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The one ref Vancouver probably didn’t want reffing tonight’s game is reffing tonight’s game

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The officiating crew for tonight’s Canucks-Blackhawks game is in, and it’s an eyebrow raiser.

The linesmen will be Shane Heyer and Thor Nelson, while the referees are Eric Furlatt and…

Dan O’Halloran.

O’Halloran — No. 13 in your lucky number programs — is a pretty curious assignment, given his lengthy history with the Canucks.

First and foremost, O’Halloran was one of the two officials working the last time Vancouver and Chicago met, when Duncan Keith was whistled for a two-minute elbowing minor on Daniel Sedin:

That incident set off a hailstorm of controversy.

Sedin missed the remaining nine games of the regular season and first three games of the playoffs with a concussion, while Keith was tagged with a five-game suspension from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was incensed the call on the ice didn’t reflect the severity of the hit or subsequent punishment from the league.

“We got a big two-minute power play off that hit from the same referee — remember last year when Daniel got punched six times in the face in the Boston series?” Vigneault said. “I seem to remember it was the same guy.”

That guy was none other than O’Halloran, one of two referees working Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final, during which Boston’s Brad Marchand repeatedly punched Sedin in the face.

Sedin received a 10-minute misconduct, as did Marchand — though Marchand got an extra two for roughing.

(And to be fair, it was Kelly Sutherland who was directly involved with trying to stop the altercation.)

Earlier in that same postseason, O’Halloran was working Game 2 of the Western Conference final between Vancouver and San Jose, in which Ben Eager hammered Sedin with this hit:

Eager was given a two-minute boarding minor on the play, a decision the Canucks were displeased with.

The two-minute penalty also came under scrutiny when, shortly after the playoffs ended, the NHL sent out a player safety video (FF to 8:01) in which the Eager-Sedin hit was used to illustrate illegal action under the new boarding rules.

Related

Blackhawks and Canucks: ‘bitterness’ lingers about Keith elbow on Sedin

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.