Chicago Blackawks

Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers scores his fifth goal of the game in overtime
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The Buzzer: Zibanejad stars on Broadway; Blackhawks remain in playoff race

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Three Stars

1) Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers

The 26-year-old scored five times as the Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals in overtime, 6-5. Zibanejad is the first NHL player to score five goals and the game-winning goal in overtime since Sergei Fedorov on Dec. 26, 1996. The alternate captain joined Don Murdoch and Mark Pavelich as the only players in franchise history to score five times in a single game. Zibanejad established himself as a top-line NHL center last season with a breakout campaign but reached new heights this year with 38 goals and 33 assists. The Blueshirts trail the New York Islanders by two points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race but have played one additional game.

2) Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks

Only four points separate six teams within striking distance of the wild card spots in the Western Conference. DeBrincat scored twice as the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at the United Center Thursday and extended their winning streak to four games. DeBrincat lit the lamp twice in the second period as Chicago pulled away from Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl recorded two assists in his Hart Trophy campaign.

3) Alain Vigneault, Philadelphia Flyers

It takes time for an NHL coach to implement his system in his first year with a new club, but AV has quietly led the Flyers to a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 15 games remaining in the season. Philadelphia has recently climbed the standings and are in position to earn home-ice advantage in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Vigneault helped the Flyers move past an emotional win against the Capitals Wednesday and extend their winning streak to eight games with a 4-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Highlights of the Night

Artemi Panarin delivered a sensational stretch pass as Zibanejad closed out the Capitals with the overtime winner.

Patric Hornqvist converted a spinning backhanded shot to record his first of two goals in the Penguins’ 4-2 win against the Sabres.

Patrick Kane netted his 30th of the season with this sharp-angled shot in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 win against the Oilers.

Brady Tkachuk looked off a defender before firing this short-side snipe as the Senators defeated the Islanders, 4-3.

Ivan Provorov scored for the second straight game as the Flyers tied the Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Torey Krug launched a slap shot in overtime to propel the Bruins to their fourth straight win.

Push for the Playoffs

Stat of the Night

Scores

Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Buffalo Sabres 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Montreal Canadiens 0

Boston Bruins 2, Florida Panthers 1 (OT)

New York Rangers 6. Washington Capitals 5 (OT)

Philadelphia Flyers 4, Carolina Hurricanes 1

Ottawa Senators 4, New York Islanders 3

Nashville Predators 2, Dallas Stars 0

Chicago Blackhawks 4, Edmonton Oilers 3

Los Angeles Kings 1, Toronto Maple Leafs (SO)

Minnesota Wild 3, San Jose Sharks 2


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.

NHL On NBCSN: What does future hold for Stan Bowman, Blackhawks?

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.  Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

By trading starting goalie Robin Lehner and defenseman Erik Gustafsson on Monday the Chicago Blackhawks officially raised the white flag on the 2019-20 NHL season.

They enter Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) in 12th place in the Western Conference and eight points out of a wild card spot with still four teams ahead of them.

Right now the cut-off point for a wild card spot in the West is around 88 points. The Blackhawks at the moment are only on pace for 82 points and would need to collect 27 points in their final 20 games (think 13-6-1 record) to gain enough ground to give themselves a chance. Given the way the season has played out, and the players they are now without, that seems unlikely.

It also means that the Blackhawks are almost certainly headed for their third straight non-playoff season and their fifth straight season without a playoff series win. Their decline from dynasty to mediocrity has been stunning and swift.

What makes it all even more shocking is they still have two superstar forwards (Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) playing at a high level, while the threshold to make the playoffs in the Western Conference the past two seasons has been as low as we have ever seen it in the era of the three-point game. It only took 90 points to get in a year ago. It may not take that many this season. And the Blackhawks still seem unable to reach even that.

Adding to the frustration is that on Monday the returns for Lehner and Gustafsson just seemed, for lack of a better word, underwhelming. Trading them was the absolute right call. It had to be done. But there is nothing coming back in return that moves the needle in a meaningful way.

So what happens if (or when) this season reaches the conclusion it seems destined for? Is there any short-term hope that next season won’t produce the same result? And how much longer will Bowman get to try and get this team back on track?

