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Top Line: Malkin makes a difference; Bruins, Leafs both face demons; more

chris-kunitzChris Kunitz isn't exactly stuck between a rock and hard place in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. (Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• Evgeni Malkin's patience made the difference as Pittsburgh came from behind three times before finally knocking off the pesky Islanders.

• Chris Kunitz is involved in a tug-of-war between Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Poor guy. Kate Upton is calling him at all hours too, probably.

• After a series in which they won over fans with the promise of youth, the Islanders matter again in New York.

• If finishing as a Hart Trophy finalist didn't do the trick, then John Tavares's strong playoff debut marked the moment when he officially became a star in the NHL.

• Scott Cullen looks at some of the numbers that defined the Pens/Isles series.

• If the Bruins are to avoid a seventh game against the Leafs on Monday, it would help if Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand bothered to show up for Game 6 on Sunday night. Lots of chances, zero finishes for the two speedsters so far in the series.

• Game 6 is set for Toronto's Air Canada Centre, but home hasn't exactly been sweet for the Maple Leafs. It hasn't been that great for the Bruins in this series, either. The last four games have been won by the road team.

• Damien Cox writes that both the Bruins and Leafs have demons to face in Game 6.

• The Rangers were 3-1 in elimination games during the 2012 playoffs. This year's squad puts itself to the test for the first time tonight at home against the Caps.

• The Rangers may need to call on Chris Kreider if Ryan Clowe is unable to go today. The burly winger could miss Game 6 with an undisclosed injury.

• The Caps are looking for a fast start to give them the edge they need in Game 6.

• First-rounder Tom Wilson made his NHL debut in Game 5. Here's how one Capitals fan made the night extra special for Wilson's dad. Very, very cool.

• The Red Wings spent some time in the pool Saturday to escape the tension of tonight's pivotal Game 7 against the Ducks.

• Detroit's keys to victory for the contest? They begin, and end, with goaltender Jimmy Howard.

• How he plays tonight could go a long way in determining Valtteri Filppula's fate in Detroit. I say if the Wings lose, he'll have played his last game with the organization.

• Lisa Dillman describes the nervous excitement of a Game 7 as being like "Christmas morning wrapped up with a trip to the dentist." A lede that good demands you read the rest of the story, doesn't it?

Patrick Sharp doesn't care whether the Hawks face the Red Wings or the Sharks in round two. "I dislike them both equally," he said.

• Could Darren Pastor be the white knight Coyotes fans have been praying for? After reportedly putting in a bid for the team Friday, we could know soon.

• The St. Louis Blues have a crowd in the net. A heated argument between Ken Hitchcock and Jaroslav Halak before Game 4 of their series against the Kings may have just solved that problem.

• World Championship rosters are being buttressed by players from teams already eliminated in the playoffs. Here's a look at some of the latest arrivals in Helsinki and in Stockholm, where Canada is set to face off against the Czechs.

• Here's what it's like playing in Canada's smallest, toughest league at the Millhaven super-max prison. Think I'd be looking for a nice, quiet chess club to join.
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