Jonathan Toews, Scottie Upshall

Jonathan Toews leads Blackhawks to big shootout win against Coyotes

Last year, the Phoenix Coyotes made quite the late-season impression, proving they were more than just a cute Cinderella story during some intense games against the Chicago Blackhawks. This time around, the roles seem slightly reversed, as the Yotes hold a semi-healthy lead in front of the Western Conference bubble pack while the Hawks are fighting for their playoff lives.

The Coyotes and Blackhawks wrestled to a 3-3 tie through regulation and overtime, forcing a shootout. Phoenix came in having won the last three skills competitions between the two teams, so it seemed like the ball was in Dave Tippett’s court.

It was not to be, though, as the ‘Hawks earned their fourth straight win to enter the trade deadline on a high note thanks to the play of their elite captain Jonathan Toews.

Chicago 4, Phoenix 3 (OT)

Toews scored two goals in regulation and the game’s only shootout goal to win a big one for his team. Toews staked the ‘Hawks to a 2-0 first period lead, but Keith Yandle (one goal, one assist) and Ray Whitney (two primary assists) powered a 3-1 Phoenix surge in the second to tie the game 3-3.

Ilya Bryzgalov produced a nice effort in defeat, stopping 38 out of Chicago’s 41 shots. Corey Crawford ended up with his 22nd win of the season by making 25 out of 28 saves and shutting out the Coyotes in the shootout.

This win moves the Blackhawks into a virtual four-way tie with the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators at 72 points. The Stars, Blackhawks and Wild sport matching 33-23-6 records, so each team has a claim for sixth place in the West.

Phoenix is four points ahead of that pack with 76, but they’ve played in two more games and have the same amount of wins (33). They’re still fairly comfortable relatively speaking, although they’ve lost three games in a row now.

Naturally, we’ll keep you updated as both conferences enjoy wild and wacky runs for the last playoff spots.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?