NHL Morning Skate – Friday Night Fights


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

The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on NBC tied as the highest-rated NHL regular-season game in nearly four decades and was the second-most watched such game in 39 years. The game, which delivered a 2.5 household rating and average of 4.404 million viewers (according to Fast National data from The Nielsen Company), also was up nearly 20% in both household rating and viewership as compared to the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

The 2.5 rating ties the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic as the highest-rated NHL regular-season game since 1975. The 4.404 million average viewers make it the second-most watched NHL regular-season game in 39 years, behind only the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (4.525 million viewers).

“Home run, touchdown. Whatever you want to call it, this was a day few who were a part of it will forget, from the players on the ice to the snow-covered, rosy-cheeked, foot-stomping announced crowd of 100,000-plus in the stands.” – John Niyo (Detroit News)

“Once again, the NHL looked like it had Mother Nature on its payroll. When you saw the joy on the faces of Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs fans alike outside the massive stadium you saw why the momentum for this spectacle is only building from year to year.” – Adam Proteau (The Hockey News)

“Can it get better than the Detroit Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs, a divided house of 105,000 and frigid snowy weather?” – Greg Wyshynski (Puck Daddy)

“Now that was a Winter Classic.” – Sharon Terlep (Wall Street Journal)

“The Winter Classic has quickly become one of the NHL’s flagship events, on par with the All-Star Game or the draft . . . It’s a great TV spectacle, with its sweeping shots of iconic arenas converted temporarily to outdoor rinks and its potential to become a live human snow globe.” – Katie Baker (Grantland)

“[Mike] Ilitch – through his teams, his wallet, his infatuation with winning – has sustained Detroit as a destination for hockey and baseball players yearning for championships. Within his sports empire, Ilitch has rendered almost irrelevant the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history . . . For a man of almost unimaginable wealth – his family’s net worth is estimated at $3.2 billion, according to Forbes magazine – this restoration of civic confidence will constitute one of Ilitch’s greatest legacies.” – Jon Morosi (FOX Sports)

“Diehard fans are intent on visiting places such as Wrigley Field and Madison Square Garden to cross them off their bucket lists. The Astrodome in Houston once was declared as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World.’ But the old gridiron on the campus of the University of Michigan, surrounded by the immense, renovated bowl, seems singular in its attractiveness as a venue.” – Gregg Krupa (Detroit News)

Boston 3, Nashville 2 (OT)
NY Islanders 3, Chicago 2 (OT)
Carolina 4, Washington 3 (OT)
Ottawa 4, Winnipeg 3
St. Louis 5, Los Angeles 0
Minnesota 4, Buffalo 1
Montreal 6, Dallas 4
Colorado 2, Philadelphia 1
Columbus 2, Phoenix 0
San Jose 5, Edmonton 1

Three games on Thursday were decided in the opening 80 seconds of overtime:

* Jeff Skinner scored at 1:20 of overtime to complete his second career hat trick (and second this season), powering the Hurricanes to their second consecutive win in the extra session. Skinner has 19-11—30, including three game-winning goals, in 30 games this season after posting 13-11—24 in 42 outings last year. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the third player in Hurricanes/Whalers history to record three or more goals in one game, including the overtime winner (Kevin Dineen: Dec. 21, 1986 at NYR; Erik Cole: Dec. 21, 2001 vs. ATL). Skinner has 15-4—19, including six multi-point efforts, in his last 14 contests dating to Dec. 3.

* Kyle Okposo (1-1—2) scored 58 seconds into overtime to lift the Islanders to their third consecutive victory as well as a 7-2-2 record in their last 11 meetings with the Blackhawks. Okposo has 6-7—13, including three game-winning goals, during an eight-game point streak and 16-26—42 in 42 contests this season, tied for ninth in the NHL and 10 points shy of his career high (2009-10: 19-33—52 in 80 GP). Thursday’s goal marked his fourth career overtime winner in the regular season, tied for the most in Islanders history (with Mike Bossy, Pat LaFontaine, John Tavares and Pierre Turgeon).

* Brad Marchand scored 54 seconds into the extra frame and Niklas Svedberg made 33 saves in his NHL debut to help the Bruins improve to 14-1-2 in their past 17 games at TD Garden. Svedberg, a 24-year-old native of Sollentuna, Sweden, was named the AHL’s top goaltender last season – becoming the first rookie to earn the honor since 1994-95 – after posting 37 victories in 48 appearances for Providence, the second-highest win total by a freshman in AHL history.

Brian Elliott made 30 saves for his 24th career shutout (third this season) and T.J. Oshie (2-0—2) posted his first multi-goal game since Dec. 8, 2011, to power the Blues to their fourth consecutive victory.

