Ovechkin, Capitals steal a strange one in shootout

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If hockey was a sport based on merit alone – and thus devoid of bounces and luck – you’d have to think that the Boston Bruins would have creamed the Washington Capitals tonight. In a way, though, the teams’ strange game matched the flow of an old school professional wrestling match with Washington eventually gaining the 3-2 shootout win.

Caps hook the tights

Consider the Capitals in the role of the “heel” or villain – and not just because of a questionable hit by Jason Chimera on Adam McQuaid. They essentially snoozed through the first 40 minutes, managing just nine shots in that time yet keeping the score 0-0. Then one could say that Alex Ovechkin did his best Ric Flair impression, “hooking the tights” with two opportunistic assists to give him 14 points (10 goals, four helpers) in his last 12 games.

(Hey, you can say what you will about Ovechkin’s overall disappointments and the team’s tough season, but what about his work during the stretch run? It’s getting harder to say he isn’t “clutch” considering that he’s seemingly only being productive in clutch times in 2011-12.)

Naturally fitting in with the theme of the Capitals’ up-and-down season, the Bruins scored two quick goals to make it 2-2. Consider that turnaround the hockey equivalent to Hulk Hogan “hulking up” at what seemed like the brink of defeat.

Eventually Brooks Laich was the one who scored the “pin” by beating Tim Thomas with a beautiful backhand shootout move, but it was a wild one before that.

East bubble update

Regardless, the Capitals generated those crucial two points, although they technically remain in ninth place:

7. Ottawa: 88 points, 34 regulation/OT wins with five games left
8. Buffalo: 86 points, 31 regulation/OT wins with five games left

9. Washington: 86 points, 36 regulation/OT wins with four games left

The Capitals currently hold the tiebreaker advantage over Buffalo, which means the Sabres will likely need to finish with at least one more point to take the final spot (assuming that the Senators don’t stumble out themselves). It’s not an impossible request, but as we’ve discussed before, Washington is going to need some help to get in the playoffs. Especially since it appears that Tomas Vokoun aggravated his groin injury on just his first game back Thursday.

Luck was certainly on their side for most of Thursday night, though.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

 

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues

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This week’s edition of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night will feature a central division clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

It’s still early days, but the two sides are battling atop the Central, with the Blackhawks powered by great starts from a number of players including Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking to halt a two-game skid after winning their first four games of the season. The game also features the return of NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to the booth.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blues get Alexander Steen back against Blackhawks

Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk’s ‘best medicine’

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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