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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 9:37 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NJ @ WPG - 13:13 of the Third Period

At 13:13 of the third period in the Jets/Devils game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck conclusively crossed the Devils goal line and was in the net. Good Goal Winnipeg.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 7:25 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NJ @ WPG - 1:42 of the First Period

At 1:42 of the first period in the Devils/Jets game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Jets forward Evander Kane deflected the puck into the net with his stick below the cross bar. Good Goal Winnipeg.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 6:58 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rask to start vs. Reimer

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will start Tuukka Rask in net tonight against Toronto at the TD Garden. Toronto counters with James Reimer.

Rask brings a 3-3-1 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and .921 save percentage into the game against the team that originally drafted him. He last played on Nov. 25 in a shootout loss to Detroit, the only loss by the Bruins in more than a month.

Tim Thomas, the Bruins' usual goaltender has a nine-game winning streak that will apparently stay at that number for one more night. Thomas was in goal Wednesday when the Bruins won 6-3 at Toronto, their third victory against the Leafs in as many meetings this season.

Reimer will be playing for the first time since Oct. 22, when he was hit by Montreal's Brian Gionta. He's been out with what the Leafs labeled "concussion-like symptoms."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 5:13 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Backup goalies set to duel at Shark Tank

SAN JOSE – Saturday night’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers is shaping up as a battle of backup goaltenders.

Thomas Greiss will definitely start for San Jose, Sharks coach Todd McClellan said after his team’s morning skate. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said whether Scott Clemmensen starts will be a game-time decision, but the Miami Herald is reporting that Clemmensen will “definitely” open against San Jose.

“I haven’t made my final call yet,” Dineen said. “We’ll … see how the California air treats these guys.”

Backing up Antti Niemi, Greiss is 4-3 with a 1.99 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. In his last start on Nov. 20 at Colorado, he gave up one goal on 37 shots in a 4-1 Sharks win.

“Thomas is playing. We’re excited about that,” McLellan said. “He’s played well for us. We trust him to give us a good night.”

Clemmensen has made only one start this season in place of Jose Theodore, stopping all 25 shots he faced in a 6-0 shutout of Dallas. For his career, he’s 51-39-14 with a 2.63 goals against average. .910 save percentage and seven shutouts.

Panthers forward Kris Versteeg said he doesn’t know much about Greiss but did play against him in the AHL.

“He’s a quick goaltender and he has great reflexes,” Versteeg said. “He’s maybe not the biggest guy, but he can get post to post pretty quickly. You’re going to have to bear down on those second opportunities.”

Versteeg, the team’s leading goal scorer, will return to the lineup Saturday night. He missed one game after taking a forearm to the head from Carolina’s Derek Joslin on Tuesday.

He ended up with a broken nose and a strained neck, but Versteeg said he sat out Thursday night’s game at Los Angeles because he had headaches and was concerned that he had a concussion.

“I was definitely worried,” Versteeg said after the Panthers’ morning skate at HP Pavilion. “I think everyone, we were worried, and it was precautionary. Like they said, when you’re getting some headaches and you’re not sure what’s it’s from, you don’t really know. But I’ve done all that (testing) and it’s good to go, and I feel good.”

Versteeg said he still has a “pretty bad stiff neck” from the hit Tuesday night.

“That’s nothing you can’t play through. I’ve played through a lot, a lot of other injuries before with my two hernias last year and other things like that,” Versteeg said. “I’m not really worried about a stiff neck. But when you get headaches, it’s concerning. I was worried about it and I’m glad it’s OK.”

Evgenii Dadvonov started in Versteeg’s spot on the first line against Los Angeles, but he’ll be a healthy scratch against San Jose, Dineen said. Bracken Kearns will remain on the fourth line with winger Tim Kennedy and center Mark Cullen.

Forward Marco Sturm, who played the first seven-plus seasons of his NHL career with San Jose, will face the Sharks with the Florida Panthers for the first time Saturday night. The Sharks traded Sturm to Boston on Nov. 30, 2005, as part of the blockbuster deal for Joe Thornton. Since then he has made other NHL stops in Los Angeles, Washington and Vancouver, which traded him to Florida on Oct. 22 in a four-player deal.

Sturm said he was surprised when Vancouver traded him and surprised by how well the Panthers have played this season. One season after finishing last in the Eastern Conference with 72 points, Florida leads the Southeast Division with 30 points with a new coach in Dineen and with a revamped roster.

“It’s great,” Sturm said. “Obviously to have the big change in the summer – I was really surprised when I got here, how good the team is and how fast they clicked. It’s a good group of guys and it’s a lot of fun with a new coach. He’s been great so far. I’m glad to be a part of it. I came early enough to kind of grow up with the guys again. It’s been great. The guys made it really easy for me. It definitely helps.”

Sharks second-line winger Martin Havlat was a plus-three during Thursday night’s 4-3 shootout win against Montreal with an assist, and McLellan called it his best game of the season.

“It was a good game,” Havlat said Saturday. “It was better than the other games I played in the last two weeks. I think we played really well as a whole line. We were moving the puck well, having a good forecheck. Overall it was a good game and everybody worked hard.”

Havlat said it helped being reunited with center Logan Couture, who returned after a stint as a first-line wing. Couture, Ryane Clowe and Havlat opened the season together.

“We played together the first nine, 10 games and then (Thursday),” Havlat said. “We played some pretty good games together. We’ll see how it goes. It’s up to the coaches, but the last game was pretty good.”

Patrick Marleau returned Thursday to the first line as a winger after his stint as a second-line center. He was a minus-2, while first-line center Joe Thornton and winger Joe Pavelski were each minus-3.

“They had a bad night,” McLellan said. “They didn’t perform very well. They know that. Their teammates bailed them out. They’ve done that for their teammates many nights. I have no problem putting them back on the ice tonight expect much better from them.”

Marleau said he struggled a bit making the adjustment back to wing after playing center.

“I think sometimes as a winger you get stuck on the board a little bit,” Marleau said. “You got to remind yourself to get skating and push the pace a little bit and create things that way. As a center you’re always in and around the play. As a winger you’ve got to make sure you go to it.”

Defenseman Colin White said he hadn’t received the official word but that he thinks he’s going to be in the lineup Saturday night, paired with Jason Demers. White, who spent some time away from the team after a death in his family, hasn’t played since Nov. 20 at Colorado, a stretch of four games.

“I definitely want to get back in,” White said. “It’s no fun sitting out, that’s for sure. This is all new to me.”

McLellan said he’ll decide at game-time whether White or Jim Vandermeer starts in the third defensive pair. Vandermeer has started the past four games.

Here are the possible lineups for Saturday night’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers at HP Pavilion:

SHARKS

Patrick MarleauJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski
Ryane CloweLogan CoutureMartin Havlat
Jamie McGinnMichal HandzusTorrey Mitchell
Brad WinchesterAndrew DesjardinsAndrew Murray

Dan BoyleDouglas Murray
Brent BurnsMarc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason DemersColin White

Thomas Greiss

PANTHERS

Tomas FleischmannStephen WeissKris Versteeg
Sean BergenheimShawn MatthiasTomas Kopecky
Marco SturmMike SantorelliJack Skille
Tim KennedyMark CullenBracken Kearns

Ed Jovanoski – Erik Gudbranson
Jason GarrisonBrian Campbell
Dmitry KulikovMike Weaver

Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 3:36 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Markov's return delayed, minor knee surgery needed

LOS ANGELES - Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov will undergo a minor surgery on his knee and will miss about three weeks, Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier said Saturday before a game against Los Angeles.

“Markov’s knee is almost at full strength,” Gauthier said. “He’s undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean up debris.”

Markov had been cleared for contact weeks ago and there was speculation that he might return this week during the team's California trip. Markov has not played in more than a year because of knee surgery and has played only 52 regular season games the past two seasons.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:31 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Perron returns for Blues after long layoff

ST. LOUIS -- It's not often that a team adds a prominent player in mid-season. But that's what the St. Louis Blues are doing Saturday night.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said Friday that when the team gets David Perron back from his year-long absence because of a concussion, "... it's probably our best free-agent signing this year."

