US goaltender Ty Conklin and Kevin Shatt

Canada beats U.S. 4-3 via shootout in 2011 IIHF WC qualification round match

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Every sports team needs to measure themselves against the best, so when it comes to international hockey, the spotlight increases for U.S hockey teams whenever they face Team Canada. Most of the time, our northern neighbors come out on top, but these games are still a nice barometer for how far this country has come.

In the case of today’s game, we know there’s at least one strong goalie on the United States roster.

Canada 4, United States 3 (SO)

Ty Conklin made 48 saves against a consistent Canadian attack, taking an over-matched U.S. team to a shootout before Rick Nash and Jordan Eberle ultimately won the skills competition. James Reimer only stopped 17 out of the 20 shots he faced, but he only needed to stop two shootout chances (one by Jack Johnson, the other by Blake Wheeler) to earn the shootout win.

The U.S. probably shouldn’t complain about the one point they earned after being out-shot 51-20.

After a scoreless first period, Mike Komisarek made it 1-0 for the United States. Brent Burns tied it up about three minutes later, but Johnson received a pass after leaving the penalty box and scored a nice breakaway goal to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead going into the third.

John Tavares and Jason Spezza scored goals about two minutes apart to give Canada a 3-2 third period lead, but the Americans had one more counter-punching goal in them. Derek Stepan shot a one timer past Reimer to make it 3-3, a score that would stand until the shootout.

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The 2011 IIHF World Championships handle things a bit differently than the NHL, though. A regulation win will earn you three standings points, while a shootout win gets you two and a shootout loss nets one. To qualify for the next round, the U.S. will need to be in the top four of Group F. Here’s an updated look at that group’s standings via Versus.

Group F

Canada – 7 pts
Norway – 5 pts
Sweden – 4 pts
United States – 4 pts
Switzerland – 3 pts
France – 1 pt

The United States plays France on Saturday, but the biggest remaining game is the last qualifying round game against Switzerland on Monday. That game might make or break their hopes of competing for a medal for the first time since they earned a bronze in 2004.

You can check out America’s games on Versus and stay up to date on the results right here.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.