Tonight's games: post-deadline haze

The night after a trade deadline always feels a little strange; it’s not that different from cleaning up after a raucous party. You have to wonder if the players and coaches are affected by the early afternoon insanity. Not only do you have to deal with scratches but you also must share some awkward goodbyes (or, sometimes worse, realize that you’re stuck with these freaks for the rest of the season).

Still, we’re gamers at PHT so we soldier on. Let’s preview tonight’s six games.
Today’s Best

Washington Capitals (41-13-8, 90 pts) at Buffalo Sabres (33-19-9, 75 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

Will Ovechkin go into Zeus mode after a disappointing Olympics? Buffalo’s not exactly getting a chance to find their legs after the Olympics with back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and Washington.

Vancouver Canucks (38-22-2, 78 pts) at Detroit Red Wings ( 29-21-12, 70 pts) – 7:30 PM ET

Despite Kirk Maltby’s injury, a shockingly human Detroit squad is starting to get its wounded players back. They’re going to need all the help they can get because they have very little margin for error right now.

Rest of the games after the jump


Philadelphia Flyers (33-25-3, 69 pts) at Florida Panthers (24-28-10, 58 pts) – 7:30 PM ET


Don’t blame the Flyers and Panthers if they feel compelled go for the throat in this one. After all, both teams have plenty to prove after doing very little during the deadline.
Edmonton Oilers (19-37-6, 44 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (41-16-5, 87 pts) – 8:30 PM ET

Yesterday I might have jinxed the Blackhawks against the Islanders, but they really need to win this considering that the Oilers basically transformed from a bad team to an AHL team today.
Minnesota Wild (30-27-4, 64 pts) at Calgary Flames (30-23-9, 69 pts) – 10:00 PM ET

Calgary is one point behind Detroit for the last playoff spot; Minnesota is actually in better position than it might seem because they’ve only played 61 games. The lesson? Just about every team in the West has a chance to make the playoffs aside from Edmonton. (Sorry again Oilers fans)
Colorado Avalanche (35-21-6, 76 pts) at Anaheim Ducks (30-25-7, 67 pts) – 10:00 PM ET

Some might look at this as a game between a band of plucky overachievers (Colorado) and a huge disappointment (Anaheim). Such a statement won’t bother Ducks fans though because they’re still probably celebrating the Visnovsky-Whitney deal.

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    Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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    The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

    San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

    The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

    Here’s the goal:

    Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

    Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

    Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

    Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

    The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

    Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

    The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

    Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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    It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

    After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

    In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

    You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

    Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

    It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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    You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

    After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

    “Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

    “I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

    After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

    “We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

    And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

    Related:

    Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

    Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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    Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

    Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

    Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

    “Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

    To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

    This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.