Drew Doughty, Chuck Kobasew

Around the Rink – Thursday, February 24th

Here are previews for today’s six games. As always, start times are determined according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Islanders @ Philadelphia

While the Devils get all the credit for being the hottest team in the Atlantic (to be fair, they are), the Islanders have quietly kept close behind them with only three less points in one more game played. Perhaps the Flyers will help to remind the Isles that they need to go back into tank mode, though.

7:30 pm

Dallas @ Detroit

The Brad Richards saga slightly obscures (yet underscores) the desperate situation the team is in, as the Stars are 2-10-1 in their last 13 games. They’ll be the team with the most to lose, but will that be enough against deadly Detroit?

Toronto @ Montreal

To keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Maple Leafs must first solve Carey Price in Montreal. The Habs goalie holds two consecutive home shutouts against Toronto. (Edit: Apparently the Leafs won’t have to bother, because Alex Auld will start instead. Hey, that’s one way to keep Price’s shutout streak alive … )The Canadiens have something to play for too, as they hope to get back into the Northeast Division race against the Bruins.

8:00 pm

Chicago @ Nashville

With wins against the Penguins and Blues on Sunday and Monday as well as points in five of their last six games, the Blackhawks placed themselves back into the mix lately. They can keep frog the Predators by beating them in regulation tonight in a game that has big implications for the Western Conference playoff bubble.

10:00 pm

St. Louis @ Vancouver

The Blues can’t seem to distinguish themselves as legitimate contenders or serious cellar dwellers, leaving them in a dismal purgatory right now. Then again, the Canucks are likely to push them a little closer to the bottom tonight.

10:30 pm

Minnesota @ Los Angeles

Speaking of games that have a big impact on the West bubble like Chicago-Nashville, this game features the fifth-ranked Kings hosting the sixth-ranked Wild. The Kings finally play in Los Angeles again after going 6-1-3 in their 10-game road trip. This is a pretty big game for both teams (and other West teams if it goes into overtime).

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.