Welcome to the “NHL Morning Skate,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the League.
STADIUM SERIES QUICK HITS
* The Islanders and Rangers face off tonight at Yankee Stadium in the third matchup of the four-game 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2, SiriusXM Radio).
* The Islanders and Rangers have met 247 times in the regular season, with the Rangers (120-101-26) holding a 266-241 edge in total points (NYI: 108-114-25). The Islanders, however, have won two of their first three games in 2013-14, including their most recent matchup Jan. 21 at Madison Square Garden.
* The clubs also have faced off eight times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including four straight years from 1981-84. The Islanders hold a 5-3 edge in series victories.
* Their first postseason meeting in 1975 went to a decisive Game 3, when J.P. Parise scored 11 seconds into overtime to give the underdog Islanders an upset victory over their metropolitan rivals. Only one other series went the distance, a meeting in the 1984 Patrick Division Semifinals in which Ken Morrow scored at 8:56 of overtime to give the Islanders the win.
* The Islanders are 10-5-1 in their last 16 games overall, but have dropped three in a row (0-2-1) entering tonight’s matchup.
* The Rangers are 12-5-1 in their last 18 games, including wins in seven of their past 10 outings.
* Islanders forward Kyle Okposo enters tonight’s game on a six-game point streak (4-7—11), while Rangers forwards Derek Stepan (3-5—8) and Rick Nash (7-0—7) have collected points in each of their past five games.
* At 28-23-3 (59 points), the Rangers are nine points ahead of the Islanders (21-26-8, 50 points) in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers also hold one game in hand.
* With tonight’s game, the Rangers will become the first team to compete in three regular-season outdoor NHL games, following their participation in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium as part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.
* ICYMI: Islanders forward Josh Bailey penned his latest blog entry about playing in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series: “Obviously, it’s a different feel on a bigger stage and a bigger atmosphere. It’s still two big points for us. But we’re going to try and enjoy it. The best way to enjoy it is by getting a win.” . . . Check out a photo gallery from theIslanders’ practice at Yankee Stadium.
* Reminder: From 5:30 p.m. ET to the start of the third period, Yankee Stadium’s Great Hall and Concourse will transform into a hockey-themed fan zone for attendees of all ages, with interactive attractions, prizes and giveaways as well as tents with an extensive selection of officially-licensed 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series merchandise and collectibles. Click here for more information.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“You want to really enjoy it and take it all in and take advantage of this moment . . . You get to play this game, this opportunity and it’s a very exciting thing . . . It’s obviously a very big game for us. Our games with the Rangers are always very unpredictable.” – Islanders captain John Tavares
“Definitely warm-ups will be fun, looking around, skating around . . . We’re going to enjoy the moment. [But] we need every point we can get, and this [game] is no different.” – Islanders forward Kyle Okposo
“You never really get used to playing outside, but you kind of know what to expect after playing Sunday . . . That excitement is still there. The crowd, the atmosphere. It’s easy to get up for these games.” – Rangers captain Ryan Callahan
“I thought the atmosphere was great. You can feel it.” – Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
“New game, new team, at night – there’s a lot to look forward to.” – Rangers goaltenderHenrik Lundvqist
“I feel extremely fortunate . . . You get into this building, you’re in the Bronx, you’re in Yankee Stadium, a great venue, and it’s pretty amazing what the NHL has done with these events. I think when we get out there [tonight] it will be all business. But [yesterday] was a day for our guys to enjoy a good, spirited practice, lot of time with their families. It’s not every day you get to do that.” – Islanders head coach Jack Capuano
OUTDOOR GAME GUIDE
The latest edition of the NHL Outdoor Game Interactive Information Guide, including updated stats from Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium, is available for download via the League’s Media site. The guide features information on the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic and 2014 Olympic Winter Games. It also includes the history of outdoor games as well as a register, records and metrics.
Boston 6, Florida 2
Toronto 3, Tampa Bay 2
Philadelphia 5, Detroit 0
Ottawa 3, Columbus 2
Washington 5, Buffalo 4 (OT)
Montreal 3, Carolina 0
St. Louis 3, New Jersey 0
Nashville 4, Winnipeg 3
Phoenix 3, Los Angeles 0
Calgary 5, Chicago 4 (OT)
Minnesota 4, Anaheim 2
HALAK, BLUES TAKE OVER TOP SPOT IN CENTRAL DIVISION
Jaroslav Halak (23 saves) recorded his fourth shutout of the season and the 29th of his NHL career to lead the Blues to their third consecutive victory. With the win, St. Louis (36-11-5, 77 points) leapfrogged Chicago (32-10-13, 77 points) for first place in the Central Division.
* The Blues’ 36 victories are their most ever through the first 52 games of a season.
* Halak and Brian Elliott (3) have combined for seven shutouts, the most by any team this season.
* Halak also improved to 7-1-1 in his last nine starts dating to Dec. 19, including a 1.77 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and two shutouts.
* Alexander Steen scored his 27th goal of the season, tied for fourth in the NHL withSidney Crosby and Phil Kessel. He has 3-4—7 during a five-game point streak.
* Steen’s goal also stood up as the game-winner. He has seven such goals this season, tied for second in the League with Ryan Getzlaf.
* The Blues improved to 17-3-1 in inter-conference play this season, including a 9-0-0 record at Scottrade Center.
* InGoal Magazine released several images of the mask Halak will wear when he competes for Slovakia at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Click here for more photos.
OVECHKIN SPARKS CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin (2-2—4) recorded his second four-point game of the season, including the primary assist on Mike Green’s overtime winner, to power the Capitals to their second consecutive victory.
* Ovechkin scored his League-leading 37th and 38th goals of the season. He also paces the NHL with seven multi-goal performances and has 4-3—7 over his past three games.
* Ovechkin has 409-381—790 in 650 career games, all with the Capitals. He now ranks second on the franchise’s all-time scoring list, moving one point ahead of Mike Gartner(397-392—789 in 758 GP). Peter Bondra (472-353—825 in 961 GP) is the club’s all-time leader.
* Green (2-1—3) reached the 100-goal mark in his 483rd career game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the second-quickest active defenseman to record 100 goals, behind only Sergei Gonchar (461 GP). The only other active blueliner to do so in fewer than 500 games is Shea Weber (495 GP).
* Green now has eight overtime goals in his career, which ranks second in NHL history among defensemen. Only Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer (13) has more such goals.
BRUINS SPOIL THOMAS’ RETURN
The Bruins scored six goals for the third consecutive game to spoil Tim Thomas’ return to Boston, where he played the first 378 regular-season games of his NHL career and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy in helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2010-11.
* The Bruins improved to 5-0-1 in their last six games, including four straight wins. They also improved to 17-2-2 in their past 21 contests at TD Garden.
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Bruins last scored six or more goals in three consecutive games Nov. 5-12, 2011 (four straight games).
* Zdeno Chara recorded his fourth goal in his past three games. He now has 13 goals this season, tied for first among NHL defensemen with Shea Weber.
* Reilly Smith scored his fifth power-play goal of the season to extend his career-long point streak to seven games (3-5—8).
WILD HAND DUCKS RARE HOME LOSS
Zach Parise posted 1-2—3, including the game-winning goal, to lead the Wild to their fourth victory in their past six games (4-1-1), in the process handing the Ducks their second regulation home loss of the season (21-2-2).
* The Wild improved to 9-3-1 in 2014. At 29-20-6 (64 points), they moved into the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
* Parise recorded his seventh multi-point game of the season and second with three points. He ranks fourth on the team with 16-14—30 despite missing 15 games due to injury.
* Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves to improve to 6-3-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 11 appearances this season.
Three other goaltenders recorded shutouts Tuesday:
* Steve Mason (33 saves) picked up his second shutout of the season and the 21st of his career to help the Flyers snap a four-game losing streak. Philadelphia extended its regular-season home winning streak over Detroit to eight games, with its last such loss coming Jan. 25, 1997.
* Carey Price (36 saves) earned his third shutout of the season and the 22nd of his career to help the Canadiens snap a four-game skid. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Price is the first Canadiens goaltender to post three or more shutouts in each of four consecutive seasons since Ken Dryden did so in five straight from 1974-75 through 1978-79.
* Thomas Greiss (30 saves) recorded his second shutout of the season and the third of his career to lead the Coyotes to their second victory in their past three games (2-0-1). He improved to 7-3-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in 13 appearances this season.
T.J. Brodie scored at 2:26 of overtime to power the Flames to their first three-game winning streak of the season . . . Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier (40 saves) improved to 7-1-2 when facing 40 or more shots this season. His seven such victories lead the NHL . . . Jason Spezza scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:58 remaining in regulation to move the Senators within one point of a Wild Card spot . . . Flames captainMark Giordano stretched his point streak to seven games (3-4—7), a career long . . . Coyotes forwards Antoine Vermette (6-2—8) and Lauri Korpikoski (0-6—6) both extended their point streaks to five games . . . Predators forward Colton Sissons made his League debut . . . Sabres forward Philip Varone scored his first NHL goal (4 GP) . . . Coyotes captain Shane Doan collected his 500th career assist . . . Panthers defenseman Tom Gilbert played in his 500th NHL game . . . ICYMI: Jaden Schwartzand the Blues discussed their recent visit to New Haven, Conn., in support of “White Out for Mandi.”
SNEAK PEEK AT WEDNESDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
NY Rangers @ NY Islanders, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN, RDS2
San Jose @ Edmonton, 9:30 p.m., CSN-CA, SNET-W
Chicago @ Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., TSN, WGN
Source: NHL Meda