Chicago’s big guns best San Jose’s stars in 6-3 victory

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I’m not a statistician, but your team’s odds for a victory must skyrocket when one player produces four assists during a single period. Normally, Patrick Sharp plays the role of sniper for the Chicago Blackhawks, but tonight he was the one making the precise passes. The 2011 All-Star Game MVP earned four helpers during a wild second period, as the Hawks out-scored the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in that middle frame and ultimately earned a 6-3 win.

Chicago 6, San Jose 3

Sharp wasn’t the only big-name Blackhawks forward to come through in what some might call a “statement game.” Marian Hossa began that wild second period with two power-play goals, Jonathan Toews continued his torrid run with a goal and an assist and Patrick Kane reached a career milestone with his 100th goal. Kane became the third youngest Blackhawk to reach 100 goals, behind two nobodies named Jeremy Roenick and Bobby Hull.

The Sharks’ big guns contributed, albeit in a losing effort. Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture scored one goal each for San Jose.

Antti Niemi performed outstandingly well against his old team in their first three meetings this season, but his former teammates gained a measure of revenge by chasing him from the Sharks’ net tonight. Niemi’s 25th consecutive start ended early, as he was yanked from the game in favor of former starter Antero Niittymaki about seven minutes into that wacky second. Niemi allowed four goals on 18 shots while Niittymaki was beaten twice on 14.

Corey Crawford has been a workhorse for Chicago in his own right, as he was the Hawks starter for the 15th time in a row. The surprisingly effective rookie won his 27th game of the 2010-11 season – one more than Niemi, by the way – after he made 33 out of 36 saves.

This win places Chicago in fourth place with 84 points, even if such a spot is typically tenuous. For the most part, the Blackhawks have been red-hot lately, as they even earned two points during their recent three-game skid. They’ve been especially stout at the United Center, winning five games in a row in the Windy City.

Every time it seems like the Sharks are going to run away with the Pacific Division, they seem to hit a speed bump. After producing an eight-game winning streak, San Jose went 1-2-2 in their last five games. They still have a three-point lead in the division, although the Los Angeles Kings have a game in hand.

In other words, this game didn’t solve anything for either team, but there shouldn’t be much of a question about how much of a threat Chicago will be if they actually make the playoffs.

Just about every relevant team in the East playoff races won tonight

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After Eastern Conference teams deserved a “C” on Monday, they generally passed Tuesday’s tests with flying colors. Sometimes they carved out three-point games when relevant teams faced off, too.

It’s almost bewildering trying to figure out where to start … so how about the top of the East?

Metro’s rich get richer

The Minnesota Wild deserve credit for fighting back from a considerable deficit, including overcoming an Alex Ovechkin hat trick (all on the power play). Ultimately, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime-winner gave Washington the 5-4 (OT) win.

Elsewhere in the Metro’s top ranks, Sergei Bobrovsky grabbed his 41st win of the season (3-1 win against the Sabres) to put Columbus three points behind the Capitals and two ahead of the idle Penguins.

Metro top three (all with 75 games played)

1. Capitals – 108 points
2. Blue Jackets – 105 points
3. Penguins – 103 points

Canadiens gain ground

The Montreal Canadiens handled the Dallas Stars 4-1 in The Epic Battle of the Benns. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the second-place Senators 3-2 via a shootout

Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins won their games, leaving Toronto one point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic.

Atlantic top five

1. Canadiens – 95 points in 76 games played
2. Senators – 91 points in 75 GP
3. Maple Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP

Finally, let’s look at the final spot in the East

OK, so there’s some overlap here. Why don’t we check on the most wild-card-relevant teams?

Third Atlantic spot: Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Final spot: Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 82 points in 75 GP
Flyers – 80 points in 76 GP
Panthers – 77 points in 76 GP

Again, the Bruins won, as did the Flyers. The Lightning were idle. The Panthers fell to the Maple Leafs. Buffalo lost while Detroit and New Jersey are out of the running.

You know who deserves special mention outside of the top eight? The Carolina Hurricanes deserve such a distinction, as they are enjoying one of their hottest runs in franchise history after beating Detroit 4-1.

The overall message: just about any truly relevant team at least grabbed a standings point, with most winning games outright on Tuesday.

It doesn’t exactly thin the herd, but it keeps the door open for a fun race to the finish.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here:

Here’s what deal between women’s team, USA hockey is reportedly worth

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It’s great news that the U.S. women’s national team and USA Hockey came together on a deal for the upcoming world championships.

Still, all we really know is that the contract lasts four years, as the two sides decided to keep the dollar figures between each other.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell laid out a lot of the possible numbers on his Twitter feed, giving us an idea of what reportedly sealed the deal.

First things first, Campbell reports that the deal is worth $3.7-$4 million overall.

That’s quite the impressive number on face value, but what does it mean for players over a four-year contract?

Campbell reports that earnings will range between $850K and $950K, depending upon how they perform in the tournament:

They’ll also receive the same travel and other miscellaneous amenities as the men’s team, but what about years that are more about training than competition?

Interesting stuff. Definitely check out Campbell’s feed for additional details.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.