Tyler Ennis, Justin Abdelkader,  Darren Helm, Daniel Alfredsson

Red Wings hang on for fourth win in a row, fatten wild card lead


The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-0 lead slipped to 3-2, but they managed to hold on to beat the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

In the process, Detroit is now on a four-game winning streak, beefing up their lead on the East’s top wild card spot to three standings points.

Pavel Datsyuk made his return to the lineup, and while he was dominant in the faceoff circle (11-2), the returning veteran was unable to register a point. Daniel Alfredsson was able to shine offensively, however, collecting the game-winning goal and an assist.

The youngsters managed to keep the good times going in their own right, with Tomas Jurco also finding the net. (Buffalo was able to hold Gustavv Nyquist off the scoreboard, however.)

It was a positive night for the Red Wings overall, as second wild card team Columbus saw a chance to get at least one point slip away thanks to a stunning late Chicago goal. While the Toronto Maple Leafs remained idle (and gained a little optimism thanks to Columbus’ stumbles), the New Jersey Devils took the 10th spot and send the Washington Capitals down to 11th in the process.

In short, Detroit, Toronto and New Jersey were Friday’s big winners while Washington and Columbus slipped. Here’s a look at how the East playoff picture appears following tonight’s relevant games (including Montreal storming back against Ottawa):


Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo
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Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.