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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:18 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Cullen laments missed opportunity to face brother

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Even though it's been eight years since he played for the Florida Panthers, Matt Cullen still enjoys coming to the BankAtlantic Center.

This trip, however, could have been really special.

Playing an NHL game against his brother Mark would have made it the perfect homecoming.

Unfortunately for both Cullens, Mark is back in the AHL, where he has spent the better part of the last 10 years. Mark Cullen got a shot with the Panthers earlier this season when he played an NHL game for the first time since November of 2006 and was back for another stint in December.

Matt said he and his brother talked about the possibility of facing each other during Mark's stint with the Panthers.

But when Matt plays at the BankAtlantic Center Thursday night, Mark will be preparing for a game at Peoria on Friday.

"I was disappointed for him," Matt said after Thursday's morning skate. "I know he was disappointed and he really liked it here. He's worked so hard and he's battled through so much to get an opportunity. I've always thought he's an NHL-caliber player, but that's the business. He loves it here, I know that."

Mark Cullen appeared in six games for the Panthers during his two call-ups and recorded an assist, against Toronto on Dec. 27.

Matt Cullen has 30 points in 58 games for the Wild in his 14th season. On Jan. 10, he played in his 1,000th NHL game against San Jose, and he marked the milestone by scoring in regulation and then scoring the shootout winner in a 5-4 victory.

Cullen spent parts of two seasons with the Panthers, who acquired him in a trade with Anaheim in January of 2003. After the 2003-04 season, Cullen signed as a free agent with Carolina.

"I still have some close friends in the area," Cullen said. "A lot's changed, it's been a long time. They've had a lot of turnover here since then, but definitely a place I'm still very fond of and like coming back to."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:02 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers call up pair of forwards

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will have some different faces up front Thursday night when they face the Minnesota Wild, but coach Kevin Dineen was very cryptic after the optional skate.

Jon Matsumoto and Michal Repik were called up from San Antonio on Thursday, but the Panthers were only one forward short -- the result of Matt Bradley sustaining an upper-body injury in Sunday’s 2-0 loss against Anaheim.

Asked why two forwards were called up with only one spot open, Dineen said: "Our feeling was that there's always options as far as how you're going to put a lineup on the ice. For us, both Jonathan and Michal were both playing well in San Antonio and now that gives us a little bit of depth at forward."

By all indications, center Marcel Goc could be another scratch for the Panthers. He left Wednesday's practice early, didn't take part in the optional skate and his spot in the locker room was gone on Thursday.

Goc has been centering a line between Sean Bergenheim and Mikael Samuelsson, which has cooled off after a hot stretch.

In practice this week, the Panthers also had a different top line, with Tomas Kopecky replacing Tomas Fleischmann alongside Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg.

Fleischmann worked on a line with Shawn Matthias and Mike Santorelli.

Veteran John Madden, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, skated on Thursday but Dineen said he would not play against Minnesota.

Here is the Panthers' projected lineup:

Tomas Kopecky - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Michal Repik - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Shawn Matthias - Mike Santorelli
Krystofer Barch - Jon Matsumoto - Jack Skille

Brian Campbell - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:56 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hornqvist still sidelined as Predators host Blues

NASHVILLE -- Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist, second on the team in goals with 17, will miss his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury when Nashville hosts St. Louis on Thursday.

He participated in the team's morning skate on Thursday, but is not yet ready to play.

"He's getting closer," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He's not in tonight. Saturday would be the soonest."

Hornqvist has not been a huge loss in the short-term for Nashville, which has gone 3-1 without him, although the Predators have not scored more than three goals in a game in that span.

Hornqvist's absence has, however, caused the Preds to re-jigger their forward lines and their power play somewhat. Hornqvist normally skates with Colin Wilson on the left and David Legwand at center.

Instead, Wilson has moved to center with Matt Halischuk on his left and Brandon Yip on his right. Yip, a big body, also has taken Hornqvist's spot on the power play in front of the net.

Legwand has centered a line with Gabriel Bourque on his left and fleet-footed rookie Craig Smith on his right. Smith had been the fourth-line center.

Trotz also said it's likely the team will send rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis to the minors soon to get him playing again. Ellis played less than four minutes on Sunday, was scratched on Tuesday and will probably sit again on Thursday, as the Predators are carrying eight defensemen right now.

"Our thought process is that we may have him go to Milwaukee (AHL) for a couple of games just to keep him playing," Trotz said. "And it's not based on play. We just want to keep him playing."

Ellis would not have to pass through waivers, nor would fellow rookie defenseman Roman Josi, but Josi has established himself for longer. Josi played his first game on Nov. 26 and has not missed a game since. Ellis played his first game on Dec. 26 and has been out of the lineup three times entering Thursday.
 
Here are tonight's projected lineups:
 
PREDATORS
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Matt Halischuk - Colin Wilson - Brandon Yip
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Craig Smith
Jerred Smithson - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Roman Josi - Hal Gill
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
 
Out: Ryan Ellis, Patric Hornqvist, Brian McGrattan
 
BLUES
Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves
 
Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak
 
Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:50 PM

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

Canucks get their chance to end Wings' home streak

DETROIT -- The Vancouver Canucks got what they were hoping for a couple of weeks ago, when they noticed the Detroit Red Wings had a remarkable home winning streak going.

The Canucks (38-16-6) said they've been rooting for the Red Wings (41-18-2) to extend their streak until Vancouver rolled into town on Thursday night for a matchup of the top two teams in both the Western Conference and League standings (7:30 p.m., NHLN) -- and that's exactly what happened.

Detroit's NHL record home streak stands at 23 straight games and the Canucks are eager to give it their best shot to make sure it doesn't get to 24.

"It's fun," Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo said after a morning workout at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday. "It's a great challenge for our team. We're excited about it and I think guys want to put out a great effort tonight to try and break the streak."

He's also not concerned that comments made by him or his teammates provided bulletin board material for the Wings.

"I didn't say we were going to beat them," Luongo said. "I said it was a challenge for us to come here and try to beat them. I mean, I think guys are excited about that. I never said we were going to come in here and win. I just said we were excited about the opportunity and that it's a great challenge for our team to try and do something special."

The Red Wings feel likewise about their record mark, which they'd like to extend as long as possible. They'll still be without star center Pavel Datsyuk (knee), however, so the challenge to keep the streak alive gets even greater against the highly-skilled Canucks -- whose 20-10-2 road record is the best in the League.

"I like playing Vancouver," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the matchup. "It'll be a good test for us."

It will also be the first time defenseman Kyle Quincey pulls on the Red Wings sweater again, after being traded back to the team that originally drafted him in 2003 from both the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning as part of a three-team deal on Tuesday.

His first game with the Wings this season also happens to be one in which Detroit's trying to keep its impressive streak alive.

"I was thinking about that," said Quincey, who will start out with Jonathan Ericsson on Detroit's third pairing along with getting some time on the power-play and penalty-kill units. "A lot of people were asking me about [playing] Colorado on Saturday night, but trust me I'm really focused on tonight. I don't want to be the guy who messes that up. But these guys aren't talking about that, they're just trying to get the win. And I know [Vancouver] is pretty close behind us. It'll be a big game, exciting game to watch."

Here is how the Canucks and Red Wings will likely line up on Thursday night:

CANUCKS
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond
Chris Higgins - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Aaron Rome - Christopher Tanev

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Henrik Zetterberg - Todd Bertuzzi
Danny Cleary - Valtteri Filppula - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Kyle Quincey

Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flames to add offense with return of Glencross

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are expected to welcome back a big piece of their offense Thursday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes.

Forward Curtis Glencross, who has missed 13 games with a knee injury, could return alongside Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla as the Flames make their playoff push.

"I feel pretty good and hopefully I get the nod," Glencross said. "The biggest thing is we don't know for sure what's going on. It's a game-time decision for the coaches. For me, it's just keeping it simple and get the feet back underneath me and try not to do anything out of the ordinary and get pucks on the net."

Only Iginla's 23 goals are more than what Glencross has contributed to the Flames this season despite missing the last five weeks of action. Both he and Jokinen have found the back of the net 18 times this year.

"Offensively, until he got hurt, he was having a career year," coach Brent Sutter said. "(But) it's the other things -- speed, killing penalties, we can use him on the power play -- there are different variables in Glennie's game that helps the team and helps the team have success."

Defenseman Derek Smith could also return to the lineup tonight after missing 22 games with a high ankle sprain. Smith, like Glencross, will be a game-time decision.

"It's definitely something I've been looking forward to the last eight weeks," Smith said. "I feel good. It's a coaches decision, it's a game-time decision, but as of right now I feel ready to go."

It's not all good news for the Flames.

Though they were handed an embarrassing 6-1 defeat at the hands of the provincial-rival Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the bigger loss might have come with defenseman Chris Butler.

Racing back to cover an odd-man rush, Butler plowed into goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, cutting his leg in the process. He’s expected out three weeks.

Here's the Flames' projected lineup for tonight:

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Blake Comeau
Krys Kolanos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Lance Bouma

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:35 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sturggling Panthers searching for offense

SUNRISE, Fla. — Goals have been hard to come by for the Florida Panthers during their disappointing homestand. They’re hoping things will change in the finale Thursday against Minnesota.

In losing in regulation to Ottawa, Washington and Anaheim over the past week, the Panthers scored only three goals. It’s their lowest-scoring three-game stretch of the season.

The reasons for the scoring woes include a struggling power play, the absence of three regular defensemen and some occasional overpassing.

Coach Kevin Dineen also believes his team has to stop letting the opponent dictate the pace of the game.

“For us, our speed game needs to first and foremost come as a factor in every game,” he said after Thursday’s optional morning skate. “A lot of times we’re starting in our own zone and we feel that if we can play solid defense it can transition into good offense. If we get our speed going, that opens up the opportunities in the other zone.”

The Panthers, who will go into Thursday’s game tied with Winnipeg atop the Southeast Division with 65 games but with four games in hand, are coming off a 2-0 loss to Anaheim on Sunday.

Florida outshot the Ducks 31-27 but had few quality scoring chances.

The power play didn’t help, going 0-for-4. In a 2-1 loss Friday to Washington, the Panthers were 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

“It obviously becomes an issue when you’re in tight-checking, tight-scoring games,” Dineen said. “When you get a man advantage, you have to take advantage of it. We’re certainly aware that our power play needs to produce. Sometimes it might not be goals on the board, but it’s walking out of there with what I call feel good, that you walk out it’s up-tempo, opportunities present themselves, and the game carries on from there. But it would certainly be nice to score more consistently on the power play like we did earlier in the year.”

Kris Versteeg, who leads the team in scoring with 48 points, says low-scoring games are to be expected at this time of year.

“I guess you just keep the pedal to the metal is one thing you’re going to do,” Versteeg said. “The power play has got to get us some goals here now. We’ve also got to work hard to draw some penalties to get us on the power play. It comes hand in hand. We’re just going to keep doing what we do. We’ve been throwing a lot of pucks at the net.”
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:34 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hurricanes backup goalie has Boudreau's attention

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is making his first trip to Carolina as the Ducks' bench boss, but the stop over in Raleigh is a familiar one from his days with Washington. So he knows a thing or two about the Hurricanes.

That's why he seemed genuinely concerned about facing goaltender Justin Peters, who has made 26 NHL appearances over three seasons. In his last outing, Peters recorded his first NHL shutout, a 5-0 effort against the Capitals.

"I'm always leery against guys like that," said Boudreau, whose Capitals faced Peters twice in previous seasons. "I've seen Justin a lot, and when he's on, he’s on. He's probably feeling pretty good about himself coming off his first shutout."

Peters has appeared in three straight games after a call-up from Charlotte. He won a 3-2 decision against San Jose last Friday, before replacing injured Cam Ward (lower body) in a Saturday loss to the New York Islanders. He stopped 17 shots to defeat Washington on Monday.

"I've seen it happen so many times, that you face guys that aren't used to being in the limelight -- and then for short periods of time, they can be superhuman," Boudreau said. "Then they end up coming back to earth with one game. There's a reason they're in the minors for so many years, but then they come in and stand on their head and they look as good as anybody. (Peters) is in one of those modes, and the team is in that mindset. It makes for a tough game."

Tonight's game is the final outing in an eight-game road trip for the Ducks, in which they have posted a 4-1-2 mark.

DUCKS
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - Devante Smith-Pelly

Cam Fowler - Francois Beauchemin
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Jerome Samson
Jussi Jokinen - Jeff Skinner - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Brandon Sutter - Andreas Nodl
Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Derek Joslin

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Justin Peters
Mike Murphy
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Maple Leafs

Here's the projected rosters for San Jose and Toronto as they face off Thursday night at Air Canada Centre:

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau- Joe Thornton- Joe Pavelski
Tommy Wingels- Logan Couture- Ryane Clowe
Jamie McGinn- Torrey Mitchell - Benn Ferriero
Brad Winchester- Michal Handzus - Andrew Desjardins

Colin White- Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic- Brent Burns
Jason Demers- Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul- Tyler Bozak- Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur- Mikhail Grabovski- Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi- Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Darryl Boyce- David Steckel- Mike Brown

Carl Gunnarsson- Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner- Luke Schenn

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 12:11 PM

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

Ovechkin skates briefly before Caps practice

Alex Ovechkin skated for about 15 minutes ahead of practice Thursday morning for the Washington Capitals, according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post.

Ovechkin did not play Wednesday night in a critical 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. He left the previous game, a 5-0 loss to Carolina, but later returned and the absence was deemed an equipment issue. Before the game Wednesday in Ottawa, Ovechkin told reporters he was not feeling well, but coach Dale Hunter said he had a lower-body injury.

The Capitals lost the three games of a four-game road trip and remain in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Despite their struggles, they are just two points out of eighth place in the East and two behind the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Southeast Division.

Carrera noted that Ovechkin twice tried to skate at full speed, but quickly pulled up and spent of the time on the ice skating at half-speed. The Capitals play Montreal at Verizon Center on Friday before a trip Saturday to Toronto. They are also still without top center Nicklas Backstrom, who has not skated in weeks because of a concussion.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:28 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BOS @ STL - 7:34 of the Second Period

At 7:34 of the second period in the Bruins/Blues game, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that Johnny Boychuk's shot never crossed the goal line. No goal Boston.
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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday