Around the rink – February 9; Habs visit Boston, Preds and Wings clash

7:00 p.m.

Montreal @ Boston

These Original Six teams renew an age old rivalry and this time the Habs have a chance to get even with the Bruins for first in the Northeast Division with a win in regulation. The Bruins are slumping a bit of late and the Habs have been playing strong meaning that this game will be about as feisty as every other one involving these two. For the Canadiens, serving notice to Boston that they’ve got company in a race for the division title could be the sort of motivation they both need to play their best hockey. How the Bruins cope mentally with the loss of Marc Savard for the season will be important.

San Jose @ Columbus

The Sharks are on fire going 8-0-1 in their last nine games and going up a motivated Columbus team coming off a big win for them over a depleted Penguins squad. For the Jackets, it was their third win in a row and while their streak isn’t as impressive as San Jose’s, they’re playing good hockey of late. How the goaltending holds up in this game will be the real test as both teams are on the back end of back-to-back games.

7:30 p.m.

Nashville @ Detroit

An important battle in the race for supremacy in the Central Division. Detroit is hoping to keep Nashville at bay while the Predators would like to do what they did over the weekend in shutting out the Wings. One difference in this one should be that the Wings won’t have Joey MacDonald in goal this time around and Jimmy Howard will get a chance to play as strong as he did on Monday against the Rangers. Meanwhile, the Predators are looking to forget about being shutout by the Oilers 4-0 on Monday night. Detroit holds a seven point lead on Nashville for now. A Wings win would be a tough psychological blow to the Predators as they’ve been playing hard of late.

8:00 p.m.

Colorado @ Minnesota

And so they meet again. Last week saw the Wild edge the Avalanche 4-3 and the Wild will be hoping that home ice is good to them. These two teams have split their four games so far this season. The Wild have won six of their last eight games and have jumped three points ahead of the Avs in the standings. The Avs have lost six of their last seven games and are in the middle of a four game road swing. A win would give them a lift as they head to Nashville and Columbus after this game.

8:30 p.m.

Phoenix @ Dallas

It the Stars aren’t careful they’ll find their lead in the Pacific Division has totally disappeared after this game. The Coyotes are just two points behind Dallas in the division and the Stars are spiraling out of control of late losing five of their last six games. Phoenix has won their last two games heading into this one and the difference between these two of late is goaltending. Ilya Bryzgalov earned shutouts in their last two games while the combination of Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft has been poor.

9:30 p.m.

Ottawa @ Calgary

The Flames hope to keep the good times rolling against Ottawa. The Senators are hoping the Flames from the start of the season show up for this one as they look to snap their 10-game losing streak. With the Flames playing tough hockey of late that makes for a tall order for the Sens. With both Brian Elliott and Robin Lehner unable to make the stops they need to win, expect Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla to shine.

Chicago @ Edmonton

With the Blackhawks being frustrated and slipping back in the West, you’d think that facing the worst team in the conference would be the way to go. You’d be wrong though as the Oilers have done well against the Hawks this year going 2-1-0 with them. Luckily for Chicago this is the last time they’ll have to see the Oilers. The Oilers will be hoping that Devan Dubnyk stays hot after shutting out Nashville on Monday. If the Blackhawks can’t put their inner squabbles behind them against the West’s worst team, perhaps things in the Windy City aren’t as peachy when defending a title.

10:00 p.m.

Anaheim @ Vancouver

The Canucks roll through the West has been something else to watch. Their ability to play top-level hockey and not showing the mental breakdowns of the past has been impressive. They take a six game win streak into tonight’s game with Anaheim which sees the Ducks come in winners of three of their last four games. Curtis McElhinney will have to do his part to hold off the Canucks and if he wanted to show Ducks management why he should stick around instead of bringing in Ray Emery, stuffing Vancouver on their ice would do the trick.

The Buzzer: Malkin paces Penguins, Vegas keeps on winning

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Player of the night: Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin helped get things started for the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, and then he finished the game off with the overtime winner to send the New York Rangers to a fourth consecutive loss.

Malkin scored once, added three assists and even dropped the gloves in a 5-4 overtime victory, as the Penguins came back with a late — and crafty — third period goal from Sidney Crosby.

Talk about the Penguins being opportunistic on the winner. Off a defensive zone faceoff win for the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh made a terrible giveaway right beside his own net, giving the puck to Phil Kessel, who slipped it over to Malkin for the quick one-timer.

