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Around the rink – Thursday, November 11th

It’s Veteran’s Day in America, so remember to say thanks to anyone you know who has served their country in the military. On the hockey side of things, it’s Gaborik Day in New York as the Rangers get their top scorer back in the lineup. That’s a reason to throw a party, right? If not, there’s enough going on elsewhere to whet your appetite. All times listed are Eastern.

7:00 pm

Montreal @ Boston

Boston’s coming off a big win over Pittsburgh but dealing with the Habs always means things get interesting and with the Habs dedication to frustrating the opponents offense these rivals should have quite the reunion tonight. With Tim Thomas having started against Pittsburgh last night, could we see Tuukka Rask get the call against Carey Price?

Buffalo @ NY Rangers

Marian Gaborik makes his triumphant return to the Rangers following his shoulder injury and he gets to deal with a Sabres team that comes in after winning two in a row. Oh yeah, and Ryan Miller could be back in the lineup for the Sabres as well. All of a sudden it looks like a marquee match-up doesn’t it? Let’s hope the game can live up to the names.

Tampa Bay @ Washington

A Southeast Division battle kicks in with the Caps coming in on fire winners of five in a row. Tampa Bay comes into the game after getting off a three-game skid with a win over the slump-busting Maple Leafs. Did the Lightning get over what ails them? A red-hot Caps team should provide a good litmus test to see if that’s the case.

Philadelphia @ Carolina

If the Hurricanes are going to be seen as a playoff threat, a win over the Flyers might help convince some people. The Flyers are looking to bounce back after a loss to the Caps. They were winners of seven straight before that and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky deserves a lot of credit for that. The Hurricanes enter the game on a two-game win streak having beaten the Panthers and Oilers. Expect them to get a healthy test at the hands of the Flyers.

Minnesota @ Atlanta

Minnesota is looking to get their offense jump-started a little bit and a game with the Thrashers might just be the kind of help they’re looking for. The Thrashers have allowed the most goals in the league but if the Wild aren’t careful they could get lit up themselves with Atlanta being one of the better scoring teams in the league.

7:30 pm

Edmonton @ Detroit

Things are tough for the Oilers right now. If they hadn’t played the Blackhawks they’d be in the middle of a soul-crushing losing streak. They’ve lost nine of their last eleven games and their only two wins in there are against Chicago. With that reasoning in place, their prospects against the Red Wings don’t look good, especially with the Wings playing steady hockey of late. Detroit has won four of their last five games and it’s been Jimmy Howard they can thank for a lot of that holding opponents to six goals in those four wins.

Keep an eye on Edmonton rookie Taylor Hall in this one as he’ll be playing across the river from Windsor, Ontario where he played junior hockey. Playing in Detroit is about as much of a homecoming as he’ll get, at least until an eccentric Canadian billionaire tries to move a struggling team there.

Vancouver @ Ottawa

Vancouver’s east coast swing continues in Ottawa and they’ll be looking for a little bit more offense than they saw against Montreal the other night. As in any offense as they were shutout by the Habs. Playing a streaking Ottawa team may not be the solution they’re looking for though. The Sens are winners of four in a row and have gotten fantastic play in goal from Brian Elliott and he could get the nod again tonight. Special side highlight of the night? The Sedin twins facing off with Swedish favorite Daniel Alfredsson.

8:00 pm

Nashville @ St. Louis

So how do you come back after getting thrashed 8-1 by the Blue Jackets? For the Blues you get to shake it off right away the following night against fellow divisional foe Nashville. That might not be the best medicine as the Preds are notoriously difficult to deal with, but at least the Blues have home ice to support them. The Preds, meanwhile, will be looking to end a five game losing streak. Desperation meets reclamation. It’s got the makings of a good one in St. Louis.

10:30 pm

Dallas @ Los Angeles

The Kings are winners of four straight and are one of the league’s best teams. Meanwhile, the Stars sit just four points behind them in the standings and have been a surprise themselves so far this year. After a humbling 5-0 loss to Colorado the other night, the Stars will be looking to get back on the right track. Previous to that beat down they were on a three-game win streak. Dealing with the Kings, even with injuries to Willie Mitchell and Alexei Ponikarovsky, will make living difficult.

NY Islanders @ San Jose

Does the Isles streak end tonight? The Islanders have lost eight in a row, including two straight one-goal losses. They did just about everything but win (or score a goal) last night against Anaheim limiting the Ducks to 14 shots on goal but still managed to lose. Scoring has been their biggest issue and facing San Jose won’t help that much. The Sharks are fifth in the league in goals allowed but they’re struggling a bit themselves, losing three of their last four games. The Sharks aren’t scoring much of late either, but the Isles have been slump busters before. Unless the Isles start scoring, they don’t look to be much of a threat.

Depth scoring helps Penguins get by Canadiens

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 18:  Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his third period goal with teammates during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on January 18, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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MONTREAL (AP) Eric Fehr and Jake Guentzel scored in the second period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Defensemen Ian Cole and Olli Maatta also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its second game in a row after a three-game skid.

