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At the Rink blog
Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 3:33 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Penguins' Crosby skates, Neal and Martin to return

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby took part in a Pittsburgh Penguins morning skate for the first time in almost exactly a month Saturday.

Crosby won't play in the regular-season finale against the Carolina Hurricanes, but he might have learned whom coach Dan Bylsma has in store as his linemates for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They appear to be very familiar ones.

James Neal said he will be on the right wing of Evgeni Malkin with Jarome Iginla on the left side Saturday in Neal's return after missing eight games because of a concussion. Bylsma has said the Penguins are using the regular-season finale as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the postseason.

Crosby's wings for most of the season, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, appear to be together with Jussi Jokinen. When Jokinen was acquired from Carolina at the NHL Trade Deadline earlier this month, the Penguins made no secret Jokinen was brought in as a stopgap -- and as insurance -- for an injured Crosby. That would signal Kunitz and Dupuis will be with Crosby when he is cleared to play.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 2:50 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jordan Staal making return to Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- Jordan Staal isn't sure what emotions he'll experience when, as expected, the Pittsburgh Penguins roll a tribute video to him during a first-period stoppage in play Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.

Traded to the Carolina Hurricanes after declining to sign a contract extension with the Penguins last June, Staal also isn't sure how the Pittsburgh partisan crowd will receive him.

"All I can say is that I had a lot of good memories here and I had a lot of fun playing here," Staal said following his final morning skate of the season Saturday.

The Hurricanes wrap up their season with a 7:30 p.m. game at the Penguins, Staal's former team that enters next week's Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.

Staal spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with Pittsburgh and was part of the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2009. This is his first game in Pittsburgh since being traded.

"It's going to be a little different for him because he's used to being on the other side dressing for the Penguins," teammate and brother Jared Staal said. "I'm sure he'll try to enjoy it. It'll be a little weird at first, but I'm sure he's moved on a bit. He's a Hurricane now."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 2:32 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

With Greene sidelined, Kings turn to Ellerby

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings are already without captain Dustin Brown for their regular-season finale; now they will be without Matt Greene.

Greene has not skated with the team the past two days because of an undisclosed injury from Wednesday that is not related to his previous back surgery, coach Darryl Sutter said. Keaton Ellerby took Greene's place in the morning skate Saturday and will fill in when the Kings play a pivotal game against the San Jose Sharks.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 2:02 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Devils face Rangers squad looking to climb standings

NEW YORK -- With a long offseason awaiting the New Jersey Devils after the season finale Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, coach Peter DeBoer was adamant his team wouldn't be a pushover against the New York Rangers.

As for their rivals from across the Hudson River, New York clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth Thursday and are jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference.

"We came to win the game. You just want to finish the right way," DeBoer said Saturday. "I think we have enough professionalism that I don't see that being an issue. The big thing we've talked about is not letting our play drop because of the situation we're in. We've played some very good hockey the last three weeks."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 1:52 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blues can't afford to overlook depleted Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- For the St. Louis Blues, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs scenario in their own hands and not having to rely on outside help, two words fit the description heading into the season finale Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks: no excuses.

If the Blues (28-17-2) win, they will finish as the fourth seed in the Western Conference and have home ice in the first round of the playoffs. A regulation loss eliminates them from a possible fourth seed because the teams they're jockeying for position with (San Jose and Los Angeles, each one point back), play each other. One point Saturday gives the Blues a chance.

"It's win and move on," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "To me, regardless what happens, 90 minutes after the game we've moved onto the next event. If it ends up in a win, great, we're the four seed and we watch TV. If we don't win, we adjust accordingly. To me, you can't carry any baggage postgame."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 1:28 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Wild get ready for a regular-season 'Game 7'

DENVER -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo has called Saturday's regular-season finale against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center a "Game 7," and with good reason. The Wild would secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win, but they would miss out with a regulation loss if the Columbus Blue Jackets win or gain a point in their home game with the Nashville Predators.

If the Wild and Blue Jackets finish tied in the standings -- each has 53 points -- Minnesota makes it to the postseason because it holds the tiebreaker with Columbus. The Wild also could move from eighth place in the Western Conference to seventh, depending how the Detroit Red Wings, who have 54 points, fare in their game at the Dallas Stars.

Goalie Niklas Backstrom is expected to start for the Wild despite getting pulled after allowing three goals on five shots in the first period Friday in a 6-1 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Backstrom has gone 10-2-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in his past 13 games in Denver, where the Wild have gone 11-2-2 in their past 15 visits.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the Wild were expected to recall forwards Jason Zucker and Stephane Veilleux from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League and return Jake Dowell and Carson McMillan.

Each team played Friday -- the Avalanche pulled out a 5-4 shootout win at the Phoenix Coyotes -- and neither skated Saturday morning.

Here are the projected lineups:

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 1:27 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Red Wings trying to lock up playoff spot in Dallas

DALLAS -- The Detroit Red Wings enter the final game of the regular season Saturday with a simple goal: Beat the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center and secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 22nd straight season.

Detroit (23-16-8, 54 points), which has won three straight and is 6-3-3 in April, sits seventh in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild, who are eighth at 53 points.

The Stars were eliminated from postseason contention for a fifth straight season when the Red Wings beat the Nashville Predators, 5-2 on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena. And even though Dallas has little other than pride to play for, the approach remains the same for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.

"Well, you just play hard, get prepared and win a game. That’s what we have to do here," Babcock said. "I don’t think we need to worry about anything else, just focus on the process like we talk about each and every game, have some urgency about us, make sure we start on time and we let the structure of the game protect us by being in good spots and being patient."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 12:40 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs, Canadiens in possible playoff preview

TORONTO -- For old time hockey fans, it could wind up being a classic playoff match for the ages.

A win by the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, coupled with a loss by the Ottawa Senators to the Boston Bruins, would mean Montreal and Toronto would meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Though the Maple Leafs have made every effort to not get too ahead of themselves in terms of discussing their first trip to the postseason since 2004, there is no ignoring the fact the game Saturday has special meaning.

"We’re playing a possible first-round opponent and we want to play well," Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said. "Whether it’s them or another team, you want to go into the playoffs feeling good about your game and about the way your team is playing, so it’s a big game for our team. We want to play our style and feel good about our game going into the playoffs."


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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 12:36 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flu sidelines Jagr, while Bruins remain without Horton

WASHINGTON -- The Boston Bruins will be without Jaromir Jagr on Saturday as they face the Washington Capitals in their next-to-last game of the regular-season.

Jagr remained in Boston with the flu while Nathan Horton will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury. According to Bruins coach Claude Julien, both players are day-to-day.

Since joining the Bruins earlier this month in a trade with the Dallas Stars, Jagr has two goals and nine points in 11 games. He skated 14:30 in Boston's 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday -- his lowest time-on-ice since the trade.


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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 12:20 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Karlsson set for return in front of home crowd

OTTAWA -- Fresh off a triumphant return to the Ottawa Senators lineup on Thursday, defenseman Erik Karlsson will play in his first home game since Feb. 13, when Matt Cooke's skate cut his left Achilles tendon.

The injury, which required surgery, was estimated to require 4-6 months in recovery time, but the former Norris Trophy winner was able to make a stunning recovery, returning to the lineup in 31 games. Karlsson admitted Saturday morning the Stanley Cup Playoffs served as motivation to return.

"It's the most fun you can have," Karlsson said. "It's what everyone plays for, and it's what everyone wants to be a part of. I was part of missing it one year (when the Senators did not make the postseason in 2010-11) and I've been part of going to the first round (against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009-10 and New York Rangers in 2011-12) and I know how much fun that was. You build up during the season and hopefully get to the playoffs for a good run."

Here are the projected lines for the Senators and Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Place on Saturday night:

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