NHL MORNING SKATE – DECEMBER 19, 2015

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NHL MORNING SKATE – DECEMBER 19, 2015

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

REMINDER: HOLIDAY ROSTER FREEZE

For all players on an NHL active roster, injured reserve, or with non-roster and injured non-roster status as of midnight (local time) tonight, a roster freeze shall apply through midnight (local time) Dec. 27, with respect to waivers, trades and loans, subject to the exceptions provided for in CBA Article 16.5 (d).

DID YOU KNOW?

Saturday marks the 98th anniversary of the first games in National Hockey League history. On Dec. 19, 1917, the Montreal Wanderers defeated the Toronto Arenas 10-9 at Montreal Arena and the Montreal Canadiens skated to a 7-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Dey’s Arena in Ottawa. Wanderers defenseman Dave Ritchie scored the first goal in League history, one minute into the first contest.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

Home Team in Caps
Boston 6, PITTSBURGH 2
WASHINGTON 5, Tampa Bay 3
Florida 2, CAROLINA 0
OTTAWA 4, San Jose 2
Vancouver 4, DETROIT 3 (SO)
WINNIPEG 5, NY Rangers 2

CAPITALS RALLY TO TIE IDLE STARS AT TOP OF LEAGUE STANDINGS

The Capitals scored five unanswered goals to overcome a 3-0 deficit and improve to 11-1-1 in their past 13 contests, including four consecutive wins.

* At 23-6-2 (48 points), the Capitals continued their best start to a season – in terms of wins and points – in the franchise’s 41-year history. They also moved into a tie with the idle Stars (23-7-2, 48 points) for first place in the NHL standings. Washington holds a game in hand.
* Per Elias, the Capitals overcame a three-goal deficit to win in regulation for the first time since Oct. 16, 2008 at PIT (4-3 W).
* The Capitals earned their seventh consecutive win at home to improve to 13-3-1 (27 points) this season at Verizon Center. Their 13 home victories and 27 home points are tied for first in the NHL with the Rangers (13-4-1, 27 points) and the Blackhawks (13-4-1, 27 points).
* T.J. Oshie (2-2—4) matched a career high with four points last achieved Jan. 3 at SJS (3-1—4 w/ STL). He has posted at least three points in two of his last three outings (4-3—7).
* Alex Ovechkin (2-2—4) also notched four points, including two power-play goals, and has 40-41—81 in 60 career regular-season games vs. TBL, including 11 power-play goals.

VATRANO HAT TRICK PUSHES BRUINS CLOSER TO DIVISION LEAD

Rookie forward Frank Vatrano (3-0—3) recorded the first hat trick of his NHL career (17 GP) to help the Bruins sweep their home-and-home series with the Penguins and pick up points for the 13th time in their last 14 outings (10-1-3).

* At 18-9-4 (40 points), the Bruins moved within three points of the idle Canadiens (20-10-3, 43 points) – their opponent in the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic – for first place in the Atlantic Division. Boston holds two games in hand.
* Per Elias, Vatrano (East Longmeadow, Mass.) became the first Bruins rookie to record a hat trick since Blake Wheeler on Nov. 6, 2008 vs. TOR and the first Massachusetts-born Bruins rookie to do so since Steve Heinze on Jan. 14, 1993 vs. PIT. In fact, Elias says that before Friday’s game, no Massachusetts native had notched a hat trick for Boston since Marty McInnis on March 6, 2003 vs. NYI.
* Ryan Spooner (0-4—4) registered career highs for assists and points in one game and has recorded multiple points in three of his last four contests (3-5—8).
* Tuukka Rask (30 saves) picked up his fifth straight win to extend his personal point streak to 10 games (8-0-2).

LUONGO IN ELITE COMPANY

Roberto Luongo made 24 saves to earn his 70th career shutout (second this season) and backstop the Panthers to a 2-0 win over the Hurricanes.

* Per Elias, only four goaltenders have more shutouts in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) than Luongo: Martin Brodeur (125), Dominik Hasek (81), Ed Belfour (76) and Tony Esposito (76).

* Elias adds that Luongo moved within one shutout of tying Harry Lumley and Lorne Chabot (71) for 11th on the NHL’s all-time list.

