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Around the Rink – Saturday, November 27th

Let’s take a look at today’s 11 games. All start times are Eastern.

1:00 pm

Calgary @ Pittsburgh

I was surprised to see that both teams receive a typical 24 hour break for back-to-back games even though they’re starting in the afternoon. (It seemed like they would have less than that, but both of their games began at 1 pm yesterday, too.) The Penguins are on a hot streak while the Flames stole one from the Flyers yesterday.

Philadelphia @ New Jersey

What was supposed to be an Atlantic Division showdown is instead a game between one of the East’s best and one of the conference’s worst teams. The Devils might just be the very worst team in the league, in fact.

7:00 pm

Toronto @ Ottawa

The Senators aren’t far ahead of the Leafs (in fact, games in hand might explain why they rank higher in the standings) and their goal differential (-17) is worse than Toronto’s -10.

Buffalo @ Montreal

My guess is that Carey Price will play in this one after Alexander Auld lost to Atlanta last night. It’s unclear if the Sabres will play Ryan Miller two nights in a row after coming off a mild groin injury, but the Habs should probably be the favorites tonight either way.

7:30 pm

Florida @ Tampa Bay

Both teams were shut out last night (the Panthers fell to the Rangers, the Lightning were drilled by the Capitals), so each squad will come out a little angry.

8:00 pm

Dallas @ St. Louis

Speaking of coming out angry, the Blues should begin their end of a home-and-home series after losing a grinding contest with the Stars. St. Louis cannot afford to go without a point against Dallas this weekend.

Anaheim @ Phoenix

These two teams are on wildly divergent paths, with the Ducks on a six game losing streak while the Coyotes won seven in a row. It doesn’t help matters for Anaheim that they played last night and will go on the road to Phoenix, either.

NY Rangers @ Nashville

The Predators were embarrassed by the Wild last night while the Rangers rode Henrik Lundqvist’s great performance to beat the Panthers on Friday. If Nashville wants to get back into the playoff hunt in the West, they need to win games like this.

9:00 pm

Minnesota @ Colorado

This is a pretty big one, as the Wild are just a point behind the Avalanche for second place in the Northwest Division. Colorado is coming off a Thanksgiving day loss to the Edmonton Oilers while Minnesota clobbered Nashville on Friday.

10:00 pm

San Jose @ Edmonton

Things haven’t been very good for the Sharks lately; they’re 1-2-2 in their last five games and got crushed by the Canucks last night by a score of 6-1. The Oilers could really boost their waning confidence if they follow up a nice win over the Avs with another home victory against the Sharks.

10:30 pm

Chicago @ Los Angeles

If you want a good example when you’re explaining why games played is hugely important in considering the league standings, look at the Blackhawks and the Kings. They both have 26 points this season, but Chicago played in 25 games while L.A. only appeared in 21. The Kings can begin to win back the Pacific from the streaking Coyotes by beating the Hawks tonight.

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

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.