Highlight of the night:

There were a few candidates for this tonight. Phil Kessel once again showed off that tremendous wrist shot. Thomas Vanek decided to blast a slap shot on a breakaway, going post and in against the Senators. Nikita Kucherov had a perfect shot against Cory Schneider after previously setting up teammate Vladislav Namestnikov for a pretty goal versus the Devils. Yes, there were a few options.

But, we’ll go back to Winnipeg for this one. Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson not only protects the puck from Jacob Trouba on the breakaway, but then dekes out Steve Mason with the move to the forehand.

Factoid of the night:

The Vegas Golden Knights won again, giving them a 5-1 record to begin their inaugural season. That puts them in elite company.

Scores:

New Jersey 5, Tampa Bay 4 (SO)

San Jose 5, Montreal 2

Pittsburgh 5, New York 4 (OT)

Philadelphia 5, Florida 1

Toronto 2, Washington 0

Vancouver 3, Ottawa 0

Nashville 4, Colorado 1

Columbus 5, Winnipeg 2

Dallas 3, Arizona 1

Vegas 5, Buffalo 4 (OT)

Carolina 5, Edmonton 3

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Sharks send Habs to their fifth straight loss

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Make that five straight losses for the Montreal Canadiens.

Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist on Shea Weber‘s power play blast, giving the Habs center a two-point night. That’s one of the few bright spots, as Montreal lost by a score of 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

This was a battle of two teams struggling to start the new season, with each sitting on only one victory. For the Habs, that victory was back on Oct. 5 in their season opener against Buffalo.

Since then, however . . .

And it isn’t about to get any easier for the Habs. This was the start of a stretch that includes three games in four nights against the bruising California teams — the Sharks tonight, the Kings tomorrow, and the Ducks on Friday. It could still get worse before it gets better.

For the Sharks, who were led Tuesday by Logan Couture‘s four-point performance and Joe Pavelski‘s first goal of the season, they end their five-game home stand on a positive note after losing three of the previous four games.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Wayne Simmonds leaves Flyers game for ‘precautionary reasons’ with lower-body issue

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The Philadelphia Flyers earned a 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, thanks to a four-goal outburst in the second period.

And Philly forward Wayne Simmonds earned a decision over Micheal Haley in a quick fight during that middle frame, too.

While the Flyers got the win, the news wasn’t all good with respect to Simmonds, however, as he was removed from the game for precautionary reasons because of a lower-body issue, the team announced.

Beyond that, the Flyers said they will know more about his status by either tomorrow or Thursday. That puts a bit of a damper on the win.

Not only is the 29-year-old Simmonds one of the toughest players in the league, unafraid to drop the gloves or throw big hits from time to time, but he’s an important part of Philadelphia’s offensive attack, as well. A productive member of the power play, he’s flirted with the 30-goal mark on three occasions while in Philly and reached that mark in each of the past two seasons.

And he’s done that on a contract that includes an annual cap hit of just under $4 million.

Simmonds was also off to a strong start in 2017-18 with five goals and seven points in six games.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Rangers’ losing streak continues with OT defeat vs. Penguins

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The New York Rangers needed a win.

Their slow start is among the surprises early this season, as the Rangers have now lost four in a row with only one win to their record through seven games so far. They’ve had trouble scoring. Mistakes at inopportune moments have been costly.

Facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, the Rangers had a brutal start and a brutal finish in a 5-4 overtime loss to their Metropolitan Division foes.

Phil Kessel scored just 43 seconds into the game, utilizing that dangerous wrist shot off the rush to beat Henrik Lundqvist top corner. By the end of one period, it was 2-0 Pittsburgh.

Despite a second-period comeback, with three goals in under three minutes, and taking the lead in the third period, the Rangers couldn’t hang on and the Penguins won in overtime.

Sidney Crosby scored a crafty tying goal with only 56 seconds remaining in regulation, waiting for the Rangers defender to touch the puck negating what would’ve likely been called a hand pass on Pittsburgh before firing a no-look backhander toward the net from behind the red line. The puck deflected in off Lundqvist, helping send this one to overtime.

Evgeni Malkin capped off a four-point night with the overtime winner.

“Right now it’s a little bit challenging as far as putting a whole game together for us,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault following the game. “But this group is very accountable … and I’m very confident that if we keep doing a lot of the things we’re doing right now, we’re going to be on the right track.”

A trio of Rangers recorded their first goals of the season. That included David Desharnais, Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich, although the latter played less than 10 minutes on Tuesday, despite nearly four minutes in power play time, and of course the goal.

The Rangers host the New York Islanders on Thursday. Another loss, and one has to wonder how hot the seat may be getting under Vigneault.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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