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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    Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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    Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

    As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

    Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

    Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

    PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

    Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

    Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

    Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

    In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

    Gaborik’s first goal:

    And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

    Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

    With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

    Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


    When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

    With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

    As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

    Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

    So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


    You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

    Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

    “Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

    Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

    Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

    It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

    Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

    On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

    It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

    * – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.