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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:57 PM

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

Myers back for Sabres

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Buffalo Sabres will have a key piece back in the lineup tonight when they face the Carolina Hurricanes.

Defenseman Tyler Myers returns after missing 19 games with a broken wrist, suffered Nov. 19 against Phoenix.

Because Myers was able to skate during his absence, his conditioning should not be a major factor in his ability to log important minutes -- he's second on the team with an average ice time of 21:39 per game.

"We're hoping he can lead our (defense) in ice time tonight," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. "We're not going to hold back. The goal is to get him right back in the groove and play him plus-20 minutes."

Myers had just 6 points through 19 games at the time of the injury, and had been a healthy scratch in November for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old defenseman said he's focused on physical play as a key part of making his return successful.

"I think a lot of it is the mental side of the game," Myers said. "When I play physical, it gets me into the game more. It's hard to specify, but now that I've figured out that it does happen, I need to do it every night."

Here's how the rest of the Sabres' lineup -- as well as the Hurricanes' -- could look tonight:

SABRES
Thomas Vanek - Jochen Hecht - Jason Pominville
Nathan Gerbe - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Zack Kassian - Luke Adam - Brad Boyes
Matt Ellis - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta

Tyler Myers - Brayden McNabb
Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Mike Weber - Marc-Andre Gragnani

Ryan Miller will start in net, with Jhonas Enroth the backup.

HURRICANES
Jussi Jokinen - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Drayson Bowman - Brandon Sutter - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Tim Brent - Alexei Ponikarovsky
Andreas Nodl - Brent Sutter - Anthony Stewart

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

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Justin Peters the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:14 PM

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

Kruger back on the ice for Chicago

CHICAGO -- Rookie center Marcus Kruger appears to be making progress recovering from an upper-body injury that has kept him out of four straight games.

Kruger hasn't played since Dec. 26 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a game in which he was hit hard into the boards six days after returning from a potential head injury that happened on an illegal charge Dec. 20 by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland.

Since that Columbus game, Kruger has struggled to get back on the ice and earlier this week Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kruger had a "bad day" after he'd shown improvements. The next day Quenneville said Kruger was better and the Hawks then left for Philadelphia and a game Thursday night that they lost 5-4 on a late goal in the third.

The Hawks opted not to hold a morning skate Friday at United Center, prior to playing the Colorado Avalanche, but Kruger was on the ice in the morning with a skating coach going through individual work.

Kruger, who'd been centering the second line between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa, has three goals and seven assists in 34 games with the Hawks.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 2:07 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: League's top rookie on the shelf

All has been well for Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011-12.

Now, things are put on hold, as the NHL's top scoring rookie is expected to be out of the lineup three to four weeks with a separated left shoulder.

He could miss at least 11 games.

Nugent-Hopkins' absense spells bad news bears for fantasy owners, who have benefited from his surprising stellar first season.

Through 38 games, the 18-year-old has collected 13 goals, 22 assists, 35 points and 80 shots on goal. He has also managed to be an even player on a struggling Oilers squad.

Despite the great show Nugent-Hopkins has put on most nights, he has struggled of late, at least in the goal-scoring category. Prior to the injury, he went 10 games without a goal and collected only five points in that span.

While his injury is a setback for fantasy owners, it could be a blessing in disguise of sorts. Obviously, the advice is to keep the talented youngster, but set yourselves up with a solid across-the-board performer in his absense and hope that he recovers fully from his injury and returns with a vengeance as the second half of the season approaches.
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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 1:08 AM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHX @ LA - 00:37 of Overtime

At 00:37 of overtime in the Coyotes/Kings game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the goalposts were completely on the pegs when the puck crossed the goal line and the puck went into the net in a legal fashion. Good Goal Los Angeles.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:40 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Zibanejad calls his own shot

CALGARY -- Mika Zibanejad had a feeling when he woke up this morning that today was going to be a big day for him. He was right.

Zibanejad scored the only goal of the gold medal game 10:09 into overtime, giving Sweden a 1-0 victory against Russian for its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

The Ottawa Senators prospect picked up a loose puck near the red line, busted down right wing, cut in front of Russian goaltender Andrei Makarov and went forehand-to-backhand to lift Sweden to the win and 18,722 spectators at the Scotiabank Saddledome to their feet.

