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Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 2:24 PM

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

Struggling Red Wings not taking Oilers lightly

The Detroit Red Wings have lost four of five in March, scoring six goals in those four losses. They're also entering a crucial stretch in which 13 of their final 17 games will be against teams that occupied a Stanley Cup Playoff spot entering play Friday.

So a visit from the Edmonton Oilers, against whom the Red Wings have gone 11-0-1 since the start of the 2010-11 season, might be a good way to break out of that slump. But the Red Wings are not taking their opponent likely, especially with the Oilers posting a 3-2-1 record in March.

"It doesn't matter who you're playing, you can't take a night off. In today's day and age in the NHL anyone can beat anyone on any given night. You have to get ready and prepared the same way no matter who you're playing," goaltender Jimmy Howard told "We have got to win games. There's nothing else you can say."

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 2:21 PM

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

Stars face Flames without centers Eakin, Horcoff

DALLAS -- In what already has been an eventful week for the Dallas Stars, coach Lindy Ruff now has injuries to two centers to contend with in advance of a game Friday against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center.

Cody Eakin and Shawn Horcoff are out after being struck by pucks earlier in the week. Eakin's injury occurred during a 3-2 overtime win at the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, and Horcoff was injured in practice Thursday.

"Both won't play," Ruff said. "[Eakin] is day-to-day. Hopefully he'll play in Winnipeg [on Sunday]. Shawn might be a little bit longer."

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 2:12 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks' Hossa approaching return from injury

CHICAGO -- Forward Marian Hossa is close to returning from an upper-body injury for the Chicago Blackhawks, who are looking to get hot during the stretch run of the regular season.

Hossa participated in the morning skate Friday at United Center prior to their game against the Nashville Predators and hopes to return to the lineup Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings or Tuesday at the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Hopefully it's one of those two games," Hossa said. "You're never happy when something like this happens but it's part of our sport. You want to be back right away but it takes some time. Hopefully the time will come in those two games, Philly or Detroit, and I'll be back."

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 1:51 PM

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

Stars' Lehtonen faces shots, could return Sunday

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen faced shots from teammates during the morning skate in advance of the game Friday against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center.

It was the first time Lehtonen faced shots since sustaining a concussion in the third period of a 4-3 win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 1:45 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils' Schneider, Panthers' Luongo face off again

SUNRISE, Fla. -- For Cory Schneider, facing Roberto Luongo is nothing new. But there's a different twist to their third goaltending battle of the season.

Nine months after they were teammates with the Vancouver Canucks, Friday will mark their first game as opponents in a game that doesn't involve the Canucks. Schneider will be starting for the New Jersey Devils, Luongo for the Florida Panthers.

"It's the third time I've played him this year. I think it's the most I've played any other goalie this year," Schneider said after the Devils' optional skate. "It's becoming old news. Maybe we'll become good rivals. Who knows?"

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 1:34 PM

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

Sundstrom to make NHL debut for youthful Islanders

Forward Johan Sundstrom, who was called up Thursday from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, and defenseman Kevin Czuczman, who was signed Tuesday after completing his season with Lake Superior State University, each skated with the New York Islanders on Friday.

Sundstrom will make his NHL debut Friday when the Islanders host the San Jose Sharks.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said Czuczman would play his first game for the Islanders soon. Sundstrom skated on the right wing during practice, alongside Casey Cizikas and Mike Halmo.

"I am very excited," Sundstrom told the Islanders website. "This is why you work so hard every day. Now I have an opportunity here so I am happy to be here and I'll hopefully get some points. I try to be a solid two-way player. I like to be physical and shoot the puck and skate a lot."

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 12:38 PM

By Adam Vingan - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Capitals need improvement on faceoffs

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals are winless in five of their past six games (1-4-1) and struggling in several key areas at a time when they can't afford to do so.

One area of particular concern is the faceoff circle, where the Capitals have won 133 of 333 draws (39.9 percent) during their recent skid, well below their 48.9 percent season average.

Beginning Friday against the Vancouver Canucks, seven of Washington's next nine games are against teams ranked among the top 10 in faceoff percentage in the NHL, including five against the top five.

"I've been struggling the last couple games in the faceoff circle," said center Nicklas Backstrom, who has won about 47 of his faceoffs over his past six games. "You want to be better at it because it helps get puck possession right away."

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 12:21 PM

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

Canucks forward Kesler out 'a couple of weeks'

Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler has a sprained knee and is out "at least a couple of weeks," coach John Tortorella said Friday.

Kesler left a 3-2 shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday after sustaining the injury in a knee-on-knee collision with Jets forward Jim Slater late in the second period.

"Nothing we can do about that. Upside is that it gives others an opportunity," Tortorella said.

Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 3:27 PM

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

Kings prepare to face ex-teammate Bernier

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings used to have the luxury of a legitimate No.1 goalie as a backup to Jonathan Quick. On Thursday night, they will see that goalie at the other end of the ice.

Jonathan Bernier is expected to make his first appearance at Staples Center since he was traded from the Kings to the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer.

"I think anytime you play a team that you previously played for -- I never experienced it, but the type of environment coming back [is intense]," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "The best example is probably [Robyn Regehr returning to Calgary] a couple of weeks ago. It's always extra motivation for those guys."

Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 2:10 PM

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

Blues welcome Sobotka back into lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues certainly were busy at the NHL Trade Deadline with the additions of goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres. But it's also not often a team can add a versatile player like forward Vladimir Sobotka to their lineup.

Sobotka, who missed 12 games dating back to Jan. 31 with a fractured left kneecap, will return to the lineup when the Blues (44-14-7) host the Edmonton Oilers (23-35-8) Thursday night.

"I've been cleared by doctors on Monday and I tried to push more every practice," said Sobotka, who has seven goals and 25 points in 46 games. "I feel good so I'm going to be playing tonight.

"It's been a long break for me. It's been probably six weeks right now, and it's been a tough injury for me. I'm excited to be back."

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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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