The Washington Capitals, stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and desperately in need of a win, will turn back to Braden Holtby as their starting goaltender for Friday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
After leading the Capitals to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers last spring, Holtby started Washington's first two games this season. He allowed 10 goals on 73 shots and has not seen action since, with Michal Neuvirth starting the next five games.
"It'll be good, obviously. I'm looking forward to playing again," Holtby told reporters. "We need a big win and I think we all know that. I believe our group is just taking it like another game, trying to keep our emotions down to do the right things."
After blowing a third-period lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, the Capitals are 1-5-1 this season. Holtby, whose prior start came Jan. 22 against Winnipeg, has an 0-2 record with a 5.04 goals-against average and .863 save percentage.
"It's different not playing for a while, but I don't think that'll affect anything right now," he said. "We need a win and all that other stuff doesn't matter, how many days between starts, how we played before. Right now I have to focus on giving our team the best chance we can to win and see where it takes us."
Thornton has played in all seven games for Boston this season and has one goal and 25 penalty minutes.
Zetterberg reported that he had a sore throat and a fever Thursday, but felt well enough to play Friday.
Zetterberg is second on the Red Wings with two goals and seven points.
"He's going to play tomorrow, barring anything between now and then," Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke told NHL.com Thursday. "He'll go out in the morning skate tomorrow and if everything goes well he'll play tomorrow night in Dallas."
Smith, who enjoyed a breakout year last season in Phoenix when he set career highs in games (67), wins (38), minutes (3.902), goals-against average (2.21) and save percentage (.930), missed four games with the injury. He initially suffered a groin injury during pregame warm-ups before the Jan. 23 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was pulled from that game after facing four shots and was officially placed on the injured reserve list Monday.
According to Dave Vest, the Coyotes senior director of news content, Smith participated in the team's optional skate Thursday before declaring himself ready to play.
"It's gotten a lot better over the last few days, so I'm excited to get back in the lineup. I'm ready," Smith said.
In his absence, the Coyotes suffered losses to the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings in which backup Jason LaBarbera stopped 57 of 65 shots for an .877 save percentage. Following those two losses, Phoenix decided to replace LaBarbera as starter with Chad Johnson, who was called up from the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates on Monday. In the two games Johnson started, Phoenix went 1-0-1 with Johnson allowing two goals, including Nail Yakupov's overtime winner on the power play for the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.
"I think we've played a lot better as of late ... so it's an exciting time to get back in," Smith said.
The Canucks announced Thursday via their official Twitter account that Luongo will receive his third straight start on Friday when the team hosts the Chicago Blackhawks.
Luongo shut out the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, giving him a 1-0-2 record with a 1.61 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in four appearances (three starts) this season.
Strait is scoreless in six games with the team this season since being claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 18.
Prior to joining the Islanders, Strait had appeared in 12 NHL games with the Penguins, collecting one assist and four penalty minutes. The Penguins selected the 6-foot-1, 200-pound defenseman in the third round (No. 65) of the 2006 NHL Draft.
In 220 career American Hockey League games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Boston native has eight goals, 40 points and a plus-46 rating.
Strait played three years of college hockey at Boston University, highlighted by a NCAA National Championship in 2009, his final season with the team. He also spent two seasons with the United States National Development Team in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
On the international stage, Strait played for the U.S. National Team at the 2008 World Junior Championship and the 2006 Under-18 World Championship, winning gold as team captain in 2006.
The 23-year-old Boychuk was the 14th pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, but was never able to find a regular place in the Carolina lineup. He played in the Hurricanes' season opener and hadn't seen action again since.
In 73 games over parts of five seasons, Boychuk posted seven goals, 18 points and a minus-4 rating. He was a 20-goal scorer each of the past two seasons for Carolina's American Hockey League affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.
"He's a guy who's a first-round pick," Bylsma said. "He's got speed to his game. He's got limited NHL experience, but he's going to add some competition in our lineup. He could see time on Malkin's line on that wing and see him in that position and adding speed and a little bit of grit to that line."
The Senators have tweeted the following statement from general manager Bryan Murray: "Jason Spezza is out indefinitely. Will have back surgery in Toronto on Friday."
According to reports, the surgery is not considered to be major. Murray is currently holding an 11 a.m. press conference.
Spezza has missed the past two games with what the team is terming an upper-body injury that occurred sometime during Ottawa's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
Spezza, a four-time 30-goal scorer, has been a point-per-game player this season, with two goals and three assists in five games.
Coach Dave Tippett had high hopes for an early return after watching Smith practice on Wednesday.
"I'd be surprised if he's not ready by the weekend," Tippett said.
Smith is eligible to be activated from injured reserve on Friday. Phoenix has a home-and-home series with Dallas on Friday and Saturday nights.
2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic rink build is underway. WATCH NOW ›
Latest time lapse: WATCH NOW ›
I don't think today was my most solid game that I've had, some rebounds here and there. I know there's a lot of work to do, not every game is going to go as good as these last few. I've just got to make sure I keep working and keep trying to get better.