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Around the rink – March 14; Sharks-Blackhawks highlight the night

Mar 14, 2011, 10:15 AM EDT

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Marian Hossa, Scott Nichol, Marc-Edouard Vlasic AP

All times Eastern

7:00 p.m.

Tampa Bay @ Toronto

While the Leafs got a big win on Saturday night against Buffalo to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Lightning come into this one with a sense of urgency. They’ve seen the Capitals extend their lead in the Southeast Division to five points while riding an eight game win streak. If the Lightning want to get serious and find a way to avoid a potential first round playoff date with either Pittsburgh or Montreal, snapping out of it and climbing back into the race with the Caps would help. Tampa Bay has lost six of their last seven. Toronto could get to within four points of the Rangers and Sabres with a win.

8:00 p.m.

San Jose @ Chicago

It’s the marquee match-up of the night and it’s easy to see why as these were the two teams in the Western final last year. Now they’re a pair of teams who until recently have been hot. Both teams had eight game win streaks come to an end recently and have fallen on rougher times since then. The Sharks have lost three of their last four while Chicago has lost three straight. San Jose’s lead in the Pacific Division is just three points over Phoenix and Los Angeles while the Blackhawks are alone in seventh place in the West with 82 points.

Fun fact: Six of San Jose’s last eight games have gone to either overtime or a shootout. In those six games, the Sharks are 4-0-2 with their losses having come in their last two games.

10:00 p.m.

Minnesota @ Vancouver

You know things are rough for the Wild when the first thought going into their game tonight is: “Can they just score a goal?” Minnesota’s been shutout in their last two games and put up just 33 shots total in both games. Things don’t expect to get any easier against the West leading Canucks, but the Wild have a history of lighting up Roberto Luongo. It’s an interesting juxtaposition for the game as you could see Luongo get his bearings against a team he generally struggles against and keep the Wild down offensively. On the flipside, maybe the Wild snap out of their funk by hanging another questionable beatdown on Luongo. Of course, the Canucks could just go ahead and start Cory Schneider and blow this set up to hell.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. C. Price (1918)
  2. J. Harding (1863)
  3. J. Thornton (1833)
  4. J. Giguere (1613)
  5. A. Semin (1541)
  1. J. Spezza (1528)
  2. C. MacArthur (1523)
  3. M. Staal (1498)
  4. S. Crosby (1183)
  5. R. Johansen (1153)