Kings prevail in wild finish against Stars, Penguins handle Oilers

If you thought the NBC Game of the Week between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals featured a wild ending, then you should have seen how Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars finished their big Pacific Division match.

Los Angeles 3, Dallas 2

The Kings were clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the third period, even as the Stars fought desperately in front of their home crowd. It seemed like Jonathan Quick and the Kings would manage to hold onto that slim lead until Jamie Langenbrunner jumped on a rebound to tie the game at 2-2 with 43 seconds left.

It looked like Dallas would get at least one point from the game until Wayne Simmonds caused havoc in the Stars’ end of the ice. The young, scrappy forward brought the puck down low, then Alexei Ponikarovsky (and maybe Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas?) created an odd rebound that bounced out to Michal Handzus, who banged the puck home with just 21 seconds left to win the game.

Those two points are big for Los Angeles, especially since they earned them during regulation rather than overtime. The win catapults the Kings to fourth place with 83 points while the Stars are tied with the Blackhawks for fifth with 82.

Pittsburgh 5, Edmonton 1

It might have been excessive to say that the Penguins “needed” this type of win – a resounding victory against a lesser opponent – but this must have felt good.

They only managed a 1-0 lead after out-shooting the Oilers 13-2 in the first period, but the game never really seemed to be in much doubt for Pittsburgh. Chris Kunitz scored two goals, Tyler Kennedy racked up three assists and Marc-Andre Fleury won his 31st win of the season by stopping 28 out of 29 shots.

This win strengthens their fourth place lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning to three points, although the Bolts own a game in hand.

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Flyers survive early Mason mistake to upset Wild

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Insert the ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ cliche right here.

The Philadelphia Flyers fell behind the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise was the beneficiary of a Steve Mason mistake just 2:07 into the first period.

Mason couldn’t control the deflection into the zone, coughing up a rebound in front. Eric Staal forced a loose puck to Parise and he buried it to open the scoring.

Yeah, not ideal for the Flyers, who are still clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.

But they responded with three unanswered goals, including this beauty from Sean Couturier.

Philadelphia took over for a 3-1 victory, with Mason making 24 saves on 25 shots, as Minnesota’s struggles continue. The Wild still sit second in the Central Division but have only two wins in their last 10 games.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.