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The Buzzer: McDavid, Crawford should’ve given spoiler alerts

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Three Stars

1. Corey Crawford leads a group of spoiler goalies

Quite a few goalies made life miserable for teams in desperate situations, and Crawford topped the list. He generated an impressive (and, for the Canadiens, deeply annoying) 48-save shutout on Saturday, absolutely stealing a win for the Blackhawks. Even with Chicago now on a five-game winning streak, it would be surprising if we look back at that shutout as anything more than the Blackhawks spoiling a chance for Montreal to improve its playoff chances.

Again, that was in the air on Saturday.

Red Wings fans are likely reading through prospect rankings and wondering who will run the team in the future right now, but getting wins at this time of year? They might be rooting for the opposite, at least those who cross their fingers for higher draft lottery odds.

With that in mind, Jonathan Bernier wasn’t just a spoiler for the Islanders in making 41 out of 42 saves; he was, to an extent, a spoiler for his own team … depending upon how you look at things.

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington is doing the opposite of spoiling the Blues’ season, but he certainly robbed the Penguins often, making 40 of 41 saves. (Also of note: Anders Nilsson generated 35 saves as the Senators upset the Maple Leafs.)

2. Alex Killorn

It’s difficult to differentiate some strong three-point performances from Saturday, except one stands out as pretty tough to deny. Killorn generated a hat trick as the Lightning beat the Capitals in a testy game.

Killorn now has 16 goals in 2018-19, leaving him three behind his career-high of 19.

If you want to bring it back to playing spoiler again: the Lightning have basically everything locked up right now, so they messed up the Capitals’ chances of fattening their lead for the Metropolitan Division title.

3. Connor McDavid

Again, this is tough. Among other candidates, two Panthers (Evgenii Dadonov and Aleksander Barkov) enjoyed three-point games.

Like Dadonov, McDavid generated two goals and one assist for his three points (Barkov had thre assists).

McDavid gets the edge in some ways, and no, it’s not just that he’s Connor McDavid. For one thing, McDavid nabbed a game-winning goal with his overtime-winner. For another, McDavid scored this way for his other goal, generating arguably the highlight of the night:

So, slight advantage: number 97.

(Oh yeah, and the Oilers beat the Coyotes in OT, spoiling Arizona’s efforts to get a full two points.)

Highlight of the Night

Actually, I’m call it: that McDavid goal was the highlight of the night. So, with that, enjoy a bonus: the latest Hurricanes win celebration goes the “curling” route.

Question: does this mean they’re only getting more ingenious with their celes, or are they running out of ideas?

Factoids

  • McDavid now has multiple points in seven-consecutive games. Only two other Oilers have done that: Wayne Gretzky (15 times!) and Mark Messier (once). McDavid’s seven-game streak ties two other players for the longest run in 2018-19: Nikita Kucherov and Auston Matthews.
  • Connor Hellebuyck hits the 30-win mark once again. This makes for a nice feat for him, and quite the indictment on those who came before him, as he’s the only Thrashers/Jets goalie to post consecutive 30-win seasons.
  • Jordan Staal scored his 500th point, allowing him to join his brother Eric Staal on a select list of siblings:

Scores

STL 5 – PIT 1
DET 2 – NYI 1
FLA 4 – LAK 3
WIN 2 – CGY 1
BOS 2 – CBJ 1 (OT)
CHI 2 – MTL 0
OTT 6 – TOR 2
TBL 6 – WSH 3
CAR 4 – BUF 2
MIN 5 – NYR 2
EDM 3 – ARI 2 (OT)
NSH 4 – SJS 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.

Mike Hoffman just had to have banner mocking his ‘hours’ with Sharks

via Mike Hoffman on Twitter
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Every now and then, a player will “join” a team via a trade, only to never play a game with that team before being traded again.

It’s part of the process during three-team trades, whether they’re official or unofficial, so that was the case with Mike Hoffman and the San Jose Sharks. For a few hours, he was a “member” of the team after Sharks sent very little to the Ottawa Senators in a trade for Hoffman, only for the Sharks to flip Hoffman to the Florida Panthers.

