Nino Niederreiter

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 25:  Nino Niederreiter #22 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on February 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Wild 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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No hearing scheduled for Niederreiter after Sharp hit

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Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Dallas’ Patrick Sharp on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

Niederreiter was given a five-minute interference and game misconduct in the late stages of the Wild’s 3-1 win.

The hit sent Sharp cartwheeling to the ice, though, upon replay, Niederreiter got his skates tangled with Radek Faksa prior to the collision. That appeared to send the Wild forward into Sharp’s path inadvertently.

As such, it’s not a big surprise the 24-year-old escaped supplementary discipline.

There was some concern about Sharp, who’s missed significant time with concussion issues this season and appeared to be shaken up on the play. Thankfully for him and the Stars, he appeared no worse for wear.

That said, Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff didn’t like the hit. At all.

“I just saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp, that’s all I saw,” Ruff said following the game. “Cutting a guy’s knees out, that’s pretty tough.”

Niederreiter ejected as Wild hand Stars another crushing loss

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 17: Nino Niederreiter #22 of the Minnesota Wild in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 17, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Thanks to their 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night the Dallas Stars were losers for the third game in a row and the seventh time in the past eight games.

This recent stretch leaves the Stars seven points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 23 games to play on the schedule, and puts their playoff chances in serious jeopardy.

The Stars fell behind with less than one second to play in the first period when Ryan Suter scored a buzzer-beating goal off of a slick set face off play. The Stars were never able to tie the game after that.

Along with another loss, the Stars were also on the receiving end of some physical play late in the game.

After Charlie Coyle was penalized for taking out goaltender Kari Lehtonen behind the net (see it here), Wild forward Nino Niederreiter was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for interference for this hit on forward Patrick Sharp.

No word yet from the NHL if Niederreiter will face a hearing for the play.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked about the play after the game.

“I just saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp. That is what I saw,” said Ruff. “You know, cut the guy’s knees out. Pretty tough.”

While the Stars are in trouble when it comes to making the playoffs, the win helps the Wild extend their lead in the Central Division to seven points over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Graovac assigned to AHL, as Wild look for more from fourth line

Tyler Graovac, Sam Reinhart,
AP
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Tyler Graovac has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Iowa.

It’s good news for the Minnesota Wild, who didn’t want to lose the 23-year-old center for nothing, even if he had been struggling.

Yesterday, the Wild recalled forwards Zack Mitchell and Alex Tuch, with GM Chuck Fletcher saying the team needs more out of its fourth line, which had been comprised of Graovac, Jordan Schroeder, and Chris Stewart.

“A fourth line like that, they can’t play the way that they have been playing,” Fletcher said, per the Star Tribune. “They have to win more battles and turn fewer pucks over. That’s not a recipe for success. It’s not all Graovac certainly. I think all three of them have slipped in the last couple weeks and we have to try to get a better recipe for what we want to do with that line.”

Tonight against Anaheim, the fourth line will be centered by Erik Haula, flanked by Stewart and Mitchell. Schroeder is expected to be a healthy scratch.

Tuch, meanwhile, will skate on the top line with Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal, and Charlie Coyle will center the third line between Zach Parise and Jason Pominville.

NHL On NBC: Red Wings will try to slow down Wild

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NBC’s coverage of the NHL continues on Sunday afternoon when the Minnesota Wild host the Detroit Red Wings at 3 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NBC or on our Live Stream right here.

It is another Star Sunday with today’s Detroit-Minnesota game paying special attention to Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg and Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk.

These two teams enter play on Sunday rolling in two very different directions.

The Red Wings, just 6-7-6 since Jan. 1 and riding a three-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s game, have fallen to last place in the Eastern Conference (with the second-worst goal differential at minus-25) and are going to need a near miracle to surge back into a playoff position before the end of the season to keep their streak of consecutive playoff appearances alive.

It’s only a seven-point gap between them and a playoff spot, but this late in the season, and with literally every other team in the East standing in front of them, that is a massive gap to overcome with with less than 30 games to play.

Zetterberg has been one of the few bright spots in Detroit this season with a team-high 40 points and is still the best two-way player on the roster.

He enters play on Sunday with nine points in his past eight games, including three multi-point games.

The Wild, on the other hand, remain one of the hottest teams in the NHL and look to be on their way to giving coach Bruce Boudreau yet another division title to add to his resume with a third team. The only year he hasn’t won a regular season division title as a head coach was the 2011-12 season. The Wild, coming off of a 2-1 shootout win over Tampa Bay on Friday night, continue to hold a three-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks and still have three additional games in hand the rest of the way. While the Red Wings have been sputtering since the start of the new calendar year, the Wild have been nearly unstoppable with a 13-3-2 record since Jan. 1, earning 28 out of a possible 34 points in the standings during that stretch.

It has been a total team effort, too, with Devan Dubnyk playing at a Vezina Trophy level in goal while five forwards (Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu) all have at least 14 points during that stretch.

NHL on NBCSN: Lightning look to keep rolling against first-place Wild

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 24: Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning is congratulated by teammates after scoring his second goal of the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Lightning defeated the Blackhawks 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Minnesota Wild are coming off an overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, but they’re still in a good spot when it comes to maintaining the lead in the Central Division. The Wild enter tonight’s game with a five-point advantage over the ‘Hawks and they still own two games in hand.

The Wild have been one of the top teams all season, and they’ve been especially dominant against teams in the East and specifically the Atlantic Division. Minnesota has 13 wins in 19 games against the Eastern Conference and they’re an incredible 9-1 against the Atlantic.

Like every team, the schedule has been tough for the Wild recently. They just came back from a Western Canadian road trip that saw them win in Edmonton, lose in Calgary, win in Vancouver and win in Winnipeg. After the game against the Jets on Tuesday, they flew back home right away and were forced to play the next night against Chicago, which is why Bruce Boudreau gave his team a day off yesterday.

The Wild have received countless stellar performances from Devan Dubnyk throughout the season, but their ability to generate offense throughout their lineup has also been really impressive. In Tuesday’s game against Winnipeg, they were led by Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville (he had four points in that one). On Wednesday, it was Erik Haula who scored a late goal to send the game to overtime after Jared Spurgeon and Zach Parise had already scored.

It’s nearly impossible for the opposition to figure out which line will be rolling on a night-to-night basis because each one can contribute. It’ll be up to the Tampa Bay Lightning to figure out who to stop in tonight’s game.

Even though the Bolts are in a three-way tie in the basement of the Eastern Conference, they have to be feeling better about their game. For the first time since mid-December, the Bolts have won back-to-back games, which is an encouraging sign for their playoff hopes.

“What’s the cliche? Every game is a playoff game,” head coach Jon Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times after Tuesday’s win over the Kings. “We’ve got to keep building each game and I truly believe we have. And I truly believe now guys are getting rewarded.”

The Lightning are a manageable six points behind Boston for the final Wild Card spot in the East and they even have two games in hand on the Bruins. The problem, is that they have to leap over six other teams to get there.

Tonight’s game won’t be an easy one, as the Wild have been the most consistent team in the league in 2016-17. To make matters worse, the Lightning aren’t even sure they’ll have center Tyler Johnson in their lineup. He missed Thursday’s practice because of an undisclosed injury. If he can’t go, it’ll make the task that much more difficult.