After missing 97 games with a concussion dating back to last season, Perron makes his return tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues, coming off a 3-2 shootout loss at Colorado on Friday, left Perron behind to get a good night's sleep, considering the team didn't arrive back in St. Louis until around 2:30 a.m. local time.

Perron, who picked up his parents from the airport after flying in from Quebec to see their son make his return, was one of a handful of players on the ice Saturday morning for the Blues. He said the nerves will kick in eventually.

"I think it was worse yesterday," Perron said. "Hopefully, it's going to stay like that, but I get the feeling towards gametime it's going to get more intense. I was so exhausted from the day (Friday) and all the nerves. I fell asleep pretty good actually. That was the good part."

Perron will play left wing on a line with Patrik Berglund and Matt D'Agostini and is prepared for that first contact.

"That's the nervous side of it. That's the last step of the process and it's the biggest one," Perron said of getting hit. "I've done as good a job to get myself ready ... I've taken some hits, taken some bumps already. We'll see how it goes. Just like anyone, if you get an extreme big hit like I got, it's going to be another concussion just like it would be for anyone. But I've got to go in there and just try to play a normal game and not think too much about that. I'm pretty sure I'll be a little more careful to start with. ... After 10, 15, 20 games, that'll all go away but I'm ready to turn the page tonight."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Perron, who had five goals and seven points in 10 games a season ago, is as ready as he can be and expects a loud and raucous building tonight.

"Well, I think anybody that's missed this type of time, it's pretty exciting for the hockey community in general," Hitchcock said. "For me, he's been around so long practicing with us, he just feels like a normal player. The game is going to be good for him, good for the fans, but I think it's good for the game to see good players come back in and play. He's an exciting player, he's a dynamic player. He was really coming before he got hurt. So I think from a game standpoint it's exciting.

"I think it bring notoriety to the organization. A lot of people are going to be watching to see how David does. The NHL is happy for him. I think (San Jose's) Joe Thornton is happy for him. And I think from our standpoint, we're happy to get him going. It's unrealistic to think that he's just going to come in and be the player he once was. He's just going to have to get his feet wet."

The Blues (14-8-3) and Blackhawks (15-8-3) will renew their rivalry tonight and it will be the second matchup of the season. The Blues won 3-0 on Nov. 8 here in St. Louis, Hitchcock's first game behind the Blues' bench.

The 59-year-old coach said that the Blues, who are 8-1-3 since Hitchcock's arrival, won't be catching teams by surprise anymore.

"We're going to find out here in the next six or seven games," Hitchcock said. "We're going to get a push. ... You can surprise a team, now we're playing the second wave. When we start playing the Chicago's and Detroit's again, now we'll have a look. They'll be ready for us. They're not going to be surprised by our game anymore."

Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo was one of four skaters (with Perron, B.J. Crombeen and Evgeny Grachev) to skate Saturday morning. Colaiacovo will miss his eighth straight game tonight after injuring a hamstring on Nov. 17 against Florida.

Hitchcock said he's "hopeful Colaiacovo can play next week," and judging by today's skate, the Blues' defenseman looks to be on course.

"It's been a frustrating last two weeks, but the thing that's been keeping me going is that I'll be back quick," Colaiacovo said. "I've just got to keep working through it. The team is playing really well and that's really exciting to watch. It's motivating me to even be more part of it. I miss being out there. It's not fun watching, but in the same sense, I'm working as hard as I can to be
back out there.

"Another good skate today. It's been getting better every day, but obviously not as fast as I would like. But you've got to be careful with these things here. I don't want to rush and set myself back a bit. So it's been slow steps, but the focus is to make progression every day and do whatever it takes to get back out there."

Hitchcock likes D'Agostini's game so much that he will leave him in the top six, dropping Chris Stewart to the third line for the time being.

"I like the way D'Agostini's playing. He's playing with some speed, he's playing with some tempo," Hitchcock said. "For me, (Jason) Arnott's line gets more scoring chances in zone than probably any line. We need to finish those chances. You're talking six scoring chances a game, it'd be nice to see if we could finish those scoring chances. This gives us an opportunity to take a look at something.
"[Jamie Langenbrunner] can move anywhere and everywhere. He's a very versatile player. He can play left or right, he can play on the power play, he can kill penalties, he can do everything. He's going to be a versatile guy, and I think by playing it this way on back-to-back games, this allows us to play four lines and hopefully not wear guys out."

Asked about Stewart, Hitchcock said: "Stewy's just got to help Stewy. Stewy's got to continue to get better. I think right now for us from the red line in, I'm really impressed with what Stewy's doing. From the red line back, we've got teaching moments that we're going to have to work with. I think just understanding how to play fast defensively is going to have to be an adjustment for Chris. That's what we're teaching him and [Berglund] and even D'Agostini to play faster defensively."

The return of Perron has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the lineup, as a few alterations have been made for tonight's game against the Blackhawks:

Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Matt D'Agostini
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
Ryan Reaves - Scott Nichol - Jamie Langenbrunner

Ian Cole - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott, who is 10-1 with a league-leading 1.34 goals-against average and .951 save percentage, gets the nod in goal. Jaroslav Halak is the backup after stopping 33 shots the 3-2 shootout loss Friday at Colorado.

The Blues' scratch for tonight is wing Chris Porter. The team assigned winger Brett Sterling as well as defenseman Cade Fairchild to Peoria. Winger Andy McDonald (concussion), Crombeen (shoulder), Grachev (eye) and Colaiacovo (hamstring) and Kent Huskins (ankle) all remain on injured reserve.

The Blackhawks had an optional skate as well, with only three skaters and two goalies on the ice. They are expected to go with the same lineup they used last night:

Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Ben Smith - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Daniel Carcillo - Jamal Mayers - Andrew Brunette

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Steve Montador - Sean O'Donnell

Ray Emery is the likely starter in goal after being first off the ice; Corey Crawford, who played in a 5-4 shootout win Friday against the New York Islanders, would be the backup.

Defenseman John Scott and Sami Lepisto and winger Bryan Bickell were extra skaters today and would be the healthy scratches.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:09 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Devils have quick turnaround, look to end slide

WINNIPEG – The Devils arrived in Winnipeg late after a 4-2 road loss Friday night against the Minnesota Wild, their third consecutive loss. Minnesota knocked starting goaltender Martin Brodeur out of the game with three goals on four shots, and Johan Hedberg finished the game. The defeat wasted a multi-point effort from Zach Parise and Adam Henrique extending his scoring streak to four games.

After the game Saturday, New Jersey will wrap up a four-game stretch away from home Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs before returning to Newark for a pair of home dates.

The late arrival into Winnipeg meant that the Devils did not hold a morning skate. Hedberg is expected to start against the Jets, according to Tom Gulitti of The Record.

Travis Zajac (Achilles’ tendon) and Jacob Josefson (clavicle) both remain sidelined with long-term injuries. Rod Pelley did not dress against Minnesota – the 10th time in the Devils' last 11 games that he has been a healthy scratch.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:06 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jets in midst of critical home stretch

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets know that December will go a long way toward deciding whether they are a team able to make a legitimate second-half push for a playoff berth.

The Jets (10-11-4) are in the midst of a stretch of 12 of 14 games on MTS Centre ice, where they have a 6-4-0 mark and are taking steps toward establishing a home-ice presence. After a lethargic 6-4 loss Tuesday to the Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg turned in a strong 1-0 effort against the Phoenix Coyotes two days later. Moreover, a club that has allowed the most opposing power plays this season spotted the Coyotes just two man-advantages.

“[Tonight’s] game is going to be important for us,” coach Claude Noel said. “We had a good game last time. Is this what we are?”

Ondrej Pavelec, who collected his second shutout of the season in a 33-save gem Thursday, will start in the Winnipeg net again tonight, the 17th time in the Jets’ past 18 games that he has started.

The Jets’ line of Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler is finding chemistry after all three players endured slow starts to their respective seasons. Little scored the only goal Thursday night and now has five goals and nine points in his past eight outings. Kane is on a four-game point streak and Wheeler has picked up points in his last three contests.

The Jets will have an off-day Sunday before a Tuesday home date with the Boston Bruins.

“It would be nice to go into that day off feeling good about things,” Noel said.

Here are tonight’s projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.

JETS

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim Slater- Chris Thorburn
Jason JaffrayTim StapletonCarl Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Arturs Kulda - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 1:59 PM

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

Stars hope to keep rolling agianst speedy Islanders

DALLAS -- It has already been a successful week for the Dallas Stars. On Monday, Dallas handed Colorado a 3-1 defeat at Pepsi Center, a building where the Stars have struggled in recent years. Three days later the Stars beat Ottawa, 3-2, in overtime for a second straight win.
   
In the victory against the Senators, Dallas got the game-winner from Eric Nystrom in the third period. Another big story in the win for the Stars was their power play converted an opportunity for the first time in 22 chances when Steve Ott scored in the first period.

While the Stars have struggled on the power play, they have been pretty adept at killing penalties of late, allowing just one power play goal in their last six games, killing off 17 of 18 chances in that stretch (94.4 percent).
   
Dallas (15-9-1, 31 points) will look to make it three in a row against the New York Islanders (7-11-5, 19 points) tonight at American Airlines Center, their last game at home before they head out on a five-game road trip next week.

“It’s good to try to leave with a win and have that good feeling of having the wind at your back, especially when you’re going on the road,” Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman said. “The main thing for us is to put a good 60 minutes together. If we can do that, the score will take care of itself. We’ve just got to play hard. That’s the main thing for us.”

The Islanders have gotten points in their last three contests, going 2-0-1 in that stretch. This will be the second game in a back-to-back after they fell 5-4 at Chicago in a shootout Friday night.
   
Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan saw that loss to the Blackhawks and knows that like recent foes Edmonton and Ottawa, New York promises to deliver a game with plenty of speed.

“What a collection of guys that can really hurt you – we saw the talent a little bit on display last night, some great individual efforts. We thought that they controlled the pace against Chicago, who is one of the pacier teams and they were pretty good,” Gulutzan said. “We’ve got to be ready for that pace and we’ve got to make sure we’re hard on these young guys with the skills they do possess for sure.”
   
Grossman is one of the Stars’ defensemen who will be asked to help neutralize the young, speedy Islanders.

“The games I’ve watched, they’re a pacey team. They’ve got a lot of skill up front,” he said. “We’ve just got to be ready for that. It’s another important game for us. We’ve had a couple of good games lately but we always want to keep building and getting better. We’ve got to come out and play hard. We expect a hard game because these guys are hungry. It will be a tough game.”
   
Dallas will again be without defensemen Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski, along with captain Brenden Morrow. However, their coach did offer some encouraging news prior to the start of what will be a crucial road trip for his club.
   
“We’re going to be very close but on the road trip, we will have [Goligoski], Daley and Morrow back at some point on the road,” Gulutzan said. “Morrow and Daley are probables for Thursday [at San Jose], so that will be good news.”
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 1:49 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Leafs' Reimer returns, hopes to end skid against B's

BOSTON – Toronto coach Ron Wilson told goaltender James Reimer during practice Friday that he would get the start Saturday night against the Boston Bruins.

Because of that the Maple Leafs' pregame skate at TD Garden had a little different feel this morning for Reimer, who has been out since he was hit in the head by Montreal's Brian Gionta on Oct. 22 and started suffering from concussion-like symptoms.

"It's more exciting, that's for sure. The last week, week and a half, I've been taking morning skates, but in the other net and staying out there until 1 or longer and working as hard as I can," said Reimer after he was the first goaltender off the ice, which was the first public acknowledgement that he would start. "So today it was a lot more fun to get in there, feel the puck, get a little sweat on and come off when you feel you've had enough shots."
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