PHT Morning Skate: Mike Smith obliterates stick after allowing five goals

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–It was a tough night at the office for Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. He allowed five goals on 31 shots in a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday. After Matt Puempel scored the Rangers’ sixth goal, Smith took his frustration out on his stick. (Top)

–ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun sat down with former Maple Leaf Wendel Clark, who will be suiting up in Saturday’s Centennial Classic alumni game at BMO Field. “Well, it’s a lot of fun,” Clarke said of playing outdoors. “You get back to the roots of it [when you’re] outside playing. This one is a little fancier than the weeds growing on the side of the ponds where we started. But it’s always a great reminder — and a spectacle and fun for the players as well as the fans.” (ESPN)

–If you haven’t heard of Rasmus Dahlin yet, I’m sure that’s going to change in the near future. The 16-year-old is currently playing with Sweden at the World Junior Hockey Championship and despite his young age, he’s been terrific. Dahlin is expected to be the first overall pick in the 2018 draft and he’s drawing comparisons to players like Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman. (WorldJunior2017.com)

–With so much parity in the league, the NHL has become incredibly unpredictable. Any team can win on any given night. Who thought the Devils could go into Washington with their backup goalie and come out on top? Here are the highlights from New Jersey’s shootout win:

–When he was 11, Devils rookie Miles Wood sent Alex Ovechkin a letter asking for an autograph. Wood warned Ovechkin that if he didn’t send a signature back, he’d have to bodycheck him when they met in the NHL. Ovechkin didn’t reply at the time, but Wood finally got that autograph last night. “When I was in warmups, I looked over at him and we smiled at each other type of thing. It was good to see him out there. He’s huge in person. That’s something I learned,” said Wood. (Bergen Record)

Brandon Saad wrote a fantastic piece for The Players’ Tribune. He talked about growing up in Pittsburgh, winning two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks and he discussed the incredible run the Blue Jackets are on right now. “As tempting as it is to look at the standings, or to try to picture where this team is going, we can’t do that. We really are taking it slow. We’re just trying to improve on what we’ve started here. Torts makes sure we run a very professional locker room, and that we don’t get too high or too low,” Saad said of his current team. (The Players’ Tribune)

–After being traded from the Canadiens to the Predators, P.K. Subban performed a standup routine during Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival over the summer. The show was a success, as he had everyone cracking up throughout his set. But Subban admitted that making people laugh in that setting isn’t easy. “Remember, I did it in a city where everybody knows me, where I played hockey and everybody there was a hockey fan. They go to cities where maybe some people aren’t as familiar with them where they have to kind of earn the respect of the room and that’s really tough,” said Subban. (CBC)

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.