Detroit Red Wings v St. Louis Blues

Red Wings flex muscles in third to beat Blues

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For two periods, it seemed like the story would be all about the St. Louis Blues’ ascension to serious contender status in the NHL.

They carried a 2-1 lead into the second intermission that didn’t fully tell the story about how well they were playing. The Detroit Red Wings illustrated what it takes to be truly elite in the final frame, though, as their dominant 20 minutes – especially two goals in 56 seconds – earned them a 3-2 win.

This victory gives the Red Wings their 11th win in a row at Joe Louis Arena and a one-point lead over the Blues for second place in the increasingly competitive Central Division.

Blues start hot

The Blues’ suddenly dangerous power play provided the team’s two goals, including a strange 2-0 goal by Alexander Steen. It seemed like the puck would be whistled dead as Jimmy Howard appeared to have it, but Steen pushed it into Detroit’s net.

Red Wings’ red-hot third

Nicklas Lidstrom scored a man advantage goal with a bit more than a minute left in the second period, which set the tone for an irresistible comeback by the Red Wings. Detroit generated a 13-3 shots on goal advantage in that final frame and although Brian Elliott produced some brilliant work, it wasn’t enough. Pavel Datsyuk’s magical deflection tied it up midway through the third and then Niklas Kronwall scored the game-winner less than a minute later.

Conclusions

The Chicago Blackhawks sit atop the NHL and the Central Division but they can’t take it easy with Detroit and St. Louis right behind them. The Red Wings took tonight’s game with an impressive finish while the Blues made quite the impression even in defeat.

Sure, they lost, but this game might just prove that it’s time to take Ken Hitchcock, Elliott and the Blues seriously from now on.

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Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

Matt Frattin
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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.

 

Gaudreau, Monahan, Bouma express remorse after benching

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One day after getting benched for showing up late for practice — following an “epic” Super Bowl party, per Sportsnet — Calgary forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma apologized for their actions.

“We want to apologize to the organization, the coaches, our team especially, and the city of Calgary and the fans,” Gaudreau said, per the team’s Twitter account. “For us not to show up like that, and miss a game like that, it’s not professional on our part.”

“I’m a young guy and I’m a leader on this team,” Monahan added. “I’ve got to step up and take that back and earn that respect again.”

More on what transpired at Tuesday’s practice, from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley did his best to keep an epic Super Bowl party under wraps. But two of his players — Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan — arrived at the Saddledome at 10:15 am for a 10:30 Monday morning practice, and those two barely beat Johnny Gaudreau in the Saddledome doors.

Then practice started, and in the words of Calgary winger David Jones: “It’s a little embarrassing when we’re not (making) five-foot passes.”

“I think (Hartley) was pretty pissed off.”

The trio was then subsequently benched for last night’s game against Toronto, which the Flames won 4-3.

Afterward, Hartley downplayed the incident, saying “it’s not like they robbed a bank,” before adding “they’re great kids.”

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Penguins on Rivalry Night

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three
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Tonight, the New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at Consol, in a rematch of the ’14 and ’15 playoffs (the Blueshirts eliminated the Pens from each of the last two postseasons, you’ll recall.)

You can catch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s tilt:

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Penguins renew acquaintances on Rivalry Night

Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’

‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week