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  1. The Chicago Blackhawks will try to notch their third consecutive shutout when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night at the United Center Chicago is coming off back-to-back shutout victories against the Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild. Goaltender Corey Crawford has been in net for both of those performances, but coach Joel Quenneville might give him a night off on the second game of a back-to-back set. If Crawford rests, backup Anton Forsberg will get the call for his fourth start of the season. Forsberg is 0-1-2 with a 4.26 goals-against average and .895 save percentage in his first season with the Blackhawks.Article continues below ... Crawford statistics are far better, which might tempt Quenneville to ride his hot hand despite a heavy workload to start the season. He is 7-4-0 with a 1.75 GAA and .945 save percentage in 12 games. The 32-year-old grew up in Montreal and has dominated his hometown club during his career, posting an 8-0-2 record with a 1.49 GAA and .954 save percentage in 10 meetings. He just finding the puck, battling like crazy on every shot, and the second shot, as well, Quenneville said. He been great. It been fun watching him. Montreal has not enjoyed the same level of success in net as No. 1 goaltender Carey Price has endured a miserable first month. Price was held out Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets because of what the club termed a minor lower-body injury. His status is uncertain for Sunday I dont know when he got hurt, Canadiens coach Claude Julien said to the Montreal Gazette. When I got here , they told me he had a lower-body injury. The Canadiens turned to their offense instead to produce a 5-4 overtime win against the Jets. Veteran Max Pacioretty scored the game-winning goal on a power play, and former Chicago right winger Andrew Shaw scored twice on the power play as Montreal rallied from a 4-2 deficit. We had the momentum going our way, Shaw said. Being down 4-2 in the third and capitalizing and coming back just shows the character of this team. Goaltender Al Montoya started in place of Price and improved his record to 2-1-0 with a 3.77 GAA and .863 save percentage this season. The Chicago native is 1-2-2 with a 2.84 GAA and .908 save percentage in six career games against the Blackhawks. If Montoya rests and Price remains sidelined, 23-year-old Charlie Lindgren could make his first start of the season Lindgren is 3-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA and .943 save percentage in three career games against the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings over the previous two seasons. Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov will carry a four-game scoring streak into Sunday night matchup. Meanwhile, rookie left winger Alex DeBrincat has scored a goal in back-to-back games. Chicago is led in scoring by right winger Patrick Kane, who has five goals and nine assists in 14 games. Jonathan Toews and Ryan Hartman are next on the list with four goals and six assists apiece. Montreal top scorer is right winger Brendan Gallagher, who has six goals and five assists for 11 points in 14 games. Defenseman Shea Weber has three goals and eight assists for 11 points, while center Jonathan Drouin has two goals and eight assists for 10 points. Shaw has three goals and four assists after Saturday stellar game against the Jets. The undersized right winger likely will receive another loud ovation from Blackhawks fans, who saw him win two Stanley Cup rings in Chicago.
  2. As they start the unofficial second half of the season Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks in Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators boast a 29-11-7 record. Theyre on pace for the best season in franchise history and have lost just four times in regulation at home. Yet they arent even in first place in the Central Division, thanks to Winnipeg emergence. In fact, one bad week will bring them into the wild-card race. Simply put, there is no margin for error, even for an elite team like Nashville. It crazy, Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. You look at the standings and if you have a bad week, you could be out of the playoffs. The Central Division is certainly tight, just in regard to the cluster of teams and a certain amount of points percentage.Article continues below ... Nashville appears on paper to hold the cards in terms of winning the division. It has three games in hand on Winnipeg and Dallas, plus four on St. Louis, and the Predators have flashed superior depth throughout the season. Case in point Their 6-0-2 stretch in the last eight games, all without left winger Filip Forsberg, tied for the team lead in goals with 15. No. 1 center Ryan Johansen has developed a mysterious allergy to shooting the puck with only five markers in 44 games on a mere 66 shots, yet Nashville continues to win. The major reason is an airtight defense. The Predators have allowed the second-fewest goals in the league despite being outshot on average. They suppress quality scoring chances, rarely allowing goalies Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros to get screened. Defenseman P.K. Subban, who was inconsistent at times last season due to injuries, is playing at a Norris Trophy level this season. Not only does he lead the team in scoring with 12 goals and 25 assists in 47 games, Subban is also playing some of the best defense of his career. One sequence from Sunday All-Star Game, in which he used positioning and quickness to take Johnny Gaudreau out of a play on which it appeared he might have a Grade A chance, symbolized Subban season perfectly. It was nice to get into a game situation, especially going into this week, Subban said of the weekend in Tampa. We have some big games. This is also big for Chicago , which is in an unfamiliar position last place in the division. The Blackhawks are four points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, reflecting a team going through a transition phase Craig Smith Jersey. Chicago did play one of its best games of the season just before the All-Star break, routing Detroit 5-1 Thursday night in the Motor City behind a hat trick from rookie Alex DeBrincat. It was a breakout performance for a team that struggled for offense in prior games. We knew goals were coming, said forward Anthony Duclair. It was just a matter of time. Goals might not come as easily against Rinne , who in his last seven games against the Blackhawks has allowed just eight markers. That includes last April 4-0 sweep in the conference quarterfinals that started Nashville unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Anton Forsberg or Jeff Glass could start in net for the Blackhawks.
