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Panthers' team effort key to 12-game winning streak

Monday, 01.11.2016 / 8:58 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

More than four weeks have passed since the Florida Panthers skated off with a loss. Twelve games, 12 victories, and a five-point lead atop the Atlantic Division.

The Panthers will go for their 13th consecutive win when they visit the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday (10 p.m. ET; FS-F, SNP). Their streak is tied for the 10th-longest in NHL history and the longest of any team that failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the previous season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's all about team," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Any team in the National Hockey League, they're going to defend their teammates and that's why we're winning some hockey games. We've got a good team. We've got a good group of guys."

12 things learned from first half of '15-16 NHL season

Monday, 01.11.2016 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The exact midpoint of the 2015-16 season took place Saturday at Wells Fargo Center when the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders played the 615th game of the NHL's 1,230-game regular season.

So much is still to come in coming months -- the Stanley Cup Playoff race will intensify, All-Star Weekend in Nashville, outdoor games in Minnesota and Denver, and the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. But so much has already happened that has taught us all quite a bit about the teams and players this season.

What have we learned? Well, here are 12 things we didn't know before the puck dropped between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Oct. 7 for the first game of the season:

Senators' Karlsson leads Norris race at halfway point

Monday, 01.11.2016 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

There's very little defenseman Erik Karlsson doesn't do for the Ottawa Senators.

He scores. He quarterbacks the power play. He helps kill penalties. In his past 10 games, Karlsson has eclipsed 30 minutes of ice time on six occasions. He leads the NHL by averaging 28:35 per game.

And with 45 points in 43 games this season, Karlsson, 25, remains on pace to have at least 70 points for the third time in his NHL career.

That's why halfway through the 2015-16 season, Karlsson remains the front-runner to win the Norris Trophy as the League's top defenseman.

Capitals built to achieve more than Ovechkin feats

Sunday, 01.10.2016 / 11:05 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin was mobbed by his teammates, all of them celebrating with him for what he did. He later skated out to center ice, arms raised, circling around and clapping, applauding the fans celebrating him, waving to the crowd, presumably to his parents, his father, who was recording the entire scene on his phone.

This was special. This was memorable. This was Ovechkin at 16:19 of the second period at Verizon Center on Sunday, when he scored the 500th goal of his NHL career, making him the fifth-fastest player in League history to reach the milestone.

Ovechkin did it in 801 games. Four Hall of Fame players got to 500 goals faster -- Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693).

The difference between Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy and Hull is they won the Stanley Cup a combined 12 times, at least two each and four for Gretzky and Bossy. Ovechkin has never gotten close, never out of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That could change this season.

Analytics say Ovechkin one of top goal-scorers ever

Sunday, 01.10.2016 / 10:13 PM / Behind the Numbers

Rob Vollman - Correspondent

Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals became the 43rd player in NHL history to score 500 career goals when he scored against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.

Let's break down the numbers behind where Ovechkin's goals have come from, where he ranks among history's other great goal-scorers, and how many more he might score in the future.

Among NHL franchises, the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets have been most victimized by Ovechkin's scoring prowess, with the Great Eight scoring 43 goals in 59 games against them.

Capitals thrilled taking Ovechkin over Malkin in '04

Sunday, 01.10.2016 / 8:53 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin always were considered the top two players entering the 2004 NHL Draft in Raleigh, N.C.

What appeared to be a difficult decision on paper wasn't so much for the Washington Capitals front office. Ovechkin was the player they targeted all along, and they never wavered in their decision to make him the No. 1 pick.

The leading advocate to select Ovechkin at the time was Capitals director of amateur scouting Ross Mahoney. He has proven prophetic; not only has Ovechkin scored more points than any player selected in the 2004 draft, but on Sunday against the Ottawa Senators, he became the fifth-fastest player in NHL history and first Russian-born to score 500 goals, doing so in his 801st game.

Penguins, Canadiens headed in opposite directions

Sunday, 01.10.2016 / 12:21 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The conflict between process and results, not only in hockey but in all professional sport, can be more than an internal battle at times. When the results don't come in spite of respecting the process it can turn into a full-on war, one that can leave a team fragile.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens arrived at Bell Centre for their game Saturday mending some wounds from that mental war. Each team believed it was respecting the process, neither had been rewarded often enough for it and each was fragile as a result.

With the second half of the NHL season underway, the pressure to get results has been ratcheted up. Process alone suddenly isn't good enough, and the byproduct of a lack of results is desperation.

The Penguins and Canadiens showed that on Saturday.

Capitals goalie Holtby won't jinx 21-game streak

Saturday, 01.09.2016 / 5:34 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- It was obvious after the Washington Capitals' 4-3 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Saturday that goalie Braden Holtby doesn't want to jinx himself by talking about a streak that has reached 21 decisions and two months.

Holtby, who made 23 saves to win for the 27th time in 34 games this season, has not had a regulation loss since Nov. 10, a 1-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. He is 19-0-2 with two shutouts, a 1.89 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in 22 starts since his last regulation loss.

Holtby is the fourth goalie in the past 20 seasons to earn at least one point for his team in as many as 21 consecutive decisions, joining Chris Osgood (1995-96, 19-0-2), Jose Theodore (2009-10, 20-0-3) and Roberto Luongo (2010-11, 16-0-5). Theodore also did it for the Capitals.

Capitals forward Johansson suspended two games

Friday, 01.08.2016 / 6:27 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK – Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson has been suspended for two games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey during NHL Game No. 601 in New York on Thursday, Jan. 7, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 8:42 of the first period. Johansson was assessed a minor penalty for illegal check to the head.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Johansson will forfeit $40,322.58. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

For a full explanation of the decision, complete with video, please click on the following link.

Sabres' Evander Kane excited for return to Winnipeg

Friday, 01.08.2016 / 4:28 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO -- It's been nearly a calendar year since Evander Kane was traded by the Winnipeg Jets to the Buffalo Sabres, and on Sunday he will play his first game at MTS Centre (3 p.m. ET; TSN3, MSG-B, Bell TV) since then.

"I talked to Evander I think it was June 5 and 6 this summer and he had this day circled on the calendar already, so I know it's going to be … after the Chicago game and going into Winnipeg, it's going to be a big game for him," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday.

Kane was part of a trade made on Feb. 11, 2015 that also sent defenseman Zach Bogosian to Buffalo for defenseman Tyler Myers; forwards Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, and Brendan Lemieux; and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft the Jets used to select forward Jack Roslovic.

"It's my first time ever being traded, so it'll be kind of a new experience for me going back and playing against a team I used to play for, so I'm sure it'll be interesting and entertaining," Kane said Tuesday in Buffalo.

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