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It’s Oilers-Kings ‘Reunion Night’ in Los Angeles

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There will be few introductions required prior to tonight’s Edmonton-Los Angeles game at the Staples Center, writes LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond.

The Los Angeles roster boasts five former Oilers — Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Ethan Moreau and the injured Colin Fraser — while the Edmonton roster boasts three former Kings: Ryan Smyth, Eric Belanger and Colten Teubert, who will make his NHL debut this evening.

(Of note, the game will also provide GMs Dean Lombardi and Steve Tambellini a chance to exchange niceties following the Colin Fraser Trade Fiasco.)

The most interesting storyline is Smyth’s return to L.A. While he only played two seasons with the Kings, he was an key leadership figure and beloved by teammates (remember when they donned mullet wigs to honor Smyth’s 1,000th NHL game?) Smyth’s first year in L.A. also coincided with the team’s first playoff appearance in six years, so it’s fair to suggest he had a positive influence on the team.

But — isn’t there always a but? — it wasn’t all sunshine and lime margaritas (you can tell I’ve spent a lot of time in Hollywood). Smyth asked out of L.A. this past summer, forcing Lombardi’s hand into a trade that ended up being a six-week headache. After rejecting a move to Calgary, Smyth was dealt to Edmonton for Gilbert Brule…but L.A. had concerns about Brule’s physical, so the deal was nixed. That led to the contentious Fraser trade, which resulted in L.A. filling a grievance against the Oilers (which will be heard by the NHL on Nov. 16, by the way.)

That said, Kings players don’t seem to care about the off-ice stuff. Defenseman Drew Doughty spoke nothing but positives about Smyth and head coach Terry Murray remembered Smyth’s time in L.A. with fondness.

“He really played hard in the offensive zone. He made plays from below the net and scored some very big goals for us. He’s got a great stick and hand-eye coordination, and that’s where he contributes,” Murray told Hammond. “He’s a real character guy, a veteran of the game.’’

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

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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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

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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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.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.