Around the Rink – Thursday, October 21

After a few easy-to-follow days of four or five games, the NHL returns to a more hectic schedule tonight. There are 11 games overall, so let’s take a quick look at them all. All start times are Eastern (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Toronto

The Maple Leafs are coming off their first loss of the season (in overtime against the Islanders), while the Rangers are steal dealing with injuries that occurred in the teams’ first game of the season. Mike Komisarek might just have something to say to Sean Avery, too.

Anaheim @ Philadelphia

The penalty box operator might get a workout tonight, as the two most heavily penalized teams in the NHL play tonight. Both are struggling a bit, too, so this will be a bounce back game for … someone.

Washington @ Boston

The Bruins took the first of the two team’s home-and-home series, so we’ll see if the Capitals can ruin Boston’s (ridiculously late) home opener.

7:30 pm

Calgary @ Detroit

The Red Wings and Flames are both playing well right now, so something will have to give. Detroit begins a four game homestand tonight.

NY Islanders @ Tampa Bay

Two of the league’s most resurgent teams meet in this one, with the 2008 No. 1 pick (Steve Stamkos) going up against the 2009 No. 1 pick (John Tavares). Should be an interesting contest.

New Jersey @ Montreal

Want to know how well the Devils have done against the Canadiens recently? Here’s this bit from the Associated Press preview.

The Devils have won seven of eight meetings against the Canadiens and are 16-4 against them since the start of the 2005-06 season. They have won four straight in Montreal with their last loss coming March 11, 2008.

Dallas @ Florida

Tomas Vokoun is on a two-game shutout streak, but if he can stop the Stars, then he’ll really be on to something.

8:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ Nashville

Last I heard, Marc-Andre Fleury will make his return to the Penguins net, but we’ll keep an eye on that one throughout the day. It’s surprising the team wouldn’t want to ride the hot hand, yet it’s also understandable that they don’t want Fleury to lose his confidence.

9:00 pm

San Jose @ Colorado

The Avalanche really gave the Sharks fits in the playoffs last season, and that was when San Jose had a more stable situation in net and on their blue line. Will the Sharks shake off the cobwebs or will the Avs continue their hot start?

9:30 pm

Minnesota @ Edmonton

This is the definition of a “homer” rivalry:

Although the Oilers are 0-12-2 at Minnesota since January 2007, they have won seven of eight at home over the Wild. Playing for the first time since losing 5-3 at Calgary on Saturday, Edmonton looks to even the season series after falling 4-2 at Minnesota in its road opener last Thursday.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Phoenix

The Kings will go into this one without defenseman Drew Doughty and might be a little bushed doing a back-to-back. While the Coyotes will be more rested, they’ll be without an important player too, as Shane Doan begins his three-game suspension tonight.

PHT Morning Skate: Sharks name stray cat after captain Joe Pavelski

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–The stray cat that ran onto the ice prior to Game 1 between the Sharks and Preds has been named after Joe Pavelski. (Associated Press)

–Speaking of that black cat, here’s a mountain of pucks shaped like the cat. (The Score)

–When Lukas Head was younger, he played with Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Here’s his story. (Toronto Star)

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–A look behind the scenes of the NHL draft lottery. (Canadian Press)

–Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sharon Szabados loves curing and the Oilers and she was forced to make a tough choice on Saturday. (Sportsnet)

Pascal Dupuis, who was named one of the Masterton Trophy finalists, is adjusting to retirement. (NHL.com)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta