Tonight on NBCSN: Red Wings and Stars renew old hostilities

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The last time the Red Wings and Stars met up this season, the Wings had their way with Andrew Raycroft in beating down the Stars 5-2. When these two get together tonight in Dallas (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), things will be a bit different.

The Stars will be hoping that their winning ways from earlier this season have come back thanks to the return of Kari Lehtonen in goal. Lehtonen’s first game back against Boston turned out to be wildly successful, earning a 4-2 win over the defending champs. With Lehtonen’s return the Dallas defense showed up as well holding the Bruins to 20 shots on goal.

The Stars’ offense might not be huge, but they get consistent efforts out of the likes of Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, and Jamie Benn. With a solid core like that, Dallas has enough to get things done as long as the effort is there.

Of course, they’ll have their hands full in dealing with the Wings. Detroit has won three of their last four and if it weren’t for those pesky Blackhawks, they’d be sitting well on top of the Central Division. Jimmy Howard has been stellar this season in goal with a goals against average under 2.00. Add that to the offense that Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen have put up this year and the superstar-laden Wings look as tough as ever.

Seeing how the Wings and their attack handle the ever capable Lehtonen shapes up to be the match-up worth watching in this one. Lehtonen showing he’s truly back to form will give the Stars all the reason to think they can storm their way into the playoffs.

Penguins’ Guentzel makes ‘kick save’ to stop Capitals

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It doesn’t get much better than a player making the type of save you’d only expect from a goalie. OK, how about this: when it happens amid the high stakes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had already been distinguishing himself with a red-hot scoring start to the postseason, but he made a big difference in a way that won’t show up in the box score (aside from maybe as a blocked shot) for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

In one of the few golden opportunities in a notably tight first period, Guentzel made a “kick save” to keep it 0-0. He also managed to avoid giving the Capitals a penalty shot in the process, so this was quite the effort from the impressive rookie.

Video will be added soon. Here’s the moment in GIF form first:

Lundqvist snubs Sens with 21 saves in first (Video)

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You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.

The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.

As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.

In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.

That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.

Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.

Kunitz is in for Penguins vs. Capitals in Game 1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.

So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.

He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:

Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano vie for Messier Leadership Award

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The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).

In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):

Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone. 

So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.

Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.

Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?