Vancouver Canucks v Phoenix Coyotes

Strong play by Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo powers Vancouver’s 2-1 win against Detroit

While Tuesday’s match between the two top Eastern Conference teams probably only muddied the picture regarding which squad is the strongest on that side, the Vancouver Canucks made it that much clearer that they are the class of the West tonight.

Daniel Sedin scored two goals to strengthen his chances of joining his brother as a Hart Trophy winner while Roberto Luongo made 39 saves to power the Canucks’ 2-1 win against the West’s second ranked team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Vancouver 2, Detroit 1

Each teams rotated strong periods, as the Red Wings out-shot the Canucks in the first period (11-5) and third (17-8) while Vancouver dominated a busy second (20-12). Daniel celebrated the recent birth of his daughter by scoring the Canucks’ goals, with the first being an attempted pass that went off (fellow potential Hart nominee) Nick Lidstrom’s skate while his game winner was a hard shot on the power play. Henrik Sedin earned the primary assist on both of his twin’s goals.

Jiri Hudler scored a power-play goal to make it 2-1, but it wasn’t enough for the Red Wings.

Before concerned Detroit fans prepare to throw Jimmy Howard under the bus, he had a good game, stopping 31 out of 33 shots. His performance wasn’t good enough to stop Luongo from earning his 34th win of the season, though.

This marks Vancouver’s sixth consecutive road win, an impressive feat considering the fact that just about every team they play against has more riding on each game than they do. The win pushes them to 105 points, giving them a 10-point lead over Detroit for first place with only eight games left for both teams.

The Canucks haven’t clinched the West’s top spot yet, but they are awfully close to doing so. The Red Wings remain at 95 points, with a comfortable Central Division lead and tenuous grasp on the second seed ahead of the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks can narrow the gap between themselves and Detroit to one point with a win against the Calgary Flames tonight.

Video: Chris Kreider doesn’t just fight Cody Eakin, he hits him with his helmet

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Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.

For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.

So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.

Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.

As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:

The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.

Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

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Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.