Avs’ MacKinnon, Pens’ Crosby star in wild affair

The best line in hockey against the best player in the world.

That was the stage-setter prior to Wednesday Night Hockey between the Colorado Avalanche and the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, two teams brimming with talent.

And it didn’t disappoint. Not even once.

The Avalanche won 6-3. But it’s the journey to the final scoreline that was so enthralling.

Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 lead just before the game turned 28 minutes old. Nathan MacKinnon had his hand in on two of those markers, including the one that started the onslaught off the stick of Samuel Girard and another on a pretty pass to Colin Wilson.

Pittsburgh looked every part of the team that had played the night before. The Penguins trailed by one goal three times before beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in a third-period surge. From there, they had to jump on a plane, travel to Denver and face another Central Division juggernaut in the Avs.

Those Avs, meanwhile, looked like a team that, despite playing the night before in Nashville, were still riding the buzz of beating the Predators in a hard-fought 3-2 game.

Everything was looking good up until the 39-minute mark on Wednesday, too.

And then Sidney Crosby woke up.

Crosby put his team on his back in the final minute of the second, scoring twice — once at 19:08 and then again at 19:50 — to pull the Pens to within one. Crosby then needed just 4:43 to complete the natural hat trick while simultaneously completing an unlikely comeback that didn’t seem possible six minutes earlier.

The battle for Cole Harbour supremacy wasn’t finished there, though.

MacKinnon picked up his third assist of the night when Gabriel Landeskog‘s wrist shot went squirely of an ill-fated block attempt by Juuso Riikola, knuckling past Tristan Jarry to regain the lead.

Mikko Rantanen pitched in with the secondary assist, his second of the night, to give the line its sixth point in what proved to be the game-winner in a wild affair.

MacKinnon iced it with the line’s seventh point into the empty net, completing his four-point night to upstage Crosby.

The highest scoring line on the highest scoring team pulled the Avs to within one point of the Central Division summit.

Colorado is riding a six-game winning streak now and look unstoppable.

And geez, are they ever fun to watch.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule


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

WATCH LIVE: Avalanche host Penguins on Wednesday Night Hockey

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NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Wednesday night’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Colorado Avalanche at 9:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.

Two teams tangling to keep the good times rolling?

Sounds like a recipe for an exciting game. And then you read the ingredients.

Malkin. Crosby. MacKinnon. Rantanen.

It all adds up to what should be an entertaining affair for two teams playing the second half of respective back to backs.

[WATCH LIVE – 9:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

The Colorado Avalanche put their five-game winning streak on the line against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who came from behind on Tuesday night three times against the Winnipeg Jets and squeaked out a 4-3 win.

The travel is brutal from Winnipeg to Denver, but the Penguins are 3-0-1 in their past four games and seem to finally be gelling as a team for the time being.

The Avs have been a scoring machine with 22 goals for in during their respective streak while taking care of business at the other end of the rink with just 11 goals against in that span. Colorado is also coming off a big 3-2 win against the might Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Colorado’s defensive prowess will be put to the test if Pittsburgh’s recent trend of goal scoring continues. The Pens have four goals or more in five of their past six games. It helps that Sid is leading that charge with four goals and 11 points in his past seven games.

Colorado counters with fellow Cole Harbour native Nathan MacKinnon. Best buds off the ice (and on Tim Hortons commercials) Crosby will be out to shut down MacKinnon and his five-game point streak.

[Read more about this game in this extended preview]

What: Pittsburgh Penguins at Colorado Avalanche
Where: Pepsi Center
When: Wednesday, November 28th, 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Blues-Red Wings stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINES

PENGUINS

Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust

Tanner PearsonEvgeni MalkinPhil Kessel

Zach Aston-ReeseDerick BrassardDaniel Sprong

Garrett Wilson — Riley SheahanDerek Grant

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Jack JohnsonJamie Oleksiak

Olli MaattaJuuso Riikola

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen

Tyson JostAlexander KerfootColin Wilson

Matt NietoCarl SoderbergMatt Calvert

Sven AndrighettoJ.T. CompherGabriel Bourque

Samuel GirardErik Johnson

Ian ColeNikita Zadorov

Patrik NemethMark Barberio

Starting goalie: Philipp Grubauer

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule


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

Sissons’ hat trick, coach’s challenges lift Predators to another win

A Colton Sissons hat trick and two successful coach’s challenges were the difference for the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night as they picked up a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, winning their fourth game in a row and improving to a league-best 12-3-0 to start the season.

Sissons was the offensive star for the Predators as he not only ended what had been a 13-game goal drought, but recorded the second regular season hat trick of his career.

Ryan Hartman added an empty net goal in the final minutes to help put the game away for the Predators.

While the final score ended up looking a little lopsided, this game could have been a lot closer had it not been for the NHL’s replay system that allowed Nashville to challenge two potential Colorado goals that were ultimately overturned.

