NHL MORNING SKATE – DEC. 16, 2015

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NHL MORNING SKATE – DEC. 16, 2015

Welcome to the “NHL Morning Skate,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the League.

PREMIERE OF ROAD TO THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC

Road to the NHL Winter Classic, a four-part series chronicling the Bruins and Canadiens as they prepare for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, makes its debut tonight in both the United States and Canada.

Viewers in the United States can watch the premiere at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT and 9:00 p.m. CT via EPIX, EPIX.com, NHL.com and Bruins.NHL.com.

Viewers in Canada can catch the first episode following Sportsnet’s broadcast of the Senators-Capitals game. It also will air on RDS tomorrow – Thursday, Dec. 17 – at 11:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 p.m. PT.

Click on the following links for complete broadcast details in the United States and Canada (SN / RDS).

SNEAK PEEK AT WEDNESDAY’S ACTION

All Times Eastern
Ottawa @ Washington, 7:00 p.m., SN, TVAS, CSN-DC+
Pittsburgh @ Boston, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN

BRUINS FACE PENGUINS ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY

The Bruins and Penguins open a home-and-home series when they face off at TD Garden on NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry.

This marks the first of three meetings this season between these longtime foes; Boston owns a 4-1-1 head-to-head record (PIT: 2-2-2) since sweeping Pittsburgh in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final.

Overall, the Bruins (16-9-4, 36 points) have earned at least one point 11 of their past 12 games (8-1-3) as they chase the Canadiens (20-8-3, 43 points) atop the Atlantic Division.

The Penguins (15-11-3, 33 points), meanwhile, are searching for their first win under head coach Mike Sullivan, who debuted behind the Pittsburgh bench on Monday vs. WSH (4-1 L).

TUESDAY’S RESULTS

Home Team in Caps
New Jersey 2, BUFFALO 0
Florida 5, NY ISLANDERS 1
NY RANGERS 4, Edmonton 2
PHILADELPHIA 4, Carolina 3 (OT)
Tampa Bay 5, TORONTO 4 (OT)
San Jose 3, MONTREAL 1
Calgary 2, NASHVILLE 1 (OT)
MINNESOTA 6, Vancouver 2
St. Louis 4, WINNIPEG 3
Colorado 3, CHICAGO 0
DALLAS 5, Columbus 1

VARLAMOV, AVALANCHE SHUT OUT BLACKHAWKS . . .

Semyon Varlamov stopped all 29 shots he faced, including 20 over the final two periods, to earn his 19th career shutout (first this season) and lead the Avalanche to a sweep of their three-game road trip.

* Varlamov, who started all three games during the road trip, extended his personal winning streak to four contests (0.98 GAA, .969 SV%, 1 SO). He also improved to 11-3-0 in 15 career appearances vs. CHI (1.80 GAA, .949 SV%, 3 SO), including eight consecutive head-to-head victories.
* Matt Duchene scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, his third such tally of the season (also Nov. 12 at BOS and Dec. 3 at NYR). He has 15-11—26 in 22 games since the start of November after totaling 1-1—2 in his first 10 outings of 2015-16.
* The Avalanche improved to 7-2-0 in their last nine meetings with the Blackhawks dating to Jan. 14, 2014 (CHI: 2-6-1), including five straight victories at United Center.

. . . AS KANE’S POINT STREAK ENDS AT 26 GAMES

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was held without a point for the first time since Oct. 15 at WSH, ending his point streak at 26 games (16-24—40) – a franchise record, the longest such run by any U.S.-born player in NHL history and the longest point streak by any NHL player since 1992-93 (Mats Sundin: 21-25—46 in 30 GP).

* Kane, who has registered at least one point in 29 of 32 appearances this season (19-27—46), also was held without a point for the first time in 2015-16 at United Center (11-16—27 in 17 GP). Via Elias, his 16-game home point streak to begin the season equaled another franchise record, set by Denis Savard in 1981-82.

* Click here for a breakdown of Kane’s 26-game point streak.

