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Around the rink – Wednesday, February 2

7:00 p.m.

Detroit @ Ottawa

The Wings get a bit of good news for tonight’s game as Dan Cleary will play. There was the outside chance that Pavel Datsyuk might also be back for this game, but it doesn’t appear likely at the moment. That might change though. For Detroit getting healthy is a great thing because they’ve been treading water winning three of their last seven games. In Ottawa, times are miserable. They dropped a bad game to New Jersey last night and they’ve lost seven straight and 13 of their last 14. The last time we saw a team on a run like that, the Islanders fired Scott Gordon. They keep saying changes aren’t coming in Ottawa this season but it’s hard to believe that with such a horrible go of things lately.

7:30 p.m.

Florida @ Montreal

Both teams are coming off tough games last night with different outcomes. Florida stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to tie Toronto only to lose in the shootout. Montreal was down 2-0 after the first period but Brian Gionta’s two second period goals sent the game to overtime and the shootout where Gionta once again would cast the dagger as the Habs beat Washington. Florida has lost six of their last seven, meanwhile Montreal is busy helping hand out free points by going to overtime in four of their last six games going 2-0-2 in those games. Winning in regulation would be a good idea for the Habs for once.

NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh

The Penguins get some help back tonight as Evgeni Malkin is slated to return tonight after dealing with knee and sinus infection issues. Whether or not Jordan Staal will be joining him is unknown right now as Staal could be serving a one-game suspension for his match penalty for punching Brandon Prust last night. Sidney Crosby won’t be in the lineup yet again but the Penguins are doing OK without him as they’re now 6-4-0 with their captain out with a concussion. The Islanders are coming off an inspiring win over Atlanta last night that saw Kyle Okposo finally break out with two goals and an assist. They’re not a playoff team, but seeing steadier play from the Isles would be the sort of boost the fans could use.

Update: So much for early reports. Evgeni Malkin is retroactively being placed on IR and will not play tonight.

9:30 p.m.

Los Angeles @ Edmonton

The Kings got off to a rough start on their 10-game road trip last night getting a shutout from Jon Quick but still losing the game in the shootout to Minnesota. It’s a fun hockey anomaly to be able to get a shutout but lose the game, it’s like getting a losing no-hitter in baseball. Taking on an Oilers team that’s played some pretty bad hockey of late (2-7-1 in their last ten) might be the slump buster they’re hoping for. Still, the Kings are going to need the offense to start showing up consistently to make that happen.

Vancouver @ Phoenix

Vancouver rolls into the desert high off a 4-1 beating of the Stars in Dallas last night and tonight they’ll have Roberto Luongo looking to stymie the Coyotes. Phoenix is coming off a game they’d rather forget against San Jose that saw them blow a 3-0 lead and lose 5-3 to the Sharks. The Sharks rolled all over Phoenix in the third period of last night’s game and that sort of intensity can be expected out of Vancouver all throughout in tonight’s game.

10:00 p.m.

San Jose @ Anaheim

Can the Sharks capitalize on their monumental comeback win last night? If they can play the way they did in the third period of last night’s game they’re going to be a really tough team to deal with in the second half of the season. Joe Pavelski snapped out of his offensive funk and all four lines played hard for the final 30 minutes. They’ll need that effort to keep up with the Ducks tonight who make life miserable for teams thanks to goalie Jonas Hiller. Hiller’s work this season has been outstanding and on a team that finds defense difficult to play at times, his work in goal is helping to buoy the team in their race for the playoffs.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.