Tonight's games: Test your might

Tonight’s slate of games look extremely promising – on paper, at least. There are two great games in the Western Conference, one bitter rivalry match and a few gut check opportunities to boot. Let’s take a look at Wednesday’s offerings, including the standout duo.

Today’s Best

Los Angeles Kings (39-22-4, 82 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (43-17-5, 91 pts) 8:30 PM ET

This game puts together two teams that share some interesting similarities but also some glaring disparities. Both the Kings and Blackhawks feature mostly youthful core players along with solid veteran role players, defensive minded coaches and average goalies. Los Angeles might be a year behind Chicago, though, and their roster is as low-risk as the Blackhawks’ is now-or-nothing (we’ll discuss that later this week). This should be intriguing.

Vancouver Canucks (41-23-2, 84 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (39-22-5, 83 pts) 10:00 PM ET

You really have to hand it to the Vancouver Canucks for playing so well in less than ideal circumstances. They’ve been hot lately (7-3) which is impressive considering the fact that they’re on a historic road trip. With the Sharks far, far ahead in first place, the light at the end of the tunnel for Phoenix would be holding onto the fourth seed.

Jump for the remaining games.


Dallas Stars (29-24-12, 70 pts) at Buffalo Sabres (35-20-9, 79 pts) 7:00 PM ET

This is a tale of two goalies. While Ryan Miller is becoming about as close to a household name as a goalie can get, Marty Turco is fighting for his future. Then again, if Turco keeps playing like he did against Washington, he might just stay in Dallas. (I still doubt that, though.)

New York Rangers (29-28-9, 67 pts) at New Jersey Devils (38-23-3, 79 pts) 7:00 PM ET

It’s good that this game gets a natural bump from being a rivalry match because the two teams aren’t bringing much to the table right now. The Rangers have slipped out of the top eight with a three game losing streak. The Devils are in a considerable slump right now, going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

Carolina Hurricanes (27-31-7, 61 pts) at Washington Capitals (44-13-9, 97 pts) 7:00 PM ET

OK, let’s see how hot the Carolina Hurricanes really are. Washington narrowly missed extending their home winning streak when they lost to Dallas in a thrilling game. 

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    Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

    at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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    With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

    After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

    It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

    Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

    Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

    Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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    A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

    It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

    Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

    “He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

    “I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

    Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

    Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

    DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

    Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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    The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

    But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

    In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

    (In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

    Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

    Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

    Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

    Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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    There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

    “Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

    “Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”