Tonight's games: Something for everyone

penswings.jpgThere may only be three games tonight, but every single one of them is intriguing. If you’re a hockey fan, you should find at least something to like even if your team isn’t suiting up in one of these matches. Let’s get right to them.

Pittsburgh Penguins (42-24-6, 90 pts) at Detroit Red Wings (35-23-13, 83 pts) 7:00 pm ET

Isn’t it always a big game when these two teams play? The added bonus is that both are peaking heading into the playoffs, with the Red Wings on fire in particular. Detroit has very little breathing room ahead of Calgary for the eighth spot while Pittsburgh is holding a slim lead over New Jersey for the Atlantic division title and Buffalo for the second seed. This should be as combative as a regular season inter-conference game can get.

Ottawa Senators (37-30-5, 79 pts) at Montreal Canadiens (36-29-7, 79 pts) 7:30 pm ET

Before their shootout loss to the Maple Leafs, the Canadiens were quietly one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Meanwhile, Ottawa is one of the coldest squads in the league, currently on a five game losing streak. This game has serious playoff seeding impact because the winner will be seated in fifth place in the East. For a day, at least.

Colorado Avalanche (40-25-6, 86 pts) at Los Angeles Kings (41-24-5, 87 pts) 10:30 pm ET

Both of these young, up and coming teams are struggling a little bit right now. They both better be careful, too, because they aren’t guaranteed to make the playoffs. At the same time, each team can climb nicely up the playoff ladder because fifth-place Nashville only has nine games remaining (while LA has 12 and Colorado has 11)

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    Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

    Niklas Kronwall
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    When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

    (His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

    It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

    He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

    First, the Kronwalling:

    Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

    It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

    Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

    Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

    Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

    Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

    It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

    To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

    The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

    That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

    They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

    Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


    More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

    In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

    Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

    Jack Eichel
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    The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

    You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

    That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

    Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

    Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


    Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

    While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

    In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

    The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?