James O'Brien

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 28:  Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 28, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Uh oh: Toews won’t return for Blackhawks tonight

Ever since Jonathan Toews was noticeably absent from the Chicago Blackhawks’ lineup and bench on Wednesday, people wondered what was wrong in hushed tones. (Just ask CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers.)

Well, we still don’t know much, but the Blackhawks provided this update: he won’t return to tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

Update: Myers provides an update that it’s actually upper-body related. Beyond that, the Blackhawks don’t expect to know more until Thursday at the earliest.

Beyond that, it’s basically a mystery. There’s no read yet regarding whether it’s something that will keep him out days, weeks or months.

It’s understandable for Blackhawks fans to fear the worst considering the recent deluge in lengthy injuries to star players, but we’ll just need to wait and see.

Howard powers Red Wings to needed win against Sabres

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 12:  Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings speaks with teammate Jimmy Howard #35 during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on November 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-0.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Gustav Nyquist scored in regulation and in a shootout to help the Detroit Red Wings snap a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

Thomas Vanek also scored in the shootout and had an assist in regulation for the Red Wings, while Brian Gionta scored in regulation for the Sabres.

Jimmy Howard made 32 saves for the Red Wings, and Robin Lehner made 23 saves for the Sabres

After 36 scoreless minutes, the Red Wings went ahead when Nyquist found the back of the net following a spinning pass from Thomas Vanek. The goal was Nyquist’s team-leading fourth of the season.

Buffalo tied it 1:42 into the third when Gionta stuffed a rebound behind Howard. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill challenged the goal, but it stood as called.

The teams traded scoring chances in the 3-on-3 overtime period. Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen had two scoring opportunities but was twice turned away by Howard.

The Red Wings improved to 3-0 in games decided by a shootout this season.

NOTES: Sabres C Ryan O'Reilly returned after missing five games with an oblique injury. … Sabres C Jack Eichel skated with the team Wednesday for the first time since injuring his ankle in practice on Oct. 12, a day before Buffalo’s season opener. Coach Dan Bylsma did not provide a timetable for his return. … Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula got some good news about their NFL team, the Buffalo Bills. WR Sammy Watkins returned to practice for the first time since going on injured reserve with a foot injury. Buffalo got two of its biggest stars back Wednesday, but which is more important? “Well Sammy Watkins, for me,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “As much as I love Jack Eichel, he’s not paying any bills for me. Technically, (Eichel) is paying for somebody else in the organization though, isn’t he? But I think, (with) my season tickets – I’d like to see Eichel play. It’s a great question. Obviously, Sammy is such a great talent for us, but man the Sabres need scoring. Tough call.” … Red Wings F Tomas Jurco was assigned to Grand Rapids, Detroit’s AHL affiliate, for conditioning. He’s missed every game this season while recovering from offseason back surgery but is inching closer to a return.

NEXT UP

Red Wings: Play at New Jersey on Friday night.

Sabres: Play at Washington on Friday night.

Lightning grab win after brutal third period for Flyers

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If you want to chart the Philadelphia Flyers’ feelings from an eventual 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, you could do worse than to consider Ivan Provorov‘s Wednesday.

During the second period, the Flyers generated a gaudy 22 shots on goal while Provorov scored his first NHL goal and also assisted on a Dale Weise tally. Things looked good for the Flyers, even if the score was merely 2-1 in their favor.

In case that final score didn’t spoil it for you, things did not go well for Philly in the final frame.

The Lightning generated a 3-2 lead with two goals in 12 seconds, while Nikita Kucherov‘s late tally put the game out of reach at 4-2.

Also concerning is Provorov’s health, as he was in obvious anguish after blocking a shot:

Not good.

With Sean Couturier suffering a significant injury, the Flyers were hoping for a good night with good goaltending. That happened through two periods, but things ended very poorly for a team that has to be reeling a little bit right now.

Leafs squander a big night for Auston Matthews, again

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 23:  Leo Komarov #47 and Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs congratulate teammate Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs after he scored in the first period against the New Jersey Devils on November 23, 2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Remember when Auston Matthews made NHL history by scoring four goals in his debut? Remember that the Toronto Maple Leafs still managed to lose that game in overtime?

Those memories feel relevant on Wednesday, as Matthews enjoyed a big night in breaking through a personal scoring drought, yet Toronto lost anyway.

Matthews helped the Maple Leafs open the game up with a 3-0 lead thanks to a three-point first period, including two tallies that authoritatively ended a 13-game goal drought.

Things really fell apart quickly. The Devils made it 3-3 with three goals 5:30 into the second period. Still, Matt Martin gave the Leafs another lead at 4-3 just a few minutes later, but that edge wouldn’t hold.

Yohann Auvitu tied things up early in the final frame and Jacob Josefson scored the only shootout goal as the Devils reminded people of their scrappiness with a 5-4 shootout victory.

With that, the Leafs are now on a three-game losing streak, but perhaps Matthews will help Toronto get things back together? If nothing else, he won’t need to answer questions about scoring.

Instead, most reporters will probably focus on the “unable to hold a lead” business.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Sharks – Wednesday Night Rivalry

CHICAGO, IL - FEDRUARY 09: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks hits the ice after a face-off with Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks
at the United Center on February 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Sharks defeated the Blackhawks 2-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are the ones who keep scooping up the Stanley Cup rings, but the San Jose Sharks have also been in the thick of the West chase for some time in their own right.

All things considered, it’s actually surprising that the two consistent conference contenders only met once in the playoffs (with Chicago sweeping San Jose before winning the 2010 championship).

Even so, it’s reasonable for both teams to look at each other as a measuring stick, especially with the Sharks breaking through much of their playoff malaise last season in making it to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

There’s plenty of snarl and skill on both sides, so this should be a great way to close out the latest edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry. Watch it on NBCSN, online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.