Logan Couture

Every West playoff contender gained a point tonight

Earlier today, a weathered looking Brian Burke bemoaned three-point games – especially in context of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff situation. Burke and other charity point haters would look at the three Western Conference matchups with tired eyes tonight.

Let’s go in order of each team’s position as of this moment. At the end, we’ll take a look at the overall picture.

Starting off, the fifth-seeded Nashville Predators outlasted the seventh seed Phoenix Coyotes 5-4 via a shootout. Martin Erat scored a goal and two assists while Pekka Rinne came up big in the skills competition:

Click here for the lowdown on Gabriel Landeskog earning a 3-2 overtime win for the eighth ranked Colorado Avalanche against the 12th place Anaheim Ducks.

Finally, while it wasn’t exactly a resounding triumph, the ninth-ranked San Jose Sharks topped the playoff-irrelevant Edmonton Oilers 3-2. They deserve a little credit for winning in regulation (which honestly could make a difference come tie-breaker time. Enjoy the highlights below.

The Predators are fat and happy in fifth place with 89 points and the Chicago Blackhawks are fairly safe in sixth with 82. With that in mind, here’s a quick update of the West bubble:

7. Phoenix – 79 points with 12 games remaining (34 wins, 29 in regulation/OT)
8. Colorado – 78 points with 11 GR (37 wins, 29 in reg/OT)

9. San Jose – 77 points with 14 GR (34 wins, 28 reg/OT)
10. Calgary – 76 points with 13 GR (32 wins, 29 reg/OT)
11. Los Angeles – 76 points with 13 GR (32 wins, 27 reg/OT)

12. Anaheim – 69 points with 12 GR (29 wins, 26 reg/OT)
13. Minnesota – 68 points with 13 GR (29 wins, 22 reg/OT)

I’d say that the Ducks and Wild are just about eliminated, but the three teams outside the West’s top eight aren’t very far behind – especially when you consider their games in hand.

Sports Club Stats’ projections place the Sharks in seventh (67 percent chance to make the playoffs) and the Coyotes in eighth (62.4 percent) while Colorado only has a 21.2 percent chance despite currently holding the eighth seed. The Flames are listed at ninth (38.2 percent) while the Kings are in 10th at (33.2) ahead of the Avalanche.

For Ducks fans holding out hope, you have a Dumb & Dumber-esque .1 percent shot.

Granted, that’s not the only way to predict the postseason future, but it looks like it will be an interesting race – and perhaps the negativity regarding the Sharks might be a little exaggerated.

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci
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The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy

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Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.