Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals

Around the rink – Wednesday, December 8th

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Who’s ready for Hump Day? You’d better be because the schedule today is set to fascinate the living daylights out of you. That’s not overhype, we’re really curious about more games than not tonight. Cancel those dinner plans, fire up the popcorn and get on that couch it demands that you work on that perfect butt imprint. All times are Eastern.

7:00 pm

San Jose @ Philadelphia

The Sharks east coast swing rolls along into Philly and they’ll be looking to keep the good mojo working after beating Detroit soundly on Monday. For the Sharks, the work of rookie Logan Couture is what’s making folks take notice lately. Couture was huge in their win against Ottawa and was solid against Detroit. Meanwhile, Philly has won two in a row and they’d like to keep the good times rolling. One thing for them to take notice of, how much better San Jose is compared to the last two teams they’ve beaten. The Devils and Islanders these are not.

Toronto @ Pittsburgh

Sidney Crosby and his 16-game point streak get to face off with a Leafs team that’s showing some hardcore resilience of late. Two straight shootout wins for the Leafs after coming back to tie both the Bruins and Caps late in those games and suddenly the Leafs have a little bit of confidence. We’ll see how Tim Brent feels about having to shadow Crosby during the game. This could turn into a harsh return to reality for the Leafs as the Penguins are looking for their 11th straight win and playing very good hockey. Crosby isn’t the only story as Marc-Andre Fleury has been vastly improved in leading the Pens to this incredible streak.

7:30 pm

Nashville @ Detroit

The Wings are looking to snap out of their mini-slump. A weekend loss to L.A. followed up by a stinker of a game at home to San Jose and fans start getting a little antsy. It’s Detroit, it’s how the fans get. Getting back on track against Nashville might be tough as the Preds have won three of their last four but dropped their last game against Atlanta in overtime. They’ll have some good news as David Legwand looks to return to action. Center has been a rough position of late for Nashville with Legwand and Matt Lombardi out of the lineup.

8:30 pm

Dallas @ Chicago

So you thought this one would be all about Marty Turco getting to face his former team for the first time, right? Wrong. Corey Crawford gets the call in goal for Chicago as they learn to live life without Patrick Kane for a while. With Kane and Marian Hossa out of the lineup, Chicago’s lineup doesn’t look as intimidating. Guy to keep an eye on in this one? Dallas’ Adam Burish. The trash talker and physical forward is looking forward to giving his former teammates a dose of the medicine he was dishing out to opponents while he was a Blackhawk. The Stars are looking to bounce back after a shootout loss to Columbus that snapped their six-game win streak. Getting to face Turco might’ve given them a bit too much motivation.

10:00 pm

Anaheim @ Vancouver

A test of momentum between these two. The Ducks snapped a two-game skid last night with their epic 10-round shootout win over Edmonton. Vancouver, on the other hand, is looking to bounce back after a loss to St. Louis that broke their four-game winning streak. For Anaheim, a complete effort will be needed against Vancouver who has started getting their act together. Folding up late in the game the way they did against Edmonton will end up costing them a victory if they do that against Vancouver.

 

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.