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At the Rink blog
Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 12:10 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Individual honors motivate Lightning in season finale

TAMPA -- It's Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos against the Florida Panthers on Saturday -- or at least it seems that way, as the last bit of excitement for two teams that end their season with this game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum centers around St. Louis' pursuit of the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the NHL and Stamkos' quest for the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals.

Make no mistake, the entire Tampa Bay Lightning squad will be on hand, but mostly just to assist both players in their pursuits.

"They are talented players and we'd be lying to say that it's not in the back of our minds," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "In the last game of the year, if we can ultimately get two players to be recognized for how they played all year and their accomplishments, we'll do our best to help them out."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 11:43 AM

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

Holtby starts as Capitals seek momentum

ARLINGTON, Va. – Having already clinched the Southeast Division and No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, the goal for the Washington Capitals is to play a clean hockey game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and build momentum heading into the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Goaltender Braden Holtby will start Washington’s regular-season finale after serving as Michal Neuvirth’s backup in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"I talked to him, actually, about which game he would rather have, and in terms of rest, what's too much rest, how recent do you want to play," coach Adam Oates said. "I don't think there's any perfect formula. I don't think anybody's ever perfected that, but it makes sense to him to play [against Boston] and if we [open the playoffs] Tuesday or Wednesday, it's kind of a good rhythm because we've almost played every other day this year. It's been that kind of season."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 11:20 AM

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

Blue Jackets get Anisimov back for finale

The Columbus Blue Jackets will welcome Artem Anisimov back to the lineup Saturday night when they try to clinch the second Stanley Cup Playoff berth in franchise history.

"He's good to go," coach Todd Richards said of Anisimov, who hasn't played in two weeks due to a concussion.

The Blue Jackets can get in if they beat the Nashville Predators at Nationwide Arena and either the Colorado Avalanche defeat the Minnesota Wild in any fashion or the Dallas Stars defeat the Detroit Red Wings in regulation.

The Blue Jackets also earn a spot if they earn a point and the Avalanche defeat the Wild in regulation.

Here's how the Blue Jackets lines project:

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Posted On Friday, 04.26.2013 / 3:30 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Giguere in net as Avalanche face Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here are the lineups for the Phoenix Coyotes' regular season home finale against the Colorado Avalanche. Rob Klinkhammer will be back in the lineup for Phoenix after missing Wednesday's 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks with an upper-body injury.

Colorado will be without Milan Hejduk, who will sit out Friday before playing what could be his final game with the Avalanche on Saturday in Denver. Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start in goal.


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Posted On Friday, 04.26.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blackhawks will stick with same lineup Friday

CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will use their regular lineup Friday night against the Calgary Flames (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) prior to wrapping up their regular season on the road Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.

The Blackhawks recalled defenseman Ryan Stanton from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Friday, but coach Joel Quenneville said more prospects will likely make the trip to St, Louis on Saturday to give some regulars a breather prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.

After wrapping up first in the Western Conference and earning the Presidents’ Trophy for posting the best record in the National Hockey League, Chicago has the luxury of not worrying about these final two games.

“We’re going to play our group tonight and [Saturday] we might be resting some guys,” Quenneville said after Friday’s morning skate at United Center.

Goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland are both out against Calgary with lower-body injuries and neither will make the trip to St. Louis. Corey Crawford will start in goal against the Flames, while backup Carter Hutton might get the nod against the Blues.

Quenneville said he’s not concerned about Bolland’s injury and expects him to be ready for the playoffs, which in the past has been when the gritty centerman shines brightest. However, the Blackhawks coach hinted on Friday that veteran Michal Handzus might get a look at second-line center – between stars Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane – even when Bolland returns.

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Posted On Friday, 04.26.2013 / 1:16 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Wild look to keep up mastery of Oilers, clinch spot

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild can clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a victory Friday at Xcel Energy Center against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Wild currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one point back of the Detroit Red Wings. Minnesota has a game in hand on both teams and play at the Colorado Avalanche Saturday.

Minnesota could climb as high as sixth in the west if it wins both of its remaining games and the Los Angeles Kings defeat the San Jose Sharks Saturday.

It would be somewhat surprising if the Wild didn't clinch Friday. Not only are the Oilers in a deep funk as their season draws to a close, Minnesota has won 19 of its last 20 meetings with Edmonton in this building. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom is 17-0 at home against the Oilers, with a 1.34 goals against average and a save percentage approaching 95 percent.

That's not good news for Edmonton, which is 1-9-0 in its last 10 games and has scored just 13 goals in that stretch.

Here is a look at how the lineups could look for both teams this evening:


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Posted On Friday, 04.26.2013 / 1:09 PM

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

Islanders focused on moving up in standings

BUFFALO -- The New York Islanders have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but find themselves in eighth place heading into their final game of the regular season Friday night. When the Islanders take on the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, they'll have an opportunity to improve that position.

At 54 points, they're in a three-way tie with the sixth-place Ottawa Senators and the seventh-place New York Rangers. Ottawa has two games remaining while the Rangers have one. Both the Senators and Rangers are idle on Friday.

The Islanders are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. It was New York's first regulation loss in 12 games. They were on an 8-0-3 run and are 11-2-3 in their past 16 games, but 0-1-1 in their past two.

"I just want to get back -- and I know the guys want to get back -- to playing the way that we want to play. Win or lose, we just have to make sure we play our style," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.


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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 4:32 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ducks resting stars in matchup with Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Anaheim Ducks are resting for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Vancouver Canucks are still trying to find chemistry before they start.

The Ducks will be without seven regulars when they play here Thursday, though initial plans to include captain Ryan Getzlaf among those resting may be scuttled with fellow center Nick Bonino not feeling well.

“We don't know yet, probably won’t know until game time,” Getzlaf said after the morning skate. “Either way, I’m kind of impartial to the whole thing. Sometimes its almost better to keep going as it is to rest, but the last couple of days have been good rest because I’ve been off both, so if I do play tonight it will be fine.”

With or without Getzlaf, the Ducks won’t resemble the team that clinched the Pacific Division on Monday night with a win against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 4:02 PM

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

Senators wowed by speed of Karlsson's return

WASHINGTON -- As the Ottawa Senators prepared Thursday to welcome Erik Karlsson back to the lineup for their game against the Washington Capitals, captain Daniel Alfredsson couldn't help but admire his 22-year-old teammate.

Karlsson has not played since Feb. 13, when the defenseman sustained a 70-percent tear to the Achilles tendon in his left leg during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson underwent surgery the next day and was expected to miss four to six months. Instead, the reigning Norris Trophy winner will return exactly 10 weeks after the operation.

"He said the day after it happened, he had surgery, he said two months," Alfredsson said of Karlsson's timetable. "And we knew that was not possible. We never thought he would be able to come back unless we went really far in the playoffs. But he's been positive the whole time through and been encouraged by what he's been able to do and worked hard to get here. It's great to see."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 2:32 PM

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

Blue Jackets need to reverse recent history in Dallas

DALLAS -- The numbers are definitely not pretty for the Columbus Blue Jackets when it comes to facing the Dallas Stars. All time, Dallas is 31-10-5 against Columbus, including a 15-5-2 at home with all but two of those meetings at American Airlines Center.

However, when these Western Conference foes square off Thursday night here, the result could be a bit different because these teams are heading in different directions. The Blue Jackets, who are ninth in the West with 51 points, one behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings, have won six of their past seven games. Dallas, 10th with 48 points, is hanging on for dear life and could be eliminated if Detroit earns a point on Thursday against the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena.

Columbus coach Todd Richards said how well his club starts could determine the outcome.

"Starts are important. We’ve stressed that for a long time now. Our last 14 games, we haven’t been down by more than one goal in any of those games in the first period and a lot of times we’ve had leads," Richards said. "So, it’s important to get your legs underneath you, especially this time of year. Every shift is critical. You never know when the big play of the game is going to happen. The difference-maker might be in the first period and we’ve approached that, credit to the players who have come out and played hard from the drop of the puck."

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Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning
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