Email List

Watch KFDM Newscasts LiveTraffic Pay It ForwardRecipesWedding ContestAround the Web
National Hockey League

 
      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                             Thursday, December 18
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 FLORIDA PANTHERS (13-8-8) AT PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (11-14-5), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers needed to go an NHL-record 20
 rounds to pick up a shootout victory the last time out and they'll try to
 carry some momentum from that exciting victory into Thursday's tilt in
 Philadelphia.
 
 The Panthers beat the visiting Washington Capitals by a 2-1 count on Tuesday.
 The game featured a total of two goals through 65 minutes, but the clubs
 combined to hit the net 11 times in the shootout phase. Both teams went
 through their entire lineup once, with the Capitals grabbing the lead five
 times only to see Florida answer on its last shot.
 
 Nick Bjugstad eventually won the contest for Florida in the 20th round after
 Washington star Alex Ovechkin missed the net on the previous attempt. Bjugstad
 got Braden Holtby to bite on a backhand deke before burying a wrister into the
 right corner of the net.
 
 Tuesday's epic battle surpassed the previous shootout record of 15 rounds
 between the New York Rangers and Washington on Nov. 26, 2005, which the
 Rangers won.
 
 Derek MacKenzie scored in the first period and Roberto Luongo stopped 23 shots
 for the Panthers through regulation and OT.
 
 "I don't know how many times guys scored to bail me out and keep me alive, but
 they did it," said Luongo. "Probably half of those goals I was beat, but the
 guys either hit the post or missed the net, so I'll take it."
 
 Florida follows up the thrilling win with a two-game tour of Pennsylvania.
 After visiting the Flyers tonight, the Panthers will head west across the
 Keystone State for Saturday's test in Pittsburgh.
 
 The Panthers, who are 6-4-6 as the road team, will then end December on a
 four-game homestand. The residency begins Monday against the Penguins in the
 finale of a home-and-home series.
 
 Philadelphia, meanwhile, is hoping to end its four-game homestand with a win
 tonight. The Flyers are 2-1-0 during the stay at Wells Fargo Center and will
 head out on an eight-game road trip following Thursday's test.
 
 The Flyers won the first two tests on the homestand before dropping Tuesday's
 3-1 decision against Tampa Bay. Philadelphia was only able to get one puck
 past Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 23 shots to earn the win in his NHL
 debut.
 
 Wayne Simmonds scored the only goal in the loss, posting a power-play goal
 late in the opening period.
 
 Steven Stamkos tied the game for Tampa early in the second period and Tyler
 Johnson delivered the eventual game-winner later in the period. Valtteri
 Filppula added an empty-netter in the final minute of regulation to seal the
 win.
 
 "They're always sound defensively. They have a lot of players on that team
 that can skate well," Simmonds said of the Lightning. "They check well in the
 defensive zone. It was a tight game. We've just got to find a way to get on
 the other side of one-goal games like that."
 
 Steve Mason made 20 stops in a losing effort for the Flyers, who fell to 8-5-2
 as the home team this season. Philadelphia is just 3-9-3 on the road, where
 the club will find itself for over two weeks after tonight.
 
 The Flyers and Panthers have split two meetings this season -- with each team
 winning on home ice -- and the clubs will complete the season series tonight.
 Philadelphia has claimed three of five overall and has taken the last two
 encounters in the City of Brotherly Love.
 
 Mason owns a 7-2-0 record and 1.55 goals against average in nine career
 outings against Florida. Luongo is 6-8-2 with a 3.12 GAA in 18 lifetime
 appearances versus the Flyers.
 
 COLORADO AVALANCHE (10-13-7) AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (20-6-4), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins have gained five out of a
 possible six points without Sidney Crosby in the lineup the last three games,
 but they still hope to have their captain back Thursday when they host the
 Colorado Avalanche at Consol Energy Center.
 
 Crosby has sat out the last three games with a case of the mumps, but he was
 back skating Wednesday morning and could be ready to go in tonight's clash
 with the Avalanche. He expects to be a game-time decision for Thursday's tilt.
 
 "Not having skated for several days, that's more of our concern then obviously
 his time of having the mumps, because the mumps virus is basically cleared for
 him," said Penguins head coach Mike Johnston.
 
 Crosby has 35 points this season on nine goals and 26 assists.
 
 Pittsburgh has gone 2-0-1 without the star forward in the lineup recently. The
 Pens opened a three-game homestand with a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay in their last
 trip to the ice on Monday.
 
 The Penguins picked up their fifth win in eight games on Monday, as four
 different players tallied in the victory over the Lightning. Brandon Sutter,
 Bryan Rust, Steve Downie and Brian Dumoulin each tallied as Pittsburgh
 improved to 5-1-2 over its last eight outings.
 
 Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves in the win, but Pittsburgh's No. 1 goaltender
 may not be able to go tonight. Fleury missed Wednesday's practice with an
 illness and was being tested for the mumps. His test came back negative and
 Fleury was cleared for this morning's practice and tonight's game.
 
 Backup goaltender Thomas Greiss is now being tested for mumps and has been
 isolated from the team. The Pens did recall goaltender Jeff Zatkoff on
 Wednesday when Fleury's status was in doubt.
 
 Pittsburgh is also still awaiting results on mump tests for Robert Bortuzzo
 and Olli Maatta. But both players were already sidelined due to injury.
 
 Colorado will aim for only its second win of the month when it visits the
 Steel City tonight. The Avs have dropped five of six games in December and
 ended a three-game homestand with a 1-1-1 record after falling in overtime to
 the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
 
 T.J. Oshie scored 63 seconds into extra session to give the Blues a 3-2 win at
 the Pepsi Center.
 
 Erik Johnson scored twice and Calvin Pickard stopped 39 shots for Colorado,
 which was coming off a shootout win against Winnipeg.
 
 "They are a big team that goes to the net hard," Pickard said. "Our (defense)
 blocked them out very well."
 
 The Avs had four days of rest before tonight's game and Pickard could use the
 extra time off, as head coach Patrick Roy has tabbed the youngster to start
 all three games on Colorado's upcoming three-game road trip.
 
 Pickard has beaten Reto Berra for playing time while regular No. 1 Semyon
 Varlamov is sidelined with a nagging groin injury. The 22-year-old is boasting
 a 2.42 GAA and .927 save percentage in 10 games as a rookie and Thursday's
 test will mark his fourth straight start.
 
 Colorado's road trip will end this weekend with stops in Buffalo and Detroit
 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
 
 The Avs have lost five of their last six meetings with Pittsburgh, but were
 able to halt a three-game slide in the Steel City when they notched a 1-0 win
 on Oct. 21 of last season.
 
 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (19-9-3) AT CAROLINA HURRICANES (8-19-3), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The sizzling Toronto Maple Leafs take aim at a seventh
 straight victory when they visit the lowly Carolina Hurricanes for Thursday's
 encounter at PNC Arena.
 
 Toronto is on a six-game winning streak and Randy Carlyle's team also boasts a
 10-1-1 record over its last 12 outings. The surge has propelled the Maple
 Leafs into a playoff position in the Eastern Conference, where they currently
 are holding onto the first of two wild card spots.
 
 The club's latest victory was perhaps the most impressive one of the current
 winning streak, as Toronto slammed the visiting Anaheim Ducks by a 6-2 score
 on Tuesday. The Ducks lead the NHL in points and the club entered the contest
 on a seven-game winning streak of its own.
 
 James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel each had one goal and an
 assist to lead the rout. Joffrey Lupul, David Booth and Nazem Kadri also lit
 the lamp for the Maple Leafs and Jonathan Bernier stopped 40-of-42 shots for
 the win.
 
 The lopsided loss tied Anaheim's worst margin of defeat this season. The Ducks
 also lost a 6-2 decision to the Florida Panthers on Nov. 16.
 
 However, despite dominating the Ducks on the scoreboard, the Maple Leafs were
 outshot by a 42-27 margin in the contest.
 
 "(Bernier) was the main reason we had a chance to win the game," Carlyle said
 afterwards.
 
 Toronto is on its longest winning streak since another six-game run from Jan.
 12-21 of last season. That streak ended with a 7-1 loss in Dallas on Jan. 23.
 
 The Maple Leafs haven't won seven in a row since an eight-game winning streak
 from Nov. 22-Dec. 6, 2003.
 
 Toronto will play eight of its next nine games on the road, where it is 5-2-3
 this season compared to a 14-7-0 mark at home. The Leafs will host
 Philadelphia in its next game on Saturday before heading out on a seven-game
 swing.
 
 While the Leafs are aiming for their seventh straight win tonight, the
 Hurricanes will try to do the opposite. Carolina has lost six in a row -- all
 in regulation -- and carries a 4-13-1 mark over its last 18 games into
 tonight's contest.
 
 The Hurricanes, who are last in the NHL this season with 19 points, dropped a
 4-1 decision Tuesday in Montreal. It marked Carolina's sixth straight game
 with one goal, as the club has been outscored by a combined 18-6 score during
 this slide.
 
 Carolina surrendered a hat trick to Alex Galchenyuk on Tuesday, while Victor
 Rask supplied his team's only goal. Cam Ward gave up all four goals on 29
 shots in the setback.
 
 "You have to believe that you are going to score," Hurricanes head coach Bill
 Peters said. "We have to quit gripping the stick as tight as we are and shoot
 to score when you go to the net."
 
 Jiri Tlusty, who has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, is
 questionable for tonight's test. The forward is leading Carolina with 10 goals
 this season.
 
 Tonight's test marks the first of three scheduled meetings this season between
 Carolina and Toronto. The Hurricanes have won six of the last eight encounters
 overall and the Leafs have dropped four straight and six of seven at PNC
 Arena.
 
 Bernier could get the call again for Toronto and owns a 2-2-0 record and a
 2.53 goals against average in his career against Carolina. Backup James Reimer
 is 4-2-1 with a lifetime 2.69 GAA in his matchup.
 
 Ward is 15-8-3 with a 2.75 GAA versus the Leafs, and backup Anton Khudobin is
 2-1-0 with a 2.23 GAA for his career in this series.
 
 WASHINGTON CAPITALS (14-10-6) AT COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (13-15-2), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - After losing the longest shootout in NHL history, the
 Washington Capitals hope to rebound with a road win Thursday against the
 red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets.
 
 Washington dropped a 2-1 decision against the Panthers on Thursday, losing
 after an epic 20-round shootout battle. Despite the loss -- the Capitals'
 second in three outings -- Washington was able to extend its point streak to
 six games (4-0-2).
 
 Tuesday's game featured a total of two goals through 65 minutes, but the clubs
 combined to hit the net 11 times in the shootout phase. Both teams went
 through their entire lineup once, with the Capitals grabbing the lead five
 times only to see Florida answer on its last shot every time.
 
 Nick Bjugstad eventually won the contest for Florida in the 20th round after
 Washington star Alex Ovechkin missed the net on the previous attempt. Earlier
 Ovechkin had scored the first goal of the shootout when he beat Roberto Luongo
 to start the fourth round.
 
 Bjugstad got Braden Holtby to bite on a backhand deke before burying a wrister
 into the right corner of the net.
 
 Tuesday's epic battle surpassed the previous shootout record of 15 rounds
 between the New York Rangers and Washington on Nov. 26, 2005, which the
 Capitals also lost.
 
 "At first you just want to get the victory, but when it went to 16, 17 rounds
 you just started to enjoy it," said Washington head coach Barry Trotz. "You
 were just living in the moment and hoped that you would get the two points.
 Unfortunately we didn't."
 
 The wild shootout affair marked the start of a three-game road trip for the
 Capitals, who fell to 8-5-2 as the guest. Tuesday's tilt also began a road-
 heavy stretch that will have Washington closing the month with six of seven
 games away from D.C.
 
 The Caps will try to cool off the sizzling Blue Jackets tonight after Columbus
 earned its seventh straight win with Tuesday's 1-0 shootout victory in
 Detroit.
 
 Columbus entered December with a 6-15-2 record, but is a perfect 7-0 this
 month and is now only seven points out of a playoff spot in the East. The Blue
 Jackets are six behind Washington in the conference's wild card standings.
 
 The Caps and Jackets have split two meetings this season, with Columbus taking
 the most recent encounter in a 3-2 shootout win last Thursday at the Verizon
 Center. Nick Foligno provided the OT winner for the Blue Jackets with a power-
 play goal, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves for the victory.
 
 Last week's triumph was Columbus' third in the last four meetings against the
 Capitals. Washington also has lost two straight at Nationwide Arena, where
 Columbus is 6-8-1 this season. The Blue Jackets are beginning a five-game
 homestand tonight and won't play a road game until visiting Arizona on Jan. 3.
 
 The Blue Jackets have needed to go past regulation five times during their
 current winning streak, and Thursday's win in the Motor City was their fourth
 consecutive time going beyond the third period.
 
 Bobrovsky, who has won every game on the current winning streak, made 30 saves
 through 65 minutes and added another stop in the shootout to record the
 victory over Detroit. The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner has allowed just 12 goals
 on 242 shots this month for a sterling .950 save percentage in December.
 
 Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner beat Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in the
 shootout and Bobrovsky had no trouble putting his pads on a weak shot by
 Henrik Zetterberg to give Columbus another win.
 
 Pavel Datsyuk was the only player to beat Bobrovsky all night, fooling his
 fellow Russian with a backhand to open the shootout. Gustav Nyquist fired
 Detroit's other shot off the post.
 
 Bobrovsky notched his first shutout of the season, and 10th of his career.
 
 "Bob was good," said Jackets head coach Todd Richards. "But I'll tell you
 what, the 18 guys that were skating in front of him were good tonight, too.
 (Detroit's) a good hockey team, and when you get a shutout like that, it's a
 total team effort."
 
 Bobrovsky is 4-1-2 with a 2.81 goals against average in eight career games
 against Washington. Holtby is expected to face him and is 3-1-1 with a 2.79
 GAA in this matchup.
 
 ANAHEIM DUCKS (21-7-5) AT MONTREAL CANADIENS (20-10-2), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks had a sizeable winning streak halted
 last time out and would love to do the same to the hosting Montreal Canadiens
 on Thursday night at Bell Centre.
 
 However, the Habs come in with a streaking offense and could get another
 emotional lift when longtime captain Saku Koivu is honored following the end
 of his 18-year career.
 
 Montreal returned home last week following a 1-3-0 road trip, but has won the
 first three of a five-game homestand, scoring 13 goals over that span while
 allowing just four.
 
 The Canadiens are on their longest winning streak since a season-high six-game
 run from Nov. 5-16, but they lost seven of 10 after that before starting their
 current homestand.
 
 Montreal extended its win streak with Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the Carolina
 Hurricanes, with Alex Galchenyuk posting his first career hat trick. Max
 Pacioretty picked up an assist on each goal as well.
 
 "It feels great. My linemates made it easy for me. I had a lot of fun out
 there tonight," Galchenyuk said. "We had good chemistry tonight."
 
 Brandon Prust added a goal and Carey Price made 25 saves.
 
 The Canadiens will try to keep their impressive offensive run going in front
 of Koivu, who spent the first 13 seasons of his NHL career with Montreal. He
 spent the bulk of that time as the club's captain and totaled 191 goals and
 450 assists in 792 games with the Habs, a time that included a courageous
 fight with non-Hodkin's lymphoma in 2001-02.
 