FLAMES, GAUDREAU CONTINUE OVERTIME MASTERY

Kris Russell (1-1—2) scored at 1:23 of overtime – off a pass from Johnny Gaudreau – to power the Flames to their sixth consecutive victory, their longest winning streak since Jan. 21 – Feb. 3, 2011 (6-0-0).

* The Flames improved to 8-1 in games that have been decided in overtime this season (1-1 in SO). Their eight such wins lead the NHL.
* Gaudreau has factored on seven of the team’s eight overtime goals (3-4—7). He paces the Flames and shares seventh in the NHL with 12-20—32 overall.
* Russell recorded his sixth career game-winning goal and third in overtime. He has 1-7—8 in his last nine outings after totaling 1-1—2 in his first 18 appearances of the season.

GOSTISBEHERE (AGAIN) LIFTS FLYERS IN OVERTIME . . .

Shayne Gostisbehere (1-1—2) scored at 1:42 of overtime, his third such goal of the season, to propel the Flyers to a 6-2-1 record in their last nine contests.

* Gostisbehere has collected three overtime goals in his first 17 NHL games, two of which have come vs. CAR (also Nov. 23). Elias notes that he became the fastest player in NHL history to register three overtime goals, shattering the previous record of 64 games set by Ryan Malone in 2003-04 (w/ PIT).
* Elias adds that only two other rookies (besides Gostisbehere and Malone) have picked up three overtime goals in one season: Sidney Crosby in 2005-06 (w/ PIT) and Andrew Cogliano in 2007-08 (w/ EDM).

. . . DESPITE HAT TRICK FROM SKINNER

Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner forced overtime by scoring three times for his second hat trick in the past three games (also Dec. 11 at ANA: 3-0—3) and the fourth of his career.
* Via Elias, Skinner became the first player in Hurricanes/Whalers history to post multiple hat tricks in a span of three or fewer team games. Ray Ferraro held the previous record, collecting two in a four-game span in 1984-85 (March 23 vs. BOS and March 29 vs. EDM).
* Elias adds that Skinner became the first player from any club to register multiple hat tricks in three or fewer team games since 2010-11, when Drew Stafford posted two over a three-game span with the Sabres (Feb. 8 at TBL and Feb. 13 vs. NYI).

QUICK GOALS POWER STARS PAST BLUE JACKETS . . .

The Stars scored four unanswered goals – including a pair by Tyler Seguin in 30 seconds – to improve to 6-1-2 in their last nine games overall and pick up their fourth straight win at American Airlines Center.

* At 23-6-2 (48 points), the League-leading Stars continued their best start in the franchise’s 48-year history. Their 12 home wins share second in the NHL (w/ CHI), while their 24 home points are tied for third (w/ MTL and NYI).
* Seguin (17-25—42) pulled ahead of teammate Jamie Benn (20-21—41) for second place in League scoring. His 17 goals share fourth overall (w/ Mike Hoffman).

. . . BLUES, WILD KEEP PACE IN CENTRAL DIVISION

The Blues (18-10-4, 40 points) and Wild (16-7-6, 38 points) also won on Tuesday to keep pace in the crowded Central Division, where teams Nos. 2-5 are separated by four points:

* The Blues scored three unanswered goals – powered by 1-2—3 from both Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen – to overcome a 3-1 deficit and improve to 9-4-2 (20 points) this season as visitors. Tarasenko collected his 19th goal of the campaign, one off the League lead held by Jamie Benn (20), while Steen – a Winnipeg native – upped his totals to 4-4—8 in seven career visits to his hometown.
* Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek each posted 1-3—4 to help the Wild extend their point streak to eight games (5-0-3), their longest such run since Jan. 20 – Feb. 14, 2014 (8-0-2). Per Elias, two Wild players recorded four points in the same game for the third time in franchise history, also March 10, 2002 vs. CBJ (Marian Gaborik: 3-1—4 and Andrew Brunette: 0-4—4) and March 12, 2006 vs. EDM (Brian Rolston: 2-2—4 and Pierre-Marc Bouchard: 1-3—4).

