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Lightning close gap in wild card race after crushing the Stars

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Sellers at the deadline and without star Steven Stamkos in the lineup, the Tampa Bay Lightning refuse to go away in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Time may eventually run out on the Bolts, but they’ve added plenty of intrigue to the race for the final wild card spot. On Sunday, they came roaring back with four goals in the third period for a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars.

That’s a crucial result after Saturday’s overtime loss to Montreal.

With the Ottawa Senators in a funk and dealing with numerous injuries to key players on defense, and with the Bolts finding ways to win, Tampa Bay has moved to within three points of the wild card.

The Bolts have four games remaining on their schedule.

The Senators also have a game in hand.

“It just comes down to our season and that’s it,” coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “That was the discussion in the room — ‘Do you want to give yourself a chance to play past next Sunday?’ If you don’t, then play the way we did in the second. If you do, play the way we did in the third.”

The Lightning fell behind by a goal in the second period but tied it with only 18 seconds remaining in the middle frame on a goal from Braydon Coburn. Adam Erne had a pair of goals and Ondrej Palat had three points in the win.

The Bolts play the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, however they may be dealing with yet another injury. Jason Garrison left Sunday’s game late in the second period and didn’t play another shift.

Video: Ovechkin in the midst of Capitals, Blue Jackets brawl

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Well, it’s clear the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals aren’t very fond of each other.

Fighting for top spot in the Metropolitan Division, tempers boiled over between the Blue Jackets and Capitals midway through the third period of Sunday’s game. Things really escalated during a scrum when Josh Anderson decided to give Alex Ovechkin a few jabs to the face.

Chaos suddenly ensued, with gloves, sticks and helmets littering the ice when it was over.

Ovechkin found himself at the bottom of a pile along the boards, wrapped in a headlock with a member of the Blue Jackets while his teammate Tom Wilson looked around for someone to pair up with before order was eventually restored.

The Capitals, thanks to a trio of second-period goals, left Columbus with a 3-2 victory, strengthening their lead atop the division. They’re now five points up on Pittsburgh and six points up on Columbus. All three teams have four games remaining on their respective schedules.

The Blue Jackets made things interesting in the third period with goals from Jack Johnson and Kyle Quincey, but they couldn’t complete the comeback.

Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Zach Werenski, who was on the receiving end of some big hits today, didn’t play a single shift in the final 18 minutes.

Video: Joe Thornton leaves game vs. Canucks with potential left knee injury

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There is now concern for a possible injury to San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton.

The Sharks forward left Sunday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks after being involved in a collision along the boards with Michael Chaput during the first period.

Thornton went immediately to the dressing room, though he struggled just to get off the ice, clearly favoring his left leg.

The Sharks have stated that Thornton’s return to this game is questionable.

With only two wins in their last 10 games, the Sharks have fallen to third in the Pacific Division. They had opened up a 2-0 lead on the Canucks after one period.

Check back to PHT for more updates.

 

Devils’ Prout to have hearing for interference on Gudas

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Dalton Prout is facing further discipline for his retaliatory hit on Radko Gudas during Saturday’s game between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Sunday announced that Prout has a hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The incident occurred when Gudas hit a Devils player at the blue line, leading to Prout coming in a few seconds later and delivering an open-ice hit well away from the puck on Gudas. A large melee ensued, including a fight between Wayne Simmonds and Prout.

In addition to his fighting major, Prout was given a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.

Gudas briefly returned to the game but left after the second period with an upper-body injury.

Last March, Prout was suspended one game for a sucker punch on Nikita Kucherov.

Canucks sign Jayson Megna to one-year, one-way contract extension

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The Canucks are bringing Jayson Megna back for next season.

The Canucks on Sunday announced a one-year, one-way contract extension for the 27-year-old forward, who is in his first season in Vancouver. In 53 games, Megna has four goals and eight points. The new contract is worth $675,000.

“Jayson is a strong skater who has added depth to our forward group,” said general manager Jim Benning in a statement. “We value his character and professionalism and are pleased to re-sign him for another year.”

With the Canucks going through a massive transition phase, bringing in younger players as the original core group continues to age, Megna has become an interesting case study in Vancouver.

Despite underwhelming production, Megna has been a consistent fixture in Willie Desjardins’ lineup, averaging 12:25 of ice time per game and being used in special teams situations, much to the displeasure of local fans. In almost 54 total minutes of power play time throughout the season, Megna has just a single power play point.

Desjardins’ use of Megna has been a constant talking point for those that take issue with the coach’s often curious, if not contentious, deployment decisions.

From Postmedia:

There’s been a long list of curious deployment calls, perfectly summed up by juxtaposing his tendency to give Jayson Megna all the ice time with his affection for benching Nikolay Goldobin, who is far younger with far more electricity.

The Canucks host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.