 Koivu then spent his final five NHL seasons with the Ducks before retiring in
 September. He ended his career with 832 points in 1,124 games.
 
 In an attempt to cool off the Canadiens, the Ducks themselves will be aiming
 to rebound after having a seven-game win streak halted with a 6-2 loss to the
 Toronto Maple Leafs, who scored four third-period goals.
 
 Sami Vatanen and Ryan Kesler scored for the Ducks.
 
 "I don't think we deserved to lose by that much," said Ducks forward Andrew
 Cogliano. "I thought we had most of the play. We gave them easy goals at the
 end of the game, but we held most of the play."
 
 Frederik Andersen made his 19th straight start and allowed four goals on 20
 shots before being pulled in the third period. Ilya Bryzgalov turned aside 5-
 of-7 shots in relief, making his first appearance of the season and beginning
 his second tenure with the club.
 
 It is unknown if Andersen will continue his streak of starts with a first-
 career appearance versus the Canadiens tonight or if Bryzgalov will make his
 first start of the campaign. Bryzgalov is 3-3-1 with a 3.15 goals against
 average and .876 save percentage in seven career meetings with the Habs.
 Bryzgalov: 3-3-1 with a 3.15 GAA and .876 save in seven vs Habs
 
 Price is 1-2-1 in five career games versus the Ducks, with four starts,
 posting a 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage.
 
 Anaheim plays the fourth of a five-game road trip that ends on Friday in
 Ottawa and won't have forward Kyle Palmieri for the rest of the trip because
 of a shoulder injury suffered versus the Leafs.
 
 The Ducks recalled young forward Emerson Etem, a 2010 first round pick, from
 the minors and he skated with Kesler and Matt Beleskey at practice. Etem has
 two goals and four points in 21 games with Anaheim this season.
 
 Anaheim lost both of its games versus Montreal last season, with a setback on
 Oct. 24, 2013 snapping a three-game win streak at Bell Centre.
 
 ST. LOUIS BLUES (21-8-2) AT LOS ANGELES KINGS (15-11-6), 10:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues will see what kind of encore
 Vladimir Tarasenko has in store on Thursday night when they go for a sweep of
 a home-and-home series with the Los Angeles Kings.
 
 Tarasenko netted his second career hat trick in Tuesday's 5-2 victory over the
 Kings in St. Louis. He added an assist to give him six goals and four assists
 over a six-game point streak while extending St. Louis' winning streak to five
 straight games.
 
 The 23-year-old's first hat trick came at Dallas on Oct. 28 of this season and
 Tarasenko is now tied for second in the NHL with 20 goals and tied for fourth
 with 36 points.
 
 "The fans were unbelievable," said Tarasenko. "It was really nice to get my
 first hat trick here at Scottrade."
 
 Alexander Steen added a goal on six shots and Jaden Schwartz finished with a
 goal and an assist, but was lost to a bruised right foot that landed him on
 injured reserve Wednesday.
 
 Schwartz is considered week-to-week with the ailment and the Blues recalled
 forward Dmitrij Jaskin from the minors to replace him on the roster.
 
 St. Louis also was without forward T.J. Oshie on Tuesday as he missed the game
 due to family reasons, but he was expected to travel to Los Angeles.
 
 The Blues are on their second-longest winning streak of the season, behind
 only a seven-game run from Oct. 25-Nov. 6, and beat the Kings for only the
 third time in the last 12 regular-season meetings (3-7-2).
 
 They are 0-3-2 in their past five trips to L.A.
 
 Jake Allen made 21 saves in Tuesday's win and Martin Brodeur is expected to
 get the start in net tonight for the Blues. It will be his third start of the
 season and Brodeur is 8-6-1 lifetime versus the Kings with a 2.13 goals
 against average and .918 save percentage.
 