AROUND THE RINKS

* The Senators scored four straight goals en route to a 4-2 win over the Sharks, their fourth consecutive victory on home ice. Per Elias, Bobby Ryan (1-1—2), who did not register a point in the Senators’ first three home games this season, has now tallied at least one point in each of the team’s last 14 games at Canadian Tire Centre (7-11—18).
* Blake Wheeler (0-4—4) assisted on four of Winnipeg’s five goals to lead the Jets to their fourth win in their last five games at MTS Centre. Wheeler matched his career high for assists and points in a game last achieved on March 16, 2014 vs. DAL (0-4—4).
* After the Canucks saw 2-0 and 3-2 leads erased, Linden Vey scored the decisive marker in the seventh round of the shootout to defeat the Red Wings and snap a three-game losing streak. Ryan Miller (25 saves) turned aside six of seven shootout attempts to pick up the victory. His 54 career shootout wins rank first in NHL history.

MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS

* Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom (0-1—1) recorded his 600th career point (155-445—600, 605 GP) to pass Michal Pivonka (181-418—599, 825 GP) for sole possession of fourth on the franchise’s all-time list. Backstrom, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, became the first player from his draft class to register 600 career points.
* Penguins forward Conor Sheary (1-1—2), a native of Winchester, Mass. and a University of Massachusetts alumnus, scored the first goal of his NHL career (2 GP). The marker came against his home-state Bruins.
* Defenseman Trevor Daley (1-0—1) scored his first goal in a Penguins uniform (2 GP).
* Forward Chris Thorburn played in his 595th career game with the Jets/Thrashers to pass Ilya Kovalchuk (594 GP) for the most in franchise history.
* Capitals forward Jason Chimera (0-1—1) skated in his 900th career NHL game.

LOOSE PUCKS

The Bruins improved to 5-0-1 in their last six games vs. PIT dating to Nov. 25, 2013 (PIT: 1-3-2)… Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (2-0—2) scored twice – including his first shorthanded goal of the season – to stretch his point streak to seven games (3-6—9)… Penguins forward Sidney Crosby (0-2—2) has 11-29—40 in 29 career regular-season games vs. BOS… The Capitals swept their three-game season series with the Lightning and improved to 11-0-2 in their last 13 regular-season home games vs. TBL dating to Nov. 11, 2010 (TBL: 2-7-4)… Capitals defenseman John Carlson (0-1—1) stretched his point streak to five games (2-4—6)… Panthers forward Reilly Smith (1-0—1) has scored in a career-high four consecutive games (4-1—5)… Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (1-1—2) has posted back-to-back multi-point games (2-3—5)… Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 31 saves to improve to 15-9-3 (2.81 GAA, .916 SV%, 2 SO)… Jets forwards Bryan Little (2-1—3) and Andrew Ladd (1-1—2) posted multiple points.

SNEAK PEEK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION

All Times Eastern
Chicago @ Buffalo, 1:00 p.m., SN, WGN, MSG-B
Calgary @ St. Louis, 3:00 p.m., SNW, FS-MW
Los Angeles @ Toronto, 7:00 p.m., CBC, FS-W
Anaheim @ New Jersey, 7:00 p.m., KCOP-13, MSG+
Carolina @ Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m., FS-CR, ROOT
Philadelphia @ Columbus, 7:00 p.m., CSN-PH, FS-O
Montreal @ Dallas, 7:00 p.m., NHLN-US, TVAS, CITY, FS-SW+
Minnesota @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., FS-N, FS-WI, FS-TN
NY Islanders @ Arizona, 9:00 p.m., MSG+ 2, FS-A
Edmonton @ Colorado, 10:00 p.m., CBC,

FLAMES LOOK TO EXTEND STREAK IN ST. LOUIS

The Calgary Flames (15-14-2, 32 points) look to extend their winning streak to eight consecutive games when they visit the St. Louis Blues (19-10-4, 42 points) on Saturday. The Flames’ current winning streak (7-0-0) is their longest such run since Nov. 1-16, 2005 (8-0-0) and three games shy of the franchise record set Oct. 14 – Nov. 3, 1978, when the team was based in Atlanta (10-0-0).

THREE GAMES HIGHLIGHT HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA SCHEDULE

Two of the top teams in the NHL face-off when the League-leading (tied) Dallas Stars (23-7-2, 48 points) face the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens (20-10-3, 43 points) on CITY. In another early contest, the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Kings (20-9-2, 42 points) – who hold a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games – visit the Maple Leafs on CBC. Two of the hottest teams in the Western Conference meet in Saturday’s finale when the Edmonton Oilers – 7-3-0 in their last 10 games – visit the Colorado Avalanche, who also own a 7-3-0 record in their last 10 contests, including four straight wins.

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