Mike Danton hopes to return to NHL as his parole sentence ends this week

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In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Mike Danton played in the NHL as recently as the 2004 playoffs. In fact, he scored a goal on his only career playoff shot on April 13, 2004, just three days before he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder when he attempted to hire a hitman to kill his then-agent David Frost.

(Deadspin provides a nice rundown of the very odd story here.)

He eventually was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on November 8, 2004 for the failed murder plot. Danton received full parole on September 11, 2009, according to Hockey Reference.com. He resumed his hockey career at Saint Mary’s in Halifax, Nova Scotia recently, but is hoping for more going forward. With Danton’s parole sentence ending on Friday, the Associated Press reports that the troubled forward hopes to make a return to the NHL. That being said, Danton admits that the odds are against him.

Even without his troubled background, a player with a marginal impact like Danton made in his career (nine goals and five assists for 14 points, a -8 rating and 141 PIM in 87 career games) would struggle to return to the highest level after such a long layoff.

He’s obviously been through a lot after that bizarre ordeal, but he faces the kind of odds that would be far fetched even for a Disney movie, let alone an unforgiving sport like hockey. We wish him the best as he tries to move along with his life, whether that happens on the ice or sitting in a cubicle.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.