 For the Kings, they went 1-3-1 on a five-game road trip despite two goals from
 Marian Gaborik that gave his club an early 2-0 lead. But Jonathan Quick gave
 up four goals on 22 shots faced as Los Angeles fell to 12-1-1 when leading
 after two periods.
 
 "We have to be better in the third period," Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin said
 of the Blues' four-goal frame.
 
 Production from Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar would help. Carter has not scored
 a goal in 13 straight games, while Kopitar has just one in his last 14
 contests.
 
 Quick, meanwhile, fell to 7-9-1 in his career versus the Blues with a 2.23 GAA
 and .920 save percentage. He has shut them out three times in the 17 meetings,
 with 16 starts.
 
 The good news for the Kings is they will play four straight and 11 of their
 next 14 at home, where they are 11-4-1 this season compared to 4-7-5 on the
 road.
 
 EDMONTON OILERS (7-19-6) AT SAN JOSE SHARKS (17-11-4), 10:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Craig MacTavish and Todd Nelson got a closer look on
 Tuesday just how rough of a season it has been for the Edmonton Oilers.
 
 The Oilers look to rebound from yet another heart-breaking loss and avoid a
 sixth setback in a row on Thursday night as they visit the San Jose Sharks.
 
 Edmonton hit the ice on Tuesday to take on the hosting Arizona Coyotes just
 one day after the club fired Dallas Eakins as its head coach. MacTavish, the
 general manager, joined Nelson on the bench and will help coach for the near
 future until Nelson is comfortable enough to take the role of interim coach on
 his own.
 
 He may need some additional time after watching the Oilers lose a 2-1 overtime
 decision to the Coyotes when Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored
 with just 0.3 seconds left in the extra frame.
 
 With time winding down, Martin Erat skated the puck into the Edmonton zone and
 dished it to his right for Sam Gagner, who then fired the puck over to the
 left wing where a skating Ekman-Larsson blasted a shot into the right corner
 of the net just before the final buzzer.
 
 "Heartbreaker. It was five seconds, the play was on the wall near our bench
 then all of a sudden they have a rush and Larsson makes a great shot," said
 Nelson.
 
 "It was a dead play on the wall. Then the puck squirted loose and they were
 able to get one last rush off it. We had a bit of duplication on the coverage
 and Larsson was open."
 
 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the only goal of the game for the Oilers, who have
 dropped 16 of their past 17 (1-11-5).
 
 "When you give a guy like Ekman-Larsson a shot like that, he's not going to
 miss too often," said Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens, who finished with a
 season-high 42 saves.
 
 Edmonton may have forward Boyd Gordon back in the lineup tonight. He has
 missed the last five games with a sore back, but has been practicing the past
 few days.
 
 The Oilers will need all the help they can get given that the Sharks have won
 seven of their past eight, including the first three of a five-game homestand.
 They won their sixth straight as the hosting club overall with Saturday's 2-0
 win over the Nashville Predators.
 
 Antti Niemi made 29 saves for his second shutout of the season and 29th of his
 career. He made 18 of those stops in the third period.
 
 Tomas Hertl's goal 5:01 into the game stood up as the winner and Joe Thornton
 added an empty-netter -- his 350th career goal.
 
 "The whole first period we had a game plan and we all bought into it," said
 Sharks coach Todd McLellan. "It wasn't just 15 guys; it was all 20 who
 executed it. The whole night we stuck to it. It was a good team win."
 
 The Sharks and Oilers have split their first two meetings this season, a home-
 and-home set on Dec. 7 and 9 in which each club won a game in its own
 building.
 
 San Jose has won nine of the past 11 overall as well as four in a row and nine
 of the last 11 at home in this series.
 
 Niemi is 9-1-1 lifetime versus the Oilers with a 2.40 goals against average
 and .906 save percentage, while Scrivens is 2-3-1 against the Sharks with a
 2.98 GAA and .915 save percentage.
 
 
 
 
 12/18 10:57:59 ET