Four things we learned in the NHL: Battle for the Central

Well that's one way of returning to the bench. Lance Bouma missed his check badly and ended up going head over heels into the bench, which had some teammates teasing him after.

A battle for the Central raged, stars hit milestones and two suspended players returned to action.

Here are four things we learned in the NHL Friday.

The Dallas Stars shine again

It was a blowout in Dallas Friday and all the big guns were firing.

In a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Jason Spezza reached a milestone and the Jamie BennTyler Seguin tandem heaved a couple of monkeys off their backs.

With a goal Friday, Spezza scored for the fifth straight game, a streak he hasn’t been able to put up since before Twitter was invented.

He also reached 800 points for his career, doing so in 831 games. Wait, only 831 games? Oh yes, the injuries.

The Stars, coming into this game, had been in a rut. They’d gone 3-5-1 in their last 10 games, had lost Patrick Sharp, John Klingberg and Jason Demers to injury, and Benn and Seguin had gone somewhat cold.

Sharp and Klingberg are day-to-day while Demers is out long-term.

Benn scored one after potting just three in his last 11 games. He was a minus-13 over that span. Seguin, before his marker Friday, recorded just two goals over that same 11-game stretch, also accumulating a minus-13.

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was pulled after giving up four goals.

Fleury, Letang make history in Pens’ win

With a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday, a couple of Pens made their mark in the history books.

Recording his 350th career win, Marc-Andre Fleury joined some elite company.

Martin Brodeur reached that milestone by age 30. Fleury is 31.

Meanwhile, defenceman Kris Letang etched his name into the Penguins’ own history book.

Letang passed Larry Murphy with the goal but did so in 549 games. Murphy, the two-time Cup champion with the Penguins, scored 78 in 336 games.

Turns out Penguins can fly.

Don’t look now but Evgeni Malkin left the game with an upper-body injury.

Battle for the Central

The Central Division is where it’s at.

While the Washington Capitals are far and away the top team in the NHL, it’s the Central Division where all of the playoff intrigue lies. The Stars, Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues were all in action Friday and somebody had to lose.

That’s all it takes to change everything.

The Blues won their fifth straight — a season-high for St. Louis — and both the Blues and Stars leapfrogged the Blackhawks to leave Chicago in third place. Nashville and Colorado hold down both wild card spots.

Stars: 90 points
Blues: 89 points
Blackhawks: 88 points

The Stars and Blues will play against one another Saturday.

Drouin watch

Jonathan Drouin was back playing hockey Friday.

The Tampa Bay Lightning/Syracuse Crunch forward returned to the ice after telling Lightning GM Steve Yzerman that he wanted to play again. Drouin was suspended by the club when he refused to report to the AHL’s Crunch. He had requested a trade and a deal could not be found before the NHL trade deadline, though Yzerman had hoped to do so.

Drouin recorded an assist and put three shots on goal in a 5-2 Crunch victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Man, those AHL clubs have sweet names.

More than a few scouts were intrigued by the return of the third-overall pick.

The Lightning, meanwhile, lost 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers.

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