Vincent Lecavalier, Anthony Stewart

Vincent Lecavalier’s returns to Tampa Bay lineup, Lightning win 2-1 in shootout

It was a bit of a surprise tonight when Vincent Lecavalier’s name appeared on the lineup sheet in Tampa Bay, but Lecavalier made his return to action tonight just four weeks after having surgery on his hand for a broken knuckle. To help celebrate, the Lightning pulled off a 2-1 shootout win against Southeast Division running mate Atlanta to welcome back their captain.

Lecavalier played 16:58 tonight and registered four shots on goal and a +1 rating, amounting for a solid night out for the team. The story in this one was the battle between the goaltenders. Atlanta’s Ondrej Pavelec made 30 saves while Mike Smith made 27 saves and got the win in the shootout after stopping all four shots he faced. Only Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman was able to get a goal in the shootout in the fourth round to get the win for Tampa Bay. Tampa’s Sean Bergenheim and Atlanta’s Rich Peverley got the goals that counted in regulation.

With Lecavalier back in the lineup, Tampa Bay’s top two lines look more formidable as one of Tampa Bay’s weaknesses is their depth up the middle. With how great Steve Stamkos has been this year, he and Lecavalier are really the teams only two offensively-capable centers. Giving the second line that balance with Lecavalier back is a huge boost for the Tampa Bay offense. Once the team gets scoring agitator Steve Downie back they’ll be at full speed offensively, but for now Stamkos is doing fine without him.

Tampa now gets themselves in even tighter in the race in the Southeast as the Caps continue to slide and they now tie Atlanta for second place after giving up the charity point and earning two for themselves. If this race can stay close the rest of the way, it could make for an unusually fun race to win the division this season.

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

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The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

As Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) looks on Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic waves to the crowd after a tribute to him was played on the screen during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.

Video: Evander Kane believes he won his fights vs. Alex Petrovic

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The Florida Panthers are beating up the Buffalo Sabres where it counts – on the scoreboard – but Evander Kane was happy to highlight his perceived victories in a couple bouts.

Buffalo’s power forward fought Alex Petrovic twice on Tuesday, and Kane wasn’t shy about holding up a “2-0.”

You can watch the second fight above, and the first one below, via Hockey Fights by way of MSG:

This GIF might just say it all, really:

Update: Apparently they fought again moments after this post went up.

Probably safe to call it a rivalry between the two, right?

The Panthers ultimately won 7-4.

Fight video: Yes, a visor-breaking punch

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Some hockey players resist the urge to wear a visor, at least if they’re given that choice.

Perhaps a few will say “Hey, Nathan Beaulieu will just punch it off anyway.”

Maybe not, but Beaulieu provided a rather unique moment in his fight with Cedric Paquette during the Montreal Canadiens – Tampa Bay Lightning game. You can watch that bout in the video above, and see a cut on the Lightning pest’s face from that blow.

Want it in GIF form? OK then: