Welcome to the “NHL Morning Skate,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the League. Feel free to forward this email to colleagues who may be interested and encourage them to sign up by clicking here.
All Times Eastern
Toronto @ Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m., SN, TVAS, SUN
Philadelphia @ Washington, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN
Nashville @ Calgary, 9:30 p.m., SN1, FS-TN
Colorado @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN
NBCSN Channel Finder
Sportsnet Channel Finder
NHLN Channel Finder
A pair of national doubleheaders highlight the final day before the NHL takes its All-Star break (Thursday, Jan. 28 – Monday, Feb. 1):
* In the U.S., the League-leading Capitals (35-8-3, 73 points) – who have won 12 consecutive games at home – welcome the Flyers (20-18-8, 48 points) to Verizon Center in the first half of a doubleheader on NBCSN. The Pacific Division-leading Kings (30-15-3, 63 points) then face the Avalanche (26-22-3, 55 points) at STAPLES Center in the nightcap.
* In Canada, the Maple Leafs (17-21-9, 43 points) visit the Lightning (26-18-4, 56 points) at Amalie Arena in the first half of a doubleheader on Sportsnet. The Predators (23-18-8, 54 points) – who will host the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star festivities this weekend in Nashville – then take on the Flames (21-23-3, 45 points) at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Home Team in Caps
Anaheim 6, BOSTON 2
PITTSBURGH 2, New Jersey 0
CAROLINA 5, Chicago 0
Columbus 5, MONTREAL 2
Buffalo 3, OTTAWA 2
FLORIDA 5, Toronto 1
WINNIPEG 5, Arizona 2
Nashville 2, VANCOUVER 1
SAN JOSE 6, Colorado 1
Roberto Luongo made 22 saves and the Panthers scored five unanswered goals to overcome an early 1-0 deficit en route to their 10th victory in their past 11 home games, including three straight.
* At 29-15-5 (63 points), the Panthers moved five points ahead of the idle Red Wings (25-16-8, 58 points) for first place in the Atlantic Division.
* Luongo, the League’s active leader in career wins, recorded his 423rd victory to tie Tony Esposito for seventh place in NHL history. He now is 14 wins shy of equaling Jacques Plante for sixth place (437).
* Luongo won his eighth consecutive home game to extend his franchise record (1.35 GAA, .951 SV%, 2 SO). Overall, he shares sixth place in the NHL with 22 victories this season (2.08 GAA, .930 SV%, 4 SO).
* Hours after signing a six-year contract extension, Aleksander Barkov scored the first of Florida’s five unanswered goals. Reilly Smith (1-1—2) extended his goal streak to four games (4-1—5), equaling a career high set earlier this season (Dec. 12-18: 4-1—5).
Joe Thornton (0-2—2) registered his 1,300th NHL point to help the Sharks extend their point streak to 10 games (8-0-2), their longest such run since an equal stretch Jan. 15 – Feb. 9, 2011 (9-0-1).
* At 26-18-4 (56 points), the Sharks moved three points ahead of the Coyotes (24-20-5, 53 points) – who lost in regulation – for second place in the Pacific Division.
* Thornton became the 33rd player in NHL history to record 1,300 points (367-933—1,300). His 933 assists rank 16th all-time, one behind Al MacInnis (934).
* Thornton extended his point streak to 10 games (2-12—14), including assists in seven straight (0-9—9). His 10-game run is the third-longest point streak in the NHL this season and Thornton’s longest since Nov. 14 – Dec. 3, 2009 (3-15—18 in 10 GP).
* “I’ve played with a lot of good goal-scorers in my career and a lot of good players. That’s how [1,300 points] happens,” said Thornton, who has recorded at least one point in 18 of his last 19 games (5-20—25). “It’s just one of those things where you keep playing. You kind of get on a streak and you feel good and your line is feeling good. All of a sudden, it happens. The guys have been telling me how close I’ve been. You just go out and play and usually good things happen.”
Both the Penguins and Hurricanes posted shutout wins to continue their climbs in the Eastern Conference Wild Card and Metropolitan Division races:
* Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves to earn his 42nd career shutout (fourth this season) and lead the Penguins to their third consecutive victory overall as well as a 6-0-2 record in their past eight home games. Fleury, who has a 5-0-1 clip in his past six home starts (1.98 GAA, .934 SV%, 2 SO), owns a 12-5-2 record overall this season at CONSOL Energy Center (2.36 GAA, .922 SV%, 3 SO). With the win, the Penguins leapfrogged their opponent – the Devils – for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and also moved within one point of the idle Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
* Eddie Lack stopped all 26 shots he faced to pick up his eighth career shutout (second this season) and guide the Hurricanes to a 7-2-1 clip in their last 10 games. Lack, who is 9-9-3 in 22 appearances this season (2.68 GAA, .904 SV%, 2 SO), upped his record to 4-1-0 in five career games vs. CHI (1.97 GAA, .940 SV%, 1 SO). With the victory, the Hurricanes kept pace in both Eastern Conference Wild Card and Metropolitan Division races – one point back of the Penguins.
The Predators and Ducks also registered victories to narrow in on playoff spots in the Western Conference:
* James Neal scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:44 remaining in regulation to lift the Predators to their fourth win in their past five outings, including a 3-0-0 record to start their four-game road trip. Pekka Rinne added 28 saves, including 23 in the first two periods, to pick up his third straight victory and improve to 19-15-7 overall this season (2.47 GAA, .906 SV%, 2 SO). With the win, the Predators climbed within one point of Avalanche – who lost in regulation – for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
* Corey Perry posted 1-1—2 to spark the Ducks to their third consecutive victory as well as a 7-3-1 record in January. Perry, who has spent his entire career with Anaheim, reached the 20-goal milestone for the eighth time in his 11 NHL seasons – second-most in franchise history behind Teemu Selanne (11x). With the win, the Ducks moved within two points of third place in the Pacific Division and within four points of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
A trio of rookies led their teams to triumphs on Tuesday:
* Nikolaj Ehlers recorded his first career hat trick to help the Jets snap a three-game skid (0-3-0). At 19 years, 347 days, Elias says that Ehlers became the second-youngest player in Jets/Thrashers history to post a hat trick (Ilya Kovalchuk: 19 years, 235 days on Dec. 6, 2002 at WSH). He also became the third rookie in franchise history to register a hat trick. The others: Tomi Kallio (Nov. 4, 2000 at BOS) and Kamil Piros (April 6, 2003 vs. TBL).
* Jack Eichel scored twice, including the tying and winning goals, and Robin Lehner made 34 saves in his return to Ottawa to help the Sabres end a three-game losing streak (0-3-0). Eichel, who posted his third career multi-goal game, ranks second among rookies in goals (16) and points (34) this season. Lehner, who earned his first win with Buffalo (5 GP), went 30-36-13 over his first 86 NHL games with Ottawa (2.88 GAA, .914 SV%, 2 SO).  
* Joonas Korpisalo turned aside 28 shots, including 20 over the final two periods, to lead the Blue Jackets to a sweep of their back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Canadiens on the strength of consecutive 5-2 victories. Korpisalo improved to 5-5-2 in his first 12 NHL appearances (2.74 GAA, .915 SV%), including a 4-0-1 record in his last five starts.
* Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic (82 GP), a second-round selection (36th overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, and Sharks defenseman Dylan DeMelo (23 GP), a sixth-round selection (179th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, both scored their first career goals.
* Blackhawks forward Mark McNeill, the 18th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Draft, and Avalanche goaltender Roman Will, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent, both made their League debuts.
* Avalanche forward Cody McLeod played in his 600th NHL game.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (1-0—1) extended his overall point streak to seven games (5-5—10) and home point streak to nine games (9-6—15). Crosby scored his eighth goal in January, tied for the League lead with Flames forward Sam Bennett . . . Jets teammates Dustin Byfuglien (2-1—3) and Blake Wheeler (0-3—3) both recorded three points. MUST-SEE: Byfuglien hit the ‘dab’ after scoring 3-on-5, the first shorthanded goal of his career (646 GP) . . . Blue Jackets forwards Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky both collected 1-1—2 one night after posting three points apiece . . . Senators captain Erik Karlsson (1-0—1) picked up his 52nd point of the season, tops among defensemen and fourth in the NHL . . . Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban (0-2—2) registered at least one point for the 11th time in his past 13 games (3-10—13) . . . Canucks forward Brandon Sutter scored in his return from a 33-game absence . . . Senators teammates Bobby Ryan (5-2—7) and Mika Zibanejad (2-5—7) both extended their point streaks to six games . . . Hurricanes forward Riley Nash (2-0—2) notched his second career multi-goal game and first since March 12, 2013 at WSH (2-0—2) . . . Bruins forward Matt Beleskey, who played his first six NHL seasons with the Ducks (57-55—112 in 329 GP), collected two assists in his first game against his former team . . . ICYMI: The NHL announced that Ducks forward Shawn Horcoff has been suspended for 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program . . . Forward Craig Adams, who won two Stanley Cups (in 2005-06 w/ CAR and 2008-09 w/ PIT) over 14 seasons, announced his retirement from the NHL
 Follow us @NHL and @PR_NHL | Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Instagram