Around the Rink – Saturday, November 6th

Here are previews of tonight’s hefty 12-game slate. As usual, all times are Eastern (ET).

7:00 pm

Chicago @ Atlanta

What’s the best way to give your sagging attendance a little lift? How about playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions, especially as they struggle so you might even earn a win? It should be an interesting reunion, too, as Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Andrew Ladd play against their former Blackhawk teammates.

St. Louis @ Boston

Two dominant defensive teams go head-to-head tonight, as Jaroslav Halak (or Ty Conklin?) and the Blues takes on Tim Thomas (or Tuukka Rask?) of the Bruins. Both teams are off to strong starts so far this season, so this could be a good barometer for each team.

Philadelphia @ NY Islanders

This is a contest between two Atlantic Division teams on divergent paths; the Flyers are on to of the division thanks to a five-game winning streak, while the Islanders are tumbling their way back to the cellar thanks to a six-game losing lull.

Ottawa @ Montreal

The Senators are getting their acts together after a tough start to the season, winning five of their last seven games. They were possibly the streakiest team in the league last season so this isn’t much of a surprise. The Canadiens have had their act together more or less all season, so they will provide a nice test for their division rivals.

Florida @ Carolina

The Hurricanes have to hope that their end of the home-and-home back-to-back series is more successful, as they lost 7-4 last night. Then again, Tomas Vokoun probably hopes for a different outcome – at least if he starts tonight – since Vokoun was pulled from Friday’s game.

Buffalo @ Toronto

This is one of those “well, someone has to win it” games. Toronto lost their last four games while Buffalo is on a five-gaming losing streak, with the Sabres being especially hopeless. Perhaps one of these two teams will use this contest to rebuild their momentum?

Minnesota @ Columbus

The Wild seem like they straightened things out, but one misleading fact is that they only played three of their 12 games on the road (1-1-1). The Blue Jackets are keeping pace in the highly competitive Central Division, with Mathieu Garon on quite the hot streak.

9:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ Phoenix

It seemed like the Penguins righted the ship with a four-game winning streak, only now they are 1-4-1 in their last six games. The Coyotes haven’t been very good lately either, going 2-3-2 in their last seven.

Dallas @ Colorado

The Stars finished their six-game homestand dominating their last three, including a thrashing of the Coyotes on Friday. While the Stars have been pretty hot, the Avalanche are growing a little cold, going 2-3-1 in their last six games.

10:00 pm

Nashville @ Los Angeles

It’s a match between two responsible defensive teams on different paths. The Predators have lost their last three while the Kings are on a three-game winning streak. Should be a gone one.

Detroit @ Vancouver

Two Western Conference division leaders – and genuine contenders – go up against each other in this one. The Canucks have won five in a row while the Red Wings are on a three-game winning streak, including a 3-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers last night.

Tampa Bay @ San Jose

The Sharks haven’t scored a goal in their last two games and things aren’t going to get any easier, as captain and leading scorer Joe Thornton will face a two-game suspension. The Lightning have been strong so far this season, but the Capitals have the Southeast Division lead. Will this game involve a not-particularly-emotional reunion between Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki and his former team?

Video: Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler lose cool in scuffle with Kassian, Oilers

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In the first round, Zack Kassian reminded the hockey world why he came into the league with considerable hype as a first-rounder, as he scored some big goals for the Edmonton Oilers.

Of course, there’s a reason why Kassian has 522 penalty minutes in 313 career regular-season games. He can be a nasty presence who straddles the line.

He did as much late in Game 1, getting into it with Ryan Kesler, and then things really got out of hand. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and others were involved in “histrionics.”

(Who wants to start a Patreon to find out what Getzlaf and Andrej Sekera were saying to each other, by the way?)

It looks like the players involved were only whistled for roughing minors rather than fighting majors. This caps a tough night for Anaheim, who lost 5-3 and saw Kevin Bieksa suffer a troubling lower-body injury.

