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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 1:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Isles focus on strong finish to build for next season

NEWARK, N.J. -- After giving his team what he called a "wake-up call" Sunday by sending five defensemen out for one shift against Ottawa, Islanders coach Jack Capuano said he's now looking for nine solid periods of hockey this week so his club can go into the offseason with a positive feeling.

"We talk about the last nine periods of hockey that we need to play and just making sure that the accountability for one another, the compete level for one another, and playing for one another is important," Capuano said Tuesday in advance of the Islanders' game against New Jersey at Prudential Center. "You can't worry about the scoreboard. I've always told the guys your work ethic will dictate the outcome of the game. We have some young guys playing, guys we're taking a look at, and we want them to work hard."

The Islanders are looking to even the season series against New Jersey. They also play Thursday at home against Winnipeg before closing the regular season Saturday at Columbus.

They had won three in a row, including two straight over Pittsburgh, before dropping the last two on home ice against Boston (6-3) and Ottawa (5-1).

John Tavares said if the Islanders close the season with some good games against the Devils, Jets and Blue Jackets, it will boost morale going into the offseason and, eventually, training camp.

"I think you definitely would have a much better feeling with the way it ended," Tavares said. "Playing well and ending on a positive does a lot for morale. I think it's important and what we have to continue to do. As a group this is the last week we'll be together, so you want to enjoy that, end it on a positive note, and build on some things."

Al Montoya will get the start in net. Here is the rest of the Islanders lineup:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter
Michael Haley - Jay Pandolfo - Matt Martin

Mark Streit - Mark Eaton
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Matt Donovan - Dylan Reese

Al Montoya
John Grahame

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 12:48 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Oklahoma native Donovan set to make NHL history

NEWARK, N.J. -- Larry and Katherine Donovan were getting ready to head home to Oklahoma from Bridgeport, Conn., on Monday after watching their 22-year-old son Matt play for the Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League.

They never left. Matt got in touch with them just in time to deliver an exciting message.

He was headed to the show to play for the New York Islanders.

"They were boarding a flight when I got the call," Donovan said Tuesday morning from Prudential Center, where he will make his NHL debut against the Devils. "They didn't get on the plane. They got their bags off the plane, and they're going to make the drive here."

Donovan, a fourth-round pick by the Islanders in the 2008 NHL Draft, will be paired with Dylan Reese in his NHL debut. Donovan is an offensive defenseman and he leads all Sound Tigers blueliners with 42 points on 10 goals and 32 assists this season.

He's also unique to the NHL in that he is from Oklahoma. He will be the first Oklahoman born, raised, and trained in the state to play in the NHL.

"My dad is from Boston, so he got me into hockey and he runs ice rinks in Oklahoma," Donovan said. "That's how I got into it and I've been a rink rat my whole life."

Donovan left home at 16 to play midget hockey in Dallas. He went on to play for Cedar Rapids in the USHL and then the University of Denver, where he starred for two seasons before signing his entry-level contract with the Islanders. He won gold with Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championship, scoring 5 points and posting a plus-6 rating.

"Being the first kid from Oklahoma in the World Juniors, I just tried to take it all in and play every game like it was my last," Donovan said.

He said he's going to try to treat the game Tuesday as any other, but said he realizes that will be difficult because of his nerves.

"It really hasn't hit me that tonight is the night that I'm going to be playing my first NHL game, but I'm excited and ready to play," Donovan said. "Just try to do the exact same thing I would in Bridgeport. Keep the same game-day ritual: go back to the hotel, eat, try to take a nap. I don't know how well that is going to go with the nerves going and the excitement, but just try to keep the same routine and hopefully my nerves don't get the best of me."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 11:36 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lower-body injury sidelines Clarkson vs. Islanders

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils will be without one of their three 30-goal scorers Tuesday against the Islanders as David Clarkson will miss his first game of the season with a lower-body injury.

Devils coach Pete DeBoer said Clarkson injured himself Saturday during the Devils' 5-0 win at Carolina. After an off day Sunday, Clarkson was not able to practice Monday and he stayed off the ice Tuesday morning as well.

Since the Devils already have a playoff berth locked up, DeBoer said it's better to be safe than sorry with Clarkson, who scored his 30th goal of the season in that win Saturday.

New Jersey has won three straight games.

"You show up at the rink, a guy is dealing with something, you always assume the next day he's going to be a lot better," DeBoer said. "We got to today and not that he wasn't improved, but he can't play."

Cam Janssen will draw into the lineup for the first time in seven games and play on the fourth line. Steve Bernier will bump up to take Clarkson's spot on the third line with Adam Henrique and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

Janssen has been a healthy scratch for six straight games and 11 of the last 13.

"He's been working hard in practice. He keeps himself ready," DeBoer said. "He's a great team guy. I think he's handled the role he's had this year with our group as well as anyone could. You have no doubt that he injects some energy in the lineup when he comes in."

The Devils will secure at least the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference if they beat the Islanders and Ottawa loses to Carolina. If Philadelphia picks up at least one point and Florida wins, the Devils will be locked into a 3 vs. 6 series against the Panthers.

More than seeding, though, DeBoer simply wants to see his team continue to play the way it has since a 2-1 shootout win over Chicago on March 27. He has liked what he has seen and said he believes the Devils are playing the brand of hockey they need to be playing with three games left before the playoffs.

"But that's all subject to health and everything else," DeBoer said. "You get a couple of injuries and the whole mix gets thrown into flux. I like where we're at mentally. I like where we're at system-wise. I like how we're playing. We just have to keep it together and hope for some luck on the injury front."

Johan Hedberg will get the start in net Tuesday. He has played in only five games since the All-Star break, but he's 4-0-1 in them. He made 23 saves in a 2-1 win over the Islanders on March 10.

Here is the Devils' full lineup for the game against the Islanders:

Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold

Johan Hedberg
Martin Brodeur

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 1:12 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sabres keeping hype to a minimum

WASHINGTON -- It's not that the Sabres are naïve to the situation. Quite the opposite, in fact. They fully understand how big Tuesday's game against the Washington Capitals is for playoff positioning.

The winning team will finish the night in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference with complete control of its own playoff fate heading into the final five games of the season. The losing team will need to win and get some help over the proceeding nine days.

But the Sabres also don't want to overdo it on the hype machine. It's not their style, not what they're about.

"It's a big game for us, we know that and we don't have to hype it up more than it is right now," Derek Roy told NHL.com. "I think guys just want to embrace the challenge, have fun with it."

Asked if this was the equivalent of a playoff game, perhaps similar to one played early in a seven-game series considering neither team will be eliminated after Tuesday's contest, Sabres right wing Drew Stafford said yes, but …

"Every game has been a playoff game for us the past month," he told NHL.com. "It happens to be against the team that is right there with us, but we have been in this mindset, this mode for a long time because we needed to. We were that desperate, and we still are."

The desperation has propelled Buffalo to an 18-5-5 record in its last 28 games. More recently, the Sabres are 6-0-2 in their last eight games.

"We've put ourselves in a position where we're knocking on the door," Stafford said. "Each game is an opportunity to get points and we're trying to empty the tank in each game."

Buffalo will welcome Patrick Kaleta back to the lineup in a fourth-line role. Kaleta missed the last three games with a thumb injury.

"Pat has done a good job of killing penalties with good energy," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said.

Nathan Gerbe will sit for his seventh straight game with an upper-body injury. He returned to practice Monday, but Ruff said Gerbe isn't quite ready to draw back in.

"(Monday) was his first full practice and it didn't go as well as we had hoped," Ruff said. "It didn't go bad, but we just felt like we'd push it further along."

The Sabres hope to keep the good times rolling on their power play Tuesday. They are 6-for-18 over the last five games, including 2-for-4 this past Saturday against Minnesota. It was the first time the Sabres scored two power-play goals in a game since Dec. 26, when they beat the Capitals, 4-2, at First Niagara Center.

Buffalo's power play went just 10-for-94 in the 36 games that followed that win over Washington the day after Christmas.

"Pucks to the net," Ruff said when asked what the difference has been on the power play of late. "There's not a lot of pretty goals. When you go around watching teams, it's more that teams are doing a good job of getting some traffic and getting that second opportunity. Even the goal last game (against Minnesota), the first one, it's just (Marcus) Foligno off to the side and we're getting a decent bounce."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 1:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sabres know full team effort needed vs. Ovechkin

WASHINGTON -- If Washington was icing a normal lineup with 12 forwards and six defensemen, odds are Buffalo's new shut-down line of Cody Hodgson with Derek Roy and Ville Leino would be responsible for Alex Ovechkin all night.

