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NHL on NBC: It’s time for Hawks-Bruins rematch

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NBC continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign this afternoon when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins at United Center at 12:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Roughly seven months ago Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored back-to-back goals for the Blackhawks in the span of 17 seconds to give Chicago a 3-2 lead over Boston with less than a minute remaining in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. That was the last turning point in a fierce series between two of the league’s finest squads in recent years.

Since then, the Bruins and Blackhawks have endured some turnover, as is inevitable in the salary cap era, but many of the players that made that series great are still on their respective squads. On top of that, neither team has succumb to a Stanley Cup hangover as they both lead their respective divisions.

That’s where we stand as they get ready for their first rematch since the Stanley Cup was raised.

“It’s going to be exciting to play these guys again,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told CSN Chicago.

This is sure to be a hard fought battle, but not necessarily a controversial one.

“I would definitely say it’s different [than Vancouver],” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, according to CSN New England. “There was so much more…I guess you could say, chippiness in the Vancouver series. The bad blood has still carried over as you could see in the last Vancouver game [last month].

“There isn’t as much talk of that headed into [Sunday]. We both know what’s on the line. I wouldn’t say there was any other series where there was a mutual respect [like with Chicago.]”

Chicago in particular isn’t known for pushing the rules as they have the second least penalty minutes per contest in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have been charged with just eight major penalties and no game misconducts in 2013-14. Boston is far more likely to drop the gloves on any given night, but they are another one of the six teams to get this far without a single game misconduct.

Instead, this game might be better to measure in terms of offense versus defense. Chicago is the league leader in goals per contest while the Bruins have the second lowest team GAA.

Both of these teams are still facing stiff competition and need every point they can get, but more than that, this is an important test for both of these squads. They each know what the other is capable of. The question is how they will respond.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”