Comrie healthy scratch for Penguins, Crawford starts in goal for Chicago

A couple of tonight’s games are going to be a bit more intriguing thanks to some lineup decisions made this afternoon. In Pittsburgh, forward Mike Comrie will be a healthy scratch for the Penguins. That in itself is pretty big news except that Comrie is being replaced by enforcer Eric Godard.

Did we forget to mention the Penguins are playing the ever-truculent Maple Leafs? Yeah, that’s kind of a big deal for this decision. Still, Comrie is a guy counted on to be Crosby’s wingman and be an offensive producer for them. Sitting him down in favor of pugilist Godard is more than a bit curious. Also out of the lineup for Pittsburgh are defensemen Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek. Newly recalled Andrew Hutchinson gets to make his debut with the Penguins tonight in Michalek’s place.

Goalie Jonas Gustavsson starts for Toronto, getting the nod over Jean-Sebastian Giguere. Gustavsson was likely going to start either this game or against the New York Rangers on Friday. Getting the nod against a fairly banged up Penguins squad isn’t the worst idea in the world.

In Chicago, goalie Corey Crawford will be making his second straight start for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks say that Crawford’s start against Buffalo was predetermined, but this start against Nashville seems a bit strange. Crawford will be facing off against Predators backup goalie Anders Lindback who is replacing the injured Pekka Rinne. Backing up Lindback is former Colgate goalie Mark Dekanich. Neither Lindback nor Dekanich have ever started an NHL game.

It’s not a time to panic over starting goalie Marty Turco in Chicago but in his two starts against Colorado and Detroit, he was fighting the puck a bit and took the loss in both games. Crawford wasn’t a world beater against Buffalo but still managed to get the win.

You mean to say that the backup did about as well as the starter did and got rewarded with a win? Chicago fans should be used to this by now.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.