Recaps of Saturday’s games involving non-Canadian teams, an update on Evgeni Malkin, and the latest on realignment & the NHL’s drug policy.

 

Jamie Benn & Joe Thornton duke it out during Stars win over the Sharks.

Jamie Benn & Joe Thornton duke it out during Stars win over the Sharks.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS/SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Jamie Benn had a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist and a fight) leading the Dallas Stars to a 3-1 win over the floundering San Jose Sharks. Benn’s sparring partner was San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who recently dropped the gloves with Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, meanwhile, is suspended pending a hearing on Monday for leaving the bench to attack Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw late in Friday’s Sharks-Blackhawks game.

LOS ANGELES TIMES/DENVER POST: Jonathan Quick made 23 saves as the LA Kings buried the Colorado Avalanche 4-1. Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar were among the Kings scorers, while Milan Hejduk scored the Avs only goal. The Avalanche welcomed back captain Gabriel Landeskog, who missed several games to concussion.

WASHINGTON POST/NJ.COM: Alexander Ovechkin scored his first hat trick in two years as the Washington Capitals thumped the New Jersey Devils 5-1. Mike Ribeiro had two assists and Braden Holtby made 21 saves for the win.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist and Mathieu Garon made 32 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the  Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 in a wild third period.

DETROIT FREE PRESS/THE TENNESSEAN:  Jimmy Howard made 33 saves and Niklas Kronwall had a three-point night as the Detroit Red Wings shut out the Nashville Predators 4-0.  Pavel Datsyuk collected two assists in the Wings victory.

STLTODAY.COM/COLUMBUS DISPATCH: David Perron’s third period goal snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the St. Louis Blues to a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was the fourth loss in five games for the struggling Blue Jackets.  

NEWSDAY/BUFFALO NEWS: Evgeni Nabokov made 35 saves as the NY Islanders blanked the woeful Buffalo Sabres 4-0, handing the Sabres their second straight loss under interim coach Ron Rolston.  John Tavares, Mark Streit, Michael Grabner and Colin McDonald tallied for the Islanders.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin won’t be playing in tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Malkin suffered an upper body injury in Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins haven’t called the injury a concussion, stoking speculation that is in fact what Malkin suffered.

CBC.CA: The Hotstove Panel discussed a revamped realignment proposal which was sent to all NHL teams last week. It would reportedly see the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets moved into the Eastern Conferences. The Winnipeg Jets would be moved into one of the two Western Conferences.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind this hasn’t been formally adopted or announced yet. Still, this generated a fair amount of buzz among NHL fans on Twitter last night. One problem, however, is what to do if teams are relocated or expanded to Quebec City and/or Southern Ontario? That would require more tweaking, which might result in Columbus and/or Detroit moving back into the Western Conferences.

DENVER POST: The prescription drug Ambien, used to combat insomnia, is prevalent among NHL players, leading to changes in the new CBA allowing players at least four days off per month during the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report runs counter to HNiC’s Don Cherry’s recent claim NHL players don’t use drugs. Cherry was probably referring to steroids or recreational drugs, but as the report noted, the death of Derek Boogaard two years ago was a wake-up call for the NHL and NHLPA on the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.