One wants in the postseason, the other wants the No. 1 seed in Hockey East.
No. 4 New Hampshire Wildcats (18-8-6) vs. Maine Black Bears (10-17-7)
It’s the final weekend of the conference schedule in Hockey East, and both New Hampshire and Maine have things to figure out heading into their rivalry battle. UNH is seeking to finish No. 1 overall in the conference and needs to score a pair of wins while hoping UMass-Lowell slips up against Providence to make it happen. If the Wildcats needed extra motivation, being able to keep Maine out of the Hockey East tournament should do it.
The Black Bears are hanging on to the eighth spot in the conference by just one point over UMass and while they can’t hope for the Minutemen to just lose to Merrimack, it’s on them to find a way to slow down a New Hampshire attack that’s done well this season.
UNH rolls with five players who fill the net regularly (Kevin Goumas leads the way with 37 points) and it’ll be up to Maine’s junior goalie, Martin Ouellette, to hold down the fort. He’s done well since taking over for Dan Sullivan and after the disastrous start to their season, Maine just making the Hockey East tournament would be a great accomplishment. Maine’s not-so potent offense will have to deal with one of the better goalies in the country in sophomore Casey DeSmith who made headlines earlier this season for UNH.
NHL prospects to watch
This game is light on draftees with just six players in all who’ve had their name called. New Hampshire has just two with Eric Knodel (D – JR – Toronto) and Greg Burke (F – SR – Washington). Knodel is a solid blue liner and he and Trevor van Riemsdyk (James’ younger brother) are their two most productive defensemen. Goumas, an undrafted junior forward, has been the set-up man for fellow undrafted guys like John Henrion, Austin Block, and Grayson Downing (38 combined goals).
Maine, meanwhile, rolls with four draftees led by Ouellette, a Blue Jackets prospect. Joining him are a pair of solid freshmen forwards in Devin Shore (Dallas) and Ben Hutton (Vancouver). Shore is second on the team in points to undrafted senior Joey Diamond. Senior defenseman Nick Pryor (Anaheim) has played in 17 games this year earning just two assists.
After being held without a point in his first two games of the season, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.
That includes his goal on Saturday night in the first period against the New York Rangers.
It’s one that will probably make the personal highlight reel for Ovechkin, but it certainly won’t make the highlight reel for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.
To say that this head-to-head matchup turned out to be a mismatch would be … well … a bit of an understatement.
As Ovechkin crossed the blue line into the Rangers zone he started to toe-drag around Staal, only to stop midway through and just rip it from outside the circle, using Staal as a screen and beating Henrik Lundqvist for the goal.
It is probably not a good sign when the defenseman has his back to the shooter when the puck is released.
That goal gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead.
The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.
The official word from the team is that he is sidelined with a lower body injury.
He will be replaced in the lineup by Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou has appeared in three games this season and yet to record a point.
He was not only in the lineup on Friday in the Red Wings in their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, but also scored his first goal of the season and played a season-high 17:55.
After scoring 19 goals and recording 23 assists in 82 games in 2015-16 the Red Wings signed a seven-year $29.7 million contract extension.
According to general manager Ken Holland (via Helene St. James) he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers has been hospitalized.
Demer’s director of parliamentary affairs confirmed Saturday that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, had been admitted to a Montreal hospital, but couldn’t immediately provide any details.
Demers had a stroke in April. He was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.
Demers led the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached Quebec, Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the NHL, and Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Quebec in the WHA.
When the Dallas Stars take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday evening one of their top forwards will be making his 2016-17 debut.
The team announced on Saturday afternoon that forward Ales Hemsky will be activated from injured reserve after missing the first four games of the season due to a groin injury at the World Cup of hockey.
He is expected to skate on the Stars’ top line on Saturday night alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
Now 33 years old, Hemsky isn’t quite as dynamic as he was during his prime years in Edmonton, but he is still an extremely skilled playmaker that is a solid fit in Dallas’ system. He is entering his third year with the Stars and has 71 points (24 goals, 47 assists) in 151 games with the team.
With Hemsky now activated and back in the lineup, the Stars also announced on Saturday that veteran forward Jiri Hudler has been placed on IR retroactive to Oct. 15 due to illness.