Early in the second period Ian Cole thought he scored what would have been his second goal of the season only to have it overturned after replay showed that the puck had barely exited the zone as defender Samuel Girard tried to keep it in.

In the third period, and with the Predators leading 3-1, Colin Wilson thought he scored against his former team to cut the deficit to a single goal, only to again have the Predators challenge for offsides and again have the call overturned.

Avalanche forward Alexander Kerfoot was offside as Cole attempted to dump the puck in to the zone on the rush.

The two challenges by Nashville were bold calls by the coaching staff because had they not been overturned they would have not only given up the goal, but also been assessed a delay of game penalty for the failed offside challenge. Either way they were potential game-changing calls, and they both just so happened to go the Predators’ way.

When the Avalanche weren’t having goals overturned by review, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was playing another spectacular game by turning aside 24 of the 25 shots he faced. In his first eight appearances in 2018-19 the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has a .948 save percentage on the season.

After a great start that saw the Avalanche go 6-1-2 in their first nine games they have now lost five of their past six games and each of the past four.

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.

WATCH LIVE: Predators visit Avalanche on Wednesday Night Hockey

Getty

NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Wednesday night’s matchup between the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche at 10 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.

This week’s Wednesday Night Hockey doubleheader wraps up with a rematch from the first-round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Nashville Predators visit the Colorado Avalanche.

It is sure to be an exciting matchup between two top Central Division teams as the Predators roll into the game owning the league’s best points percentage (22 points in 14 game) and best goal differential (plus-17). After reaching the Stanley Cup Final two years ago and then coming back a year ago to win the Presidents’ Trophy the Predators are once again on track to be one of the best teams in the NHL and a top-tier Stanley Cup contender.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, are doing their best to show that their surprise playoff appearance (after completing an incredible one-year turnaround in the standings) was no fluke. They enter play on Wednesday in one of the two Wild Card spots in the Western Conference and just one point back of Minnesota for the second spot in the Central Division.

They boast the NHL’s third-best goal differential (plus-12) and one of the NHL’s top lines with the trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog leading the way. Rantanen entered Wednesday as the league’s leading scorer with 24 points, two points ahead of Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid. MacKinnon is third in the scoring race with 21 points while Landeskog is 12th with 18 total points. His 11 goals are tied for the second most.

Puck drop in Colorado is 10 p.m. ET.

[WATCH LIVE – 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche
Where: Pepsi Center
When: Wednesday, November 7th, 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Predators-Avalanche stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PREDATORS

Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenRyan Hartman
Calle JarnkrokKyle TurrisCraig Smith
Frederick GaudreauNick BoninoKevin Fiala
Zac RinaldoColton SissonsMiikka Salomaki

Roman JosiRyan Ellis
Mattias EkholmP.K. Subban
Anthony BitettoYannick Weber

Starting Goalie: Pekka Rinne

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Sheldon Dries – Alexander KerfootColin Wilson
Matt NietoCarl SoderbergMatt Calvert
Gabriel BourqueVladislav KamenevMarko Dano

Patrik NemethErik Johnson
Ian ColeSamuel Girard
Nikita ZadorovTyson Barrie

Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov

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.

PHT Morning Skate: Time for Rangers fire sale; Top 20 lines

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Zach Sanford wrote a letter about his father who passed away in September. “My dad never saw me play an NHL regular-season game in person. He couldn’t make it for my first games with the Washington Capitals, and then I got traded to the Blues and played a handful of games at the end of the year in St. Louis. He was so proud of me, though, and to hear him talk about me, you’d think he was playing in the NHL, too. From what my family tells me, he told everyone who would listen that his son had made it to the NHL.” (NHL.com/Blues)

• It’s time for the New York Rangers to start their fire sale. For starters, they should trade Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes. (New York Post)

• NBC Sports Philly believes we should have seen the Flyers’ slow start coming. (NBC Sports Philly)

• The Vancouver Canucks have had some great Swedish players come through their organization. Markus Naslund and the Sedin twins have led the charge in years past, and it looks like Elias Pettersson is the next one. (Sports Illustrated)

Samuel Girard has been standing out for all the right reasons in Colorado. (Mile High Hockey)

Phillip Danault has done a terrific job down the middle for the Habs this season. (Sportsnet)

Alex Ovechkin skated with roughly 80 people from the American Special Hockey Association. (NHL.com)

• The Chicago Blackhawks signed prospect Brandon Hagel to an entry-level contract. (NHL.com/Blackhawks)

• ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski ranked the top 20 lines in the NHL. Where do Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak rank? Hint: They’re not first. (ESPN)

• Travis Yost breaks down how Jack Eichel is helping his teammates get better looks at their opponents’ net. (Buffalo News)

Derek Stepan is interviewing some of his Coyotes teammates to discuss Halloween-related topics like favorite candies:

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.