CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 7: Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts after scoring against the Nashville Predators in the first period during the NHL game on April 07, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Blackhawks become first team to clinch playoff berth (Update: Pens clinch too)

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Granted, there wasn’t much doubt after the Chicago Blackhawks got off to a 21-0-3 start this season, but now we know for sure: The Blackhawks will participate in the 2013 NHL Playoffs.

They became the first team in the NHL to earn that distinction on Sunday when they secured a 5-3 win against the Nashville Predators.

For a brief time though, it looked like the Blackhawks would have to wait at least a little longer to clinch.

Predators forward David Legwand netted his 11th goal of the season at 6:54 of the third period to give his team a 3-2 lead. However, the Blackhawks were only down for 2:43 minutes before 20-year-old rookie Brandon Saad found the back of the net for Chicago.

Then, appropriately, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews buried the game winner 55 seconds later.

Chicago is now 29-5-4 this season and don’t have much left to play for. They’ve all but won the first seed in the Western Conference, so the biggest question left is if they’ll get the Presidents’ Trophy.

All the same, the Blackhawks will want to avoid becoming complacent. They still have 10 games and about three weeks left before their season is over and they won’t want to lose any momentum in that time.

Update: The New Jersey Devils lost to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, which means the idle Pittsburgh Penguins are the second team to secure their playoff spot.

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

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The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

As Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) looks on Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic waves to the crowd after a tribute to him was played on the screen during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.

Video: Evander Kane believes he won his fights vs. Alex Petrovic

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The Florida Panthers are beating up the Buffalo Sabres where it counts – on the scoreboard – but Evander Kane was happy to highlight his perceived victories in a couple bouts.

Buffalo’s power forward fought Alex Petrovic twice on Tuesday, and Kane wasn’t shy about holding up a “2-0.”

You can watch the second fight above, and the first one below, via Hockey Fights by way of MSG:

This GIF might just say it all, really:

Update: Apparently they fought again moments after this post went up.

Probably safe to call it a rivalry between the two, right?

The Panthers ultimately won 7-4.

Fight video: Yes, a visor-breaking punch

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Some hockey players resist the urge to wear a visor, at least if they’re given that choice.

Perhaps a few will say “Hey, Nathan Beaulieu will just punch it off anyway.”

Maybe not, but Beaulieu provided a rather unique moment in his fight with Cedric Paquette during the Montreal Canadiens – Tampa Bay Lightning game. You can watch that bout in the video above, and see a cut on the Lightning pest’s face from that blow.

Want it in GIF form? OK then: