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Posted On Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 2:44 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Grabovski set to return to Capitals lineup

NASHVILLE -- Washington Capitals forward Mikhail Grabovski will return to the lineup for the second time in more than two months Sunday when the Capitals play the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Grabovski, who has 12 goals and 21 assists in 50 games this season, has dressed once since Jan. 24 because of a lingering left ankle injury. He had 2:20 of time on ice on Feb. 27 against the Florida Panthers, but reinjured himself and has not played since.

The Capitals entered Sunday two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings, who are seventh and eighth, respectively, for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are 4-1-2 in their past seven games, but winless in their past two (0-1-1).

Posted On Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 2:18 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers looking to continue success against East

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers sometimes wonder how things could be different if they played in the Eastern Conference.

Geography has been detrimental to the Oilers this season. They've struggled against Western Conference opponents, but have held their own against Eastern Conference teams.

The Oilers host the New York Rangers on Sunday with a 14-13-4 record against the East and 5-0-2 in their past seven games against teams from the Metropolitan Division. They are 12-26-5 against teams in their own conference.

"I think the record speaks for itself," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Where we're at with our size and our strength, most of the teams in the East are built with the same size and strength. That's with my eyes and the feel of the game, not going to look at the stats pages, not looking at the height and weights. But I just feel that the teams in our conference, that are all at the top of the League as well, are built much differently than most of the Eastern Conference teams and us."

Posted On Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 1:05 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maatta back in Penguins' lineup against Blackhawks

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta will return to the lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday after being a healthy scratch Friday.

Maatta, a 19-year-old rookie, did not play against the Columbus Blue Jackets after playing in 72 of Pittsburgh's first 73 games of the season. His production has decreased in recent weeks and he has been a minus in six of his past 12 games.

"Obviously, you want to play every game. You don't want to take games off," Maatta said. "But I feel like it was good for me. It's been a long season. It's been a lot of games. It's been a really new situation for me.

"I've never played this many games in my life."

Maatta has 28 points and nine goals in 72 games this season.

Posted On Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 12:10 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flyers' Downie won't play against Bruins

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie will miss his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury Sunday against the Boston Bruins (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), but could be close to returning to the lineup.

Downie, who was hurt on the opening shift of the Flyers' game March 22 against the St. Louis Blues when he collided with St. Louis' Patrik Berglund, was a full participant at practice Saturday.

"I feel pretty good, actually," Downie said. "I'm almost ready. Nothing's really bothering me. There's just a couple more steps I need to take.

Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 4:17 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canucks' Bieksa planning to play through injury

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa isn't ready to let a leg injury keep him out of the lineup with the season still hanging in the balance against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

Bieksa played two shifts after a hit left him limping off the ice late in the second period of a 3-2 overtime loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, and the Canucks called up rookie defenseman Frank Corrado from the American Hockey League on Friday.

So it was a bit of a surprise to see Bieksa taking part in the morning skate Saturday, including time on the top power play unit. He will be a game-time decision, but hinted strongly he plans to play.

"If there's a chance I can play, I will," Bieksa said. "We'll see how it feels later, but I got through the skate OK, and this time of the year there is a lot of guys playing injured. So if you can play, you play."

Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 3:39 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Defenseman Martinez finding offense with Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez is living proof that consistent playing time can help a player find their rhythm.

He has been a regular part of the Kings' lineup since the 2014 Sochi Olympics, collecting six goals and five assists in 13 games going into Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets at Staples Center.

Martinez's 10 goals are one fewer than forwards Mike Richards and Tyler Toffoli.

"I think I've been able to get into a rhythm," Martinez said. "It's like in anything in life, especially as an athlete, you get into a rhythm of playing in games. When you're in and out of the lineup sometimes, it's the little plays that are hard … those are the ones that make the difference."

Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 3:26 PM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Desperate Devils deal with inexperienced Islanders

Sitting four points behind a quartet of teams tied for the Eastern Conference's two wild-card spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New Jersey Devils have eight games remaining in the regular season. Any chance New Jersey had of making the playoffs has been bolstered by the collective poor play of those four teams.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs went a combined 1-6-1 this week before evening games began Saturday; that includes Washington's 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

Visiting the New York Islanders on Saturday, the Devils are looking to make one last-gasp run at the postseason.

"We have nine games to go. If we want to make the playoffs we have to win almost every game now. And every game is tough. There are no easy games in this League," forward Jaromir Jagr said. "We have to make sure we play our game and we might need help from other teams."

Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 2:56 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes' Smith to be re-evaluated next week

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith won't be on the ice to test his lower-body injury until at least the end of next week, but coach Dave Tippett is hoping he will be able to return to the lineup before the end of the regular season.

Smith, who was injured late in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Monday, is back to working out off the ice and will have his injury re-evaluated at the end of the week.

Tippett said he was very optimistic Smith would return before the end of the season. The Coyotes have eight games remaining, including Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Goalie Thomas Greiss will make his third straight start against the Wild. The teams hold the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are separated by one point.

Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 2:26 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maple Leafs set for four-point game vs. Red Wings

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs take a seven-game losing streak into Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings in what amounts to a must-win game.

The Red Wings, Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, and Columbus Blue Jackets all start the day with 80 points in the standings as they chase the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Maple Leafs are at a disadvantage because the three teams they're competing with have more games remaining.

"I think it's one of those four-point games," Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson said. "Any time you play a team that you're in direct competition with, they're bigger than the others; especially at this time of year with the position that both teams are in. I think it's definitely one of those four-point games."

Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 2:10 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stars' Seguin a game-time decision against Blues

ST. LOUIS -- The Dallas Stars are in a furious fight to the finish as far as a Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In that mad dash, there will be a couple of players who are questionable for Saturday night against the conference-leading St. Louis Blues.

The Stars (35-27-11) held an optional skate Saturday and could be without one of their most important players in their clash with the Central Division-rival Blues (50-16-7).

Center Tyler Seguin, who leads the Stars in goals (32), assists (44) and points (76) in 71 games, is dealing with what coach Lindy Ruff termed soreness. The Stars recalled left wing Chris Mueller from the American Hockey League's Texas Stars on Saturday morning because a couple of players are dealing with bumps and bruises as well as sickness.

"We've got a couple of question marks," Ruff said. "[Seguin's] one of them. We'll wait and see tonight."

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Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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