Sean Monahan

Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames
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The Buzzer: Flames snap three-game skid; Rangers cruise past Ducks

Three Stars

1) Chris Kreider, New York Rangers

The Blueshirts were looking to end a three-game losing streak and Kreider’s back-to-back goals helped put the game out of reach for the flu-riddled Ducks. At 12:16 of the first period, the power forward intercepted a pass and converted a nifty deke on a breakaway as he recorded his ninth of the season. Then, early in the middle frame, No. 20 tipped in a pass from Mika Zibanejad to extend the Rangers’ lead to three goals. Kreider will be one of the most talked about names in the NHL as the trade deadline approaches and performances like these will only boost his value.

2) Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames

Calgary is looking to re-establish itself as one of the elite teams in the Western Conference and a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars was a step in the right direction. Tkachuk buried a power-play goal when he wired a wrist shot from the left circle to give the Flames a 2-1 lead at the time. He added two assists including a pretty pass from the side of the net to set up Sean Monahan in the slot.

3) Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes

The Detroit Red Wings are having a historically bad season, but Keller’s two goals helped lead the Coyotes to a 5-2 win. The 21-year-old could be the biggest beneficiary of the Taylor Hall trade if Arizona’s opponents choose to focus on Hall and Phil Kessel. That would leave Keller with matchups against second and third pairing defensemen which could help him produce a lot more offensively as the Coyotes look to make a bid for the Pacific Division title.

Highlights of the Night

Filip Chytil has not quite lived up to lofty expectations yet, but plays like this help you realize why the Rangers front office is so high on the young center.

Hall’s snipe was his first with the Coyotes

Mikael Backlund snapped an 18-game goalless drought with this impressive rush toward the net

Stat of the Night

NHL Scores

New York Rangers 5, Anaheim Ducks 1

Arizona Coyotes 5, Detroit Red Wings 2

Calgary Flames 5, Dallas Stars 1

Vegas Golden Knights 3, San Jose Sharks 1

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

PHT Face-Off: Eichel can’t be stopped; Jarry can play

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The calendar year is coming to a close in the NHL and there are certain trends that are continuing to develop. The PHT Face-Off breaks down those trends every Monday. We’ll discuss Jack Eichel‘s run, Auston Matthews‘ season, Anthony Duclair‘s goal-scoring prowess and much more.

• Who’s gonna stop Jack Eichel? 

Eichel has been on fire for over a month now. He’s found a way to be a difference-maker for the Sabres on a nightly basis and he’s currently riding a 16-game point streak. The race for the top three spots in the Atlantic Division is wide open. The Sabres are right in the mix. As of right now, they’re sitting in second place.

Whether or not they can keep this up remains to be seen, but it sure looks like their captain is going to do everything he can to drag them into the postseason.

Eichel is currently second in the league in goals, with 20. He’s also tied for fifth in league scoring with 48 points in 34 games. The 23-year-old needs to continue producing at a similar clip if they’re going to make it back to playoffs.

He needs to extend his point streak by two more games to tie the franchise record, which is held by Gilbert Perreault.

You have to think that if the Sabres make the playoffs, Eichel will at least be a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

• Has Auston Matthews been good enough?

Heading into this week’s action, Auston Matthews is rolling at a point-per-game pace. He’s picked up 34 points in 34 games, but the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur feels like the Leafs star has more to give.

Matthews has been held off the scoresheet in four of his last six games and he has just four points in his last nine games. Arthur points out that the Leafs star’s XGF/60 is down from 1.06 last year to 0.76 this year. So he’s not exactly shooting from areas that are as dangerous, but all of his other individual numbers are up.

His CF% has never been higher (55.77 percent) and neither has his FF% (54.46 percent). When he’s on the ice, the Leafs control 57.67 percent of the high-danger chances, which seems absolutely ridiculous and, oh yeah, he’s been a point-per-game player.

There’s no doubt that Matthews has the potential to be more than a point-per-game player, but he’s also on pace to score over 40 goals this season.

Yes, he’s going through the rough patch in terms of offensive production, but he’ll get in back on the rails soon enough.

• Anthony Duclair is a top-10 goal scorer:

Raise your hand if you expected Duclair to be one of the 10 best goal scorers at this point of the raise. If your hand is up, you’re probably related to him or you’re lying.

Through the first third of the season, the Senators forward has found the back of the net 18 times. He’s just two goals away from tying his career-high of 20, which he set back in 2015-16. If you add it all up, he’s on pace to score 45 goals.

Sure, the Sens are a rebuilding team that never really had serious playoff aspirations coming into this season, but you can’t deny that those are impressive numbers that Duclair has put up. Even if he doesn’t score another goal between now and the end of the season, the fact that he’s scored 18 times is good value for Ottawa.

The 24-year-old has now played for five different teams. He’s making the most of what could’ve been his final opportunity in the NHL.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Sens will do with him as the season progresses. Do they sign him to an extension? Do they capitalize on his production and trade him away for some young assets?

Tristan Jarry dominating between the pipes:

The Penguins have dealt with so many injuries this year and their starting goalie Matt Murray hasn’t been really good. But they’ve found a way to stay in the playoff picture (they’re currently in the first Wild Card spot).

How have they done it? Well, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust have taken their game to another level in Crosby’s absence. The other guy that has stepped up in a big way is Jarry. He’s won eight of his last 10 outings and he’s also posted three shutouts in his last five outings.

Even though Jarry was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft, the 24-year-old had plenty of question marks surrounding his ability.

Murray will likely take over between the pipes again at some point. But for now it appears as though the Pens have an interesting situation between the pipes.

They might be able to trade a goalie away to get help at another position.

• Geoff Ward has been a perfect fit in Calgary:

Since Ward took over for Bill Peters, his team has gone 7-1-0. That’s quite the turnaround considering the Flames didn’t get off to a great start under Peters.

This incredible run now has the Flames back in the Western Conference playoff picture, as they’re in the second Wild Card spot. Calgary was clearly better than their early-season record would indicate. Now, they’ve found a guy that’s pushing all the right buttons.

Ward made the bold decision to split up Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, which has resulted in more balanced offense for this group.

What’s coming up this week?

• Thursday’s 10-game schedule will mark the 102nd anniversary of the NHL’s first game. On Dec. 17, 1917, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators, 7-4, while the Montreal Wanderers beat the Toronto Arenas, 10-9.

Joe Pavelski is scheduled to play his 1,000th NHL on Friday night, when the Dallas Stars take on the Panthers in Florida.

NHL on NBCSN
• Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres, Tue. Dec. 17, 7 p.m. ET.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOCKEY ON NBCSN
• Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Wed. Dec. 18, 8 p.m. ET.

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.

The Buzzer: Streaks end for Capitals, Avs; Pageau, Islanders still on fire

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Three Stars

1. Anthony Duclair, Ottawa Senators

So far during his bumpy NHL career, Duclair has enjoyed one great NHL season. Back in 2015-16 (just his second year in the NHL, and his first full one, as he only played in 18 games in 2014-15), Duclair caught fire with Max Domi on the Coyotes, with Duclair generating by-far career-bests of 20 goals and 44 points.

There were red flags that his outburst was misleading (a 19 shooting percentage being the most obvious), yet it’s still been confounding that Duclair hasn’t at least found a permanent NHL spot, bouncing around from team to team and often finding his way to coaches’ doghouses, including that of John Tortorella.

When you’re a wayward team like the Senators, you often give players a second or even third chance, and Duclair is running with this opportunity.

He’s now on a four-game point streak, with at least one goal in his past three games. With two goals and an assist on Monday, Duclair’s generated five goals and two assists for seven points during the last four contests. Overall, Duclair now has 15 goals and 22 points in 31 games, firing 100 shots on goal for a high-but-not-outrageous 15 shooting percentage.

Does Duclair have his warts defensively? Sure, but I’m of the mind that his game is a net positive — especially if team can continue to employ him at a cheap price. Either way, it would be nice to see a speedy, talented player cement his place in the NHL, even if he’s likely to cool off at least a bit going forward.

2. Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets had lost four in a row, and five of their last six, before rolling into what looked like a probable loss against the red-hot Capitals. Columbus has been putting forth decent efforts this season with some strong possession numbers, only for a mix of so-so shooting and sometimes shabby puck-stopping letting them down.

The Blue Jackets ended the Capitals’ six-game winning streak on Monday in part because of the efforts of Korpisalo, who stopped 37 out of the 39 shots he faced.

If Columbus wants more of a bright side to look on than just one nice performance, they can consider that Korpisalo’s also won six of his last nine.

3. Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Before Sean Monahan did a nice job finishing on an overtime game-winner that ended the Avalanche’s winning streak at six games,* Giordano broke up a Nathan MacKinnon chance that was looking awfully dangerous. Giordano received credit for a secondary assist on Monahan’s overtime game-winner, and had another assists on Monday, giving him two helpers for the night.

It had been an unusually quiet offensive stretch for the reigning Norris Trophy winner. Before Monday, Giordano had zero goals and one assist in his last 11 games. Maybe this could signal the start of a hot stretch for Giordano? It’s certainly a concern to see some slippage since he’s defied age for a while, but is still 36.

* – The Flames have now won all five games since Bill Peters left their bench, coincidence or not.

Highlight of the Night

Here’s that Flames OT-winner, starting with Giordano’s alert play, and ending with Monahan’s goal:

Lowlight

Tough one for Braden Holtby to give up, although sometimes those odd angle shots from behind the red line can really befuddle some netminders:

Factoids

  • The Islanders pasted the Lightning on Monday, and they’re now at 20 wins (20-7-2). By hitting the 20-win mark in just 29 games, the Islanders set a new franchise record for the fastest to that win total, according to NHL PR.
  • NHL PR notes that Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s 13 goals since Nov. 1 remains tied for the most in the NHL during that span, locking him up with luminaries including Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak, and Sebastian Aho. Yeah, that’s ridiculous.
  • One more from NHL PR: Matthew Tkachuk passed the 200-point mark (he’s now at 201) before his 22nd birthday, which happens on Dec. 11. Tkachuk is the ninth U.S.-born player to reach 200 points before age 22. Looking at the list, only Jeremy Roenick probably gives him serious competition when it comes to agitating people, although I don’t think JR dangled a mouthpiece out of his mouth with such aggravating flair.

Scores

NYI 5 – TBL 1
CBJ 5 – WSH 2
OTT 5 – BOS 2
CGY 5 – COL 4 (OT)

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.

The Buzzer: Star Wars Storm Surge; Bob beats Blue Jackets

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Three Stars

1. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes

Heading into Saturday, Aho only scored in one goal (a goal and an assist) in his past five contests. He made up for that dry spell in a big way against the Wild, generating a hat trick plus two assists.

His third goal was an empty-netter, but Aho’s first tally ended up being the game-winner. Aho was really clicking with Teuvo Teravainen, who finished the night with three assists.

Aho now has 27 points through his first 30 games in 2019-20.

2. Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning made life miserable for the Sharks on Saturday, feasting by way of a 7-1 score.

Killorn was a big part of that, generating a goal and three assists for four points. Killorn now has three goals and three assists for six points during a three-game streak, giving Killorn 22 points in 25 games in 2019-20.

As effective as Killorn has been over the years, his career-high is 47 points. Chances are, he’s going to slow down (example a 15.7 shooting percentage so far this season, against a 10.5 career average), but if reasonably healthy, Killorn should blow that previous number out of the water.

There were other Lightning players who played really well, as you’d expect from a blowout. Steven Stamkos ranked among those who collected three points, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves to exaggerate the distance between the two teams.

3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Really, you can take your pick between Malkin and Jake Guentzel, as they both enjoyed one-goal, two-assist nights on Saturday, and they both clearly play off each other quite well. As much as Guentzel has been conjoined to Sidney Crosby during his young (and underappreciated) career, it seems like he can click with Malkin, too. Obviously, it’s not difficult to transition from one “NHL 100” player to another who should have made the “NHL 100,” yet … we’ve seen wingers who cannot find chemistry with one or more of Malkin and Crosby. So credit to Guentzel for being deadly with both, and likely making life a little easier for each of them.

Malkin now has a fantastic 26 points in just 19 games, and may very well have his biggest year in a while if he can stay healthy — an uncomfortably familiar phrase for the Penguins for quite some time. (Heck, even spanning back to Mario Lemieux.)

Guentzel now has 31 points in 30 games, and a solid chance to exceed last season’s excellent career-high of 76 points.

Highlight of the Night

Uh, you think the Kings were expecting Johnny Gaudreau to pass when he did? (Don’t lie.) This is just a tremendous combination of speed, skill, and vision as he set up Sean Monahan:

Star Wars Storm Surge

Yay or nay on the Star Wars-themed Storm Surge from the Hurricanes? I’d say solid enough, although it lacked a Bunch of Baby Yoda so … maybe not ideal.

Factoids

  • The Blue Jackets spoiled Sergei Bobrovsky‘s shutout bid a bit more than halfway through the third period. Still, Bob had a strong night with 33 saves. Hot take: Columbus is still probably relieved to not be spending to the tune of Bob’s $10M AAV, considering how infrequently Bob has looked this good.
  • NHL PR notes that the Avalanche extended a point streak to 14 games, while they also gave the Bruins their first regulation loss at home this season.
  • Brady Tkachuk received a fine from the Department of Player Safety for cross-checking Scott Laughton. More on that wild game here.
  • A bit esoteric, but interesting, from NHL PR: Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid are the fifth pair to generate at least 300 points each in 320 games or fewer. They’re the first pairing to pull that off since Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

Scores

PHI 4 – OTT 3
VAN 6 – BUF 5 (OT)
COL 4 – BOS 1
PIT 5 – DET 3
TBL 7 – SJS 1
FLA 4 – CBJ 1
CAR 6 – MIN 2
TOR 5 – STL 2
NSH 6 – NJD 4
DAL 3 – NYI 1
CGY 4 – LAK 3

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.

The Buzzer: Ducks spoil Islanders’ streak; Stars keep shining

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Islanders’ streak over at 17 games

Perhaps it’s fitting that the Islanders’ 17-game point streak ended against one of the few teams that boasts goaltending comparable to the Isles’ own, especially when John Gibson is in net. The Ducks gave the Islanders their first regulation loss since Oct. 11, blanking Barry Trotz’s bunch 3-0 on Monday.

That wasn’t the only “your own medicine” element of this loss for the Islanders, either. The Ducks allowed quite a few more chances, but did a decent job of controlling the quality while losing the quantity battle. Gibson ultimately only needed 26 saves for that shutout, while Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler led the way with a goal and an assist each. Anders Lee has been great during this run, but Monday wasn’t his night, as he was on the ice for all three of the Ducks’ goals.

Three Stars

1. Alexander Radulov, Dallas Stars

The Stars have been almost as hot as the Islanders lately, and while Radulov (2G, 1A) and John Klingberg (3A) have been relatively quiet during Dallas’ tear, they made the big difference against the troubled-but-still-dangerous Golden Knights on Monday.

The Stars are now on a seven-game winning streak, have gone 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, are now 14-1-1 in their last 16 games after beginning the season on a 1-7-1 whimper.

Radulov bookended that win against Vegas with two power-play goals, and also assisted on Jason Dickinson‘s game-winner. It wasn’t as if the Stars’ usual top guns were totally absent (Tyler Seguin collected two assists), yet this win serves as a sobering reminder to opponents that Dallas can beat you in more ways than even the 2018-19 Stars could.

2. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Sabres managed a 2-1 lead at some point, and it seemed like Buffalo and the Bolts would have themselves a tightly matched game. The third period kind of ended that, as the Lightning strengthened what became a 3-2 lead with two shorthanded goals. The second was scored by Palat, who ended Monday with two primary assists and the 5-2 shorthanded tally.

Palat’s now on a nice little mini-hot streak, generating points in three consecutive games (two goals, three assists for five of his 15 points this season).

The Lightning are now on a three-game winning streak and seem to have found their legs with a 7-3-0 mark in their last 10 games.

3. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

Is it Artemi, as I’ve been accustomed to spelling it (and the Rangers’ website spells it that way), or Artemiy Panarin, as it seems to be on the star player’s Twitter page?

I feel about as confounded as most defenders do against the absolutely slick winger, who collected assists on all three of the Rangers’ goals in a 3-2 OT win against the Wild. Seeing Mats Zuccarello‘s tribute video was probably super emotional for many Rangers, but not Panarin, who was one of actually quite a few new guys who never shared a Rangers locker room with the Norwegian wizard.

Panarin now has 30 points through his first 22 games with the Rangers, including five (1G, 4A) during his past two.

Highlights

I’m partial to this fantastic move by Ryan Donato against the Rangers, although Donato’s Wild ultimately fell short:

Factoids

Scores

TBL 5 – BUF 2
NYR 3 – MIN 2 (OT)
PHI 2 – VAN 1
PIT 3 – CGY 2 (OT)
CBJ 1 – OTT 0
NSH 3 – STL 2 (SO)
DAL 4 – VGK 2
ANA 3 – NYI 0
SJS 4 – ANA 3 (OT)

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.