Pascal Leclaire to start Game 5 for Senators

Thumbnail image for leclaireagain.jpgThe Ottawa Senators will start should-be No. 1 goalie Pascal Leclaire over their actual No. 1 Brian Elliott tonight as the team tries to fight off elimination at Mellon Arena. It’s pretty difficult to look at this as anything but a band-aid solution for the wobbling Senators (and it’s not as if Leclaire was that great in relief of Elliott on Tuesday night, either). Still, it’s not like Elliott was setting the world on fire, so why not. Right?

TSN has the story, as well as some facts that (surprise, surprise) don’t exactly lean in Ottawa’s favor.

Pittsburgh, which was 25-12-4 at Mellon Arena in the regular season, can punch its ticket to the next round with a home victory tonight.Since 1991, the Penguins are 10-4 when they have an opportunity to close out a series on home ice.

Pittsburgh, the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions, won a wild Game 4 matchup in Ottawa on Tuesday, downing the Senators by a 7-4 count. The Penguins scored five times during an eight-goal second period, which proved to be the second-highest scoring period all-time in NHL postseason history.

Sidney Crosby continued his torrid start to the 2010 playoffs with two goals and two assists in Tuesday’s win. Crosby now has 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in the series to lead the league in playoff scoring and became only the second player in NHL history to notch at least two points in each of his team’s first four games to a playoff series (Paul Coffey, 1989). It was Crosby’s first four-point playoff game since Game 2 versus Ottawa in the 2008 quarterfinals.

While the Philadelphia Flyers are banged up and the New Jersey Devils are throwing jars of jelly to exorcise their demons, the Senators have an even bigger mountain to climb being that they’d need to win 2 games on the road, 1 game in Ottawa and three in a row to come back in this series.

Still, there would be no better time for Leclaire to justify the hype he came into Ottawa with than to stand on his head and lead a miracle run for the Senators. These playoffs have been crazy enough for it to happen. You never know.

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    Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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    For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

    They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

    • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
    • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
    • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

    Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

    Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

    Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

    Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

    (Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

    Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

    You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

    It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

    Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

    Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

    Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

    Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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    If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

    You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

    The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

    For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

    (Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

    The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

    Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

    Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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    It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

    The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

    The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

    One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.