ST. PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 10: Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild is congratulated by teammate Dany Heatley #15 after scoring a goal during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on October 10, 2013 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Cooke to play 1,000th game tomorrow

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Minnesota forward Matt Cooke will play in his 1,000th career NHL contest on Tuesday when the Wild host the Oilers at Xcel. For one of the most polarizing players in the last decade, the achievement will likely be met with mixed responses.

First, the positive. Playing in 1,000 career contests is no small feat, as fewer than 300 players have accomplished it in NHL history. Cooke’s done it playing for four different teams (Vancouver, Washington, Pittsburgh and Minnesota) and has to be credited with reinventing himself following a rash of disciplinary issues, which included scoring a career-high 19 goals with Pittsburgh during the 2011-12 campaign — when he was 33 years old.

Of course, many have difficulty separating Cooke’s accomplishments from the incidents that marred his career.

He essentially ended Marc Savard’s playing days with a blindside hit in 2010, an incident that still resonates with the Bruins. The Savard incident failed to change Cooke, though — during the 2010-11 season, Cooke became the league’s poster boy for dirty play with a pair of suspensions for ugly hits, the final straw coming with an elbow to the head of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, which saw Cooke get suspended for 10 regular season games and the entire opening playoff round.

That was the culmination of a span in which Cooke was suspended five times, four of which were for hits to the head.

As mentioned above, the McDonagh suspension did change things for Cooke, and he deserves credit for acknowledging the problems with his game, fixing them, and managing to thrive as one of the league’s older players (Cooke turned 35 in September.) He has 24 points in 64 games for the Wild this season while averaging close to 16 minutes per night.

According to the Wild, Cooke will be honored during a pregame ceremony on Tuesday, with the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo adding additional detail…

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)

Video: Dion Phaneuf’s assist is his first point with Senators

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Dion Phaneuf‘s first home game as a member of the Ottawa Senators is going more smoothly than his debut did on Wednesday.

Ottawa fell 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings last night, and they need another goal to tie up the Colorado Avalanche. Still, Phaneuf’s making a bigger impact on Thursday, collecting two assists … his first two points in a Sens’ sweater.

You can see his crowd-pleasing first helper above.

Here’s his second assist for good measure:

Update: The Avalanche held on, taking a 4-3 edge. Even so, Phaneuf’s getting a warm welcome in his new hockey city.