Sharks tie series with OT win, doubts still linger

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seto.jpgIt’s just one game and one goal, but it may have made all the
difference in the world.

As the clock was winding down on the San
Jose Sharks in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche, facing a
one-goal deficit and the wall named Craig Anderson, instantly thoughts
across the hockey-verse turned to what would be next for the Sharks. If
they dropped both games at home to start their first round series
against the Avalanche, there’s no telling what might have at happened in
the Shark Tank. The fans might have pulled it to pieces.

As it
was, we were already discussing the offseason moves that might be ahead
for the Sharks.

With 32 seconds remaining, Joe Pavelski scored
perhaps the biggest goal of his career and the biggest one for the
Sharks in a very, very long time to tie the game 5-5. The Sharks had
been building momentum throughout the third period, and used that last
minute goal to propel themselves into overtime. Devin Setouguchi put the
finishing touches on one heck of a comeback by the Sharks, as his power
play goal 5:22 into overtime won the game and tied the series 1-1.

Despite
the big win for the Sharks, in which they tied the score five times
before ultimately winning, there’s going to be some questions moving
forward and it’s all going to start in net. Evgeny Nabokov has not
played well in the first two games, and if it weren’t some incredibly
weak defensive play by the Avalanche in the third period and overtime
there’s almost no question that he shouldn’t start next game.

As
it is, he allowed five goals on just 22 shots (the Sharks had 52 shots
on Craig Anderson), and as Steve Lepore said
perfectly on Twitter
: “Craig Anderson is goaltending. Nabokov is
standing in front of a net.”

I’m also certain there will be some
hell raised by the Avalanche on a number of missed or blown calls by the
officials, especially on questionable hits, and I’m certain they won’t
be happy with the ticky-tack penalty called in overtime that led to the
Sharks goal. We’ll have more on that in the morning, for certain.

For
now, the Sharks enjoy a big win. They shouldn’t rest easy, however, as
they are still playing like a team that is serious trouble of being
upset, once more.

Video: Chris Kreider doesn’t just fight Cody Eakin, he hits him with his helmet

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Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.

For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.

So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.

Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.

As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:

The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.

Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

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Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.