  3. RALEIGH, N.C. Tied in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins might often sound like a good deal for the Carolina Hurricanes. But the Penguins have been scuffling for stretches this season, so Friday night Metropolitan Division matchup at PNC Arena will at least give one of the teams a boost. Both teams have 41 points, though the Hurricanes have played two fewer games and so they sit one spot ahead of the seventh-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.Article continues below ... Theyre a desperate team just like we all are, Hurricanes center Jordan Staal said, referring to his former team. It will be another big divisional game for us. Divisional wins are big and this will be a big test for us. Both teams won Wednesday night when their post-holiday schedules resumed. Weve got to go out there and follow it up and have some consistency, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. For the Penguins, it was a comeback victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a result that Pittsburgh is determined to build off. The Penguins have won only three of their last eight games They havent won consecutive games since the first two days of this month. We havent played our best hockey and we all know it, said right winger Patric Hornqvist. This is something to build on. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan saw glimpses of the style that he counting on from his team. It has to continue to stay this way if were going to get to where we want to go, Sullivan said. It important that we fight through those challenges together, that we lift each other up. The biggest boost for the Hurricanes during their successful run has been production on the power play. They have four power-play goals in a three-game span following a five-game stretch without any power-play goals. It has found ways to help us and that what we want, Carolina right winger Sebastian Aho said of the power play. Pittsburgh will arrive with the NHL second-best power play, converting on 25.2 percent of its chances. The Penguins were hit with injuries to right winger Bryan Rust, defenseman Chad Ruhwedel and goaltender Matt Murray, who were all hurt in Wednesday win. On Thursday, Sullivan listed Rust out for a long-term stretch with an upper-body injury, while Ruhwedel will be out week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Kris Letang was already out with an injury. Rust, Letang and Ruhwedel were placed on injured reserve on Thursday. Sullivan also ruled out Murray for Friday, saying he day-to-day with an upper-body injury. In response, Pittsburgh recalled goalie Casey DeSmith, defenseman Andrey Pedan and forward Garrett Wilson from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League The Hurricanes have their second three-game winning streak of the month. Theyve yet to win four in a row this season. Weve continued to work hard, Staal said. The beginning of the game could be telling based on recent trends for both teams Phil Kessel Jersey. The Hurricanes have had a few hot starts, translating that to a 15-3-2 record when posting the first goal. The Penguins frequently have been slow out of the gates. Theyre 4-13-1 when the opponent notches the first goal. By rallying to defeat Columbus, it was a reminder for the Penguins that they can overcome such stretches. It a matter of making sure we stay in the moment and we stay determined, Sullivan said. This is the first of four meetings between Pittsburgh and Carolina this season, with the first three meetings coming within a four-week span. The Penguins went 4-0-0 last season against the Hurricanes. Friday night game begins a three-game road trip for the Penguins, wholl be at home only once during a five-game stretch Chad Ruhwedel Jersey.
  4. Flyers The Vegas Golden Knights ended their five-game road trip on a high note Monday night, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in their first ever visit to the Wells Fargo Center.While the win was obviously huge for the Golden Knights, it was even more momentous for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who picked up his 400th career win in the interconference matchup. Fleury is now the 13th goalie to ever reach the 400-win mark, and, for what it worth, only Henrik Lundqvist reached that milestone faster than Flower .Earning win No. 400 wouldn come easy for Fleury, though, as the 33-year-old backstop faced 40 shots from the Flyers, stopping 38 of them to give Vegas its 45th win of the season Reid Duke Jersey.Vegas opened the scoring just 617 into the contest when Erik Haula had an attempted cross-ice pass deflect off of Petr Mrazek stick and into the net. Great luck for the Finnish center, but hel take it. Both teams finished the opening period with nine shots apiece, but the Flyers had no issues moving the puck into the Vegas zone. And that continued in the middle third.Early in the second, Claude Giroux beat Fleury with a wicked wrister from the left faceoff circle to tie the game up at one apiece. A Shea Theodore turnover in the defensive zone got it all started for the Flyers. The Flyers had Vegas pinned in its own end for much of the middle period. Had it not been for Fleury standing on his head, the Golden Knights very well could have been trailing after 40 minutes. Vegas finally got things going in the final third, though. After a high sticking penalty to Flyers rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim, William Karlsson scored his 36th goal of the season to give Vegas the 2-1 lead. Vegas’ lead would be brief, however. A little over a minute after Wild Bill tally, Wayne Simmonds scored his 21st goal of the season to even the score once again. Philadelphia had all the momentum on its side for much of the remainder of the period, but Vegas, led by Fleury, kept them at bay and took the lead one final time with just 240 to play. Ryan Carpenter picked up the goal, which now gives him eight on the year. And guess who set up the goal? You guessed it! Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who was making his homecoming after being claimed by Vegas in the expansion draft. Needless to say, the Golden Knights were pretty excited for Fleury after the win. With this win, the Golden Knights picked up eight of a possible 10 points on their five-game road trip, giving them a 14-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.The Golden Knights return to Vegas Wednesday to square off against the New Jersey Devils, whom they defeated just last week in Newark. Vegas’ game against the Devils will be its first of a four-game homestand.
  5. The save by Jonathan Bernier that sticks out the most was the one where he simply stuck out his stick Out of sheer desperation, no less. To thwart what looked to be a sure goal, too. It just another sign of how well things have been going for the Colorado Avalanche in recent weeks. Nathan MacKinnon kept up his torrid home scoring with a goal, Bernier turned back 33 shots and the Avalanche beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday for their seventh straight win.Article continues below ... Matt Nieto and Colin Wilson also scored for the Avs, who are outscoring opponents 29-10 during their longest win streak since the 2005-06 season Sergei Boikov Jersey. MacKinnon leads the league in scoring on home ice this season with 41 points in 24 games. Were feeling good, said MacKinnon, whose team is vying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. For us, it so tight, we cant get comfortable. We have to stay hungry. Bernier has been sensational since stepping into goal with Semyon Varlamov sidelined by a lower-body injury. Bernier came up big midway through the second period when he reached out with his stick to thwart Ryan Kesler. That set up a rush the other way, with MacKinnon scoring on a wrist shot past Ryan Miller. It happens quite a bit in hockey you make a big save, you go to the other side and you score, said Bernier, who has a career-best six-game win streak. It was nice to be rewarded. You make a big save and you get a big goal. Chris Wagner had a goal in the second period for Anaheim. It was his first goal since Nov. 27. Anaheim pulled Miller with around 3 minutes remaining, but couldnt get anything by Bernier, who played for Anaheim last season. They skate really fast, for the most part, and they capitalized on their chances, Wagner said. We gave them too many chances off the rush and too many power plays. That hurt us. The Ducks were without forward Andrew Cogliano as he served the first of a two-game suspension that ended his consecutive games streak at 830 the fourth-longest in NHL history. He was suspended for an interference penalty against Los Angeles forward Adrian Kempe on Saturday. Cogliano, who had never missed a game in his career, fought back tears as he talked about the streak on Fox Sports West It a tough pill to swallow. Im not going to lie. I miss the game. Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle downplayed Cogliano absence from the lineup. You dont like to put too much emphasis on one player being out of your lineup, Carlyle said. For Cogs, it unfortunate the suspension is in place. But we take our medicine and move on. It up to other people to step up and make a difference. Like forward J.T. Brown, who was just claimed on waivers from Tampa Bay and was in the lineup Monday. He had an assist as he digests a new system. Youre going to make mistakes. They said, `Well coach you through them. Dont be afraid to make those mistakes. Just go out there and play, Brown said. Wilson power-play goal with 19.6 seconds remaining in the second gave the Avalanche a 3-1 lead. Colorado improved to 18-1-1 when ahead entering the final period. Our guys are enjoying coming to the rink right now, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. Theyre playing the right way and theyre having success, so that leads to confidence and a little bit of energy and guys wanting to keep this thing going. It been a fun stretch for sure.