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TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Detroit at Boston (7 p.m. ET)

The Red Wings get their first look at the B’s as Eastern Conference foes. Though we wonder if fatigue may be a factor for Mike Babcock’s troops — Detroit played Wednesday at home and is in Carolina to take on the Hurricanes Friday night before traveling to Boston. Wasn’t the schedule supposed to be easier in the new conference? As for the Bruins, they should be feeling pretty good after Thursday’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay to open their season.

Saturday: Buffalo at Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET)

Despite no shortage of power-play opportunities, the Sabres could only muster 20 shots versus Detroit in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday. Like the Wings, Buffalo plays Friday (at home versus Ottawa) before traveling for a tough game Saturday. Meanwhile, the Pens couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, beating New Jersey 3-0 Thursday as much-maligned Marc-Andre Fleury got the shutout. By the way, Pittsburgh plays seven of its first 10 games at home and doesn’t travel outside its time zone until Nov. 9 (St. Louis).

Saturday: Philadelphia at Montreal (7 p.m. ET)

Danny Briere faces off against his old Flyers mates. That’s one angle. Another involves the chatter that Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette is very much on the hot seat. Last night on TSN’s Insider Trading (video), Darren Dreger cited a sense of “impending doom” around the organization and suggested the Flyers need to have a winning record by the 10-15 game mark of the season, or we may see a new man — potentially Craig Berube — in charge behind the bench.

Saturday: Edmonton at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)

Both teams opened their seasons with losses. Whoever loses this one (on national TV in Canada, no less) is going to hear about it. The Oilers really should’ve won their first game, but they blew a 4-2 lead to the Jets on Tuesday. As for the Canucks, they looked good for the first 10 minutes of last night’s contest in San Jose, but turnovers ultimately cost them in a 4-1 loss to a Sharks side that should be very good this season. “We have a lot to learn with tenacity and consistently being on pucks,” said new Vancouver coach John Tortorella after the game.

Sunday: Anaheim at Winnipeg (8 p.m. ET)

Teemu Selanne returns to the city in which he first starred, almost certainly for the last time as an NHLer. We suppose there’s a chance the two teams meet in the playoffs, or even that Selanne changes his mind and doesn’t retire, but there’s a reason ticket prices are through the roof for this one. The Ducks don’t go back to Winnipeg again this season.

PHT Morning Skate: Sharks name stray cat after captain Joe Pavelski

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–The stray cat that ran onto the ice prior to Game 1 between the Sharks and Preds has been named after Joe Pavelski. (Associated Press)

–Speaking of that black cat, here’s a mountain of pucks shaped like the cat. (The Score)

–When Lukas Head was younger, he played with Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Here’s his story. (Toronto Star)

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–A look behind the scenes of the NHL draft lottery. (Canadian Press)

–Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sharon Szabados loves curing and the Oilers and she was forced to make a tough choice on Saturday. (Sportsnet)

Pascal Dupuis, who was named one of the Masterton Trophy finalists, is adjusting to retirement. (NHL.com)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta