GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 15: Goaltender Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks makes a save on the shot from Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the second period of the NHL game at Arena on April 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 4-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks aim for home ice, battle Coyotes


NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes host the San Jose Sharks at Arena at 10:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

San Jose guaranteed its playoff spot by beating the Dallas Stars yesterday, but the squad can’t take a break yet.

“There’s a sense of relief, but it can’t be a sense of relaxation,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “When we came in, we immediately looked at what happened tonight around the league, and there’s still a chance for home ice. That would be a nice thing to have.”

The Sharks are now tied with the Los Angeles Kings in points in the battle for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Both teams have two games left, but the Kings have an insurmountable lead in ROW (wins excluding shootout victories), so the tie will go to Los Angeles.

It’s worth adding that the Sharks and Kings will end their respective regular season schedules by facing each other on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

San Jose has been a dominating 17-2-5 at home, but 8-12-2 on the road, so the importance of securing the fourth seed shouldn’t be dismissed.

That being said, the Sharks will have their work cut out for them tonight in what will be their third game in just four days.

“It’s going to be tough with back-to-backs and three [games] in four [nights],” Sharks forward Logan Couture admitted, “but we’re just going to see what we’re made of.”

The Phoenix Coyotes are coming off of a 4-0 loss to Detroit on Monday. Although they made it all the way to the 2012 Western Conference finals, they don’t have much left to play for now except for personal pride.

Probable goaltenders: SJS – Antti Niemi (24-11-6, 2.14 GAA, .925 SV%) | PHX – Mike Smith (14-12-4, 2.59 GAA, .910 SV%)

Top scorers: SJS – Joe Thornton (7-33-40, 46 GP) | PHX – Mikkel Boedker (7-18-25, 45 GP)

Notable Injuries:
San Jose – Defensemen: Jason Demers (lower body)
Phoenix – None

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?