NHL Recap January 15 2020
CRAWFORD BACKSTOPS BLACKHAWKS IN HOMETOWN
Patrick Kane (0-1—1) extended the League’s longest active point streak to eight games (tied) and Montreal, Que. native Corey Crawford made 32 saves in his hometown to backstop the Blackhawks (22-20-6, 50 points) to their sixth road win in seven contests. Chicago moved within four points of Winnipeg (25-18-4, 54 points) for the Western Conference’s final Wild Card spot.
Crawford, with a 48-save shutout in his last visit to Montreal on March 16, 2019, improved to 6-0-2 (1.12 GAA, .971 SV%, 2 SO) in eight all-time visits to his hometown. The 35-year-old became the fourth goaltender in NHL history with a personal point streak of eight or more games in Montreal to begin his career. The others: Bill Durnan (23-0-3 from Oct. 30, 1943 – Oct. 28, 1944 w/ MTL), Ken Dryden (16-0-3 from March 18, 1971 – Jan. 19, 1972 w/ MTL) and Braden Holtby (8-0-1 from March 15, 2011 – Feb. 4, 2017 w/ WSH).
Chicago extended its road point streak against Montreal to eight games dating to April 5, 2011 (6-0-2), including wins in its last six visits. The Blackhawks’ two such runs against the Canadiens stand as the team’s longest active road streaks against one opponent.
FLYERS WITHSTAND BLUES MULTI-GOAL RALLY
Sean Couturier (0-2—2) and 2020 NHL All-Star Travis Konecny (1-0—1) each reached the 40-point mark, while Jakub Voracek scored the overtime winner as the Flyers (25-16-6, 56 points) held off a Blues multi-goal rally. Philadelphia, which also snapped St. Louis’s nine-game home win streak, withstood a Blues team that has registered a League-leading 15 comeback wins in 2019-20 (tied w/ CGY and WSH).
Voracek, with his first goal since Dec. 21, 2019, scored the 10th regular-season overtime goal of his career and eighth with the Flyers. Captain Claude Giroux (11) is the only player in franchise history with more.
The Flyers have snapped an opponent’s home win streak of at least nine games for the fifth time in franchise history and second in the last 36 years. The others: Jan. 27, 2016 (WSH: 12 GP), Jan. 14, 1984 (QUE: 10 GP), Jan. 2, 1983 (CHI: 11 GP) and March 27, 1976 (BOS: 16 GP).
TWO OF EAST’S BEST SET TO CLASH IN BOSTON
Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference will face off in Boston when the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins (27-9-12, 66 points) – who rank second in the Eastern Conference – host the Penguins (29-12-5, 46 points) – who sit third in the East.
The Bruins and Penguins have each only gone multiple games without recording a standings point twice so far this season: Boston (2 GP from Nov. 5-8, 2019 and 4 GP from Dec. 7-12, 2019); Pittsburgh (3 GP from Oct. 19-23, 2019 and 2 GP from Nov. 29-30, 2019). Another team rising in the East, the Lightning (28-14-4, 60 points), are the only team to go multiple games without a standings point just once this season (2 GP from Nov. 16-19, 2019).
Leading the way for the Bruins is David Pastrnak (36-30—66 in 48 GP), who ranks first in the NHL in goals and fifth in points in 2019-20. If Pastrnak records four or more points across his next two games, he can become the first Bruins player to register 70 or more points in his first 50 appearances of a season since Cam Neely (50-24—74 in 49 GP) and Adam Oates (22-51—73 in 50 GP) in 1993-94. Of note: Pastrnak has recorded multiple points in 40 percent of his appearances this season (19 of 48).
The Penguins, who have won four straight games and were buoyed by captain Sidney Crosby’s four-point return in their last contest (1-3—4 on Jan. 14 vs. MIN), have rattled off a 15-3-1 (31 points) record since Dec. 1 to jump from clinging to the final Wild Card position entering play on Dec. 1 to second in the Metropolitan Division entering play today.
ROOKIE MERZLIKINS PUTS SHUTOUT STREAK ON THE LINE IN CRUCIAL SHOWDOWN
With wins in six of their last eight contests, the Blue Jackets (23-16-8, 54 points) host the Hurricanes (27-17-2, 56 points) in a pivotal Metropolitan Division showdown. Columbus has recorded shutouts in each of its last two games and trails both Carolina and Philadelphia (25-16-6, 56 points) by two points in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.
Twenty-five-year-old netminder Elvis Merzlikins (6-6-4, 2.53 GAA, .921 SV% and 2 SO) has started in each of those eight contests, including 27- and 34-save shutouts against the Golden Knights (Jan. 11) and Bruins (Jan. 14), respectively. The rookie can join Steve Mason (3 GP from Dec. 27-31, 2008) and Sergei Bobrovsky (3 GP from March 2-7, 2017) as just the third Blue Jackets goaltender to register three consecutive shutouts.
WILD LOOK TO CONTINUE HOME SUCCESS AGAINST SURGING LIGHTNING
Eric Staal (16-17—33 in 46) and the Wild host Nikita Kucherov (18-32—50) and the Lightning at Excel Energy Center Thursday, with Minnesota winning each of its last seven home games against the club dating to Nov. 28, 2011.
The Wild’s seven-game run against the Lightning currently sits tied for the third-longest home win streak against one opponent in franchise history, trailing only a 17- and nine-game stretch against the Oilers (Feb. 25, 2007 – Oct. 13, 2011) and Blackhawks (Feb. 5, 2003 – Oct. 4, 2007), respectively.
The Lightning meanwhile, have risen into second place in the Atlantic Division standings thanks to an 11-1-0 record dating to Dec. 23, 2019 – outscoring their opponents 47-23 over that span (excluding shootout-deciding goals). Only the Maple Leafs have registered more (48).
Alex Killorn (19-19—38) has scored a team-leading nine goals since Dec. 23 en route to matching his career-high for most in a single season (also 19-17—36 in 2016-17 w/ TBL). Killorn (30 years, 124 days) can become just the second player in Lightning history to record his first 20-goal season at 30 or older (age at start of season). The other: Dan Boyle (20-43—63 in 2006-07).
SHOOTING STARS’ AND ELITE WOMEN’S 3-ON-3 HIGHLIGHT NEW-LOOK NHL ALL-STAR SKILLS
Two new events will be part of 2020 NHL All-Star Skills presented by New Amsterdam Vodka on Friday, Jan. 24 in St. Louis, with the addition of the Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars and the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 presented by adidas. Four events return for this year’s edition of Skills: the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater, the Bud Light NHL Save Streak, Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting, and the Enterprise NHL Hardest Shot. Click here for details on all six events, including an event diagram of Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars – where players will shoot from an elevated platform stationed in the stands.
Rosters and details for the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 presented by adidas also were announced, with 10 Canadian and 10 American All-Stars set to go head-to-head. The 20 All-Stars – who have won a combined 39 Olympic and 108 World Championship medals – were selected by the League in consultation with hockey legends Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Cammi Granato, Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser. Granato and fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford will be behind the benches.
Referees Kelly Cooke and Katie Guay and linesmen Kendall Hanley and Kirsten Welsh will officiate the game. All four officiated 2019 NHL Rookie tournaments after attending the NHL Exposure Combine.
The League also announced that Flames goaltender David Rittich will replace Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper on the Pacific Division roster.