Washington, though, will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the second straight game, so Sabres coach Lindy Ruff figures his team is going to see a lot of Ovechkin on Tuesday, meaning the responsibility for stopping the red-hot Capitals captain will fall on more than just a handful of shoulders.

"We're going to need two lines," Ruff said. "They've got Ovechkin playing on two lines, they're double-shifting him, and he's playing 25-plus minutes. We know what he's capable of doing, and if you give him space and time, anything on the rush, he's a dangerous player."

Ovechkin, who played over 26 minutes in Sunday's 3-0 win against Minnesota, has been piling up the goals, with seven during his five-game scoring streak. He has 10 goals in 13 games this month.

Ruff thinks he knows why.

"He's shooting more," Ruff said of Ovechkin, who is averaging 4.38 shots per game this month (57 in 13 games). "He's shooting from a lot of different places. He's caught some breaks. When you shoot more, good things happen."

Ruff compared Ovechkin's run to that of his own player, right wing Drew Stafford, who has 4 goals and 12 points in the last seven games.

"Stafford is shooting more and he's shooting in some situations that he (previously) passed off, and more pucks are going into the net," Ruff said.

An obvious key to limiting Ovechkin's chances, especially off the rush, is keeping the puck away from him. The Sabres can do that by continuing their dominance in the faceoff circle.

Buffalo has won the faceoff battle in seven of its last eight games. Not coincidentally, the Sabres are 6-0-2 in those games, with a 29-16 edge in non-shootout goals.

Roy and Cody Hodgson have been the catalysts, going a combined 154-129 in the circle (54.4 percent).

"We've gone up against some tough faceoff teams and we've garnered the edge," Ruff said. "It's a big part of the game. When you're not chasing the puck around all night, when you can start with the faceoff, it gives you an opportunity to get it down ice and in the offensive zone. It's a part of the game that sometimes people overlook, but if you can get the edge in the faceoff circle you've got the edge in puck possession."

They'll need it against Ovechkin and the Capitals on Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 11:37 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kaleta likely to return for Sabres-Caps showdown

WASHINGTON -- The Sabres are on the ice at Verizon Center in advance of Tuesday night's huge game against Washington for sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Both the Caps and Sabres are tied with 84 points, but Washington holds the tiebreaker and is currently in eighth place due to its 36 non-shootout victories. The Sabres have only 30, but they can make the tiebreaker meaningless with a win here.

Judging from the line rushes early in the morning skate, Patrick Kaleta (thumb) will return to the lineup and skate on the fourth line with Brad Boyes and Cody McCormick. Kaleta has missed the last three games.

Nathan Gerbe (upper-body) has also been cleared to play, but he was skating as an extra forward.

The Sabres announced on their Twitter feed Tuesday morning that Travis Turnbull was returned to Rochester of the American Hockey League.

Ryan Miller is expected to make his ninth straight start. He has started 28 of the last 30 games, going 18-5-5 over the span since Jan. 19.

The Sabres have one of the hottest lines in the NHL going right now with Tyler Ennis playing in between Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno. The Sabres' new top line has 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points in the last eight games.

Buffalo is 18-5-5 in its last 28 games. The Sabres made the playoffs last season after going 16-4-4 in their final 24 games.

Here are the Sabres' expected lines and defense pairings:

Marcus Foligno - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Corey Tropp - Cody Hodgson - Thomas Vanek
Cody McCormick - Brad Boyes - Patrick Kaleta

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Andrej Sekera - Robyn Regehr
Christian Ehrhoff - Alexander Sulzer

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Posted On Friday, 03.23.2012 / 1:01 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Leafs' Hamilton perserveres, earns NHL opportunity

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ryan Hamilton has been in the American Hockey League since 2006, and with the Toronto Marlies for the last three-and-a-half seasons. He's had to undergo heart ablation surgery and battle through a debilitating knee injury, but he's persevered and his hard work has finally paid off.

Hamilton, 26, will make his NHL debut Friday night at Prudential Center with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He and Nazem Kadri were called up on an emergency basis Thursday night to replace Clarke MacArthur (upper-body injury) and Matt Frattin (ankle injury) in the struggling Leafs' lineup.

"You never want to give up on your dream," Hamilton said after the morning skate Friday. "It was real exciting news when I got the call to join the guys here in New Jersey. It was definitely something that came out of the blue, but real exciting."

