Blackhawks show Corey Crawford their faith, sign him to a three year deal

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The Blackhawks are making sure they’ve learned from history so as to not repeat it again this offseason. After failing to get Antti Niemi locked up to a restricted free agent deal last summer, GM Stan Bowman and the rest of the Chicago front office made sure they didn’t do the same thing this time around with Corey Crawford.

Chicago signed Crawford to a three year contract extension that will reportedly pay him $8 million total according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. That works out to a salary cap hit of $2.67 million over the next three seasons, a cap-friendly amount for the cap space limited Blackhawks. The annual cap hit works out to be $80,000 less than Niemi was awarded in arbitration over the summer, a deal that Chicago walked away from only to see Niemi sign with San Jose.

For Crawford, he’s being rewarded for a spectacular rookie season that saw him go 33-18-6 with a 2.21 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. While it’s just one year’s worth of results for Crawford, his play in the late stages of the regular season and the playoffs gave hope to all in Chicago that it’ll be the first of many years like that to come for the 26 year-old Quebec native.

While his contract is decently priced, the Blackhawks still have salary cap questions for next year. CapGeek.com has the Blackhawks committed to $53.6 million next season already for just 15 players. With the cap rumored to be going up to $62.2 million next season, that gives Chicago less than $9 million to get up to eight players signed up.

They’ll again be in the market for a backup goalie if Marty Turco doesn’t want to hang around. They’ll also have up to five restricted free agents to negotiate with  as well. It’ll make for another interesting offseason in Chicago, but one they’ll likely feel a bit less stressed out compared to last year.

That said, getting good goaltending and not having to break the bank for it are great things and for Chicago, this is a great deal. We’re sure that the Washington Capitals who have restricted free agent Semyon Varlamov to deal with were paying close attention to how things went down here.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.