Evgeni Malkin fights Rick Nash, Tyler Seguin scores, Carey Price allows 6 in tonight's 'early' games

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There were a bunch of games tonight, quite a few of them starting late, so here’s a quick recap of the games that began before 9pm ET. We’ll cover the rest Sunday morning.

Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 1

Plus: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin skated on the same line, which might not be a great idea for depth scoring but would surely be fun to watch. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 32 of 33 shots and the Penguins are 3-0 in games that don’t matter at all. Oh and apparently Malkin got in a fight with Blue Jackets star Rick Nash.

Minus: Derick Brassard went 6-18 in the faceoff circle while Columbus went 18-41 overall. Oh, Nash and Malkin also got in a fight. If it was anything like Crosby’s skirmishes, that could be a minus.

Buffalo 3, Toronto 1

Plus: The Sabres bombarded the preseason-weary Leafs (2-2-1) in their exhibition opener with 44 shots on goal. Ryan Miller stopped all of the paltry nine shots he saw in the game.

Minus: “The Curse of Cuthbert” continues as Mike Komisarek was on the ice for all three Sabres goals.

Ottawa 6, Montreal 2

Plus: Jason Spezza (two goals and one assist) and Nick Foligno (two goals) dominated the Habs. Bobby Butler provided one goal and one assist, too.

Minus: The Carey Price bandwagon hit another pothole, as the beleaguered face of the Habs franchise allowed six goals on 30 shots in this one. Is it time to panic yet?

NYR 5, NJ 4 (OT)

Plus: Mike del Zotto put up an impressive one goal, three assist performance including the overtime game-winner. The Rangers went a stunning 4-for-5 on the power play. Ilya Kovalchuk (one goal and one assist) and Zach Parise (three assists) kept their electric chemistry going.

Minus: Of course, the “ZIP” line hasn’t really created many wins for the Devils just yet. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Hedberg will not put this game on their personal highlight reels.

Florida 3, Boston 2 (SO)

Plus: New Bruins Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton scored the goals.

Minus: The Panthers’ 2010 top pick Erik Gudbranson went -2 in the game. The Bruins gave up a 2-0 lead and lost the game.

Carolina 1, Atlanta 0

Plus: Cam Ward earned a shutout, tossing aside all 32 shots while Chris Mason was solid going 28 for 29. Jeff Skinner strengthened his solid chance of making the team by scoring the game’s only goal.

Minus: Sergei Samsonov’s injury overshadowed all of this, although it looks like he’s going to be OK.

Dallas 5, St. Louis 2

Plus: Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro showed why they were once a strong pairing, with Morrow scoring twice and Ribeiro produced two assists.

Minus: Cam Janssen and Krys Barch fought, which might put their regular season fight/play date in jeopardy.

Chicago 4, Detroit 2

Plus: The announced crowd of 20,553 people set a new franchise record for preseason games in Chicago. Marian Hossa, Jack Skille and Duncan Keith all earned a goal and an assist.

Minus: Chris Osgood was in preseason (or maybe regular season?) form.

Washington 2, Nashville 1

Plus: Mike Green factored into both Capitals goals, scoring a goal and an assist.

Minus: Green once sported a faux hawk.

Philadelphia 3, Minnesota 2 (SO)

Plus: Nikolai Zherdev scored one real world goal and one shutout goal. Sergei Bobrovsky has a funny last name.

Minus: Oskars Bartulis playing 23 minutes in an NHL game seems crazy, even in a preseason game.

By winning fifth straight, Caps extend Wild’s slump to seven losses

Minnesota Wild’s Jared Spurgeon,right, keeps Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin of Russia occupied near the net in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
AP
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Alex Ovechkin scored three times in the second period for his 14th career hat trick, and the Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday night.

Ovechkin, who leads the league with 34 goals, has 13 in his past 13 games. Nicklas Backstrom had three assists and Jason Chimera added an empty-netter for Washington, which improved to a league-best 20-5-2 on the road.

Braden Holtby made 33 saves for the Capitals, who won their fifth consecutive game and became the first team to reach 40 victories this season.

Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild, but Minnesota lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games (1-10-2). Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for the Wild, who have lost seven in a row at home (0-4-3).

Ovechkin’s third goal, which deflected off both the post and the back of Dubnyk into the net, was upheld following a coach’s challenge. Wild coach Mike Yeo challenged that the puck had left the zone for offsides, but the call stood after a review showed that Backstrom stopped the puck before it crossed the blue line.

The goal gave Ovechkin his first hat trick since he scored four goals against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10, 2013.

It wasn’t the only fortunate bounce for Ovechkin on the night, and the five-time 50-goal scorer capitalized on each opportunity.

A shot from T.J. Oshie deflected off of Minnesota forward Zach Parise across the ice right to Ovechkin in the left faceoff circle and Ovechkin quickly snapped off a shot to beat Dubnyk, who couldn’t get across the crease to get into position. Three minutes later, Ovechkin scored on the power play when a point shot bounced off the end boards right to Ovechkin in front of the net.

The tally provided some relief for the Capitals’ surprisingly ineffective power play. Washington had one power play in its previous six games, an empty-netter for the only goal in its previous 20 power-play chances. The Capitals were 1 of 5 on the power play on Thursday.

Coyle scored for the fifth time in eight games in the second, but second periods have doomed the Wild during their slump. Minnesota has been outscored 13-3 in the period in five straight losses.

Suter scored his sixth goal of the season on the power play in the third as Minnesota went 1 of 5 with the man advantage.

NOTES: Washington C Evgeny Kuznetsov left in the third period after he was hit in the face by the stick of Mikael Granlund off a faceoff. … Backstrom has 20 points in his last 17 games. … Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon missed his second straight game with an unspecified deep bruise. Spurgeon has returned to practice, but was held out again. … Holtby is 27-1-3 in his last 31 games with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick helps him make more history

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

(He also passed Jean Beliveau for 39th all-time in goals with his 509th, as NHL.com notes.)

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Update: Minnesota managed three goals, but it wasn’t enough, as Washington got the edge 4-3.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.