Discuss: Red Wings edge ‘Hawks via shootout

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The Detroit Red Wings carved out a 5-4 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, leaving them tied points-wise with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eighth playoff spot in the East as of tonight. The Red Wings fought back from a 2-0 deficit, showing that they’re not going to be an easy out even with injuries and other challenges serving as potential obstacles.

– Can Detroit hold off the handful of up-and-down East bubble teams and make it to the postseason? Considering the Red Wings’ injuries, would a healthy Detroit team be a potential playoff upset threat? (Obviously looking months ahead, mind you …)

– The Red Wings have now won just three of 10 shootouts and notched their eighth home win of the season. Despite those struggles, they’re in the mix.

– Would you agree with CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers that the Blackhawks were “just off” for much of this game? Did Chicago take Detroit lightly because of injuries?

– Inevitable question time: are the Red Wings better off with Jonas Gustavsson instead of Jimmy Howard, or is that more of a “small sample size” thing? What about the American Olympic team?

– The Red Wings are attempting to make the most of what could be a lucrative stretch of games scheduling-wise. They won two of three games in Detroit so far in a five-game homestand.

– Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are kicking off a challenging run after finishing up a home-heavy stretch. They play in Minnesota on Thursday, get one home game against Winnipeg and then the ‘Hawks finish off their pre-Olympic break schedule with six straight road contests. Then a huge chunk of their team flies to Sochi. Yikes.

– As evenly matched as this game was, Mike Babcock remarked to the Detroit Free Press before the contest that the Red Wings need to “hold up our end of the bargain,” to maintain the rivalry. How can the Red Wings return to their elite form of old?

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.