NHL on NBCSN: Flames conclude painful season vs Blackhawks

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NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Calgary Flames at the United Center at 8:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Flames won’t just be finishing up their fourth straight season without a playoff berth on Friday, they will be finalizing the end of an era.

Jarome Iginla has been traded and Miikka Kiprusoff, 36, might announce his retirement this summer. For years the Flames had those two star players, but they weren’t able to build around them.

In 2003-04 Miikka Kiprusoff broke out and led the sixth-seed Flames all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before ultimately losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, Calgary hasn’t been able to win a postseason series.

Things couldn’t be more different for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews era is still young, but it’s already led to one Stanley Cup championship. This season they captured the Presidents’ Trophy by a comfortable margin and now have their sights on bigger prizes.

The question going into tonight’s game is if the Blackhawks will prevent any of their top players from participating as they try to find a balance between giving some veterans a breather and maintaining momentum going into the playoffs.

As it happens, this game has more meaning for Calgary because a loss might result in them getting a better draft position. That being said, Calgary has won six of their last 10 games, so they haven’t exactly been tanking.

Probable goaltenders: CGY – Joey MacDonald (8-8-1, 2.87 GAA, .901 SV%) | CHI – Corey Crawford (18-5-5, 1.98 GAA, .925 SV%)

Top scorers: CGY – Mike Cammalleri (13-19-32, 43 GP) | CHI – Kane (22-32-54, 46 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Calgary – Forwards: Steve Begin (upper body), Curtis Glencross (knee), Alex Tanguay (knee) Defensemen: Derek Smith (upper body)
Chicago – Forwards: Dave Bolland (groin) Goaltenders: Ray Emery (lower body)

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.