Philly mum on Mason’s availability for Game 1 vs. Rangers

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Still dealing with the effects of a collision during Saturday’s game versus Pittsburgh, Steve Mason is questionable for the Flyers’ series-opening game against the Rangers on Thursday.

Here’s more, from CSN Philly:

At practice on Tuesday, though, he seemed to take a step back. Mason practiced for about 15 minutes at Skate Zone, and Berube couldn’t say whether the goaltender would be ready for Game 1.

“That’s not been determined yet,” Berube said.

General manager Paul Holmgren said the Flyers will know more about Mason’s condition Wednesday. He declined to get specific about Mason’s injury, choosing instead to stick with calling it just an upper-body injury.

Holmgren added, though, that his confidence that Mason would be able to play Thursday is “the same” as it was after the loss to the Hurricanes.

“I thought it was good to see him out there,” Holmgren said. “I thought he looked OK. We’ve just got to take it a day at a time here. We’ll know more tomorrow. I couldn’t tell you.”

Mason was Philadelphia’s clear-cut No. 1 netminder this year, appearing in 61 games while matching a career high in wins, with 33. But the club also gave No. 2 Ray Emery a solid body of work — 28 appearances — and Emery does boast a wealth of postseason experience, taking Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 before starting all six games for Anaheim during an opening-round loss in 2011.

Emery also won a Stanley Cup with Chicago last year, though failed to see any action in the postseason.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.