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NHL

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – James Neal scored a natural hat trick on his bobble head night, and the Nashville Predators edged the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night to become the last NHL team still unbeaten in regulation this season.
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Associated Press
New York’s Derek Stepan gets the puck past Philadelphia goalie Ray Emery for a power-play goal during the third period Thursday night.

Rangers make most of penalty

– Carl Hagelin’s contribution to the New York Rangers’ playoff-opening win was etched all over his busted-up mouth.

Some efforts don’t directly show up on the score sheet.

Hagelin took a high stick from Philadelphia’s Jason Akeson with 7:35 left, and had his mouth cut open. That gave the Rangers a four-minute power play, and they made the most of it.

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored 47 seconds apart, and the Rangers beat the Flyers 4-1 on Thursday night to stretch their home-winning streak over rival Philadelphia to nine games.

“He got me pretty good, but I will take that,” Hagelin said with a smile through his injured mouth. “Anytime that happens, you’re ready to take one for the team, especially on a day like this when it’s tied.”

Hagelin said the double penalty was called when the referee saw he was bleeding a lot. No stitches were required to close the wound.

The effect on Akeson remains to be seen. The 23-year-old forward was called up for the Flyers’ final game of the regular season for the second straight year. He has played in only three career NHL games.

“I went to hit him, and my back leg swung out and my stick came up,” Akeson said. “It was unfortunate. It’s not like I went out there trying to take a four-minute penalty. It was a sick feeling watching them score.”

Richards gave the Rangers their first lead when a rebound of Martin St. Louis’ shot came to him, and he fired it in from the right circle, punctuating the moment with an emphatic fist pump at 8:22.

Richards and St. Louis hooked up again to help set up Stepan’s insurance goal.

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