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The Buzzer: Smith, Marchessault lead Shark slaughter; Connor helps Jets extend Central lead

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Three stars

1. Reilly Smith, Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights are unlikely to catch the Calgary Flames or the San Jose Sharks, but if the Sharks don’t surpass the Flames then both Vegas and San Jose are going to meet in the first round of the playoffs and the Smith and his squad fired the first shot on Monday with a four-point game in a 7-3 win.

Smith had a goal and three assists to help lead the Golden Knights to their third straight win. Smith has 16 points now in his past 12 games and has been on fire since early February.

2. Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights

See the above preamble, substitute Smith for Marchessault, and you have pretty much the same thing.

Marchessault notched his own four-point game in their win against San Jose, scoring twice and adding two assists. Marchessault now has four goals and two assists in his past two games.

The 28-year-old had one goal in 14 outings prior to his current little heater. He’s well off the 75-point pace he set last season, but if he’s heating up heading into the playoffs, watch out.

3. Kyle Connor Winnipeg Jets

When Connor is using his speed, he’s dangerous and he’s a bona fide playmaker.

So when he rushed down the left side of the ice, wrapped the puck around the net and fed it to Kevin Hayes to open the scoring, it was the 22-year-old’s speed that started it all off.

He’d then score a goal just 1:05 later in the game on the power play, using his diminutive frame as a net-front presence, jamming his 28th past Jack Campbell.

The Jets moved three points clear of the idle Nashville Predators and Winnipeg still has a game in hand on their Central Division foes.

Highlights of the night

Jumbo Joe still has it:

Can’t defend this:

Myers picks his corner:

So close…

Factoids

Patrick Kane hit 100 points for the second time in his NHL career on Monday.

Pettersson does it in the arena that he was drafted in:

Scores

Lightning 4, Coyotes 1
Canucks 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)
Jets 3, Kings 2
Golden Knights 7, Sharks 3


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

The Buzzer: Matthew Tkachuk gets first hat trick before Keith did

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Three Stars

1. Matthew Tkachuk

Matthew generated his first NHL hat trick at age 21 … and 89 days. His father, Keith Tkachuk, generated his first hat trick at age 21, but at 209 days. Getting to that mark sooner than Keith? That’s impressive stuff.

Tkachuk’s third goal was an empty-netter, but he also had an assist in Calgary’s 6-3 win against Vegas, so that’s an impressive four-point night overall. He now has 29 goals and 67 points in 69 games this season, lining himself up for a substantial second contract.

The Flames were so potent offensively, they deserve at least two of the top three spots. At least since no one else really produced on the same scale on Sunday.

As a bonus, there’s this remarkable photo from Getty Images, with also includes Brady Tkachuk, who’s basically unmistakable:

via Getty Images

2. Michael Frolik

As is often the case with the three stars, your preference likely comes down to what you weigh the heaviest. It seems too boring to just reward the entire “3M Line” with all three stars, really, so we’re going to need to make a distinction here.

Again, Mikael Backlund has a strong case. He scored two goals and one assist, with his helper being a primary assist. All of those points came before Tkachuk’s empty-netter.

One of Frolik’s four assists were on that empty-netter, but … four assists, everyone. That’s quite impressive.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Frolik, as this four-point outburst ended what was a six-game pointless streak. Frolik has been a healthy scratch this season, and has generally struggled to convince Bill Peters that he should maintain the 3M-edness of “The 3M Line.” Nights like Sunday argue that, maybe, Peters should take the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) approach here.

3. Pheonix Copley

No goalie generated a shutout on Sunday, but there were some nice performances nonetheless.

Both Jaroslav Halak and Matt Murray provided strong performances in an exciting Penguins win against the Bruins, with Murray stopping 39 out of 41 shots. It’s tempting to give Murray something of a “weekend achievement” award after he made some astounding stops on Saturday, too.

Yet, Copley gets the slight nod. Copley made 33 out of 34 saves to help the Capitals beat the Jets on Sunday. As sparsely used as Copley is, he’s now on a five-game winning streak.

Highlight of the Night

From the great Sidney Crosby pass to the fantastic goal by Jake Guentzel, the GWG from the Penguins – Bruins game gets the nod:

Factoids:

Scores

FLA 6 – DET 1
WSH 3 – WPG 1
PIT 4 – BOS 2
CGY 6 – VGK 3
LAK 3 – ANA 2

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.

Kings ride hot start to beat Ducks

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While a loss would have given the Los Angeles Kings a better chance to improve their draft lottery odds, it’s easier to tell a team to tank than to actually endure that tedium and humiliation. Especially when you’re facing a hated, local rival like the Anaheim Ducks.

The Kings broke a three-game losing streak and earned just their second win since Feb. 9 by beating the Ducks 3-2 on Sunday.

Los Angeles stormed out of the gate in this one, scoring all three of their goals during the first period. Dustin Brown and Kyle Clifford scored the first two Kings goals, but it was the eventual game-winner by Carl Grundstrom that feels the most significant.

Grundstrom, 21, now has a goal in each of his first two NHL games. He was a 2016 second-rounder (57th overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and became a part of the Kings’ organization thanks to the Jake Muzzin trade.

As much as Sunday’s game was about holdover names like Jonathan Quick (18 saves), Los Angeles’ rebuild is about successfully pulling off this rebuild, so seeing positive signs from Grundstrom seems like a victory in itself.

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.

WATCH LIVE: Kings at Ducks on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

No doubt about it, both the Ducks and Kings have seen prouder times.

Each team appears to be golf-course-bound once the 2018-19 regular season concludes, and some might argue that the true “winner” on Sunday will be the team that loses. After all, improving draft lottery odds might be a bigger deal than “playing for pride.”

But try telling that to players like Ryan Getzlaf and Anze Kopitar. For all we know, both the Kings and Ducks could look quite different once the 2019-20 season begins, so this is a chance to soak in these core groups as we know them.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks
Where: Honda Center
When: Sunday, March 10, 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Kings-Ducks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

KINGS

Alex Iafallo — Anze Kopitar — Dustin Brown

Brendan LeipsicJeff CarterIlya Kovalchuk

Carl Grundstrom — Adrian KempeTyler Toffoli

Kyle CliffordTrevor Lewis — Jonny Brodzinski

Derek ForbortDrew Doughty

Alec MartinezSean Walker

Dion PhaneufMatt Roy

Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick

DUCKS

Max Jones — Ryan Getzlaf — Daniel Sprong

Rickard RakellAdam HenriqueTroy Terry

Nick RitchieDevin ShoreJakob Silfverberg

Derek GrantCarter RowneyCorey Perry

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Jacob Larsson — Cam Fowler

Jaycob Megna — Korbinian Holzer

Starting goalie: John Gibson

Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Brian Hayward (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Anaheim.

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.

NHL on NBCSN: Anaheim looking to build off recent success vs. Kings

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Battle of the Bottom Feeders will feature the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.

The Kings sit dead last in the Western Conference while the Ducks come in at the 14th spot, one better than their Sunday night foes. Both teams have struggled mightily to score this year, too, with Anaheim dead last with 156 goals for and Los Angeles only three tallies better at 159.

Still, the Ducks haven’t packed it in yet. They’ve won three of their past four outings after losing five straight and came off a monster 8-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday for their highest single-game goal count of the season.

The Canadiens started Carey Price in that game and the Ducks saw that as bulletin board material.

“They saved [Price] for tonight, so we took that as a challenge,” Adam Henrique said after the game. “You never want to be the team that somebody thinks they can come into your building and win.”

Ryan Getzlaf will be featured on Star Sunday for the Ducks. His team’s struggles have been mirrored in his own play this season, with no goals in his past 10 games and just two in his past 29.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

For the Kings, any win will be a welcomed change as they come into Sunday losers of 13 of their past 14 (1-9-4), including six straight.

This will be the first season since 2003-04 that neither of these teams has made the playoffs and the Kings haven’t won a playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014. Los Angeles has missed the playoffs in two of the past four seasons.

The addition of 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed a 3-year, $18.75M contract in July ($6.25M AAV), hasn’t panned out as intended. The Russian has just 30 points in 57 games this season (14 goals, 16 assists). He has just one goal in his past eight games.

Drew Doughty will be the Kings’ representative on Star Sunday. He’s second in the NHL averaging 26:50 time on ice per game this season. His plus/minus rating has seen a whopping 53 point swing this season, going from plus-23 last year to minus-30 this season.

Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Brian Hayward (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Anaheim.


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