Sven Andrighetto scored for Montreal, which lost its second straight and has only two wins in its last six games. The Canadiens’ offense remained in a rut coming off a 1-0 loss Monday in Detroit.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray was back in form after Monday’s wild 8-7 win over Washington, making 19 saves. But Carey Price‘s woes continued as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 26-20. Price allowed three or more goals for the eighth time in 10 games.

A tight-checking first period saw Pittsburgh strike first as Cole took a feed from Evgeni Malkin on a counterattack and scored on a high shot inside the near post with Patric Horqvist screening Carey Price. Malkin picked up his seventh point in five games.

Fehr, who got into the lineup with Matt Cullen out 3-to-4 weeks with a foot injury, was left alone in front to take a pass from Chris Kunitz and score 5:19 into the second. Guentzel made it 3-0 at 17:38 when he tipped a point shot from Cameron Gaunce, who was making his Penguins debut.

Andrighetto got one back at 18:11 when he banked one in off Murray from the side of the net.

Conor Sheary got away with tripping defenseman Jeff Petry behind the Montreal net and fed the puck to Maatta at the point for a low shot that went through Price’s pads 15:36 into the third frame.

A scoreboard tribute was paid to former Montreal Expos star Tim Raines for his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Penguins: at Carolina on Friday night.

Canadiens: at New Jersey on Friday night.

PHT Morning Skate: Tortorella says ‘not a chance’ LeBron James could play hockey

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Auston Matthews is putting together one of the best rookie seasons we’ve seen in a long time, but if it wasn’t for Ukrainian skating coach Boris Dorozhenko’s unique teaching methods, he might not be the player he is today. (ESPN)

–Not many people expected the Minnesota Wild to contend for the Central Division crown this season, but their play is making some in the national media believe they have a chance to do some damage in the near future. “I give them a ton of credit,” NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire said. “They’ve put themselves in a great position to win a Cup. This is the best team they’ve had in Minnesota ever. Like, ever!” (Minneapolis StarTribune)

–If he wasn’t a basketball player, I could see LeBron James playing in the NFL. But a hockey player? I don’t think so. It sounds like Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella agrees with me. “He can’t skate,” Tortorella said during a radio interview. “He’s too damn big, he can’t skate. And you can tell him I said that, I challenge him.” (BarDown)

–The Boston Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 in last night’s game against the Red Wings, but they still found a way to lose the game. Watch the highlights of that tilt by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Every hockey fan is aware of the incredible season Sidney Crosby has put together, but for some reason, Evgeni Malkin‘s stellar play seems to be flying under the radar. After all, Malkin isn’t too far behind Connor McDavid for the scoring title. “He doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves,” said Penguins assistant coach Sergei Gonchar. “Not only this season or that season. I think overall if you look at his career, I don’t think he has been covered as much as some other guys. I think he deserves more credit for what he has done in his career.” (NHL.com)

–The 2003 NHL Entry Draft is regarded as one of the best drafts in league history. That year, the Penguins took Marc-Andre Fleury first overall, but if it had to be done over again, who would the top pick be? According to a pair of Sportsnet hockey analysts, Patrice Bergeron or Ryan Getzlaf would go number one if that draft could be done over again. (Sportsnet)

–In his final year of eligibility, former Expos outfielder Tim Raines was finally voted into the hall-of-fame yesterday, and the Montreal Canadiens made sure to congratulate him during last night’s game:

Sharks grind out win, make life difficult for Kings

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If the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings meet again, it will be in the playoffs. If they do so, the Sharks will hold quite a bit of a recent edge.

They defeated them in the first round of the 2016 playoffs and won the 2016-17 season series with the Kings after beating L.A. in a tight 3-2 affair on Wednesday.

During a week where leads have been flimsy and goals came in flurries, this one started off pretty hot. The Sharks generated a 2-1 lead in the first period, and then the two teams exchanged goals in the second, with Joe Pavelski‘s goal ultimately standing as the game-winner.

The Sharks won after a scoreless third period, keeping them in a position to take back first place in the Pacific Division:

1. Ducks – 59 points in 47 games
2. Oilers – 57 in 47
3. Sharks – 56 in 45

San Jose has an opportunity to make up that ground with its games in hand. The Kings, on the other hand, see their margin of error for a wild card spot dwindling:

Second wild card spot: Kings, 48 points in 45 games

Canucks – 48 in 46
Predators – 47 in 44
Stars – 46 in 46
Jets – 46 in 48

The Sharks made life easier for themselves while making it tougher for the Kings. If that’s the end of their interactions for 2016-17, Sharks fans should be quite happy.

Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties

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Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.

To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:

Monday: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 8-7 in an overtime thriller.

Tuesday: The Dallas Stars managed to hold off the New York Rangers in a 7-6 victory. Plenty of weird things happened beyond all of those goals.

Wednesday: Red Wings storm back from that 3-0 deficit to eventually win.

Games like these can be a nightmare for coaches and goalies on both sides, yet Claude Julien was probably especially steamed by this one.

The Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 but the Red Wings kept fighting back. As a defensive-minded coach, Julien couldn’t have been happy with his team’s play.

(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)

Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.

Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.

Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.