Florida Panthers left wing Sean Bergenheim (20) reacts after his game-winning goal as Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) looks on during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

West Update: Dallas vs. Phoenix could be photo finish


The Dallas Stars lost to the Florida Panthers today, which means that just a point separates them and the Phoenix Coyotes in the battle for the final Wild Card spot.

Both teams have four games left to play and will face each other in one of the last games of the regular season. In other words, the winner of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference might not be determined until the last possible minute.

Although those are the only two teams in the Western Conference still in a serious battle for a playoff spot, there’s a lot of teams competing for positioning and today’s contests had implications in that regard:

  • The St. Louis Blues dropped their game against the Blackhawks. They are still in a strong position in the battle for the Central Division title, but the Blues have fallen behind in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. They also missed an opportunity to pull ahead as they compete for the top seed in the Western Conference.
  • Anaheim suffered a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks have just a one-point lead on San Jose in the fight for the Pacific Division title, although Anaheim has played in one less contest and has a commanding lead in the tiebreaker (wins minus shootout victories).
  • Chicago’s win keeps them in the running for the second seed in the Central Division. They also got help from Pittsburgh, which defeated the Colorado Avalanche in a shootout.

Here’s the updated Western Conference standings:


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?