Hamilton started his professional career in the Wild organization. He was traded to Toronto in 2009 and has been viewed as a veteran leader on a developing Marlies' squad that is poised for a run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Hamilton has 46 points on 23 goals and 23 assists in 65 games this season for the Marlies, who are second in the AHL's Western Conference. When Leafs coach Randy Carlyle called Marlies coach Dallas Eakins and asked him who has earned the right to get the call up, Hamilton's name was the first one mentioned.

"I couldn't really stay healthy for the last couple of years," he said. "I had that little heart operation and with that knee injury last year it was frustrating, but I've been healthy all year and been part of a real good team down there. Now I'm real fortunate to get an opportunity up here.

"It's something special, something I've worked hard my whole life for. It's a real good opportunity, a real honor."

Kadri was the second name Eakins gave to Carlyle. Considered one of the Leafs' top prospects, Kadri has had an interesting season to say the least. He was a favorite to make the team out of training camp, but after playing in five preseason games he was assigned to the Marlies. Kadri earned a recall in October and played in three games before going back.

He was back with the Leafs in December and lasted through the month of January, but has been with the Marlies since the beginning of February. He has 32 points in 42 games with the Marlies but only six points in 19 games with the Leafs.

Kadri said he's looking at this latest opportunity as a chance to impress Carlyle, who was not the coach the last time he wore a Leafs' uniform.

"That's exactly what it is, really," he said. "It is a new coaching staff and a new system so you have to go out there, do what you can, and hopefully he likes what he sees."

Carlyle insisted that Kadri will not be pinned to the bench Friday night. While he wasn't locked into his lines yet, he did say he doesn't see a benefit in bringing up a skilled player (Kadri is a skilled player) and playing him on the fourth line.

MacArthur and Frattin were wingers for Mikhail Grabovski, so it's possible that at least Kadri gets to play in the Leafs' top-six against the Devils. Hamilton could have that opportunity as well.

"If you're a scorer and you're supposed to be a scorer, well then we have to find out if you can score in the NHL," Carlyle said.

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Posted On Friday, 03.23.2012 / 11:54 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Zajac still clearing mental hurdles in return to lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- Travis Zajac is close, but not quite ready to return to the New Jersey Devils lineup.

Zajac said after Friday's morning skate at Prudential Center that he doesn't feel any soreness in his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon, and that there is no swelling at all after he skates. But until he is able to overcome the mental hurdle of making sure he's 100 percent comfortable to get back into the Devils lineup, he will stay on the sidelines, working on his hands, timing and conditioning.

Zajac, who had his surgery in August, already returned once this season and suffered a setback, so this time around he's being ultra-careful.

"I came back and it didn't work out, so now coming back for a second time you really want to make sure," Zajac said after the Devils practiced in advance of Friday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. "It is almost more mental than physical at this point. You just have to put yourself in situations where you're going to get knocked around, banged around. Once you know you're alright and healed, I'm sure I'll get back out there and there will be nothing bothering me mentally."

Zajac initially returned in December, but he played only eight games before soreness in his Achilles forced him out of the lineup. He hasn't played since Jan. 2.

Zajac was even shut down from all hockey-related activities for a period of time this winter and went into a walking boot for three-and-a-half weeks. He has been practicing with the team for the last week and hasn't had any setbacks.

"This time I can compare it to how I felt last time when I came back," Zajac said. "I see a difference now. I really have no soreness or tightness or swelling like I did last time.

"If you don't have any of that, now it's just getting comfortable. That's the main thing, I have to be comfortable on the ice to be able to do things that I was doing before I was injured."

Zajac's ideal scenario is to return to the lineup soon (the Devils next play Sunday at Pittsburgh) so he can get in as many games as possible to get back up to speed before the playoffs begin.

"I think he's in a real good spot health-wise," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "When you come back early and it doesn't go well, you have a setback, your mental state is as important as your physical state. We want to make sure both are in the right spot. The key here obviously is that he's ready day 1 of the playoffs and has his game as close to normal as possible."

The Devils will look to snap a dry spell against the Leafs, who have yielded 13 goals in their last two games. New Jersey has scored only five goals in its last five games, but still managed to win two of them by 1-0 scores, including a shootout win over Colorado.

Ilya Kovalchuk has points in the last three games, but linemates Zach Parise and Adam Henrique are both pointless in the last five. Henrique hasn't scored a goal since Feb. 17, a string of 17 straight games. He has just 2 goals in the last two-plus months.

