to a great start.

The great unknowns

These teams are still mysteries whose seasons could still go in any direction…

16. Winnipeg Jets. Their defense is not very good, and that is going to be a big problem, especially if Dustin Byfuglien does not re-join the team. But they do still have a great collection of forwards and the big wild card is Patrik Laine having a monster season. So far, he is.

17. Montreal Canadiens. What this team really needs is for Jonathan Drouin to have a breakout year and become the star forward they hoped he could (and would) be.

18. Detroit Red Wings. They have to be thrilled with the start Anthony Mantha is off to. They have played well, but the roster just does not seem to stack up to the other potential playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.

19. New York Rangers. Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin looks like it has a chance to be quite a duo this season.

20. New York Islanders. They are still going to struggle to score goals, but Mathew Barzal will produce more than he has so far. They will still go as far as the goalies can take them.

21. Florida Panthers. They won just one of their first five games entering Monday, but two of their losses came in a shootout. Yeah, they missed out on two points, but we are talking about a coin flip away from their start looking dramatically different than it does. Sergei Bobrovsky being off to a slow start is not helping.

22. Columbus Blue Jackets. So far the goaltending has been the issue it was expected to be, but Pierre Luc-Dubois looks like he is on track for the huge year that was expected of him.

23. Vancouver Canucks. Quinn Hughes was the big reason for excitement this season and so far he is looking like a player that wants to insert himself into the Calder Trophy discussion.

24. Los Angeles Kings. The expectation was that there was no way Jonathan Quick could play worse than he did a year ago. In his first three games he has surrendered 19 goals. That is not going to cut it.

25. Arizona Coyotes. They are still getting great goaltending, but the lack of offense is a real concern.

Good teams that should be better

These are good rosters and should be playoff teams, but they have struggled so far…

26. San Jose Sharks. Not sure if a 40-year-old Patrick Marleau was the missing piece here, but they did win their first two games after he arrived, helping to ease the frustration from an 0-4 start. Do not expect this team to remain this low all season. Too much talent here. Still a potential Western Conference champion.

27. Dallas Stars. Roope Hintz has been the lone bright spot on what has been, so far, one of the most disappointing teams in the NHL.

Could be a long season

These teams have looked bad and may continue to look bad all season…

28. Ottawa Senators. Their win over the Lightning this weekend really was impressive, but other than that they have looked exactly like we expected the Senators to look.

29. Chicago Blackhawks. The early returns on the “did they do enough to fix their defense?” question are not looking promising.

30. New Jersey Devils. Their best players and their new faces are all off to slow starts, and that should help when those players get things turned around. Not sure if the goaltending will turn around, though. So far the Devils have not really done anything well this season.

31. Minnesota Wild. There is just — well — there is just not much positive happening here.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 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.