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Doughty fights Thornton, Clifford boards Couture in wild start to Sharks-Kings

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Both of the teams’ playoff tickets have already been punched, but that failed to keep tonight’s San Jose Sharks-Los Angeles Kings game from being a wild affair – so far, at least.

Speaking of punching, an unlikely fought broke out that might just signal how significant this is for each squad, as Joe Thornton dropped the gloves with Drew Doughty. (Not a misprint.)

Naturally, “Jumbo Joe” has seen his fair share of scuffles, especially when he was a regular 100+ penalty minute guy with the Boston Bruins. You can check out his history of fisticuffs here, but I’ll always remember Thornton dropping the gloves off with Ryan Getzlaf during the opening faceoff of a game (and series) that the Anaheim Ducks ultimately won.

It’s easy to say that Getzlaf vs. Thornton is much more fair than Doughty vs. Thornton, as the size disparity in the latter example is … stark. Give Doughty credit, though, as he did back up his words after talking a pretty big game about how much he’d like to knock the Sharks out of the playoffs.

That won’t happen, but the two teams can knock each other out figuratively from the Pacific Division title race and literally on the ice. Ryane Clowe and Matt Greene also fought in the first period (presumably about who’s the best player with extraneous e’s in their name) while the Sharks got a scare – and a five minute man advantage – when Kyle Clifford boarded Logan Couture.

CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz reports that Couture returned during the game and it was the Kings who scored the next power-play goal, so it seems like a fair result for all. Stay tuned for updates on what appears to be a contentious – and still pretty big – game.

Kinkaid blanks Kings, Devils move into playoff position

New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid (1) watches a shot on goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Newark N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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When the New Jersey Devils shut down a team 1-0, it’s usually with Cory Schneider in net.

Their workhorse got the afternoon off against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, yet Keith Kinkaid did his Schneider impression, grabbing his first NHL shutout in the process.

It was a low-event game with just 46 combined shots on goal, but Kinkaid had to work, stopping all 28 shots. To give you an idea of how tight this game was, the only tally was credited to David Schlemko on the power play.

This gives the Devils three straight wins. They managed to climb into third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New Jersey’s edge is a little misleading; the Islanders trail them by one standings point while holding three games in hand.

That leaves the Islanders in the bottom wild card spot, while the Penguins aren’t so far behind either.

Third in Metro: Devils – 65 points with 57 games played
Second wildcard: Islanders – 64 points, 54 GP
First spot outside the East playoffs: Penguins – 63 points, 54 GP

So, the Devils’ hold of a playoff spot is a bit tenuous, yet the bottom line is that they’re staying in the mix.

The Kings, meanwhile, remain comfortably in first in the Pacific.

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings on NBC

Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green (25) battle for the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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The Boston Bruins (without Patrice Bergeron) take on the Detroit Red Wings (missing Jonathan Ericsson) on Sunday afternoon.

It’s a matchup between the second-ranked and third-ranked teams in the Atlantic Division, with little separating the two in the standings.

You can watch the game on NBC and also stream it online via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Fighting it: No Patrice Bergeron for Bruins once again

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As cool as it was at the time for many, Patrice Bergeron‘s fight against Blake Wheeler is … honestly, a good reminder why players like Bergeron rarely drop the gloves.

Multiple outlets including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty report that Bergeron will miss Sunday afternoon’s game against the Detroit Red Wings (which you can watch on NBC).

We don’t know a ton about the injury aside from the fact that the multiple Selke-winner is considered day-to-day.

People don’t seem overly concerned about this issue, but you have to wonder if Bergeron made a bad choice, especially considering his history of concussion issues.

You can watch the bout that may or may not have left him injured in the video above.

Eichel makes everyone look silly, Varlamov gets the early hook

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You know, with Connor McDavid hogging so much attention, it’s about time that Jack Eichel provided us with another awesome goal.

That tally came at the Colorado Avalanche’s (and especially Semyon Varlamov‘s) expense as that was the Buffalo Sabres first shot of the game.

Patrick Roy apparently felt like this just wasn’t Varlamov’s afternoon, as Colorado’s head coach decided to pull him after Varly allowed two goals on as many shots. Evander Kane nabbed the other goal for Buffalo.

You can watch the goal in the video above, which reminds us that “Eichel Tower” might not be a unique pun.

Another shot of it:

Check out Kane’s goal, too:

To be fair to Varlamov, Calvin Pickard has already allowed a goal as well. The Sabres are currently off to a 3-0 lead, and maybe a small roll considering how well they played against Montreal on Friday?

Update: The Sabres ended up beating the Avalanche 4-1.