NHL on NBCSN: Season wraps up with Coyotes, Stars

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NBCSN concludes its coverage of the 2013-14 regular season tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes host the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena at 9:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Next week the playoffs will begin and the hunt for the Stanley Cup truly starts, but before that happens, we need to close the curtain on the season. The Coyotes just wish this game was being played under different circumstances.

It wasn’t long ago that the battle between Phoenix and Dallas for the final Wild Card spot looked like it might come down to the wire. Instead the Coyotes collapsed with seven straight losses.

That would be a devastating blow for any team, but it’s particularly bad for the Coyotes as they try to prove that that an NHL club an flourish in Glendale now that they finally have an ownership group in place.

Let’s not forget that the new owners, IceArizona, have an out clause that would allow them to terminate their arena-management agreement and presumably relocate the franchise if the team accumulates $50 million in losses over five years.

IceArizona has been vocal about their desire to keep the team in Arizona, but they are still drawing an average of just 13,741 fans per home game, per ESPN, compared to 13,923 in the shortened season and 12,420 in 2011-12. Team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc acknowledged in December that he was “a little disappointed” with the team’s attendance.

Coyotes chairman George Gosbee added recently that making the playoffs are “fundamentally, absolutely” important as part of the team’s push to establish a winning culture.

None of those problems will be solved tonight. For the Coyotes, what this game’s about is leaving their fans with a silver lining. To win so that the last thing they remember about this season isn’t a horrid losing streak.

Now that the Stars are locked into the second Wild Card spot, they are expected to rest some guys and the rest will focus on building momentum ahead of the playoffs. This game has meaning to the Stars, but perhaps the Coyotes have more at stake even with their run ending tonight.

Fight Video: Lappin, Puempel land some good shots in preseason tilt

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Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?

Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.

On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.

Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.

Here’s the video footage of the scrap:

By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.

Kings outlast Canucks in first edition of NHL China Games

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The Los Angeles Kings came away with a 5-2 preseason win over the Vancouver Canucks in the first of the 2017 NHL China Games. This contest took place in lovely Shanghai.

Adrian Kempe got the ball rolling for Kings, as he scored the first goal of the game on the power play to make it 1-0 for his team (top).

Kings forward Tanner Pearson scored a great shorthanded breakaway goal to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 2-0 (check out the Pearson goal by clicking the video below).

The shorthanded goal against wasn’t the only issue the Canucks power play had in this game. Vancouver managed to score once on the man-advantage, but they finished the game 1-for-14 in that department (yes, it’s only a preseason game).

with Vancouver trailing 3-0 in the second period, Sven Baertschi finally got them on the board to cut the Kings lead to 3-1.

Markus Granlund made it 3-2 in the third period, but that’s as close as the Canucks would come to tying the score.

Pearson extended Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2 before Jeff Carter finished off the game with an empty-net goal.

These two teams will meet again in Beijing on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

Krug to be re-evaluated in three weeks after taking puck to jaw

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Torey Krug‘s 2017 training camp is officially over.

The Bruins defenseman suffered a non-displaced fracture in his jaw after taking a puck to the face in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Red Wings.

General Manager Don Sweeney expects Krug to be re-evaluated in three weeks, which means he could miss Boston’s regular-season opener against Nashville on Oct. 5.

Losing Krug for any regular season games would be huge for the Bruins, as he had eight goals and 51 points in 81 games last season.

In other injury news, the Bruins also announced that forward Matt Beleskey (foot contusion) is day-to-day. He was hurt in Boston’s preseason opener against Montreal on Monday.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (upper body) is also day-to-day. He was injured against the Red Wings, too.

Caps’ Vrana hoping to earn spot with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov

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It looks like the Washington Capitals are going to give Jakub Vrana the opportunity of a lifetime.

Washington has given the young winger a chance to earn a spot on the right side of the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

On Wednesday night, they got to put the chemistry to the test, as Vrana and the Caps played the Canadiens in Montreal.

Vrana finished the game with a power play goal (an innocent shot that went off Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson and in the net). Kuznetsov and Ovechkin registered the assists on the goal and the Caps won 4-2.

“We played fast today,” Vrana said, per the Washington Post. “We had some passes today, some chances. It’s always a good sign when you have chances. … You’re going to be confident when you play with guys like this. You’re just going to be confident on the ice with the puck. Just play fast and build some chemistry there.”

The 21-year-old got his first taste of real NHL action last season, but the production simply wasn’t there (three goals and three assists in 21 games). But the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft did put up solid numbers in the AHL, as he had 36 points in 49 games last year and 34 points in 36 games with the Hershey Bears two years ago.

“He gets to space,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He gets on the puck because he moves his legs and his speed is noticeable. Kuzy can get him the puck, and getting down ice, he can put some pressure to create a forecheck, too. He worked hard today, and I think we keep putting him with top players, because we think he’s going to be a top player.”