Cam Tucker

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The Pacific Division lead is within reach for McDavid and the Oilers

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Forget just making the playoffs.

The Edmonton Oilers have already taken care of a post-season berth, recently ending a frustrating and sometimes embarrassing franchise drought.

But why stop there? Despite giving up 40 shots on goal, the Oilers held on to defeat the San Jose Sharks by a score of 3-2 on Thursday, giving Connor McDavid and Co. a solid 95 points.

Coupled with Anaheim’s overtime loss to Winnipeg, and the Oilers are a single point behind the Ducks for the Pacific Division lead, while the Sharks remain three back.

Should the Oilers win the division, it could set up a potential first-round Battle of Alberta — one of the storied rivalries of the NHL, although it’s been difficult to hype this match-up in recent years because both teams have toiled below the playoff standard in the Western Conference.

McDavid increased his lead in the overall points race. With a goal — another beauty — and an assist, he is now up to 91 points, which is seven ahead of Patrick Kane.

“We made a few mistakes and they’re opportunistic, especially obviously McDavid,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “A couple poor line changes in the first, and [if] he gets any kind of room at all and you make a mistake when he’s on the ice, it’s got a good chance it’ll end up in the back of the net and it did.”

Patrick Maroon scored twice, including the winner.

Playing a large portion of this season — more than 650 minutes at five-on-five, per stats.hockeyanalysis.com — on a line with McDavid, Maroon is now up to 27 goals, which is a massive increase from his previous career best of 12 last season in time spent between Anaheim and Edmonton.

This latest win sets up a massive showdown between the Oilers and Ducks on Saturday. A regulation win for the Oilers would give them top spot in the Pacific Division.

No fooling.

Stars’ McKenzie hospitalized with possible eye injury

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Dallas Stars forward Curtis McKenzie will not travel with the team to Carolina after suffering a possible eye injury late in the third period of Thursday’s game with the Boston Bruins.

That is according to the Stars, who announced McKenzie was taken to hospital to have a cut on his eye closed up. The incident occurred when McKenzie was caught with a high stick from Kevan Miller off of a faceoff.

The club provided another update shortly after, per Stars website writer Mark Stepneski:

Brad Marchand leads the way for another crucial Bruins victory

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There was good news and, well, some not so good news for the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Brad Marchand, as he’s done throughout this season, led the Bruins offensive attack versus the Dallas Stars, scoring the opening goal and assisting on Torey Krug‘s power play goal in the second period.

Marchand’s goal gives him 38 this season, which is the highest single season total for a Bruins player since Glen Murray in 2002-03. It also puts Marchand four goals back of Sidney Crosby for the league lead.

The Bruins won, shutting down the Stars by a final score of 2-0. Tuukka Rask made 27 saves for the shut out.

The win keeps the Bruins moving in the right direction as they look to lock up a playoff position — either the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, or perhaps a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division. The latter is still very much a possibility.

The New York Islanders had a horrendous start against the Philadelphia Flyers and it was costly, as they lost 6-3, meaning they fall six points behind Boston.

However, the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning, two teams chasing and still within striking distance of the Bruins in the wild card race, both won Thursday. The Hurricanes came back to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime, while the Bolts had a nice offensive outburst in the second period on their way to defeating the Detroit Red Wings.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were also victorious Thursday, so they retain third in the Atlantic, one point better than Boston.

The Bruins are three points up on Tampa Bay and four points up on Carolina. Both the Bolts and Hurricanes have a game in hand on Boston.

Meanwhile, there was a scary moment late in the Bruins-Stars game. Curtis McKenzie was rushed off the ice, clutching the right side of his face as blood dripped to the ice, after being clipped by a high stick from Kevan Miller off a faceoff.

Miller was assessed a double minor for high sticking on the play.

Sharks sign ‘smooth, puck-moving’ Union College d-man Nick DeSimone

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The San Jose Sharks have waded into the college free agent waters.

On Thursday, the Sharks signed 22-year-old defenseman Nick DeSimone to a two-year entry-level deal. He also inked an AHL amateur tryout deal and will report to the San Jose Barracuda for the duration of the 2016-17 season, the club announced.

“Nick is a smooth, puck-moving defenseman with good size who uses his speed in both ends of the ice,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson in a statement.

“His two-way play has taken a step forward in each of his three collegiate seasons, and we thank Union Head Coach Rick Bennett for helping develop a solid player both on and off the ice. We look forward to adding him to our group of defensemen.”

DeSimone recently completed his junior season at Union College. He scored nine goals and 19 points (both single season college career highs for him) in 38 games.

Earlier today, Spencer Foo announced he will forego his senior season at Union College in order to sign an NHL deal this summer.

Report: Red Wings rookie Mantha suffers broken finger, likely done for the season

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It looks like Anthony Mantha‘s rookie season could be over.

Mantha dressed for the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, but was involved in a fight with Tampa Bay Lightning’s Luke Witkowski and is now done for the night after just 1:09 of ice time.

Per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, quoting general manager Ken Holland, Mantha suffered a fractured finger and is believed to be done for the remainder of the regular season.

After tonight, Detroit has five games left on its schedule, after failing to extend its impressive streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

Mantha had 17 goals and 36 points in 59 games this season prior to Thursday.