You’d imagine that there’s no animosity on either side, as that trade allowed the Sharks to get out of Mikkel Boedker‘s problem contract.

For many, it was a mere transactional curiosity, something that would inspire a few “Oh yeah, that happened,” type responses.

Yet, for a group of Sharks fans, Hoffman’s “return” to San Jose provided an opportunity for trolling at such a level that even Hoffman approved. Teal City Crew, a “fan-driven supporter club of the Sharks” located in section 218, decided to create a banner honoring Hoffman’s mere hours with the Sharks.

It was very good, so good that Hoffman had to have it for himself.

Hoffman apparently had those fans invited to Panthers practice on Friday, so he could collect that “keepsake.”

As isolated and unusual as the situation is, it does bring some other recent events to mind.

Good-natured trolling: Sidney Crosby was so amused by the laser-precise heckling of a New York Rangers fan, that he made sure that fan received a customized, autographed stick.

Grief for banners: Perhaps the widespread mockery the Nashville Predators received for putting up banners for smaller accomplishments provided some inspiration, too?

[When should your team hang a banner?]

With any random scroll on social media, you face uncomfortably high odds of seeing something terrible. If you follow a lot of sports fans and figures, sometimes things go too far when a player has a tough game.

So, while these gestures seem minor, it’s pretty refreshing to see such friendly interactions between players and fans of rival teams.

Hot take: being nice is even more underrated than Mike Hoffman.

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 Draft Lottery to be held April 9

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The 2018-19 NHL regular season will come to a close in less than a month, and over the next few weeks the playoff hopes of many teams will fizzle out and their eyes will turn to the draft lottery in hopes of winning the chance to select either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko.

For the last four years, the draft lottery has taken place during the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL announced on Wednesday that it is going back to the old way and holding it the night before the opening round begins — April 9th.

The draft lottery will feature the 15 teams that did not make the playoffs. This year, if they find a way to get into the postseason, could also see the Colorado Avalanche take part as they hold the Ottawa Senators’ first-round pick this season.

Per the NHL, here’s how it will work:

The 2019 NHL Draft Lottery will consist of three drawings: the 1st Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting first overall, the 2nd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting second overall and the 3rd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting third overall.

The odds for the remaining teams will increase on a proportionate basis for the 2nd Lottery Draw, based on which club wins the 1st Lottery Draw, and again for the 3rd Lottery Draw, based on which club wins the 2nd Lottery Draw.

The 12 clubs not selected in the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery will be assigned 2019 NHL Draft selections 4 through 15, in inverse order of regular-season points.

From Thursday’s latest Playoff Push update, here’s how the race for Hughes/Kakko looks:

Senators – 18.5 percent*
Red Wings – 13.5 percent
Kings – 11.5 percent
Devils – 9.5 percent
Ducks – 8.5 percent
Canucks – 7.5 percent
Rangers – 6.5 percent
Oilers – 6 percent
Sabres – 5 percent
Blackhawks – 3.5 percent
Avalanche – 3 percent
Panthers – 2.5 percent
Wild – 2 percent
Flyers – 1.5 percent
Canadiens – 1 percent
(*OTT’s 2019 first-round pick owned by COL)

The Avalanche are currently three points behind the Wild for the last wild card spot in the Western Conference, so they could very well have two chances at one of the top picks this season if they miss. That should go over well in Ottawa.

The 2019 NHL Draft will take place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The first round will be held Friday, June 21. Rounds 2-7 will take place Saturday, June 22.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Niederreiter keeps scoring; Atkinson lifts Blue Jackets into wildcard spot

Associated Press
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Three stars

1. Nino Niederreiter, Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes were going to need a hell of a performance against the Nashville Predators to beat them a night after the Canes dropped an 8-1 decision against the Winnipeg Jets.

Playing the top two teams in the Central Division on consecutive days seems like an unfair lot in life, but the Hurricanes swept aside their embarrassing loss on Friday and putting together a fine display in a 5-3 win on Saturday, helping them stay in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Niederreiter led the way, scoring twice in the first period to declare Carolina’s intent. ‘El Nino’ has been lights out since he was traded to Raleigh from Minnesota. He has 11 goals and 10 assists in 22 games since the move.

2. Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets

With the Blue Jackets struggling recently, Atkinson used a four-letter word to explain that the team needed to screw it on straight and start winning again. After losing to the Penguins on Thursday, Columbus needed a bounceback to climb back into a playoff spot and they got just that, with Atkinson scoring twice in a 4-1 win as the Blue Jackets moved into the second and final wildcard in the Eastern Conference, level on points with the Montreal Canadiens (who lost on Saturday), who have an inferior number of ROWs.

3. Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche

The Avs needed this one, if only to lift their spirits after the loss of Gabriel Landeskog for the remainder of the regular season.

Grubauer stood tall, making the 18 saves required of him in a 3-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres. The win moved the Avalanche to within two points of the final wildcard in the Western Conference.

It’s a long shot, especially with their captain lost to injury, but Nathan MacKinnon picked up the slack in this one, putting up points on all three goals to make sure Grubauer had the run support.

Highlights of the night

One of two incredible paddles saves by Matt Murray in Pittsburgh’s loss:

Scott Hartnell ceremonial faceoffs are the best ceremonial faceoffs:

When you get knocked down, always get back up:

Dirty pass, filthy goal:

So close…

Factoids

Scores

Avalanche 3, Sabres 0
Sharks 3, Blues 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 3, Oilers 2
Bruins 3, Senators 2
Lightning 3, Red Wings 2
Flyers 5, Islanders 2
Rangers 4, Devils 2
Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 1
Coyotes 4, Kings 2
Hurricanes 5, Predators 3
Blackhawks 2, Stars 1
Golden Knights 6, Canucks 2


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: Hats off to Zucker, Radulov; Kuemper shines again for Coyotes

Three Stars

1. Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild. The Minnesota Wild just keep on winning. They dramatically improved their playoff chances on Thursday night with a 3-0 win over the NHL’s best team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, thanks to huge games from Jason Zucker and and starting goalie Devan Dubnyk. Zucker scored all three goals for the Wild who now find themselves three points up on a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It is an incredible run for a Wild team that has been ripped apart by trades and injuries over the past few weeks.

2. Alexander Radulov, Dallas Stars. This was a huge win for the Dallas Stars, not only because it was two points in the standings as they look to secure a playoff spot, but because it was two points in a head-to-head game with a team they are competing with for one of those spots. By defeating the Colorado Avalanche, 4-0, they now find themselves five points ahead of the Avalanche and four points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. Alexander Radulov had the big night in the Stars’ win with three goals to give him 20 on the season.

3. Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes. With Dallas and Minnesota both winning on Thursday night this was a game the Arizona Coyotes absolutely had to have to keep pace. They got it, and in rather impressive fashion, by beating the top team in the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames. Darcy Kuemper continued his incredible play by stopping all 30 shots he faced in a 2-0 win.

Highlights of the Night

The Boston Bruins scored two goals in 30 seconds to come from behind against the Florida Panthers.

Somehow the Edmonton Oilers are going to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in four years with Connor McDavid on their team.

The St. Louis Blues kept rolling with a win over the Los Angeles Kings, and it was Vladimir Tarasenko getting things going early.

Factoids

  • This was the second time in franchise history the Boston Bruins have erased a deficit in the final minute of a game then won in regulation. [NHL PR]
  • Patrick Kane passed Steve Larmer for fourth place on the Chicago Blackhawks’ all-time points list. [NHL PR]
  • Henrik Lundqvist appeared in his 850th game for the New York Rangers on Thursday night, which is a pretty big deal. [NHL PR]

Scores

Boston Bruins 4, Florida Panthers 3

Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 0

New York Islanders 4, Ottawa Senators 2

Detroit Red Wings 3, New York Rangers 2 (SO)

Minnesota Wild 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 0

Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres 4 (SO)

Dallas Stars 4, Colorado Avalanche 0

Edmonton Oilers 3, Vancouver Canucks 2

Arizona Coyotes 2, Calgary Flames 0

St. Louis Blues 4, Los Angeles Kings 0

San Jose Sharks 5, Montreal Canadiens 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.