Clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks was a conference finals preview

— -- What do you need to know about last night's big stories? Pierre LeBrun gives us his take on the biggest and best.

Feast at the Shark Tank: It was worth staying up for, to be sure, as I watched a potential Western Conference finals preview between the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks?at the Shark Tank on Wednesday night. Joel Ward's short-handed goal in the first period held up as the winner in the Sharks' 2-1 win, a high-end affair between two top contenders. I picked the Sharks to win the Pacific Division before the season and I certainly stand by that prediction, although Connor McDavid?scored the winner to give the? Edmonton Oilers?a 6-3 on the same night against the? Colorado Avalanche, keeping them two points clear of the Sharks. I truly believe the Oilers' playoff chances are for real, finally, after a 10-year hiatus, but I think the Sharks will take the top spot in the Pacific. Reason to believe in a potential Blackhawks-Sharks conference finals showdown? The two guys in goal. Martin Jones and Corey Crawford were outstanding Wednesday night -- this should have been a higher-scoring game, but both masked men were unreal. Of concern for the Blackhawks is that captain Jonathan Toews left the game in the second period and didn't return. There was no immediate word from the club. Blackhawks fans are certainly hoping he doesn't join the long list of star players already hurt in this, the Year of the Injury.

Superstar reminders: I wonder whether? Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby didn't text each other Wednesday afternoon to suggest putting on a show in their respective games to remind people they're still around. I jest, of course, but in a season when the narrative has focused on the kids taking over the league, I love it when No. 8 and No. 87 make sure everyone remembers they can still play. Ovechkin's hat trick led the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues, while Crosby's two goals and assist was at the heart of the Pittsburgh Penguins' 6-1 thumping of the New York Rangers as they avenged Monday's loss to the Blueshirts. Oh, and Crosby now leads the NHL with 14 goals -- in just 14 games. I think last spring's Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP and recent World Cup MVP is feeling just fine, thank you.

Told you so: Speaking of the kids, though, didn't I say just Wednesday not to fret about Auston Matthews? That 13-game goalless drought is a thing of the past after the Toronto Maple Leafs center scored twice and added an assist Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils. Watch the goals and assists come in bunches now. Problem is, the Leafs blew 3-0 and 4-3 leads in a 5-4 shootout loss to the determined Devils. The game was a perfect microcosm of the young Leafs squad through the first quarter of the season: entertaining, high-scoring, but not much of a clue defensively. They'll get better defensively under Mike Babcock, that's a guarantee, but the growing pains will continue.