As long as Kane and Toews are in the lineup there is at least a foundation in place. Dominik Kubalik has been one of the few home run moves hit by the front office in recent years, while recent first-rounders Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist both look to be loaded with potential.

But that’s not enough, especially as the two superstars get deeper into their 30s. There has to be more, and Bowman has made his share of significant missteps the past few years. Brent Seabrook‘s contract to further complicate their salary cap structure. Trading Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen in an effort to fix their salary cap problems (there had to be better, more productive ways). Dealing young players like Dominik Kahun and Henri Jokiharju this summer for a pair of players (Olli Maatta and Alex Nylander) that simply have not added much.

Bowman’s roster moves this past summer were him betting on the current roster still being able to compete with a couple of tweaks.

That gamble has not worked, and it remains a roster that still seems to have more questions and problems than actual solutions.

When you add all of that up it’s put the Blackhawks in the worst possible position a team can be in — the middle ground. A team that is not good enough to compete, but still has enough reasons to think it should.

Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire will call the action at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo. Tonight’s studio coverage will be hosted by Liam McHugh with Scott Hartnell and Mike Johnson.

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.

The Buzzer: Bruins cruise past Canadiens; Stars’ streak comes to an end

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Three Stars

1. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins

The Canadiens were no match for the Bruins Tuesday night. David Pastrnak recorded his second hat trick of the season as Boston rolled to an 8-1 victory in Montreal. Pastrnak displayed his wide-ranging skillset while finding the net in a variety of ways. In the first period, Pastrnak launched a one-timer on the power play to give Boston a 2-1 lead. Then, eight seconds into the middle frame, the Czech winger wired a wrister after the Bruins executed a set play on the opening faceoff. He completed his sixth career hat trick with a nifty deflection. Pastrnak leads the NHL in goals and should be considered one of the best pure goal scorers in the League.

2. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

A third-period power-play goal helped Kane extend his individual point streak to 13 games. Kane is one of the most skilled players in the NHL and showed great patience as he converted on the man-advantage. Stars goalie Anton Khudobin made a sliding stop on Alex DeBrincat moments prior to the goal. When Kane received the puck, Khudobin was scrambling to get into position but No. 88 didn’t rush the shot and waited until to the right opening presented itself.

3. Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild

In his NHL debut, Kahkonen made 32 saves and earned his first victory as the Wild extended their point streak to seven games with a 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils. Minnesota recalled the 23-year-old goalie from its AHL affiliate on an emergency basis after Devan Dubnyk went home for personal reasons.

Highlights of the Night

Brad Marchand picked up his 600th NHL point, but the play to watch was Jeff Petry‘s costly turnover.

Pastrnak scored eight seconds into the second period, two seconds shy of the fastest goal to begin any period in Bruins history according to NHL Public Relations. Boston executed the play to perfection while Montreal just watched it happen.

Factoids

  • Brad Marchand is just the fourth player in the last 45 years to record his 40th point in 24 team games or fewer [NHL PR]
  • Canadiens allowed 14 goals in a span of 2 home games for the first time since January 22 – 27, 1972 [Sportsnet Stats]
  • Carey Price is pulled from a start for the first time since Dec 9, 2017 vs. Edmonton [Sportsnet Stats]
  • David Pastrnak has 23 goals through the Bruins‘ first 24 games of 2019-20. The last player with more through that span was Mario Lemieux in 1992-93. [NHL PR].

Scores

Wild 3, Devils 2

Bruins 8, Canadiens 1

Blackhawks 3, Stars 2

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.

The Buzzer: McDavid’s hat trick; Scheifele continues clutch play

Connor McDavid of Edmonton Oilers
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Three Stars

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers captain recorded his fifth career hat trick on a night he registered his 400th career point. The speed is tantalizing but we have seen quick players before. McDavid however, is equipped with all the attributes needed to become the generational player he was destined to be. Leon Draisaitl is not only riding shotgun with McDavid, but also co-driving the bus as he chipped in with four assists as this dynamic tandem continues to be impossible to slow down.

2. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets

Often overlooked when discussing the best players of the game, Scheifele scored the game-deciding goal for the second straight game as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Dallas Stars in overtime. The alternate captain took the puck from Tyler Seguin in his own zone, then darted toward the other end of the ice before firing a wrist shot between the legs of the Stars goaltender to help Winnipeg extend its point streak to five games (4-0-1).

3. Robin Lehner, Chicago Blackhawks

When a goalie allows four goals, they typically are not praised for their performance, but Robin Lehner proved to be an exception. His 53 saves were a career high, and just enough to help Chicago defeat Boston, 5-4. Toronto made a strong push in the final period, tossing 26 shots on net and beating Lehner three times, but the Blackhawks produced enough offensively to walk away with two points. Without No. 40 between the pipes, the Leafs could have blown out the Hawks.

Highlights of the Night

After his original shot was blocked, Patrick Kane collected a rebound in the high slot and fired a long-range backhand past Michael Hutchinson. The goal itself is a special highlight, but the fact it came 10 seconds after Kirby Dach‘s strike is equally impressive.

In the end, it doesn’t mean much but Kaapo Kakko converted a nifty to deke to keep the Rangers alive in a shootout they would eventually lose. The Finnish rookie also scored a power-play goal earlier in the game, but the shootout maneuver was a small glimpse at how much skill this talented forward will bring to the NHL.

Ever since coming into the league, Patrik Laine was compared to Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, largely because they had booming right-handed shots. On Sunday, Laine did his best impersonation when he launched a one-timer from Ovechkin’s power-play office. The accuracy of the shot was highlighted when it bounced out of the net as quick as it went in.

Factoids

  • Connor McDavid became the eighth player in NHL history to have reached the 400-point mark before their 23rd birthday [NHL PR].
  • Robin Lehner became the fourth different Chicago Blackhawks goalie to record at least 53 saves in a game since 1955-56 (when saves began officially being tracked [NHL PR].
  • Kirby Dach and Patrick Kane scored 10 seconds apart which marked the fifth time since 1989-90 the Blackhawks scored twice in a span of 10 seconds or less. [NHL PR].
  • The Devils extended their win streak against the Canucks to 11 games, the second longest run against one opponent in franchise history [NHL PR].
  • Phillippe Myers became the seventh different Flyers defenseman to record a three-game goal streak, and first since 1986-87 [NHL PR].

Notable injury update

  • The event happened Saturday night, but the Toronto Maple Leafs announced Sunday that forward Mitch Marner will miss at least the next four weeks, and then will be reassessed by the team’s medical staff. Read more

Scores

Panthers 2, Rangers 1 (SO)

Jets 3, Stars 2 (OT)

Devils 2, Canucks 1

Red Wings 3, Golden Knights 2

Blackhawks 5, Maplea Leafs 4

Flyers 3, Bruins 2 (SO)

Oilers 6, Canucks 2

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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 Morning Skate: Stan Bowman on hot seat; Five potential surprises in 2019-20

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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.

Sidney Crosby (foot) returned to Penguins practice on Tuesday. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)

• The drama surrounding the Maple Leafs captaincy is about to come to an end. (Leafs Nation)

• Offense will continue rising in the NHL, according to TSN’s Travis Yost.

• It’ll be an emotional return home for Jakub Voracek when the Flyers open the season in Prague. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

• The Devils hoped to become closer during their trip to Annapolis. (NJ.com)

• Wild defenseman Greg Pateryn underwent successful surgery. He’s expected to miss around six weeks. (NHL.com/Wild)

• NHL is trying to grow grassroots hockey in China. (Sports Illustrated)

David Backes skated with some 12-year-old figure skaters over the summer. (Bruins Daily)

• This new edition of the Edmonton Oilers is hoping to avoid the same old results. (Sportsnet)

• Here are five things the Florida Panthers will accomplish this season. (Panther Parkway)

• The evolution of the Canucks roster led to them waiving Sven Baertschi. (Vancourier)

• The Central Division will have a huge influence on the upcoming NHL season. (The Score)

• What are the realistic expectations for the Dallas Stars? (The Sporting News)

• Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is on the hot seat in Chicago. (Blackhawk up)

• Here are five potential surprises ahead of the 2019-20 season. (Featurd)

• Finally, Alex Steen and Colton Parayko surprised Laila with a very special gift this week:

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.