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Around the Rink – Tuesday February 22nd

There are 10 games today, so let’s take a look at them. As always, start times are all according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Carolina

This is a big one for both teams, as the Rangers are in seventh place while the Hurricanes are right behind them in eighth. New York awaits word as Marian Gaborik visits a specialist regarding his concussion issues this evening, but they won’t play this contest against their star winger.

Nashville @ Columbus

The Predators are in fifth place (70 points) and the Blue Jackets are in 12th place (64), yet they’re only separated by six points. The two teams play twice this week, so Columbus could make up some serious ground.

NY Islanders @ Toronto

This a match between two teams doing better than they might initially seem, as the Isles are only a point behind the much-ballyhooed Devils while the Maple Leafs are only seven points behind the Hurricanes for the eighth playoff spot.

Phoenix @ Philadelphia

The Coyotes are on a seven-game winning streak but still need this game far more than the Flyers do, as their lead in the Pacific Division is paper thin.

7:30 pm

San Jose @ Detroit

The Sharks and Red Wings are both playing some of their best hockey of the season, so this rematch of last year’s second round series should be fun to watch.

8:00 pm

Colorado @ St. Louis

This is hockey’s equivalent of school kids making up a snow day, as this game was postponed because of bad weather. The game has the added intrigue of the players in the Erik Johnson-Chris Stewart trade facing their old teams less than a week after that swap.

Edmonton @ Minnesota

If the Wild want to make a legitimate playoff run – with or without injured center Mikko Koivu – they need to win games like these.

8:30 pm

New Jersey @ Dallas

Jamie Langenbrunner was the Devils’ captain early this season, now he gets to face his old team in a contest that will be important for both sides. The sliding Stars need to get their act together while New Jersey hopes to keep their crazy playoff dreams alive.

9:00 pm

Boston @ Calgary

The Bruins can thank the Flames for beating up on their Northeast Division rivals from Montreal, but they need to take care of business against red-hot Calgary after doing so. Boston still needs to integrate new players into their system, so this game will be a test for that process.

10:00 pm

Montreal @ Vancouver

If any two teams can share sob stories about injured defensemen, it’s these two teams. The Habs certainly need this game more than the Canucks, but that won’t make it much easier to nab a win in Vancouver.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.