NHL MORNING SKATE – DEC. 27, 2015

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NHL MORNING SKATE – DEC. 27, 2015

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

REMINDER: HOLIDAY ROSTER FREEZE

The NHL’s holiday roster freeze expires at midnight (local time) tonight. This roster freeze applied to all players on an NHL active roster, injured reserve, or with non-roster and injured non-roster status as of Saturday, Dec. 19, with respect to waivers, trades and loans, subject to the exceptions provided for in CBA Article 16.5 (d).

SATURDAY’S RESULTS

Home Team in Caps
Buffalo 6, BOSTON 3
TAMPA BAY 5, Columbus 2
WASHINGTON 3, Montreal 1
CAROLINA 3, New Jersey 1
ST. LOUIS 3, Dallas 2 (SO)
Detroit 3, NASHVILLE 2
Pittsburgh 3, MINNESOTA 1
Los Angeles 4, ARIZONA 3 (OT)
VANCOUVER 2, Edmonton 1 (OT)

EICHEL POWERS SABRES IN BOSTON HOMECOMING

Down 3-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the Sabres scored five unanswered goals – led by 2-2—4 from Jack Eichel – to improve to 4-1-1 in their last six games.

* Eichel, who grew up approximately 30 miles from TD Garden, established career highs for goals and points in one game in his first NHL visit to Boston.
* Via Elias, Eichel became the first Sabres rookie to post four points in one game since March 10, 2010 vs. DAL (Tyler Myers: 1-3—4). At 19 years old, he also became the second-youngest player in franchise history to record a four-point game; Phil Housley did so at age 18 on Oct. 17, 1982 vs. EDM (1-3—4).
* Eichel, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, ranks fourth among rookies with 11-9—20 this season (35 GP). His 11 goals place second, two behind Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (13 in 34 GP).
* “I was a little bit nervous jumping on the ice for warm-ups,” said Eichel, who played at Boston University last season and won the Beanpot and Hockey East title at TD Garden. “But just an exciting game throughout. We made some mistakes. But at the end of the day, it’s a huge win and it’s a super-nice way to start this next segment of us. Just exciting to get a win and do it in the fashion that we did in front of so many friends and family.”

ATLANTIC DIVISION SHAKEUP

Both the Red Wings (18-10-7, 43 points) and Lightning (18-15-3, 39 points) won on Saturday to shake up the order in the tightly packed Atlantic Division, where the top six clubs are separated by four points:

* The Predators erased a pair of one-goal deficits, but Luke Glendening potted the tiebreaking marker at 6:45 of the third period to propel the Red Wings to a 6-2-3 record in December. Eleven points out of first place on Dec. 3, Detroit leapfrogged Montreal – who lost in regulation – to climb atop the Atlantic Division standings.
* The Lightning registered four unanswered goals – including a pair of power-play strikes in 32 seconds from Steven Stamkos (2-1—3) – to overcome a 2-1 deficit and improve to 4-2-0 in their past six contests. Per Elias, Stamkos set a franchise record for the fastest two power-play goals by one player, previously held by Pavel Kubina (0:54 on Jan. 27, 2004 at PIT).

HOLTBY BACKSTOPS CAPITALS TO SEVENTH STRAIGHT WIN

Braden Holtby made 29 saves, including 15 in the second period, to lead the Capitals to their seventh consecutive victory overall as well as their eighth straight win at Verizon Center.

* At 26-6-2 (54 points), the Capitals continued their best start – in terms of wins and points – in the franchise’s 41-year history. They have earned at least one point in 15 of their last 16 games dating to Nov. 21 (14-1-1).
* Holtby picked up his League-leading 22nd win of the season (28 GP), including a 14-0-1 record in his last 16 appearances dating to Nov. 12 (1.85 GAA, .931 SV%, 1 SO). He also paces the NHL with a 1.92 goals-against average.
* Holtby improved to 13-2-0 in 16 outings this season at Verizon Center (1.87 GAA, .931 SV%, 1 SO), including 10 consecutive victories. He is 9-2-1 in 12 contests as a visitor (1.99 GAA, .934 SV%, 0 SO).
* Holtby also improved to 8-0-2 in 10 career appearances vs. MTL (1.36 GAA, .951 SV%, 2 SO).