AROUND THE RINKS

* Rick Nash (1-1—2) scored the tiebreaking goal at 19:56 of the second period to help the Rangers snap a three-game skid (0-2-1) and end the Oilers’ winning streak at six contests. Nash collected his 23rd game-winning goal since joining the Rangers in 2012-13, third in the NHL in that span behind Alex Ovechkin (26) and Max Pacioretty (25).
* Aleksander Barkov registered 1-2—3 to power the Panthers to a 6-2-0 record in their last eight road contests and halt the Islanders’ point streak at 10 games (8-0-2). Barkov, the second overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, posted his third career three-point performance and first since Jan. 27 vs. DET (1-2—3).
* Vladislav Namestnikov (1-1—2) scored at 2:01 of overtime to propel the Lightning to their fifth victory in their past seven games. Teammate Nikita Kucherov (1-1—2) added his sixth goal in his last six outings (6-1—7), equaling his total from his first 26 appearances of the season (6-7—13).
* The Sharks raced to a 3-0 lead, powered by 1-1—2 from Joe Pavelski, to snap a six-game skid (0-5-1) and pick up their 11th road win of the season, tied for first in the NHL (w/ COL and DAL). Pavelski registered his fifth game-winning goal of the campaign, tied for first in the League (w/ Taylor Hall and Evgeni Malkin).
* Cory Schneider stopped all 25 shots he faced to earn his 19th career shutout (second this season) and lead the Devils to a 4-1-2 record in their last seven outings. Schneider, who has posted 10 of his 19 shutouts since joining the Devils in 2013-14 (140 GP), improved to 14-8-4 this season.

MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS

* Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla played in his 1,424th career game to tie Pat Verbeek for 27th place on the NHL’s all-time games played list.
* Forward Chris Thorburn played in his 594th career game with the Jets/Thrashers to tie Ilya Kovalchuk for the most games played in franchise history.
* Stars captain Jamie Benn (0-1—1), a fifth-round selection (129th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft, became the second member of his draft class to reach the 400-point milestone (171-229—400). The other: Patrick Kane (224-379—603).
* Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak (1-1—2) scored his 100th NHL goal.
* Wild forward Zach Parise (1-2—3) collected his 300th NHL assist.
* Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath recorded his first NHL goal (16 GP), while teammate Brady Skjei – the 28th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft – made his League debut.
* Lightning forward Yanni Gourde (0-1—1) made his NHL debut while celebrating his 24th birthday.
* Sharks forward Dainius Zubrus (9 GP) and Lightning forward Mike Blunden (7 GP) both scored their first goals with their respective clubs.

TEAM EUROPE ADDS SHAW AS ASSISTANT COACH

The NHL and NHLPA announced that Brad Shaw (STL) will join Team Europe as an assistant coach for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will be played Sept. 17 – Oct. 1 in Toronto.

Shaw joins head coach Ralph Krueger and assistant coach Paul Maurice (WPG) on the staff of Team Europe, which is directed by team leader/president Franz Reindl and general manager Miroslav Satan.

Click here for more information.

LOOSE PUCKS

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 34 saves to improve to 11-1-0 in 14 appearances this season (2.50 GAA, .916 SV%) . . . Flames defenseman TJ Brodie (1-0—1) extended his point streak to a career-high seven games (2-6—8) . . . Wild teammates Zach Parise (3-5—8) and Jason Pominville (1-4—5) and Blues teammates Kevin Shattenkirk (1-6—7) and David Backes (3-3—6) all extended their point streaks to five games . . . Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk (0-1—1) also extended his point streak to five games (4-4—8) . . . Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, the fourth overall selection by the Islanders in the 1997 NHL Draft, made 33 saves to improve to 10-10-4 in 27 career games against his former club, including a 5-0-1 record in his last six such appearances . . . Flyers forward Jakub Voracek (1-2—3) snapped a 13-game drought with his first goal since Nov. 14, also vs. CAR . . . Predators forward Cody Hodgson converted a first-period penalty shot . . . Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau scored his first career shorthanded goal (227 GP) . . . Brothers Cal and Ryan O’Reilly became the first siblings to play together for the Sabres since Bob and J.F. Sauve in 1982-83 . . . The Coyotes acquired forward Christian Thomas from the Canadiens in exchange for forward Lucas Lessio.

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