* Elliott has won 12 straight decisions at home dating to April 16 of last season, a franchise record.

* Elliott recorded his 15th shutout since joining the Blues in July 2011, one shy of tying Glenn Hall for second-most in franchise history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Elliott leads the NHL in shutouts since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, even though he’s only started 69 games (31st among NHL goaltenders). Mike Smith and Jimmy Howard, who are tied for the second-most shutouts over the last three seasons (13), have started 134 and 122 games, respectively, in that span.

* Elliott has played in 17 games this season, posting an 11-1-2 record with a 1.84 goals-against average (third in the NHL) and .928 save percentage.

* Oshie has scored in three consecutive games (4-1—5), his longest stretch since a career-long, four-game goal streak Feb. 12-March 4, 2010 (4-3—7).

* Jaden Schwartz posted an assist to extend his point streak to seven games (6-3—9), tying a career long set earlier this season (Nov. 19-Dec. 2: 3-5—8).

P.K. Subban (1-3—4) and Max Pacioretty (2-2—4) each recorded four points to help the Canadiens complete their six-game road trip with a 3-2-1 record.

* Subban is the second defenseman to post a four-point game this season, joining Stars blueliner Sergei Gonchar (Dec. 14: 0-4—4 at WPG). He now ranks third among defensemen with 7-26—33 in 42 contests.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other four-point game by a Canadiens defenseman over the past six seasons was by Subban, who registered 3-1—4 in an 8-1 victory over the Wild on March 20, 2011.

* Carey Price made 28 saves to improve to 5-1-1 in his last seven games. He is 19-11-3 with a 2.21 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and two shutouts in 33 appearances this season.

Joe Thornton (0-2—2) and Joe Pavelski (1-1—2) each collected two points to lead the Sharks to their fifth victory in their last six games.

* Thornton extended his assist/point streak to six games (0-10—10). He paces the NHL with 41 helpers in 41 games this season.

* Pavelski also stretched his point streak to six games (4-4—8). He ranks second on the team with 17-22—39 in 41 outings this season.

Nathan Horton scored the game-winning goal in his Blue Jackets debut – his first game since June 24, Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final with the Bruins – and Curtis McElhinney made 34 saves for his fourth career shutout (second this season) to lift Columbus to its fourth victory in its past six games.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Horton is the third player in Blue Jackets history to score the winning goal in his team debut, joining Craig MacDonald (Dec. 31, 2008) and Marian Gaborik (April 4, 2013).

* Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety today for a hit delivered to Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves during the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday.

At 11:04 of the first period, Lupul was assessed a minor penalty for cross-checking after the hit against Eaves, who did not return to the game.

The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: cross-checking. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.

* Blue Jackets forward Derek MacKenzie also will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety today for a hit on Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Thursday at Jobing.com Arena.

Ekman-Larsson left the game after being driven into the boards by MacKenzie. No penalty was called on the play, but MacKenzie was immediately engaged by Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle in a fight at 8:52 of the first period.

The Coyotes later announced that Ekman-Larsson would not return to the game with an upper-body injury.

The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: boarding. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his League-leading 31st goal of the season, snapping a four-game drought . . . Wild forward Jason Pominville tallied the game-winning goal versus the Sabres, his second in as many contests against his former team (also Oct. 14) . . . Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 32 saves for his fourth consecutive victory . . . Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov recorded 29 saves to improve to 5-0-4 in his last 10 games . . . Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 31 saves in his first appearance since Dec. 8 . . . Islanders forward Thomas Vanek scored his 14th goal of the season to extend his point streak to seven games (4-6—10) . . . Boston linemates Jarome Iginla (5-2—7), David Krejci (3-4—7) and Milan Lucic (1-5—6) each stretched their point streaks to six games . . . Flyers forward Scott Hartnell posted an assist to push his point streak to six games (2-5—7) . . . Stars captain Jamie Benn scored his 14th goal of the season to extend his point streak to five games (4-3—7) . . . Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin collected an assist to stretch his point streak to five games (2-4—6) . . . Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog posted an assist to push his point streak to five games (3-3—6) . . . Defenseman John-Michael Liles logged a +2 rating in 15:45 of playing time in his Hurricanes debut.

All Times Eastern
Chicago @ New Jersey, 7:00 p.m., CSN-CH, MSG PLUS
NY Rangers @ Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m., RDS, MSG 2, ROOT
Tampa Bay @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., SUN, SNET-W
Edmonton @ Anaheim, 10:00 p.m., SNET-W, SNET-EDM, FS-W

Source: NHL Media