Justin Abdelkader, Ryane Clowe

Later tonight on NBCSN: Sharks look to continue Red Wings’ road misery

It’s the final game of a four-game road trip for the Detroit Red Wings, and they couldn’t be happier to see it ending. The San Jose Sharks, however, would like to see them head back home winless after the two square off at the Shark Tank (10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Detroit’s road trip has been a nightmare. From not having stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom already to dropping three in a row to playoff rivals and hopefuls alike in Nashville, Los Angeles, and Anaheim, you couldn’t ask for things to be any worse. While they’ll get Datsyuk back in the lineup tonight, they’ll lose Johan Franzen in the process. Meanwhile, Lidstrom’s prognosis continues to get murkier as he’ll be out at least another week.

The Wings have dropped five of their last six games and are just one point ahead of Nashville for fourth in the Western Conference. With the Blues pulling away in the Central (they lead by seven on Detroit), the Wings’ focus for now should be on making sure they get home ice in the first round.

San Jose, meanwhile, is in the perilous position of just trying to get into the playoffs. The Sharks are one point back of both Phoenix and Colorado for seventh and eighth in the West, but they’re also tied with Los Angeles and Calgary. It’s not the wild, wild, west without a reason after all.

San Jose is starting to get things turned around. They’ve won two of their last three after suffering through a five-game losing streak. Given that it’s the West and everyone seems to make a run at some point, the Sharks are hoping that time is now for them so they can secure a playoff spot.

Now that Martin Havlat is back in action, San Jose is hopeful that he’ll be the key to sparking their slumping offense. After all, since they traded Jamie McGinn to Colorado, things haven’t gone too well. While the offense has been rough, they could stand to use a better effort out of Antti Niemi in goal while they’re at it. Then again, with how Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald have played in goal of late, maybe Niemi won’t need to be a superstar for just this game.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.