Cam Tucker

AP

Air Canada Centre ice ‘was brutal,’ says James van Riemsdyk after OT loss

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James van Riemsdyk has already voiced his criticism of ice conditions in the NHL, including at the Air Canada Centre, this season. And he did so again Saturday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward had a breakaway during a thrilling three-on-three overtime session with the Chicago Blackhawks but was unable to score on the opportunity, which would’ve given the home team a crucial victory in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Instead, the Maple Leafs lost late in overtime, gaining a single point, which is still important for them. Afterward, van Riemsdyk didn’t mince words about conditions at the ACC.

“The ice was brutal so I was just trying to do something where the puck wouldn’t hop on me,” said van Riemsdyk, per The Canadian Press.

He isn’t the only player to speak out about ice conditions in various NHL rinks this season. Bad ice forced the postponement of a Red Wings-Hurricanes game. Cal Clutterbuck previously called the ice surface at Barclays Center “unplayable” after a game against the Arizona Coyotes.

And keep in mind, players have reportedly been asked this season to fill out surveys reviewing ice conditions, which is used to help the league improve the quality of its playing surfaces.

The struggle is real: Rangers extend Wild’s losing streak

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The top two teams in the Central Division are currently going in opposite directions.

The Chicago Blackhawks continue to roll. They’re now five points clear of Minnesota for the lead in that division. Speaking of Minnesota: The Wild lost again Saturday, falling 3-2 to the New York Rangers.

That is now four straight losses for the Wild. They have only two wins in nine games this month. Once the leaders in the Central, they have seen that advantage rapidly dwindle before Chicago passed them.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau has already expressed concern about the way his team had been playing. On Saturday, he shuffled his lines in an attempt to find a spark. Minnesota fell behind in the second period and couldn’t complete the comeback.

“They all want to win,” said Boudreau, per the Pioneer Press.

“They are trying really hard out there. They want to do the right thing. … It’s about getting back to the simplicity of what we did early on in the season which is when we had so much success. … They have to get it in their head that what worked will work again. Once that happens, then I think will get back on the road to success.”

The Wild have a chance to snap their losing skid when they travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets on Sunday.

Capitals clinch playoff spot, deliver hit to Bolts post-season hopes

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It’s official now.

The Washington Capitals have been playoff bound for some time but on Saturday they officially clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup tournament.

In doing so, they made the road to a possible playoff berth that much more difficult for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Capitals had a great start with T.J. Oshie opening the scoring on a pretty passing play. They then let the Bolts back into the game before taking over for good in the third period with a pair of quick goals from Justin Williams and John Carlson.

Oshie finished the scoring with the hat trick goal into the empty net, giving Washington a 5-3 victory. Nice touch.

With 11 games left on their schedule, and with a long list of injuries, the Lightning sit two points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs (losers in overtime versus Chicago on Saturday) for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs also have a game in hand, while the New York Islanders are only one point behind Toronto.

Bolts coach Jon Cooper lamented the goals given up just 2:16 apart in the third period. The Williams goal came just after Tampa Bay had killed off a Jonathan Drouin penalty and Carlson provided the dagger.

“We take the penalty and we get through it. And then we just stop playing. Our defensive awareness … we can’t let that happen,” he told reporters. “Can’t give up that fourth one. Killer.”

The Lightning, with two straight losses, host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.

Coyotes’ DeAngelo ejected for boarding major on Blues’ Sanford

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Anthony DeAngelo has been kicked out of Saturday’s game between the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues, after he was given a major penalty for boarding Zach Sanford.

The incident occurred just 1:56 into the opening period.

Per Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sanford did go to the dressing room after the hit. Meanwhile, the Coyotes are down to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

In January, DeAngelo was suspended three games for abuse of an official.

Video: From Yale University to the Blackhawks, John Hayden scores first NHL goal

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John Hayden started the hockey season as a senior at Yale University. On Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he scored his first career NHL goal.

Signed last weekend to his entry-level deal, Hayden has already appeared in one NHL game for Chicago, but he’s now on the score sheet.

Hayden tied the game in the second period, kicking a Jonathan Toews pass from his skate to his stick and then quickly roofing his shot on Frederik Andersen.