It’s another night loaded with action as NBCSN will have two games oozing over with playoff implications, especially concerning what’s going on in the Western Conference. Getting a double dose to help prep for the playoffs is never a bad things.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
While the Lightning are virtually out of the playoffs (nine points back of Washington with eight games to play), the Flyers have all the reason in the world to keep winning themselves. The Flyers sit fifth in the East and while they’ve already locked down their spot in the postseason, they still have a shot at landing home ice in the first round. With the Penguins in fourth one point back of the Rangers, should the Flyers keep winning, perhaps they can catch up to whoever loses out on the Atlantic Division battle.
Working in their favor is Claude Giroux who, in spite of the attention both Evgeni Malkin and Steve Stamkos are getting for scoring tons of goals and generally being incredible, is right there in the points race with both of them. Giroux’s consistent play along with Ilya Bryzgalov looking like a superstar in goal the last couple weeks have helped Philly into the postseason. So long as the Flyers can keep Stamkos at bay tonight, they can continue their pursuit of the Pens and Rangers.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings (10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
For Vancouver, their spot in the postseason is secure having clinched the Northwest Division on Saturday and while they’ll shift their attention to chasing the Blues for first in the conference, the Kings have a lot more at stake themselves.
Los Angeles sits in eighth place in the West but, as always, in a precarious position. While they’re one point back of Dallas for the top spot in the Pacific and the third seed as well as Phoenix for seventh. They’re also one point ahead of San Jose and Colorado who are in hot pursuit of them to make the playoffs. Any slip-ups from now until the end of the season could be disastrous.
The key to staying on top of things for the Kings is Jonathan Quick. Quick has been the team’s MVP this season but having to deal with a Canucks attack that will be without Daniel Sedin, thanks to a discourteous elbow to the head from Duncan Keith, won’t be easy. L.A. will need to counter what Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler bring to the table by hoping to see Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown continue their red hot play and get a little extra from Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. That’s not asking too much now is it?
Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.
With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.
Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.
Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:
Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.
It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.
The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.
To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.
Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:
CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.
Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.
The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.
Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.
Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.
The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.
McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).
The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.
McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.
The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.
Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.
He’ll miss at least another week.
What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.
The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.
It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.
Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.
He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).
That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Some Twitter reaction to the goal: