Tonight's games: Rangers on life support

All five games have at least some playoff implications (at least for seeding), but Detroit-Columbus and Colorado-Edmonton lack some of the sizzle of the other three matches. Those two games are more about trying to leapfrog other teams or keeping their place in line. The other three are a little more interesting, with New York – Toronto being particularly huge. (Look at this way, though, Bruins fans: if Toronto loses, at least your chances of getting Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin improves.)

Toronto Maple Leafs (29-37-14, 72 pts) at New York Rangers (36-33-10, 82 pts) 7 PM ET

John Tortorella and the Rangers should look at the situation simply: win out and you’re in the playoffs. That’s not exactly an easy task when you consider the fact that they play the equally motivated Flyers in those last two games. Losing this game would be a real slap in the face, though. Especially considering how badly the game against Buffalo went.

Nashville Predators (46-28-6, 98 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (48-25-6, 102 pts) 10 PM ET

Things have cooled down a bit for the Coyotes, but it would be quite the late season tumble if they managed to cough up the fourth seed (and home ice) against their possible first round opponents from Nashville. If this ends up being the 4-5 match, it will have to go down as one of the scrappiest playoff series in recent history. There would flat-out be a lot of scraps, folks.

St. Louis Blues (39-31-9, 87 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (50-22-7, 107 pts) 8:30 PM ET

Chicago actually has a decent chance of stealing the top seed in the West because they have more wins than San Jose and a game in hand. Much of the dreary atmosphere in the Windy City has cleared up since the team is now on an impressive 4 game winning streak. Still, that doesn’t make things any rosier for sad panda netminder Cristobal Huet.

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    Marner’s brilliant passing powers uplifting night for Leafs

    TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 15:  Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates scoring his 1st NHL goal against the Boston Bruins during an NHL game on October 15, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Bruins 4-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    For a while, the story of the Florida Panthers – Toronto Maple Leafs game would be the remarkable march of Jonathan Marchessault.

    As great as his story remains (he gave Florida 1-0 and 2-1 leads), those pesky young Maple Leafs keep stealing the headlines.

    In tonight’s case, it was Mitch Marner who was raising eyebrows as he assisted on all three of Toronto’s goals in a 3-2 victory.

    His third assist was just sublime:

    After the game, Tyler Bozak pondered the two goals Marner helped him score and deemed the youngster “an elite player,” according to the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle.

    Considering the growing discomfort regarding Frederik Andersen‘s play, this tweet should help to make Maple Leafs fans smile:

    Ehhhhh, Marner might deserve that first star, but the gesture means almost as much as the win.

    Also, it might help Andersen feel a little better after this happened:

    Either way, this could be the sort of win that Toronto might build upon.

    Devan Dubnyk pushes shutout streak to two games

    ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 15: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild defends the net against Winnipeg Jets during the game on October 15, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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    Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.

    For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.

    It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.

    Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.

    He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:

    More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.

    Video: Another way Patrik Laine evokes Alex Ovechkin

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    There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.

    Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.

    Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.

    This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.

    Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.

    Video: Want another booming hip check? Sean Couturier obliges

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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    Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.

    While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.

    Rate this as you will:

    Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not: