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NHL on NBCSN: Sabres don’t want to take slumping ‘Hawks lightly

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Buffalo Sabres at 8:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Sabres are looking to build off a solid road win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday, but they know that tonight’s game at the United Center won’t be easy.

Even if the ‘Hawks have struggled of late, the Sabres- who are still last in the Eastern Conference by the way- can’t afford to take any team lightly, let alone this one.

Chicago is just 1-4-1 in their last six games and their power play has connected on just four of their last 24 attempts, which is strange considering the firepower they have on their roster.

“Whatever the numbers are or aren’t, they’re still a powerful team, a scoring team,” said Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma, per The Buffalo News. They’ve got dangerous players and that’s something we’re going to have to be very aware of.”

Also, keep in mind that they haven’t had an ounce of success in Chicago over the last decade. The last time Buffalo won a game at the United Center, Jack Eichel was still only 10 years old (Jan. 2007).

On the injury front, the Sabres are expected to get Ryan O'Reilly back tonight. He’s been out of the lineup since Dec. 27 because he had to undergo an emergency appendectomy.

“It felt great to be back with the guys,” O’Reilly said after Wednesday’s practice. “It feels like it has been months since I’ve been around. It’s nice to get out there. I feel 100 percent. It’s just a matter of making sure everybody is on board and feeling safe.”

The Blackhawks are coming off that 4-1 loss to St. Louis at the 2017 Winter Classic, but they also got some good news injury-wise.

Veteran forward Marian Hossa, who’s been out since Dec. 20, is also expected to make his return to Chicago’s lineup.

“It’s exciting to have him back in the lineup but more importantly, for his sake, he looked really good out there. Looks like he hasn’t missed a beat,” said teammate Patrick Kane said, per CSN Chicago. “Any time you get a player of that caliber that adds so much to your lineup back in, hopefully he’s playing (on Thursday) and it should give us a big boost.”

This is the first game of a four-game homestand for the ‘Hawks. They’ll take on the Sabres tonight, the ‘Canes tomorrow, the Preds on Sunday and the Red Wings on Tuesday.

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.