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Around the rink – March 1; New faces in new places

7:00 p.m.

Buffalo @ NY Rangers

Brad Boyes should be making his Sabres debut against the Rangers as they’ll play on without having obtained Brad Richards and without injured Martin Biron. If Henrik Lundqvist gets into trouble, former University of Alabama-Huntsville goalie Cam Talbot waits in the wings as his backup. The Sabres desperately need a win and if Boyes can help bring the offense they’re hoping for, they’re capable of making a run.

NY Islanders @ Washington

The Caps will break out all three of Dennis Wideman, Jason Arnott, and Marco Sturm tonight. Mike Green will be out and may be out for the next couple of weeks so Wideman’s arrival is more than helpful. The Caps have won four of their last six and just beat the Isles in New York on Saturday.

Florida @ Carolina

Well this should be an awkward first date. Former Panther Bryan Allen should be suited up for his first game with the Hurricanes tonight. Another former Panther Cory Stillman will at least be there on the same bench with him to make feel a little more comfortable. Former Hurricane Sergei Samsonov will suit up for Florida as well in his first game. With the Panthers in full on mail-it-in mode, the pressure is on the Hurricanes to come away with the win to hold on to the eighth spot in the East.

Montreal @ Atlanta

Speaking of desperate teams, the Thrashers new additions hope to bring them something they’ve found hard to do of late: wins. The Thrashers misery has dropped them to a tie for 10th in the East with Toronto and four points behind Carolina for eighth. They’re not out of it but unless they start getting hot, it’s just not going to happen. With Ondrej Pavelec still out, the pressure is on Chris Mason to get it done for them in goal. Montreal, meanwhile, sits in sixth place three points behind Washington and three ahead of the Rangers. With Boston ahead of them by six points in the Northeast and seemingly ready to pull away, getting ground on the Rangers and catching the Caps becomes their main priority.

7:30 p.m.

Boston @ Ottawa

Boston looks to wrap up their six game road trip undefeated. After getting big wins already against Vancouver and Calgary, the B’s hope to beat Ottawa one more time on their ice on this trip. Ottawa, meanwhile, is in injury shambles and rolling with a lineup that’s essentially Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips, and the Binghamton Senators. Their saving grace might be Craig Anderson in goal who’s accustomed to seeing a ton of shots and playing well under fire. How’s he doing in Ottawa so far? 3-1-0 with a 1.23 goals against and .963 save percentage.

8:00 p.m.

Calgary @ St. Louis

After beating the Blues 1-0 on Sunday in Calgary, they head to St. Louis to try and replicate their fortune to not get lost in the Western playoff shuffle. The Blues would like to defend their home turf and gigantic goalie Ben Bishop will hope to keep his good run of play going getting the nod again tonight. You won’t see new Flames Brett Carson and Fredrik Modin tonight, but you probably won’t see a lot of them anyhow.

9:00 p.m.

Dallas @ Phoenix

Dallas made their commitment to Brad Richards which means they’d better make the playoffs this year. Dealing with a Coyotes team that’s been a bit iffy of late dropping three in a row. Dallas is coming off  big wins over Detroit and Nashville but consistency is what they’ll need. Can they do it? Taking on a bumbling Phoenix team might be the cure they need.

9:30 p.m.

Nashville @ Edmonton

These two were rumored to be working on something at the trade deadline but nothing came from it. Instead, Nashville will look to improve their standing in the race for the playoffs and snap out of their funk completely. They’ve lost four of their last five, but their win over Columbus on Sunday may have helped snap them out of it. Beating the downtrodden and now Dustin Penner-less Oilers would make for a good streak starter.

10:00 p.m.

Columbus @ Vancouver

What’s the worst thing for a team fighting to get in the playoffs to see when they’re just points out of the lead? You guessed it, going on the road to face the best team in the NHL. Both teams have new acquisitions to work in and Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto will be of the utmost importance to Columbus’ playoff hopes. Vancouver hopes to quit the stumbling they’ve been doing of late as the Detroit Red Wings are starting to catch up to them points-wise in the race for the top spot out West.

10:30 p.m.

Colorado @ San Jose

It’s never a dull moment with these two teams but with Colorado being really down of late, you can’t help but think that the Sharks are going to be out to roll. Antti Niemi emboldened with his new contract has been on fire and the Colorado offense has cooled off immeasurably lately. Making life harder for the Avs, the Sharks have to keep winning to keep the rest of the Pacific Division off their heels.

Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options,’ says his agent

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings checks his stick before a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.

His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.

From the Detroit Free Press:

“He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.

At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.

He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.

Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final

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The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.

After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.

The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.

Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.

But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.

As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.

After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.

Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.

Video: Sharks’ Polak snaps, Blues make him pay on the power play

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San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.

In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.

The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.

The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.