King Leon: Draisaitl collects four points vs. Ducks to give Oilers a Game 1 win

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So far, the Edmonton Oilers had been showing that they can win tight, low-scoring playoff games. And then the third period of Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks happened.

The two teams entered the final frame tied 1-1, with smaller breaks and bounces being the story. Then just about everything happened in the third, with Leon Draisaitl guiding the Oilers to a 5-3 win to take a 1-0 series lead.

Draisaitl ended up with a goal and three assists, extending his point streak to three games (seven points during that span).

He wasn’t the only Oilers player to raise some eyebrows, and actually, the other two starring members were a lot more surprising. Mark Letestu seemed to make the early difference with two power-play goals, while low-scoring defenseman Adam Larsson found the net twice, including on the game-winner.

Phew, that’s a lot to absorb, right? This video captures the wildest scoring stretch of that period, even if there would be more:

While Connor McDavid hasn’t been bad, he’s been quiet – by his lofty standards – so far in the Oilers’ run, and that was mostly true on Wednesday. He ended up with a mere secondary assist in this one,

Yet, that might just be part of the good news for the Oilers. They advanced after McDavid had spotty series against the Sharks, and they just gave the Ducks their first postseason loss of 2017 with Draisaitl and others stealing the headlines.

Things got nasty at the end of this game, with key Ducks such as Ryan Getzlaf being prominently involved. Such moments make it clear that Anaheim isn’t likely to bow out of this one easily (and perhaps not gracefully?) but that should only make for a captivating Game 2.

That Game 2 airs Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; you can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Keep an eye on Oilers’ Slepyshev (the Ducks certainly should)

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The breaks and breakaways frequently went the Edmonton Oilers’ way as they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of their first-round series. Those results have been more of a mixed bag for Edmonton against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 tonight, though.

Anton Slepyshev is a great example of those ups and downs.

In Game 6 against the Sharks, Slepyshev used his speed to score a breakaway tally that ended up being the game-winner. (See here for those friendly breakaways.)

Slepyshev’s been burning the Ducks with his speed on Wednesday, but the Oilers have been burned in the process. For one thing, John Gibson turned aside this big chance shortly after Ryan Getzlaf gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead:

Later on in that same second period, Slepyshev got a step on the Ducks defense again. This time, he didn’t just fail to score; he took a goalie interference penalty for bumping Gibson.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being among those hitting posts, it might feel like it’s all against the Oilers this time around, but crossbars/postsanother theme from Edmonton’s Game 6 win vs. San Jose – have more or less balanced out.

And, one break really went Edmonton’s way: a Ducks defender broke his stick on the Oilers’ 5-on-3 opportunity, opening the door for a crucial Mark Letestu goal:

The end result is a 1-1 tie, but give the Oilers credit for not getting rattled. If Slepyshev can keep up his efforts, his speed could be a factor in a series that looks like it could be a real tug-o-war.

Jake Allen takes blame for Predators’ game-winner vs. Blues

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Let’s be honest: the St. Louis Blues owe a lot to Jake Allen‘s work against the Minnesota Wild in that first-round series.

He probably bought himself a significant amount of goodwill for that outstanding work, but Allen isn’t resting on his laurels. He admitted that “a little mistake by me cost” the Blues the 4-3 decision against the Predators, leaving St. Louis down 1-0 to Nashville.

The goal in question was Vernon Fiddler‘s unlikely 4-3 tally, which came after an unsuccessful poke check attempt by Allen:

Now, to be fair, that wasn’t even the only failed poke check that turned into a goal, as Pekka Rinne also got beat after making such an attempt:

Then again, Allen is wise to score points with teammates for taking the blame. As far as his team, head coach Mike Yeo believes that it was the second period that really made the difference.

Regardless, Allen and the Blues hope to carry over the momentum from their third-period dominance in Game 1 to Game 2 to tie the series 1-1.

That contest airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)