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Posted On Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 5:47 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Skating outside brings back memories for Bondra

WASHINGTON -- Peter Bondra spent 14 seasons playing for the Washington Capitals and has watched them become part of the fabric of the community in this historic city.

So it was no surprise to see Bondra, 46, smiling ear to ear Tuesday, when he was able to skate on the fresh sheet of ice with a small gathering of former teammates and media members at Nationals Park, two days before the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I think it's a big event, especially for Washington," Bondra said. "D.C. has become a hockey town and they've got a great team. I mean, they've got Alex Ovechkin, so it's going to bring attention. Nationals Park, we're just a couple of blocks from the White House. This is going to be a really great festivity.

"You go to Verizon [Center] for a regular-season game, and it gets a lot of attention. People are excited about the upcoming Winter Classic. You see a lot of dark red colors in the building and Winter Classic colors. This means a lot. I'm very excited. As a hockey fan, you get to come here and watch Washington and Chicago? Wow. Two good teams. This is really becoming a holiday of hockey."

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Posted On Monday, 12.29.2014 / 12:48 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After a brief stint on injured reserve, Jaroslav Halak is back.

The New York Islanders No. 1 goaltender, who missed the past two games because of a lower-body injury, was activated off IR on Sunday and will start Monday against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum.

Halak is 18-6-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 24 games this season. He has won his past four starts and has allowed two goals or fewer in each of them. In his past 19 starts, Halak has 17 wins.

New York (23-11-1) lost its past two games without Halak, including a 4-3 shootout defeat at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday when the Islanders blew a 3-0 lead in the third period.

"It was a good time for us to just give him a couple more days after the small break that we had," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He's healthy and ready to go."

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Posted On Monday, 12.15.2014 / 4:47 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New Jersey Devils will play their final game at Nassau Coliseum on Monday against the New York Islanders.

That means Long Island native Keith Kinkaid has one last chance to play at the arena where he watched games growing up. His wish is about to be granted.

Kinkaid, who was raised about 30 minutes east of the Coliseum in Farmingville, N.Y., will start in goal for the Devils, who are playing their sixth game in 10 days. The Islanders are moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season.

"My whole life I was going to Islander games," said Kinkaid, whose father is a former season-ticket holder. "It's fun to actually be able to play [at Nassau Coliseum].

"It's always been my dream to play on that ice and play on any NHL ice. It's a dream come true to play on the ice I grew up watching all the time. It's going to be a fun atmosphere. This place can get loud. I'm very excited."

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Posted On Monday, 11.24.2014 / 1:23 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At The Rink: Flyers at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald has gotten ready to play hockey at Nassau Coliseum hundreds of time over the course of his career. But on Monday, he'll be doing it in the visitor's dressing room for the first time.

MacDonald, who played 295 games over six seasons with the New York Islanders before being traded to Philadelphia last March, will face his former team for the first time Monday.

"It's going to be different obviously, first time back and everything," MacDonald said. "But I think both sides have moved on. It's been quite a bit of time since I left now. For us, we're just worried about playing well and getting two points."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.12.2014 / 1:13 AM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Stanley Cup Final blog

St. Louis scores 11th playoff game-winner

NEW YORK -- Martin St. Louis may be closing in on his 39th birthday, but the New York Rangers' right wing continues to produce.

His goal at 6:27 of the second period proved to be the game-winner Wednesday night in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden. It was the 11th game-winning goal of St. Louis' postseason career.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.11.2014 / 1:23 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings' Toffoli brushes nerves aside as Game 4 nears

NEW YORK -- Most of the players on the Los Angeles Kings roster slept well Tuesday night. After all, they've been in this position before, one win away from the Stanley Cup.

But when the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils for the championship in 2012, right wing Tyler Toffoli hadn't reached the NHL yet. He had just completed his final season of junior hockey, when he had 100 points (52 goals, 48 assists) in 65 games for the Ottawa 67's in the Ontario Hockey League.

This time around, Toffoli has played a huge role in the Kings' success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 22-year-old has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 24 games for Los Angeles, which can win the Cup with a victory in Game 4 against the New York Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.10.2014 / 4:38 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings recognize special opportunity in front of them

NEW YORK -- Many players, coaches and general managers go their entire career without reaching a Stanley Cup Final, let alone winning a championship.

But the Los Angeles Kings find themselves in the fortunate position of going for their second crown in three seasons when they face the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

It's a remarkable story being written by Los Angeles, which replaced coach Terry Murray with Darryl Sutter in December 2011, when it resided in 12th place in the Western Conference. The Kings would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season and reached the conference final in 2013 before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks.

This postseason, the Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s, and did so each time on the road. Now they're up 3-0 on the Rangers and one win away from another Cup. They realize how special this is.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.06.2014 / 2:28 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Islanders' Tavares gained familiarity with St. Louis

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders captain John Tavares spent Thursday morning preparing for a game against the Calgary Flames later that night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, so he had no idea that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis had been selected to replace Steven Stamkos on Canada's roster at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Stamkos, who sustained a broken tibia in a game against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11, did everything he could to work his way back into Tampa Bay's lineup before the Olympics so he could represent Canada at the Olympics. But it was announced Wednesday that Stamkos has not been medically cleared to play.

St. Louis, who leads the Lightning with 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists) in 56 games, was originally left off the roster when it was announced by Hockey Canada last month. The 38-year-old and Tavares, 23, were roommates at Canada's orientation camp last summer.

"It's great for Marty and well deserved," Tavares said after being informed of the news by a reporter. "He's a tremendous person and I think he's proven throughout his career what he's accomplished and the impact he can make on a team like that and a tournament like this.

"[He's] just a great guy. I think he doesn't take anything for granted. He's worked for everything he's got. I think he's always had that kind of mindset. He's a lot of fun to be around too. He's not this old guy, grumpy guy. He's fun and energetic and extremely hard-working."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.25.2014 / 11:26 AM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Islanders focus on improvements before facing Blues

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders built an early 2-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but some costly turnovers in the defensive zone ultimately led to two valuable points in the standings slip away in a 6-4 loss.

New York coach Jack Capuano spent Friday going over video with his players, particularly rookie defensemen Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan, who each played more than 20 minutes Thursday. They will pair together again Saturday when the Islanders (21-25-7) host the St. Louis Blues.

"They made a couple [mistakes] last game," Capuano said. "All we can do is continue to work with them. I'm not afraid to play young guys. But for our coaching staff, it's constant learning for those guys. They have some tendencies. Every player has a tendency, our guys have a couple. We have to break some of those habits.

"Early on [in the season], I thought they got down. But this time around, especially Matt since he's come up from his recall, he's responded real well after the shifts that he's made some blunders."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 6:58 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Buzzer in OT a buzz kill for Red Wings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Perhaps the outcome would have been different for Henrik Zetterberg and the Detroit Red Wings had they not had to change sides halfway through overtime Wednesday.

Playing in snowy, windy conditions at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs took turns skating into the wind during the overtime period. As the game clock wound down to 2:30 in the overtime session, Zetterberg poked a loose puck in the neutral zone past Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson and appeared to be set to go in on a breakaway.

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Quote of the Day

It's a great feeling. I can't be more excited to be a part of a team that I absolutely love.

— Center Derek Stepan after agreeing to terms on a six-year contract with the New York Rangers