Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on June 5, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.
(June 4, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Playoffs Tonight: Penguins must make history to survive

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The Chicago Blackhawks came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to defeat the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and consequently take a 3-1 series lead. The Conference finals could finish on Saturday, but that depends on the outcome of tonight’s game.

Boston Bruins host Pittsburgh Penguins (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Boston leads 3-0

Boston jumped ahead to 3-1 and 3-0 leads in their previous two series. In the first round, they just barely managed to advance despite the early series edge they built for themselves, but the second round had a far less dramatic conclusion for the Bruins.

Of course, people won’t soon forgot when the Boston Bruins coughed up a 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 — but a lot has happened since then. While that incident might provide them with perspective, they’ve shown time and again that they are capable of closing a series.

“The one thing we do know is we’ve got to play a better game than we did (Wednesday),” Julien said, according to the Boston Globe. “We might have won the game, but we’re certainly not pleased with the way we played.

“We know they played better but I don’t think we did, and we’ve got to make sure we’re at the top of our game tomorrow.”

The Penguins did play better in Game 3, even if they didn’t set the bar terribly high with their showing in the first two games of this series. They battled the Bruins for 95 minutes, but weren’t rewarded.

“By no means are we going to break down and give up. The percentages are against us, but we have a good team,” Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter told the Penguins’ official website. “We’re taking this day-by-day right now.”

Taking it one game at a time is the key for the Penguins. That strategy is so heavily preached that it’s long since become a cliche, but it’s all the Penguins got. They’ve put themselves in a position where they have to make history to survive.

It’s a long shot, but given how much talent the Penguins have, it’s hard to dismiss the possibility.

 

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.