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Flames’ Backlund makes Capitals look silly on incredible goal

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The Washington Capitals aren’t having the best time on the ice at the moment.

Losers of six straight heading into Friday’s action, Mikael Backlund decided to rub it in a little.

And man, did he make the Capitals looks silly on this one.

Tom Wilson, Brooks Orpik and Chandler Stephenson could do little but run into each other as Backlund lifted the puck over their heads and scooted around them to retrieve his own nifty pass.

Jonas Siegenthaler was then left to try and end the madness, but his attempt at slashing his way out of the problem Backlund created was just another failure in the latter’s path of destruction.

Backlund, of course, still needed to beat Braden Holtby. No problem, just channel Peter Forsberg, right?

Right.

Backlund finished off his magnificent play, well, magnificently for one of the prettiest sequences in the NHL this season.


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

Bad news for Wild as Dumba set to miss ‘significant time’

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After dropping a 2-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night the Minnesota Wild find themselves stuck in a three-game losing streak and have now lost 10 of their past 15 games, keeping them on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture.

Things are not looking much better on the injury front.

The Wild announced on Friday that defender Mathew Dumba will undergo surgery next week for an “upper-body injury” and is set to miss a significant amount of time.

“We won’t know [an exact timetable] until they get in there,” said general manager Paul Fenton, via the Wild’s website. “They’re giving me a general timeline, but I don’t want to say anything that just comes back and haunts us. Let’s just make sure first how the surgery goes, and then we’ll make a statement from there.

“Certainly, we were hoping that it was going to be a quick thing to go through things but from talking to doctors, he does need surgery. But for those that have had surgery and they say it’s gonna be six months and you’re walking three months later, that’s what we’re kind of hoping for is that he gets something taken care and maybe it’s quicker.”

Dumba last appeared in a game for the Wild a week ago when he played just five minutes in a loss to the Calgary Flames. He exited that game after the first period and did not return. It is worth noting that he was involved in a fight early in that game with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk as a carryover from a previous meeting when Dumba injured Mikael Backlund with an open ice hit. Dumba and the Wild have refused to say that fight is where the injury happened, while  Dumba insists he is not sure when it happened.

No matter when or why it happened, this is a huge loss for the Wild in the short-term.

The 24-year-old Dumba is not only one of the team’s most important players, he is having one of the best seasons of his career and was on track to set new career highs across the board while playing close to 24 minutes of ice-time per night. His 12 goals are not only tied for the second most on the team, they lead all NHL defenders while he is one of just three (Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs with 11, and Thomas Chabot of the Ottawa Senators with 10) to have scored more than eight goals so far this season. Chicago Blackhawks defender Erik Gustafsson is the only other one with more than seven.

The Wild are currently eight points out of the third playoff spot in the Central Division and three points back of a Wild Card spot with the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars sitting in front of them. The Wild do, however, have games in hand on every team they are chasing. They finished the 2017-18 season with 101 points, good enough for the eighth best mark in the league, but have struggled for a number of reasons this season, including most recently the extended slump by starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk. He has started to get back on track lately and play at his expected level, but now they are without one of their top defenders.

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.

Flames, Wild continue bad blood with three early fights

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When the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames met this past week all hell broke loose, resulting in a pair of suspensions to Flames teammates Mark Giordano and Ryan Lomberg.

Giordano was hit with a two-game suspension for kneeing Mikko Koivu, while Lomberg was suspended two games of his own for leaving the bench during a line change to start a fight with Wild defenseman Mathew Dumba. That fight was in response to a big hit by Dumba that injured Mikael Backlund.

A lot of that bad blood spilled over into Saturday’s 2-1 Flames win that featured three fights early in the first period.

Those fights started just 40 seconds into the game when Dumba found himself in a fight with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.

Dumba ended up exiting the game after the first period and did not return. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau had no update on his status after the game except to say they would know more on Monday.

The fisticuffs did not stop there. Later in the period Giordano fought Minnesota’s Matt Hendricks.

But there was more! The most unexpected fight of the three featured Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter, who has not been involved in a fight since the 2009 season, dropping the gloves with Sam Bennett

All of that happened in the first 18 minutes of the game.

But Giordano and Tkachuk did not just impact the game with their fists — they also scored goals.

Giordano continued what has been a  career year (and maybe even a Norris Trophy worthy season) by scoring a shorthanded goal mid-way through the first period to give the Flames an early 1-0 lead, while Tkachuk scored his 14th goal of the season in the third period to help give the Flames the win.

David Rittich also continued his surprising play in the Flames’ net by stopping 34 of the 35 shots he faced.

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.

NHL suspends Flames’ Giordano, Lomberg

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Thursday’s game in Calgary between the Flames and Wild had quite a bit of chaos that resulted in the NHL’s Department of Player Safety issuing a pair of suspensions on Friday.

First, Flames defenseman Mark Giordano was given a two-game suspension for kneeing Wild forward Mikko Koivu.

The Minnesota captain was injured on the play and has since been sent home from the team’s ongoing road trip. The play happened mid-way through the third period of the Flames’ 2-0 win. Giordano was assessed a two-minute minor for tripping on the play.

Here is a look at it as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

Giordano will miss the Flames’ upcoming games against the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers this weekend before being eligible to return next week against the Philadelphia Flyers. Giordano is the Flames’ top defender and having one of the best seasons of his career with 29 total points (three goals, 26 assists) in 29 games this season while playing close to 25 minutes per game.

Later in the period, Giordano’s teammate, Ryan Lomberg, was ejected from the game after leaving the bench during a legal line change to initiate a fight with Minnesota’s Matthew Dumba.

[Related: Flames’ Lomberg ejected for jumping Dumba after questionable hit]

That altercation came just after Dumba injured Flames forward Mikael Backlund with a big open ice hit.

Lomberg’s penalty for starting a fight in the last five minutes comes with an automatic one-game suspension. The NHL decided on Friday to add an additional game to that suspension, meaning he too will miss the team’s next two games.

Dumba’s hit on Backlund was deemed to be a legal body check by the league.

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.

Flames’ Lomberg ejected for jumping Wild’s Dumba after questionable hit

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(UPDATE: Lomberg has been automatically suspended for one game and Flames head coach Bill Peters has been fined $10,000, per the NHL Department of Player Safety, as per rule 46.22, Instigating in the Final Five Minutes of Regulation. He’ll also have a hearing today for “a legal line change for the purpose of starting an altercation.” That could end up being a fine or multi-game ban. In other discipline news from the gameMark Giordano will have a hearing today for kneeing Mikko Koivu.)

A wild finished between the Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild saw a massive (questionable?) hit, an ejection and a seven-minute power play on Thursday.

A heated contest came to a head with under a minute left in the third period with the Flames holding a 2-0 lead.

Wild defenseman Matt Dumba stepped up in the Flames zone and delivered a hit to Mikael Backlund. There are a couple of angles to watch. One of them shows Dumba jumping into the hit and the other shows his shoulder hitting Backlund square in the face.

Here’s the tape:

Backlund was forced out of the game and could be out for a while, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

Appears he was in concussion protocol, as well.

The Flames didn’t take too kindly to the hit and Ryan Lomberg came off the bench on a line change and made a b-line right to Dumba, jumping him and getting one punch in before the refs piled on top of the two.

Lomberg got two minutes for instigating, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct for his efforts. The power play for Minnesota didn’t amount to anything as Mike Smith stood tall for the 31-save shutout.

Dumba was not penalized on the play.


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