NHL Morning Skate – Nov. 15, 2013

NEW YORK – Within a baseball game, it takes at least trip through the rotation before the batters get a handle on the pitcher’s “stuff”.  The same may be said of hockey as well.  And the Colorado Avalanche are showing their “stuff” to the rest of the league as the schedule reaches the quarter pole.  On Thursday night, the Blues seem to have the Avs’ number and read on their stff as they routed Colorado, 7-3.  He team effort pleased St Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock.NHL

“I think we learned that the plan against them works, but what they’re good at we need to work on, and what we’re good at they need to work on,” Hitchcock said. “There wasn’t much play in the neutral zone. There was a ton of play in each zone. Both teams, with the way they play in the offensive zone, gave each other trouble. So we’ve got some things moving forward that we need to get better at, and I’m sure they do to.”

Similarly, the Ducks were shot down Thursday by the “hobbled” Lightning.  Without Steven Stamkos, the Bolts continue to roll and dominate the western conference.  Victor Hedman, who scored the final goal for the Lightning, impressed his head coach.

“He’s a pretty confident kid right now,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “He’s making plays everywhere on the ice that only a select few players can make. When teams are expecting one thing, he has the ability to do something else, and that has really helped his game. It probably didn’t hurt that the general manager and coach of the Finnish Olympic team was in the stands tonight. That probably was some added incentive for him.”
THURSDAY’S RESULTS
Boston 3, Columbus 2 (OT)
Los Angeles 3, NY Islanders 2
Tampa Bay 5, Anaheim 1
Chicago 5, Phoenix 4 (SO)
St. Louis 7, Colorado 3
Dallas 7, Calgary 3
San Jose 2, Vancouver 1 (OT)

BENN, SEGUIN DOUSE FLAMES
Jamie Benn (1-5—6) posted a career-high six points, including assists on all four of Tyler Seguin’s goals (4-1—5), to help the Stars improve to 5-1-0 in their last six games. Benn is the first NHL player to register six or more points in a game since Feb. 2, 2012, when Edmonton’s Sam Gagner totaled 4-4—8 in an 8-4 victory over Chicago. He also is the first player to record six or more points in a road game since March 7, 2009, when Carolina’s Eric Staal posted 4-2—6 in a 9-3 win at Tampa Bay.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Benn is the first Stars player to register six or more points in a game since Feb. 1, 1995, when Mike Modano totaled 2-4—6 in a 9-2 victory over the Mighty Ducks.

* Seguin recorded his second career hat trick (also Nov. 5, 2011) and first career four-goal game. He had never compiled more than three points in a game.

* Seguin is the first Stars player to score four goals in a game since Nov. 16, 2007, when Jussi Jokinen did so in a 6-1 win over the Avalanche. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he also is the first Stars player to post four goals in a road game since Dec. 11, 1985, when Brian Bellows accomplished that feat in a 10-2 victory over the Red Wings.

* Benn (7-15—22) and Seguin (12-10—22) each have 22 points in 19 games this season, tied for fifth in the NHL.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Benn and Seguin are the fourth set of teammates in Stars/North Stars history to record five or more points in the same game, but the first to do so on the road.

PLAYERS WITH 5+ POINTS IN SAME GAME, STARS/NORTH STARS HISTORY
Nov. 11, 1981 vs. Winnipeg: Bobby Smith (7), Dino Ciccarelli (5)
Nov. 2, 1983 vs. Toronto: Tom McCarthy (5), Dino Ciccarelli (5)
April 12, 1994 vs. St. Louis: Dave Gagner (6), Paul Cavallini (5)
Nov. 14, 2013 at Calgary: Jamie Benn (6), Tyler Seguin (5)

LIGHTNING OWN THE WEST
Valtteri Filppula (2-1—3) and Martin St. Louis (1-2—3) each recorded three points to help the Lightning defeat the first-place Ducks and improve to 7-0-0 versus the Western Conference. Ben Bishop made 24 saves for his League-leading 13th win of the season. He also ranks in the top 10 in the NHL in goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.932).

The Lightning (14-5-0) have won nine of their past 11 games, including six of their last seven, to move into first place in the Eastern Conference. Their 28 points are the franchise’s most through the first 19 games of a season, surpassing the previous mark of 27 (11-3-4-1) set in 2003-04 en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

OSHIE, STEEN POWER BLUES
Alexander Steen scored his League-leading 15th and 16th goals of the season and T.J. Oshie (0-4—4) recorded his first career four-point game to lead the Blues to a 7-3 victory over the Avalanche. St. Louis improved to 12-2-3, setting a franchise record for the most wins through the first 17 games of a season.

* Steen (16-8—24) moved into a tie with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (9-15—24) for the most points in the League. He also stretched his point streak to 12 games (12-4—16), matching the longest such streak in the NHL this season (also Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin: 3-11—14, Oct. 12-Nov. 5) and becoming the first Blues player to record points in 12 consecutive games since Keith Tkachuk in 2002-03.

* Oshie is the first Blues player to collect four assists in a game since Feb. 17, 2008, when Eric Brewer did so in a 5-1 triumph over the Blue Jackets.

* With the victory, head coach Ken Hitchcock (617-384-174) moved into a tie for ninth on the NHL’s all-time wins list with Jacques Lemaire (617-458-187). He now sits three wins shy of Bryan Murray (620-465-154) for eighth all-time.

BLACKHAWKS COME BACK VERSUS COYOTES . . .
Brandon Pirri scored the tying goal early in the third period and netted the winner in the fourth round of the shootout to help the Blackhawks improve 7-0-1 in their last eight games, including four straight wins. Pirri, a 22-year-old rookie, has 4-4—8 in 14 games this season.

The Blackhawks won despite 48 saves from Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, his fourth 40-plus save performance this season. Smith leads all netminders in saves (557), shots against (607), games played (18) and minutes (1,046:36).

. . . THEN RE-ACQUIRE VERSTEEG
Following the game, the Blackhawks announced that they have acquired forwards Kris Versteeg and Philippe Lefebvre from the Panthers in exchange for forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen. Versteeg, a member of Chicago’s 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team, re-joins the Blackhawks after compiling 44-57—101 in 170 regular-season games with the club from 2007-10.

LUCIC HELPS BRUINS CAP HOMESTAND
Milan Lucic scored with 48.6 seconds remaining in overtime to help the Bruins close their five-game homestand with nine out of a possible 10 points (4-0-1). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the goal was the first regular-season overtime point of Lucic’s 423-game NHL career. Entering play on Thursday, his 253 career points were the third-most among active players who had never recorded an overtime point, trailing only Ottawa’s Milan Michalek (173-192—365) and NY Rangers’ Taylor Pyatt (136-140—276).

The Bruins improved to 9-3-2 all-time versus the Blue Jackets, including five consecutive victories. Boston went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and has denied 26 consecutive power-play opportunities against over its past eight games after allowing five straight man-advantage goals Oct. 26-30.

RALLYING POINT
The Kings and Sharks both overcame third-period deficits to earn wins on Thursday:

* Los Angeles scored three third-period goals to overcome a two-goal deficit, capped by Tyler Toffoli’s game-winner with 1:27 remaining in regulation. Toffoli has 3-4—7, including two game-winning goals, during a five-game point streak since being recalled from the team’s AHL affiliate in Manchester.

* Tomas Hertl scored the tying goal with 1:05 left in the third period and Dan Boyle netted the winner at 2:38 of overtime to help the Sharks complete their season series versus the Canucks with a 3-1-0 record. Hertl leads all rookies with 11 goals and 17 points in 19 games.

STREAKING
* Sharks forward Joe Thornton recorded an assist to extend his point streak to six games (1-6—7).

* Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane posted two helpers to push his point streak to five games (3-5—8).

* Coyotes captain Shane Doan registered 1-1—2 to extend his point streak to five games (5-2—7).

* Avalanche forward Paul Stastny recorded an assist to stretch his point streak to five games (3-2—5).

* Bruins defenseman Torey Krug collected an assist to extend his point streak to five games (2-3—5).

PROGRAMMING NOTE
The 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series matchup between the Blackhawks and Penguins from Soldier Field in Chicago will now air on NBC at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 1. The game was originally scheduled to air on NBCSN. This marks the first time since NBC re-acquired NHL rights in 2006 that a regular-season game has been scheduled for primetime on NBC. The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic aired in primetime because weather prevented the game from being played at its regularly-scheduled time in the afternoon.

Following is NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series (all times ET):

Jan. 25, 2014: Ducks vs. Kings @ Dodger Stadium, 10:00 p.m., NBCSN
Jan. 26, 2014: Rangers vs. Devils @ Yankee Stadium, 1:00 p.m., NBC
Jan. 29, 2014: Rangers vs. Islanders @ Yankee Stadium, 7:00 p.m., NBCSN
March 1, 2014: Blackhawks vs. Penguins @Soldier Field, 8:00 p.m., NBC

LOOSE PUCKS
Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman played in his 600th NHL game, while teammate Tim Jackman skated in his 400th career contest . . . Blue Jackets forward Mark Letestu played in his 200th NHL game four years to the day of making his League debut, also against the Bruins . . . Kings forward Matt Frattin appeared in his 100th career game . . . Islanders defenseman Aaron Ness recorded his first NHL goal/point . . . NHL Central Scouting released its list of players to watch . . . The Department of Player Safety suspended Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri for three games, without pay, for interference with Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

SNEAK PEEK AT FRIDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Toronto @ Buffalo, 7:00 p.m., SNET-O, MSG-B, BELL TV
Los Angeles @ New Jersey, 7:00 p.m., FS-W, MSG PLUS
Nashville @ Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m., SPSO, ROOT
Anaheim @ Carolina, 7:00 p.m., PRIME, FS-CR
Montreal @ Columbus, 7:00 p.m., RDS, FS-O
Boston @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m., NESN, SNET-E, TVA
Washington @ Detroit, 7:30 p.m., NHLN-US, CSN-DC, FS-D
Florida @ Minnesota, 8:00 p.m., FS-F, FS-N, FS-WI
Philadelphia @ Winnipeg, 8:00 p.m., TCN-PH, TSN-JETS
San Jose @ Edmonton, 10:00 p.m., TSN, CSN-CA

2012 STANLEY CUP FINALISTS RENEW ACQUAINTANCES
The Kings visit the Devils in the teams’ first meeting since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, which Los Angeles won in six games. The Kings have not played a regular-season game in New Jersey since Oct. 13, 2011, a 2-1 shootout victory by the Devils. Los Angeles, however, is 3-1-1 in the teams’ past five regular-season contests and 2-0-1 in its last three trips to New Jersey.

The Devils are 6-3-2 in their last 11 games overall, including points in four straight (3-0-1), following a 0-4-3 start to the season. The Kings also have points in four consecutive contests (3-0-1) and are 5-3-1 on the road this season.

NOLAN RETURNS BEHIND BUFFALO BENCH
In the first game of a home-and-home series versus rival Toronto, Ted Nolan returns behind the Buffalo bench for the first time since being named the team’s interim coach on Wednesday. Nolan originally coached the Sabres from 1995-97, compiling a 73-72-19 regular-season record over two seasons.

 

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