Jamie Benn, Ben Bishop

Stars move back ahead of Coyotes by beating Lightning


The Phoenix Coyotes’ grasp on the Western Conference’s final wild card spot didn’t last very long as the Dallas Stars took the lead back with an impressive 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

The Stars opened things up with a 3-0 lead in the first period, as Jamie Benn was involved in all three opening goals (two goals, one assist) while Tyler Seguin collected one goal and one assist. The Lightning made things a little tense in the second period by bringing the deficit down to 3-2, but Dallas pulled away in the final frame.

Opportunities ahead

The Stars managed to shake off Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, continuing what’s generally been a hot streak since March 22. In that time, they’ve won six of their last eight games. They’ve been successful so far in their current five-game road trip, too, winning three of four before tomorrow’s game in Florida wraps that up.

Dallas can really distance itself during a three-game homestand before they face the Coyotes in Phoenix in a game that could very well decide a playoff spot.

A chance to pull away

The Stars are in a position to pull away altogether if they can stay on task.

Dallas now has 87 points on the season with five games left while Phoenix is seated at 86 standings points with four games remaining. That advantage is even greater since Dallas has some obvious tiebreaker advantages at the moment, including wins (38-36) and regulation/overtime wins (35-30).

In other words, the Stars are currently in control of things, but this battle for the West’s final spot has seen some dramatic swings both ways. Few would be surprised if there are a few more twists and turns, whether April 13’s closing game decides it all or not.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?