Jack Parker

Tonight on NBCSN: BU-Vermont, North Dakota-Denver highlight doubleheader action

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University of Vermont vs. No. 5 Boston University

The last time we saw the University of Vermont, they were getting pasted on home ice by Boston College. Tonight, they’ll face off at home against BC’s main rival, No. 5 Boston University (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). For Vermont, their season hasn’t improved since that 6-1 beat down splitting a weekend series at New Hampshire.

For Boston University, hockey’s been the furthest thing from discussion for them of late. Defenseman and Red Wings prospect Max Nicastro was arrested and charged with allegedly raping a female student on campus and has since left school.

Meanwhile, BU has started a task force to look into the hockey program and coach Jack Parker (pictured) has to get his team focused on winning games. With the Terriers losing three of their last four games, including an overtime loss in the Beanpot Tournament final, BU isn’t sailing into the end of the season they way they hoped.

Fortunately for BU, Vermont has won just six games this season but four of those at home. Tim Thomas, Martin St. Louis, and Viktor Stalberg aren’t walking through that door this year for the Catamounts.

No. 9 Denver University vs. No. 14 North Dakota

source: Getty ImagesThe second game of the doubleheader (10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN) features a WCHA throw down between No. 14 North Dakota at Magness Arena to take on No. 9 Denver. North Dakota arrives in Denver on a bit of a streak.

In their last seven games, the Fighting Sioux have gone 5-1-1 and have gotten solid seasons from Islanders prospect Brock Nelson (pictured) and Canadiens prospect Danny Kristo. Nelson’s 20 goals and Kristo’s 33 points give them a lot of offensive power to deal with. With those two Team USA World Junior stars, the Sioux have plenty of talent.They’ll need it with how iffy their goaltending has been this season.

When we last saw Denver a couple weeks ago, they were busy disposing of Minnesota and Panthers prospect Drew Shore has been a huge part of that. Shore’s 18 goals and 24 assists lead the way for the Pioneers while Wild prospect Jason Zucker follows close behind with 17 goals and 20 assists of his own. With the scoring ability Denver brings to the game, North Dakota will have their hands full in the altitude of Denver.

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.