Hockey Day In America

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The Buzzer: Draisaitl carries Oilers again; Rinne shines for Predators

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Three Stars

1. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. If the Draisaitl MVP train wasn’t already rolling along, it certainly is now. He scored a goal, assisted on the overtime game-winner on Sunday, and had another three-point game for the Oilers as he opened up a 13-point lead in the NHL scoring race. He is now on a 132-point pace for the season and is showing that he can absolutely drive the Oilers offense without Connor McDavid next to him.

2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators. The goaltending has not always been there for the Predators this season. It was there for them on Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Rinne stopped 38 out of 39 shots for the Predators to help them climb to within a single point of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with still several games in hand. Improved play from Rinne down the stretch could be a season-changer for the Predators. Read more about the Predators’ win on Sunday right here.

3. Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins. He thought he had a hat trick in the Penguins’ 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, but his first goal was later awarded to Sam Lafferty. So he has to settle for a two-goal, three-point, plus-three day for the Penguins. He has not always looked his sharpest this season — he still brings the energy and physical play — but he is still on close to a 30-goal pace this season. With Sunday’s win the Penguins are now just one point behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division with still one game in hand. Read more about the Penguins’ win here.

Other notable performances from Sunday

  • Charlie McAvoy could not find the back of the net for the first few months of the season, and now he has three goals over his past few games. He opened the scoring in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Rangers on Sunday. Read more about the Bruins’ win right here.
  • On a day where the Devils traded away two key veterans (read about that here and here) Mackenzie Blackwood shined in net, turning aside 52 out of 55 shots in a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Highlights of the Day

The Anaheim Ducks are playing spoiler roll right now and handed the Vancouver Canucks a tough 5-1 loss on Sunday. It was highlighted by this play by Ryan Getzlaf to set up Derek Grant.

Turris scores the winner with just under three minutes to play in regulation.

Artem Anisimov helps the Ottawa Senators pull off the upset win over the Dallas Stars with an overtime goal.

Celebration of the day

Jack Eichel tells the Toronto fans in Buffalo to take a seat. The Sabres scored three goals in 1:31 (including one from Eichel) to get a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Kyle Okposo also scored a goal during that stretch to record his 500th career NHL point.

Factoids

  • Connor Hellebucyk stopped 31 shots to help the Winnipeg Jets get a huge win over the Chicago Blackhawks. It is his 25th win of the season, putting him in second place in the NHL. [NHL PR]
  • Rasmus Dahlin now has the second most points in NHL history for a defenseman before their 20th birthday. [Sabres PR]
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk‘s goal just 12 seconds into Saturday’s game is the third fastest goal to start a game in Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise history. [NHL PR]

Scores

Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Detroit Red Wings 1
Boston Bruins 3, New York Rangers 1
Edmonton Oilers 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3 (OT)
Anaheim Ducks 5, Vancouver Canucks 1
Nashville Predators 2, St. Louis Blues 1
Ottawa Senators 4, Dallas Stars 3 (OT)
New Jersey Devils 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3 (SO)
Buffalo Sabres 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Winnipeg Jets 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2

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.

Junior hockey team thriving in El Paso, Texas rodeo arena

NBC Sports celebrates Hockey Day in America this Sunday with an NHL tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.

Hockey has always had a way of bringing people together by transcending cultures, nations, and borders.

In the fall, NBC Sports visited a junior hockey team in El Paso, Texas to see the positive impact the El Paso Rhinos were making in their city following the tragic Walmart shooting in August.

In this new feature, NBC Sports spotlights how hockey took root – and now thrives – in this non-traditional market. And like many homegrown stories in Texas, this one starts in a barn.

Related: El Paso Rhinos on rallying community after tragedy

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.

Hockey player Charlie Capalbo back on ice after bone marrow transplant

NBC Sports celebrates Hockey Day in America this Sunday with an NHL tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.

Last year we shared the story of Charlie and Will Capalbo, goaltending brothers from Fairfield, Conn.

At the time, Charlie was in his second battle with cancer and this time was in need of a bone marrow transplant.

His brother, Will, turned out to be the match but there was no guarantee of success. Charlie is now in remission, and NBC Sports went with Charlie and his family for a bucket list trip to the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, and later to a local rink to see the brothers take the ice together, just like old times.

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.

Turris’ late goal lifts Predators to huge win over Blues

Do not write off the Nashville Predators just yet.

Thanks to a sensational 38-save effort from Pekka Rinne and a late third period goal from Kyle Turris they were able to collect a huge 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday evening to continue their climb for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

With Sunday’s win they now sit just one point back of the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes (currently the two Wild Card teams in the Western Conference) for a playoff spot while having multiple games in hand on both teams. They still have two games in hand on the Flames and three in hand on the Coyotes.

The win completes a home-and-home sweep for the Predators over the Blues, improves their record against them to 4-0 on the season, and gives them their first three-game winning streak since late October.

For as bad and disappointing as the Predators’ record has been this season this is still a potentially dangerous team if they get in the playoffs. Their 5-on-5 performance for the season has been as good as any team in the league. Special teams and goaltending has been their biggest undoing.

On Sunday, the goaltending was there for them in a big way.

It was also a huge goal for Turris as he tries to get back on track during what has been a wildly disappointing season for him individually. He’s been playing more under new coach John Hynes, but the production still has not quite returned to where he or the Predators want it. He has just nine goals on the season and only four in his past 29 games. Still, his goal on Sunday was is his second in as many days against the Blues and came at the perfect time to help his team in the playoff race.

Rinne does not have to be as consistently good as he was on Sunday, but if he — and Jusse Saros — can just give them a little bit more than they did in the first half of the season the Predators are going to be a real handful to deal with down the stretch and in the playoffs — provided they get there.

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.

Brothers from the Congo flourishing on the ice

NBC Sports celebrates Hockey Day in America this Sunday with an NHL tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.

Over 10 years ago Steve and Molly Seidl of Stillwater, Minnesota, adopted two brothers, Sawyer and Simon, from an orphanage in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the time, they were three and five years old, and after settling in their new home the two brothers began to play hockey, garnering attention with skills few would have anticipated.

While this hockey family has dealt with some unwelcome attention due to the color of Sawyer and Simon’s skin, that has not affected their passion and love for the game.

In fact, it has motivated them to push forward. The brothers hope to be an example for others, removing labels and barriers to allow everyone an opportunity to play.

Now 13 and 15 years old, they are dominating their age groups and playing in youth tournaments all over the world.

You can check out their story in the video above.

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.