Around the Rink – Saturday, December 11th

All but four of the NHL’s teams are playing tonight, so we’ll make these summaries short and sweet. As usual, the start times are based on Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Columbus

Do the Blue Jackets really hold the advantage in this one? They’re only .500 at home (7-7-1) while the Rangers are outstanding on the road (11-4-0).

Colorado @ Washington

The Avalanche have had a tough time playing a handful of games against the Southeast Division, but the Capitals pose the biggest challenge yet. Washington should come into this one angry, as they’re on a four game losing streak.

Atlanta @ NY Islanders

I wouldn’t have been shocked if these two teams were in similar spots this season, yet the Thrashers have plenty to look forward in the near and long-term future while it seems like the Islanders just face a grim reality.

Pittsburgh @ Buffalo

The Penguins go for their 12th win a row, while the Sabres seek more humble goals of going above .500 at home and winning two consecutive games.

Detroit @ New Jersey

When schedule makers drew this one up, they probably expected this match to be a “possible Stanley Cup preview.” The Red Wings are holding up their end of the bargain, but the Devils are just downright dreadful.

Philadelphia @ Boston

It just shows how consistent and impressive the Flyers have been this season that they only trail the Penguins by one point in the Atlantic despite Pittsburgh’s 11-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Bruins continue to attempt to creep up on the Habs in the Northeast.

Montreal @ Toronto

Both teams are coming off of humbling losses, as the Canadiens were defeated by the Red Wings last night while the Maple Leafs were frustrated by Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Thursday.

8:00 pm

Florida @ Nashville

Could this be a somewhat emotional reunion for Tomas Vokoun and his former team in Nashville? Stay tuned for starting goalies later today to find out.

Dallas @ Phoenix

I wouldn’t be surprised if reigning save of the night winner Andrew Raycroft played in back-to-back games with this one against their Pacific Division rivals, the Phoenix Coyotes.

Carolina @ St. Louis

This is a great opportunity for the Blues to earn their third win in a row, as the Hurricanes are coming off a long, tough game against the Stars last night.

10:30 pm

Chicago @ San Jose

The Blackhawks and Sharks are starting to get things together, but it hasn’t always been pretty this season. If nothing else, they’re both entertaining though.

Minnesota @ Los Angeles

The Wild square off against a Kings team that is stout at home (11-2-0) in this one. Could Los Angeles add Marco Sturm to the mix next week?

Tampa Bay @ Vancouver

The Lightning are starting to face a bit of a swoon while the Canucks’ lead in the Northwest is growing a bit more comfortable. It’s a rare opportunity for Vancouver fans to get a glimpse of scoring stud Steven Stamkos.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators – Game 6

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Last night, the Nashville Predators demoralized the Ducks and advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. Will we learn their opponent tonight or on Thursday?

That’s up to how the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators perform in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Will Sidney Crosby and the Penguins follow that 7-0 rout with a close-out performance, or will Erik Karlsson and the Senators avenge that embarrassing loss to send this series to a decisive Game 7?

Find out on NBCSN at tonight. You can also watch the game online and via the NBC Sports App.

Here’s what you need to know:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators (Pens lead 3-2)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Pittsburgh’s 7-0 win in Game 5

Related:

Pens redefining defense by committee

Four things the Pens need to do to eliminate the Sens

Swedish League champ sees another sign in NHL

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It’s an offseason of change for SHL champion HV71.

In the days following the league title, HV71 saw No. 1 goalie Linus Soderstrom sign his ELC with the Isles and d-man Andreas Borgman — the league’s rookie of the year — ink with the Leafs.

Earlier today, HV71 winger Filip Sandberg signed a two-year deal with San Jose. Shortly after that, Columbus announced it inked Sandberg’s running mate up front, Kevin Stenlund, to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Stenlund, 20, was the Blue Jackets’ second-round pick (58th overall) at the 2015 draft. He’s coming off a good year, setting career highs in goals, assists, points and games played during the regular season, then adding 10 points in 16 playoff appearances.

And he might have a chance to build on that campaign.

Per the Dispatch, the Blue Jackets expect Stenlund to play next year in Sweden, rather than try to make the move overseas. It’s possible the Isles could make the same decision with Soderstrom — meaning it’s not all bad for HV71.

 

Oilers re-sign Pakarinen for one year

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The Edmonton Oilers have given winger Iiro Pakarinen a one-year contract extension.

From the release:

Pakarinen just finished his third season with the Oilers organization, appearing in 14 regular season games in 2016-17, posting four points (2 goals, 2 assists).  The 25 year old forward missed 53 games due to an injury suffered during the pre-season. He appeared in one playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers brought Pakarinen over from Finland in 2014. Since then, he’s split his North American career between the AHL and NHL while drawing praise for his versatility and hard-nosed style.

Per CapFriendly, Pakarinen’s cap hit will be $750,000 in 2017-18. It’s a one-way deal.

Market heating up for prized Czech d-man Rutta

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Coming off an impressive performance for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, Jan Rutta is now being courted by a number of NHL clubs.

Per The Athletic, the Blackhawks are in contention for securing Rutta’s services. That comes on the heels of earlier reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said there are “multiple” offers for the 26-year-old, including ones from Edmonton and Calgary.

“He’s a steady defenseman with size, and he had a strong finish of the season,” an NHL scout told The Athletic. “He was very good in the playoffs and played his best at the Worlds.”

Rutta, who was never drafted by an NHL club, has spent his professional career with Czech League outfit Pirati Chomutov. He’s blossomed into a talented offensive defenseman — finishing second among Czech League d-men with 32 points in 46 games this year — and, as mentioned above, has good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.

Last week, Rutta’s agent — longtime Octagon Hockey representative Allan Walsh — tweeted that his client would make a decision on NHL offers soon.