Every once and awhile an NHL evening comes along when the checks seem harder, the shoving matches linger longer and lines get toed a bit more aggressively.
Tuesday was one of those nights. Perhaps it's the tension of the playoff races finally gaining some bite.
The Predators have to be feeling the heat. No team in the NHL has been as hot as the Predators over the last month, and yet they can't find a way into the playoffs. Nashville followed up a surprising 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday with an equally frustrating loss in Dallas the next night that made Roman Josi very angry.
Poor Roman Josi pic.twitter.com/6LttyLd5w0— Sean Lester (@s_lester14) March 30, 2016
Ejections flew as well, from Duncan Keith's vicious face slash (more on that in a bit) to Jake Virtanen's ultra-late hit on Roman Polak in Vancouver. You had Alexei Emelin almost breaking Dylan Larkin with a hit into the boards, and Vincent Trocheck actually breaking and hurting the Panthers' playoff hopes.
And on top of all of that violence and mayhem, NHL emails were unsealed during the lawsuit against it, revealing nearly 300 juicy and unflattering messages from the most important names in hockey. (Check back with us later today, as we take a deep dive into those emails.)
Simply put, not a lot of people went to bed happy last night. Except for James Neal.
Maple Leafs 5, Panthers 2
Blues 3, Avalanche 1
Stars 5, Predators 2
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3 things we learned
1. The Flyers didn't even play but had a terrific night
Everything that could've possibly gone right actually did for Philly on Tuesday. Fresh off a win over the Jets on Monday, the Flyers sat back and watched their playoff hopes solidify. Detroit looked lost in Montreal against a team that just got eliminated from postseason contention. Meanwhile, the Bruins fell further backwards into Philly's clutches with a loss to the Devils. Boston has lost six of seven games and Philly couldn't be more pleased.
2. Nashville isn't the only hot Central team
St. Louis is riding fast into the playoffs too, with their fifth straight win after taking down Colorado. That vaunted Blues defense is rising back up just in time to try and fend off the annual first-round playoff exit. And the Wild keep separating from the Avalanche in the race for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth with their seventh victory in 10 games.
3. You know, Sven Andrighetto should really SHOOT THE PUCK, MAN
WHY DIDN'T HE SHOOT THE PUCK HERE
I AM AN OBJECTIVE THIRD PARTY OBSERVER AND I AM CONFUSED
Without a doubt, the standout moment of the night came early when Duncan Keith intentionally swung his stick at Charlie Coyle's face and drew blood (and perhaps broke Coyle's nose).
This is unacceptable from one of the best players in the league, and as a repeat offender with suspensions on his ledger he should know better. We'll get into his underrated dirty side a bit more during Morning Skate. Make sure you subscribe and don't miss out!
Stat of the Night
Spezza's goal makes @DallasStars the first NHL team since 2011-12 with three 30-goal scorers. First time in Dallas history they have done it— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) March 30, 2016