AROUND THE RINKS

* The Coyotes erased a two-goal deficit in the final four minutes of regulation, but Anze Kopitar (1-1—2) scored 36 seconds into overtime to lift the Kings to a 9-3-2 record in their past 14 outings. Kopitar registered his third overtime goal of the season (also Oct. 16 vs. MIN and Dec. 1 vs. VAN), tied for first in the NHL. Elias notes that he also equaled a franchise record for overtime goals in one season (34 GP), set by Yanic Perreault in 1995-96 (78 GP) and matched by Jozef Stumpel in 1999-00 (57 GP).
* Jannik Hansen scored twice, including his first career overtime goal with 58.6 seconds remaining in the extra frame, to help the Canucks extend their point streak to four contests (3-0-1). Hansen posted his fifth career multi-goal game and first since collecting his first career hat trick on Nov. 23, 2014 vs. CHI (3-0—3).
* Robby Fabbri evened the game with 1:50 remaining in regulation and David Backes potted the winning goal in the ninth round of the shootout to lead the Blues past the Stars in the first half of their back-to-back, home-and-home series. St. Louis (22-11-4, 48 points) climbed within seven points of Dallas (26-7-3, 55 points) for first place in the Central Division and NHL standings.
* Justin Faulk notched 1-1—2, including the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, to power the Hurricanes to a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 contests. Faulk, who scored his first even-strength goal of the season (12 PPG), ranks second among defensemen with 13 goals overall, one behind Brent Burns (14 w/ SJS).
* Sidney Crosby collected 1-1—2 in his return from a one-game absence to lift the Penguins to their second straight victory. Crosby has 5-10—15 over his past 15 appearances, including 1-4—5 in his last three games, after totaling 2-7—9 in his first 18 outings of the season.

MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS

* Penguins defenseman Kris Letang posted two assists to eclipse 300 NHL points (67-234—301 in 517 GP). Letang, a third-round selection (62nd overall) in the 2005 NHL Draft, became the second defenseman from his draft class to reach the milestone. The other: Keith Yandle (68-273—341 in 615 GP).
* Kings forward Milan Lucic (600) and Canadiens forward Lars Eller (400) both played in milestone games.
* Red Wings forward Tomas Nosek made his NHL debut (7:26 TOI).

LOOSE PUCKS

MUST-SEE: Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk made a game-saving stop in overtime . . . Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly (2-1—3) notched his third three-point game of the season (35 GP). He paces the club in goals (14), assists (18) and points (32) . . . Predators forward Filip Forsberg (2-0—2) registered his third career multi-goal game and second of the season (also Dec. 1 vs. ARI: 2-1—3) . . . Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2-0—2) posted his sixth career multi-goal game and first since April 4 vs. SJS (2-1—3) . . . Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (0-1—1) extended his point streak to a career-high eight games (6-6—12). He shares fourth in the NHL with 22-17—39 overall (36 GP) . . . Lightning forward Jonathan Marchessault (0-2—2) extended his point streak to a career-high six games (3-4—7), while teammate Nikita Kucherov (0-2—2) extended his point streak to five games (1-7—8) . . . Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker (0-3—3) set a career high for assists in one game . . . Stars teammates Jamie Benn (0-1—1) and Tyler Seguin (1-0—1) each collected one point. Their 47 points – 22-25—47 for Benn and 20-27—47 for Seguin (both in 36 GP) – rank second in the NHL, three behind Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (21-29—50 in 36 GP) . . . ICYMI: Paul Fahrenbach of the U.S. Navy surprised his family with a special homecoming at the Blue Jackets-Lightning game.

TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 26: Paul Fahrenbach of U.S. Navy surprises his family during the first intermission of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets game at the Amalie Arena on December 26, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

SNEAK PEEK AT SUNDAY’S ACTION

All Times Eastern
Boston @ Ottawa, 5:00 p.m., NESN, TSN5, RDS2
Columbus @ Florida, 6:00 p.m., FS-O, FS-F
Toronto @ NY Islanders, 6:00 p.m., SN, TVAS, MSG+
St. Louis @ Dallas, 6:00 p.m., FS-MW, FS-SW
Carolina @ Chicago, 7:00 p.m., FS-CR, WGN
Pittsburgh @ Winnipeg, 8:00 p.m., ROOT, TSN3
Arizona @ Colorado, 8:00 p.m., FS-A, ALT2
Philadelphia @ Anaheim, 8:00 p.m., TCN-PH, PRIME, FS-SD
Edmonton @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., SN

HOMETOWN HOCKEY TOUR STOPS IN OSHAWA

The Islanders (19-11-5, 43 points) face the Maple Leafs (12-14-7, 31 points) at Barclays Center as Rogers Hometown Hockey visits Oshawa, Ont., where Islanders captain John Tavares honed his skills with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals for four seasons (2005-09). Throughout 2015-16, Sunday games will be broadcast from a different community rink in various towns across Canada. Included in each telecast will be local NHL player profiles, grassroots stories and local entertainment features.

Click here for more details about the festivities in Oshawa.

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