Around the Rink – Wednesday, October 27

Let’s take a look at today’s six games. All times are Eastern (ET).

7:00 pm

Washington @ Carolina

The Hurricanes finally host a team in Carolina after bouncing around Europe and the Pacific Division (among other areas) to start off the season. We’ll have more on the Hurricanes playing their first home game 20 days after the season started a little later today.

Meanwhile, the Capitals hope to regain their scoring touch, as they’re averaging 2.9 goals per game after averaging 3.8 last season.

Atlanta @ NY Rangers

The Rangers go for their fourth consecutive win tonight, which would be their first four game winning streak since December 2009. They’ve been able to do that without Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury, who are on the shelf with injuries. The Thrashers hope to end a losing streak (0-2-1) as Evander Kane establishes himself as legit offensive threat.

7:30 pm

NY Islanders @ Montreal

This begins a home-and-home between the Isles and the Habs. The Islanders are unexpectedly hot so far, winning three of their last four as they sit among the best teams in the East. John Tavares is a big reason why, scoring seven points in the last four games. Montreal’s been even better, though, with a 5-2-1 record. Few would have expected this to be a big game, but so far, it is.

Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay

There’s just no way to sell this one, right? I mean, gosh, when you have nobodies like Sidney Crosby, Steve Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin and so on, you just hope fans show up for the hot dogs. Crosby and Stamkos once again seem like they’ll go toe-to-toe for the Maurice Trophy after sharing it last season, so this could be an entertaining contest.

8:30 pm

Los Angeles @ Chicago

The Kings (6-2) have been stronger than the defending champion Blackhawks (5-4-1) so far, but it will be a real test for Los Angeles tonight. If they can beat them without stud defenseman Drew Doughty, that would be a real confidence booster for an up-and-coming club.

10:30 pm

New Jersey @ San Jose

This is a contest between two perennial contenders who are struggling mightily so far this season. The Sharks (3-3-1) are looking quite a bit better than the Devils (2-6-1), but both teams could really use this one if they want to make good on their considerable talent.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.