Krys Barch, Francis Bouillon, Pekka Rinne

Around the Rink – Saturday, February 26th

Let’s take a look at Saturday’s eight game schedule. As always, the start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

2:00 pm

Nashville @ Dallas

The Stars have been falling apart (five losses in a row before their win against the Red Wings and only two wins in their last 11 games) while the Predators are struggling as well with three straight losses. Who will win this important games between two hard-luck clubs?

4:00 pm

Colorado @ Los Angeles

After that epic 10-game road trip, the Kings start a five-game homestand today. They better do well during it too, because Los Angeles will then play four straight away games and then five more home games in a row. They need to remain resilient and keep piling up points, so beating the Avalanche is at a premium.

7:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ Toronto

To the surprise of few, goals have been hard to come by for the banged up and rapidly renovating Penguins. Alexei Kovalev and James Neal try to get acquainted in a hostile environment tonight, as the Maple Leafs hope to improve their chances during an improbable run to playoff contention.

Carolina @ Montreal

The Canadiens need to start gaining points if they want any hope of catching up to the Bruins in the Northeast, while the Hurricanes must cope without Eric Staal for at least tonight’s game.

Washington @ NY Islanders

The Capitals will probably come out angry tonight after getting humiliated by the Rangers last night, but the Islanders haven’t been pushovers lately. Washington needs to win games like these if they want to build up some more respect, although it’s likely they will do so without Mike Green after the controversial Derek Stepan hit from Friday.

Philadelphia @ Ottawa

The Senators are starting to look like a party story after Halloween. Sure, there’s some merchandise left, but the big sale already happened. The Flyers might want to peruse the remaining stock for all we know, though.

Detroit @ Buffalo

The Sabres are doing their best to keep pace (and hopefully pass) the Hurricanes. With Staal out they have a great chance … unfortunately, they have to try to earn points against the Red Wings.

10:00 pm

Boston @ Vancouver

Could this be a Stanley Cup finals preview? It’s not out of the question, as the Northeast-leading Bruins visit the league-leading Canucks in Vancouver tonight. These teams don’t see each other often, so it should be interesting to see how this one works out.

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.