"I think we've been playing the same way, it's been really close every game, but for whatever reason we have nothing to show for it," Parise said. "It's not an excuse. We have to find a way to produce, but I think we're still doing the same things and playing the same way, it's just that right now it doesn't want to go in for us. Hopefully that changes tonight.

"It's a hard time right now and lines go through it, but we have to make sure we're not cheating in different areas and the goals will come back."

Martin Brodeur will get the start in net for the Devils. Here are the rest of their lines and defense pairs:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 1:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Detroit's Pearce NHL opportunity is "gravy"

NEW YORK -- Jordan Pearce took shots Wednesday morning at Madison Square Garden from the Red Wings' injured defensemen, including Nicklas Lidstrom. He still didn't know if he was going to be making his NHL debut against the Rangers, or backing up Ty Conklin.

"I prepare the same either way," Pearce said. "If you've been around this game long enough you know crazy things happen and you have to be ready to go in at a moment's notice. It's better to just prepare like you're playing and go from there."

Pearce learned about an hour after addressing the media that he will in fact be the backup Wednesday night. Conklin cleared re-entry waivers at noon ET and will start at the Garden against the Rangers, but Pearce didn't make it sound like he would let that bother him one bit.

"It's very exciting just to be up here," Pearce said. "Being around these professional athletes it's amazing to watch them play. Some of the best players in the world are in this locker room. It's a great experience to be here."

It's an experience Pearce said he never dreamed about.

He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska watching the University of Alaska's men's team and dreaming of one day playing college hockey. That dream came true in 2005 when he went to Notre Dame. He was the starter for the Irish his last two seasons before signing a two-year entry level contract with the Red Wings.

Pearce has played mostly in the ECHL and the past two seasons with Grand Rapids in the AHL. He is 3-7-1 with a 3.53 goals-against average and .874 save percentage for the Griffins this season.

"This is all just gravy," Pearce said. "Being up here and pursuing professional hockey was beyond my dreams."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 11:42 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bylsma wants to see more of Crosby-Staal combo

NEWARK, N.J. -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma liked what Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal looked like together on the same line Thursday night. Now he wants to see more of it starting Saturday against the Devils at Prudential Center.

"I'd like to see it a handful of times," said Bylsma, whose team is going for its 11th straight win. "Depending on how the game goes, depending on what matchups they're striving to get, that will maybe depend on how many times we're able to do that. But, I'd like to continue to see them get chances to play together and what that is going to look like."

Crosby played on Staal's wing for three shifts in the second half of a 5-2 win Thursday over the Rangers. They did not produce any points, but Bylsma said he liked how the dynamic looked with Staal using his big body to make plays in the defensive zone and Crosby able to read off that to get up the ice quickly.

Bylsma couldn't recall a time before that Crosby and Staal played together at even strength.

"The one thing that you see with Jordan is his ability to end plays in the defensive zone, and it's not that hard to tell when that is coming so as a winger out there with Jordan you can take advantage of that situation," Bylsma said. "You know he's going to win a puck and then you can read off that. That's something we talked about in the summer time and watching it this year it's even more evident from upstairs (in the press box) that being the case. Being the winger allows you the ability to get some speed and get to an area if that is going to be a case."

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start opposite Martin Brodeur. Bylsma would not say if Fleury is also going to start Sunday in Philadelphia. Fleury has won nine straight starts and has 38 wins this season.

The Penguins will have to play without Arron Asham, who missed practice Friday because he was sick. Eric Tangradi will likely draw into the lineup for his size and toughness on the fourth line.

The Devils are 7-1 against the Penguins at Prudential Center in the last three seasons. This is the final time they will play host to Pittsburgh this season.

Bylsma touched on Pittsburgh's struggles here in New Jersey.

"I really think maybe more than any other team at any other place it's been our inability to maintain poise in playing the way we need to play, the way we want to play," he said. "I think we've been frustrated and gotten off our games at times in the last three years here. Really that's something we pride ourselves in as our trademark, playing the same way no matter where we are. This is one team we've been really unable to do that against."

Here are the expected lines and defensive pairings for the Saturday matinee:

DEVILS

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Steve Bernier - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Sidney Crosby - Tyler Kennedy
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Eric Tangradi

Kris Letang - Paul Martin
Zbynek Michalek - Brooks Orpik
Deryk Engelland - Matt Niskanen

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Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh