CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Cody Hodgson #19 of the Buffalo Sabres skate up the ice during the NHL game on October 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

NHL on NBCSN: Hawks know they can’t take Sabres lightly

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Chicago Blackhawks at the First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

On paper this is an obvious mismatch. The Sabres were the league’s worst team even before they traded away Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Matt Moulson, and Brayden McNabb and they’re up against a Blackhawks squad that they haven’t beaten since Dec. 11, 2009.

At the same time, Buffalo has managed to post a 4-2-0 record since the Olympic break. That’s due in large part to goalie Jhonas Enroth, who has a 2.00 GAA and .950 save percentage in three games following the Miller trade. They’ve also leaned on defenseman Tyler Myers, who has six points in five contests.

There’s no question that the Blackhawks are still the heavy favorites to win tonight, but they can’t take Buffalo lightly either.

“We have to be respectful,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “We approached the Columbus game the right way and have to have the same type of attitude going into tomorrow’s game. When you look at the standings, what’s at stake, every game will have some meaning.”

In Chicago’s case, the Central Division title is what’s still at stake. Now that the St. Louis Blues have Miller, they’ve opened up a four-point lead on the Blackhawks despite having played in one less contest. They also have to be weary of the third place Colorado Avalanche, which are just one point shy of them.

Just as important for Chicago though is finding motivation to maintain a high level of play now that its playoff spot is all-but secured. The Blackhawks did a great job last season when it came to competing hard until the end of the regular season despite the fact that they realistically could have just coasted after getting off to a 21-0-3 start and probably still ended up with a high seed.

Instead they were able to carry that momentum all the way into the playoffs and use it to propel them to a Stanley Cup championship.

So while there’s no question that Chicago can survive no matter what happens tonight, this would still be a terrible time to start easing up against opponents they should be beating.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: