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At the Rink blog
Posted On Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 12:27 PM

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

Sabres' Lieuwen to face childhood favorite Canucks

VANCOUVER – Buffalo Sabres goalie Nathan Lieuwen will make his second NHL start Sunday night in front of family and friends against the Vancouver Canucks team he grew up cheering.

Lieuwen gets the start after Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who was hoping to return Sunday, had a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury and wasn't able to practice Saturday.

With No. 1 goaltender Jhonas Enroth not on the road trip because of a lower-body injury, coach Ted Nolan said he wanted to give Lieuwen a start close to home. Nolan said Ontario native Matt Hackett, who made 35 saves in a 3-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers to snap the Sabres seven-game losing skid on Thursday, will start when Buffalo goes back east to play the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Lieuwen, who was called up March 16, appreciated the gesture.

In addition to expecting a big crowd to make the one-hour drive west from his hometown of Abbotsford, Lieuwen will be facing at least one more of the Canucks he used to root for.

Daniel Sedin returns to Vancouver's No. 1 line after missing nine games with a hamstring injury, and second-line center Ryan Kesler is a game-day decision after missing four with a knee sprain.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 12:20 PM

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

Penguins start Fleury in goal, Blues go with Elliott

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues will make a change in net after each team played Saturday.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will start for Pittsburgh in its second of back-to-back games this weekend. Goalie Jeff Zatkoff earned his 12th win of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Fleury is still searching for his 35th win of the season as the Penguins have not won in his past three starts. He has allowed three or more goals in each of his three starts since shutting out the Washington Capitals on March 11.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 12:14 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Umberger back for Blue Jackets, Okposo OK for Isles

Columbus Blue Jackets right wing R.J. Umberger is back in the lineup against the New York Islanders after he was a healthy scratch the past two games.

Umberger will skate with Nick Foligno and Artem Anisimov in place of right wing Corey Tropp. He leads Columbus with eight power-play goals and is tied for third on the Blue Jackets with 18 goals.

"The way this team's been battling all year, and the last couple of games, it’s hard to watch," Umberger told the Columbus Dispatch on being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. "I want to be a part of it."

The Blue Jackets are hoping Umberger can help put life into a power play that's 0-for-30 since March 4.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 7:16 PM

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

Maple Leafs' Bolland returns against Canadiens

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs forward Dave Bolland made his return to the lineup Saturday night.

Bolland, in against the Montreal Canadiens, had been out of action since Nov. 2 when a tendon in his ankle was cut by a skate against the Vancouver Canucks.

"He's progressed along over the last three weeks to a point where the doctors feel, medically, that he's close to 100 percent ready and we just have to make a decision on the last assessment here," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said prior to the game.

Bolland missed 56 games with the injury and was slated to play on a line with Mason Raymond and David Clarkson.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 5:44 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Defenseman Diaz to make debut for Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman Raphael Diaz will make his debut with the New York Rangers on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Diaz is replacing John Moore, who coach Alain Vigneault said is day-to-day with concussion symptoms stemming from a hit he took during New York's 3-1 win Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In addition, Vigneault said forward Derek Dorsett has the stomach flu and isn't available. Daniel Carcillo will replace Dorsett on the fourth line after sitting out the game in Columbus.

Vigneault said two other unnamed players are dealing with minor injuries, but they will skate in warmups and be game-time decisions. Defenseman Justin Falk and rookie forward Ryan Haggerty are available to play if necessary.

The Rangers are third in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points, two more than the fourth-place Blue Jackets and three more than the fifth-place Washington Capitals.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 5:25 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks look to clinch 10th straight playoff berth

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks grabbed first place in the Pacific Division with an emotional 3-2 home victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. But they should have enough incentive to avoid a letdown Saturday night when they face the Washington Capitals at SAP Center.

After all, the Sharks could clinch their 10th straight berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win and some help.

The Sharks are in if they earn two points against the Capitals and either the Ottawa Senators beat the Dallas Stars in any fashion or the Phoenix Coyotes lose in regulation to the Boston Bruins. San Jose can also clinch if they earn one point against Washington and the Stars lose to Ottawa in regulation.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 4:14 PM

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

Coyotes keep riding goaltender Smith in playoff chase

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If the Phoenix Coyotes are going to regroup and squeeze their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, goaltender Mike Smith is going to have to regain the form that carried them to the Western Conference Final in 2012.

For the past 15 games, Smith has looked the part. After half a season of inconsistent and frustrating play, Smith has a 1.86 goals-against average and .937 save percentage since Feb. 7 and the Coyotes have responded with seven wins in their past nine games. They now occupy the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Smith will celebrate his 32nd birthday and make his NHL-leading 61st start Saturday against the Boston Bruins. Boston has won 11 straight games and became the first team to top 100 points and clinch a playoff spot when they beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 on Friday.

"I don't think I'd be playing so much if the games weren't so important," said Smith, who has played more minutes and made more saves than any other goalie. "I like to play a lot, especially when you're playing good. You want to be helping the team win games. It's just in our blood, I guess. Once you get into the season, 60 starts is just a number. The body is feeling good now and hopefully I keep feeling well."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 3:37 PM

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

Oilers' Eberle, Flames' Berra set to return

EDMONTON — Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle and Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo will be back in the lineup Saturday night for the final installment of the Battle of Alberta.

Eberle missed a game Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres with a knee injury. Ramo has not played since sustaining a knee injury Feb. 1 against the Minnesota Wild.

"I feel good, I'm ready to go," Eberle said. "I think I just tweaked an old injury from before. It was good to take a couple days off. I probably wouldn't have been able to play against Buffalo, there was a lot of pain and probably would have hurt it even more. It was good to get a couple of days off and get it back to where I can feel that I can play."

Eberle is second in Oilers' scoring this season with 23 goals and 53 points. He scored two goals Tuesday against the Nashville Predators before being injured on his last shift of the game in a collision with Nashville center Mike Fisher.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 3:29 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stars' Cole out against Senators

Dallas Stars forward Erik Cole is out with an upper-body injury and will not play against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center. He is considered day-to-day.

Cole missed practice Friday with what was described by Dallas coach Lindy Ruff as a maintenance day. Ruff explained early Saturday that Cole would be a game-time decision against Ottawa. Cole's absence was tempered by the return of Shawn Horcoff, who had missed four games with a broken finger.

Saturday will mark the first time Cole has missed a game since March 10, 2010, when he played with the Carolina Hurricanes. The injury ends his streak of 296 consecutive games played.

In 69 games this season, Cole has 16 goals and 29 points.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 2:26 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Horcoff returns for Stars against Ottawa

DALLAS -- After missing the past four games with a broken finger, Dallas Stars center Shawn Horcoff will return to the ice on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators at American Airlines Center.

"It looks like he's going to play," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said in a short pregame media session.

Horcoff will likely center Dallas' fourth line alongside left wing Ray Whitney and rookie right wing Valeri Nichushkin. While Horcoff will play, veteran left wing Erik Cole, who did not practice on Friday, and rookie right wing Alex Chiasson, who left practice early, will be game-time decisions.

After practice on Friday, Ruff said Cole was fine and that he was just given a maintenance day. But Chiasson left the practice rink early with an undisclosed injury.

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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday