Dustin Byfuglien might miss Atlanta’s important game against New Jersey on Tuesday

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At one point in the season, it seemed like Atlanta Thrashers hybrid defenseman Dustin Byfuglien might have a chance to eclipse the 70-point mark. He became a worthy all-star this season thanks in large part to his 40 points in the months of October, November and December.

Yet something must have happened to “Buffy the Hamburger Slayer” around New Year’s, because the hard-shooting blueliner hasn’t been able to maintain that first half magic in 2011. After notching those 40 points in only 41 games – stunning numbers for any defenseman, even a “rover” like Byfuglien – he has nine points in his last 27 games. That’s not a great sign for the franchise, especially after handing him a Byfuglien-sized five-year, $26 million contract recently.

Despite his relative struggles, the team needs him to play if they want to make a desperate late run back into the playoff picture. Atlanta might need to fight without their super-sized defenseman for a bit, though, as he’s questionable with an upper body injury according to Chris Vivlamore.

Dustin Byfuglien is questionable for Tuesday’s game against New Jersey after he left practice early Monday.

The All-Star defenseman has a lower-body injury that caused him to miss last Wednesday’s game at Carolina.

“He’s made some pretty miraculous recoveries,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said after Monday’s workout.

Losing Byfuglien for an extended amount of time would be a huge blow to an already staggering team, so we’ll keep you updated regarding his status.

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci
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The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy

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Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.