The good, the bad, the potentially ugly: Tonight’s games run gauntlet of possibilities

After a wild night last night with five games, things cool off just a bit with three games set for tonight.

In them we’ve got the good in Montreal with the Bruins looking to even things up with the Canadiens. There’s the bad with the bad blood flowing through Vancouver as the Blackhawks again look to stave off elimination. Then we’ve got the ugly that sees the L.A. Kings trying to find a way to stop the Sharks from scoring and tying up their series again.

Someone call Ennio Morricone to provide tonight’s soundtrack.  All times are Eastern.

Boston @ Montreal – 7 p.m. (Versus)Montreal leads series 2-1

It would almost make sense to have these teams head to a Game 5 tied after beating each other’s heads in on the road. Montreal would love to see that not happen and find a way to go back to Boston with a chance to eliminate the Bruins on their ice. The B’s will be hoping to see Milan Lucic find a comfort zone and start producing more hits and offense. Montreal will need to be a bit more careful with the puck and find a way to get on the board first to start putting their brand of torturous defense into effect on Boston as soon as possible. The Habs thrive when they force their opponents to work uphill to win games.

The x-factor in this game for Boston could be Tim Thomas. Thomas needs another strong game in goal to give the Bruins more of their swagger back so they can let loose and stay physical all game. With some of the goals he’s given up in the playoffs it’s made Boston’s defense a bit jumpy. If he settles in, the Bruins will give Montreal fits all game.

Chicago @ Vancouver – 10 p.m. (Versus)Vancouver leads series 3-1

Things escalated out of control quickly for Vancouver in Game 4 as they looked to end things on the road. Instead, Chicago blasted the Canucks all game long and help reintroduce some heat between these two teams. It also helped spark an enlightening war of words between John Scott and Kevin Bieksa.

While we don’t expect those two to settle their differences anytime soon, especially with Brent Seabrook looking at a return for this game, we are expecting that Vancouver will again have a fight on their hands. If the Canucks can relax and not get spooked out by the ghosts of playoffs past that made an appearance in Game 4, they can wrap things up at home. If not, things get really interesting in all the wrong ways for Vancouver.

San Jose @ Los Angeles – 10:30 p.m.San Jose leads series 2-1

So just what can the Sharks do for an encore in Hollywood? After storming back from being down 4-0 in Game 3 and going on to win in overtime, there’s really no other way for San Jose to top what they did without casting serious doubt on what they can do against better teams. As it is, Antti Niemi is on notice after a pair of less-than-stellar appearances in a row.

Luckily for him the Kings defense and Dustin Penner have had a hard time, especially in Game 3. Jon Quick can only do so many things to help out in goal and while the offense has been there for the most part, getting some of that traditional tough defense from a Terry Murray coached team would be nice. We’ll get to see how mentally tough they are tonight after such a tough loss in the last game.

The Buzzer: Ovechkin’s blast lifts Capitals in OT, Sheary speeds by Panthers

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Player of the night: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin has already reached double digits in goals scored in this new campaign. The Capitals’ star recorded his 10th goal of the season on Friday and it counted as the overtime winner against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Capitals trailed late in the third period, but T.J. Oshie scored the tying goal and Ovechkin won it on a power play less than two minutes into the extra period, as he deployed that famous one-timer slap shot from his off-wing. This time, Petr Mrazek was victimized by the wicked slapper.

Ovechkin is now only two goals behind the entire Montreal Canadiens team — in the same amount of games.

Highlight of the night:

What a weapon speed is in today’s National Hockey League. Conor Sheary illustrated that once again, as he saw a little bit of room down the left side and flew around Alex Petrovic before making a move to the backhand on James Reimer. That goal counted as the eventual winner, as the Penguins defeated the Panthers 4-3. Earlier in the third period, Sheary and Roberto Luongo came together near the Florida net, causing Luongo’s right hand to get caught against the post, injuring the Panthers’ netminder.

Factoid of the night:

It was a milestone night in Winnipeg for Blake Wheeler and coach Paul Maurice.

Scores:

Vancouver 4, Buffalo 2

San Jose 3, New Jersey 0

Washington 4, Detroit 3 (OT)

Pittsburgh 4, Florida 3

Winnipeg 4, Minnesota 3

Anaheim 6, Montreal 2

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Video: Price takes out his frustration, as the Habs were crushed again

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It’s gone from bad, to worse, to an absolute nightmare for the Montreal Canadiens.

A three-game trip through California is never fun for opposing teams, but this was misery for the Habs. They were outscored a combined 16-5 in three games against the Sharks, Kings and Ducks, with few, if any positives beyond the second period in a 6-2 loss in Anaheim on Friday.

Montreal hasn’t won since its season opener on Oct. 5, and is now on a seven-game losing skid, unable to generate much offensively with a league worst 10 goals scored through seven games before tonight, while giving up plenty of goals at the other end.

That is a recipe for disaster and even though it’s still early in the season, this has to be a major concern for coach Claude Julien and, in particular, general manager Marc Bergevin.

Read more: Is there a trade to be made between the Penguins and Canadiens?

Down by three after the first period, Montreal had 30 shots on goal during the middle frame and managed to trim Anaheim’s lead down to one heading into the third period. And then, just when it seemed like maybe they were on a path toward an inspirational comeback on the road, it all fell apart.

Three straight goals for Anaheim, with journeyman forward Derek Grant scoring the first two goals of his NHL career — in game No. 93.

As you can probably tell from the clip below, Carey Price was visibly irritated, as he whacked his goalie stick against the post after the sixth Anaheim goal.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Canucks defeat the Sabres, as the losing continues in Buffalo

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The Buffalo Sabres remain stuck on just a single win to begin the season. Jack Eichel is sick of losing, but the losing continues.

Returning home from a four-game road trip out west, the Sabres had an opportunity ahead of them to get back into the win column. The Vancouver Canucks, hardly a powerhouse in any way, were in town. They had played — and lost — the night before in Boston. And then the Sabres went out and were thoroughly outplayed in a 4-2 loss that, one could argue, flattered the hosts.

They weren’t able to take advantage of an early lead after Justin Bailey was allowed access to the net off the rush. They couldn’t hold the lead after Eichel dangled Ben Hutton and then scored on a shot Jacob Markstrom should’ve stopped. They gave up yet another short-handed goal, putting that number at six for the Sabres just eight games into the season.

Instead, Buffalo spent most of the night in its own end, giving up 37 shots through two periods. Hard to pin this, in any way, on goalie Chad Johnson.

“First of all, I thought we didn’t defend well and close quick enough in our defensive zone. We were a little bit slow there tonight. We need to be more aggressive and on the puck,” said head coach Phil Housley after the game.

While the Sabres were badly outplayed, one of the deciding moments in this game was a controversial video review in the second period. Vancouver took the lead on a goal from Daniel Sedin, although Housley challenged for a potential offside after it looked like Jake Virtanen didn’t have control of the puck as he entered the zone.

The linesmen looked over the play for a lengthy review before officials came to the conclusion that Virtanen did have control of the puck as he broke in over the blue line. The goal stood and the Canucks controlled the remainder of the game.

“I disagree with the call, totally,” said Housley. “In my opinion, he knocks the puck out of the air. He never has possession.

“But I call that 10 out of 10 times offside and I would continue to challenge that again.”

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Roberto Luongo leaves game with apparent injury, as Panthers fall to Penguins

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The Florida Panthers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Making matters worse was the fact their goalie Roberto Luongo left the game in the third period with an apparent hand injury.

The injury occurred after a collision in the crease with Penguins forward Conor Sheary.

Luongo immediately went down to the ice in pain. A replay from above the net showed Luongo’s right hand getting caught in an awkward position against the post after coming into contact with Sheary as he cut through in front of the crease in pursuit of the puck.

The injury forced James Reimer off the bench and into the game with the Panthers trailing by a goal. MacKenzie Weegar tied the game for Florida before Sheary scored the eventual winner about eight minutes later, on a night when the Penguins fired 48 shots on the two Panthers goalies.

Luongo gave up three goals on 36 shots before leaving the game. The Panthers now head out on the road. They’ll visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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