Wednesday’s controversial hit: Ryan Getzlaf dings up Dan Hamhuis

No doubt about it, the Anaheim Ducks were glad to have their big and talented captain Ryan Getzlaf back last night.

But for the rest of the NHL, the Ducks welcomed back yet another power forward with a considerable mean streak, making them a very difficult team to play against. That point became clear after Getzlaf laid out Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis behind Vancouver’s net last night. (Video is not yet available of the hit, but you can find it on Youtube among other places.)

Here’s a quick explanation of the hit: Getzlaf hit Hamhuis at an awkward moment, after the Canucks defenseman released the puck and turned his back. It seemed like Getzlaf tried to deliver a shoulder-to-shoulder check, but Hamhuis hit his head against the glass.

Hamhuis laid on the ice for several minutes and needed his teammates to help him off the ice, but coach Alain Vigneault indicated that he seemed fine “other than a large red mark on his face.”

Let’s hope that Hamhuis ends up being OK, because the Canucks are in a tough spot with defensemen dropping like flies.

Keith Ballard is out three to four weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee after being taken down from behind early in Monday’s game against Ottawa.

Vancouver is already missing top defenseman Alex Edler, who had back surgery last week and rookie Lee Sweatt broke his foot in practice Saturday.

“I didn’t really see the hit but it was scary to see him on the ice,” Vancouver goaltender Cory Schneider said. “(Hamhuis) has been a big part of our core since we starting losing guys and logging big minutes. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”

Veteran Sami Salo was on his way back Wednesday from a three-game conditioning stint in the American Hockey League after missing the entire season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Vigneault spoke with Salo before Wednesday’s game and said Salo will practice on Friday with the plan that the veteran will return Saturday against Calgary.

It doesn’t sound like Getzlaf will receive any discipline from the league, especially if Hamhuis isn’t injured as it currently seems. Yet the question is: should he be suspended or fined? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.