Tonight's games

Time is a-wastin’ so let’s get right to the previews. Expect cutesy lead paragraphs to resume soon enough.

Buffalo Sabres (41-23-10, 92 pts) at Boston Bruins (34-28-12, 80 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Buffalo certainly has a lot less to play for in this one, but they could also be getting a taste test of a potential first round tussle here. The Bruins cannot rest for a second because Atlanta and New York have a great opportunity to wrestle the eighth spot away from them.

Carolina Hurricanes (31-35-9, 71 pts) at Atlanta Thrashers (33-30-12, 78 pts) 7:00 PM ET

The Hurricanes are one of the most dangerous “spoiler” teams in the NHL right now. The Thrashers need to soak up as many points as possible because their schedule is about to get brutal.

Nashville Predators (43-27-6, 92 pts) at Florida Panthers (30-33-11, 71 pts) 7:30 PM ET

If I were the Panthers, I would make it a point to lose the remaining games in regulation. What’s the point of finishing in ninth or tenth place again? The Predators need to protect their shaky hold on fifth place in the Western Conference. They could easily tumble to eighth place.

Los Angeles Kings (42-26-6, 90 pts) at Minnesota Wild (36-33-6, 78 pts) 9:00 PM ET

The Wild are among my “stop kidding yourself, you need to start tanking immediately” picks. The Kings might be getting worried about a self-jinx after making that “Back in Black” announcement. People just don’t fear the jinx like they used to, do they?

Dallas Stars (33-28-14, 80 pts) at Anaheim Ducks (35-31-8, 78 pts) 10:00 PM ET

There’s going to be a lot of smack talking in this one. Unfortunately, it’s really just a prelude to a wicked golf match.

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    Devils, Hischier agree to seven-year, $50.75 million extension

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    While the Devils don’t know yet if Taylor Hall will sign an extension to remain in New Jersey or find a new home next summer in free agency, GM Ray Shero has young locked down one of the team’s core pieces.

    On Friday, Nico Hischier agreed to a seven-year, $50.75 million extension that carries a $7.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 NHL season. The deal buys three unrestricted free agent years since the Devils forward has been playing since he was 18, per Cap Friendly.

    “Nico is a special person who possess a team-first mentality combined with an inner drive to succeed,” said Shero in a statement. The entire organization is thankful to him and his family for believing in our future. We are excited that he will continue to play a prominent role with us for many years to come.”

    According to the Devils, here’s the year-by-year breakdown:

    2020-21: $7,000,000 (includes $3 million signing bonus)
    2021-22: $7,250,000
    2022-23:  $4,500,000
    2023-24:  $7,750,000
    2024-25:  $7,750,000
    2025-26:  $8,000,000
    2026-27:  $8,500,000

    The extension also features a modified no-trade clause in the final three years.

    In 157 NHL games, Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has 37 goals and 101 points while averaging over 17 minutes a night. His offense has been just fine with a 20 and 17 goals in his first two seasons, but his two-way game is what’s really boosted his talent.

    The 20-year-old center joins the list of NHLers who passed on restricted free agency in 2020 to put pen to paper on a new deal, joining the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Clayton Keller, Thomas Chabot, and Sam Girard.

    Mathew Barzal, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dylan Strome, and Mikhail Sergachev are some of the other potential 2020 RFAs who will be looking for extensions before next season.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Helm fined $5K for slash on Flames’ Lindholm

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    Darren Helm and Elias Lindholm had a little battle in the third period of Thursday’s 5-1 Flames win and it has resulted in a $5,000 fine for the Red Wings forward.

    It all began during a face-off when Lindholm got taken down by Helm. The Flames forward took exception and skated after Helm as the puck entered the Calgary zone. The tiff continued on with Lindholm throwing an elbow at Helm, who responded by getting up off the ice and slashing Lindholm in the back of the leg.

    “Their guy comes with an elbow that should have probably been called right away,” said Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill. “Then Darren reacts to that as most guys would, you get an elbow to the face for no reason you’re going to react. We got to be more disciplined in those situations, but he slashed him. I don’t think the slash was that super-hard, but it sure looked hard the way he went down.”

    The fine is the maximum amount allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    Helm was given a major for slashing and a game misconduct, while Lindholm got off with just an interference minor. Lindholm was helped to the dressing room and there’s been no update yet on his condition.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    LA Kings set Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Laser Show’

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    The Los Angeles Kings may have dropped their third in a row Thursday night and fell to 2-5-0 on the season, but they set a world record during the first intermission.

    The Kings’ game presentation department used 642 lasers as part of the Guinness Book of World Records “Largest Laser Show” at STAPLES Center. So, yeah, they were shutout, but they made history.

    For the record, the first-period goals by Casey Mittelstadt and Conor Sheary did not, in fact, count toward the final laser total.

    With Thursday being the 20th anniversary of the opening of the arena, which featured a Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band concert back in 1999, the Kings wanted to do something special, so they went and shattered the previous record of 342, per the team.

    Now, if only one of those lasers could have destroyed the “cursed” Taylor Swift banner

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Kempny returns to Capitals’ blue line for first time since March

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    Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer doing the ceremonial puck drop honors won’t be the only thing Capitals fans can look forward to Friday night. Defenseman Michal Kempny will make his long-awaited return to the ice against the Rangers after tearing his hamstring in March.

    Kempny, who was paired with Radko Gudas during Friday’s morning skate, was given a four-to-six month timeline after undergoing surgery right before the end of last season.

    “Yeah, I’m playing tonight. It’s been a long time. I’m very excited,” Kempny said. “There was a lot of hard days, especially from the beginning of the rehab, small steps make me happy. I think it’s part of rehab and all the bad is behind me and I’m just focusing now [on] today’s game.”

    Kempny knows he won’t be logging heavy minutes just yet and wants to focus on getting back into the normal routine of a regular player. How his ice time is managed will be something his head coach has to worry about.

    “We have a range we’d like to have him in and we’ll see how the game goes,” said Todd Reirden. “Obviously he’s fresh, he’s skating really well, he’s in unbelievable condition, so now it’s just to see how it transfers into game action and how his wind is and his conditioning.”

    Braden Holtby is back between the pipes are being given a one game “reset,” as Reirden put it. How he fares against the Rangers will either pause the goalie controversy talk with Ilya Samsonov for now or only add more fuel to the fire.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.