It was a proclamation he made to teammate Jeremy Boyce Rotevall -- twice.

"He told me this morning he was going to finish this game off," Boyce Rotevall said.

Zibanejad, the sixth player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft, confirmed that fact with a gold medal around his neck and a big smile on his face.

"I told him before the overtime, too," he said. "This morning was a joke, but it's not a joke anymore. It was good to get that goal. You have to decide you want to win this."

Sweden's last title came in 1981, 12 years before Zibanejad was born.

"We haven't won in 31 years so I mean, it's wonderful to win now," he said.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:34 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Friberg leads WJC All-Star team

CALGARY -- Max Friberg of Sweden will head home with a little something extra to go along with his gold medal.

Friberg was one of six players named to the World Junior Championship All-Star Team as selected by the media.

Too busy celebrating Sweden's first gold medal at the event since 1981, Friberg wasn't even aware of the honor. During interviews after Sweden's 1-0 OT win against Russia in Thursday's gold medal game, he was more enamored with the reward dangling around his neck.

"Thank you very much, but this is what's really important, this is what matters the most," Friberg said, pointing to his gold medal. "Of course, I'm happy that (the media) liked my game. "But (gold) is what really matters."

Russia's Yevgeni Kuznetsov was also named to the team along with Finland's Mikael Granlund. Defensemen Oscar Klefbom (Sweden) and Brandon Gormley (Canada) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) rounded out the team.

Though Russia came up a goal short in the gold medal game, the media named Kuznetsov as the tournament's most valuable player.

Kuznetsov was also named the tournament's best forward as selected by the championship directorate. Gormley and Mrazek were cited as the top defenseman and goalie, respectively.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 10:31 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden, Russia heading to OT

CALGARY – The gold medal game of the World Junior Championship is heading to overtime.

 

It’s not uncommon territory for the two teams, who met in the extra period back on New Year’s Eve. Joakim Nordstrom was the hero in that one, scoring 2:44 in to give Sweden a 3-2 victory.

 

Despite building a 50-16 advantage in shots, Sweden couldn’t manage to beat Russian starter Andrei Makarov over 60 minutes. The Russians, who threw a decent share at Johan Gustafsson, couldn’t get on the board either.

 

The 0-0 tie means both teams will play a 20-minute 4-on-4. If neither team scores, the game advances to a shootout.

 

Though heavily outplaying Russia throughout the contest, Sweden may feel lucky to get there.

 

With 32 seconds remaining, Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov found Nikita Gusev on the doorstep with a no-look, spinning backhand pass. Gusev couldn’t get it behind Gustafsson, who has gone long stretches in the game without any action.

 

Though the action was a little more even in the third period, Sweden dominated Russia through the first 40 minutes of action.

 

Sweden has outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including firing 22 shots at Makarov in the second period alone.

 

It was the same story in the first period, when Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame.

 

Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

 

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin. Bragin’s inclination to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off throughout the game.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 9:47 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden dominates, but still 0-0 after two

CALGARY - Sweden continued its utter dominance over Russia through the first 40 minutes of action in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship -- but still has nothing to show for its efforts in a game that was scoreless after 40 minutes.

Sweden outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including 22 in the second period. But Russian goalie Andrei Makarov has been flawless.

At the other end, Swedish starter Johan Gustafsson has barely been tested.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson in the first period. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot on Gustafsson -- and that was a weak one that off the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia and Sweden scoreless after one

CALGARY -- Sweden fired 17 first-period shots at Russian starter Andrei Makarov, but the teams were scoreless after the opening 20 minutes in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot at Gustafsson -- and that was a weak shot that rolled of the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden couldn't get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin -- his decision to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off through the opening period.

Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame. Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:00 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia and Sweden ready for golden matchup

CALGARY -- The Swedish National Junior Team has visions of celebrating its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

In order for that to happen, the club will have to dethrone the defending champion Russia in Thursday's gold-medal match at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Russian coach Valeri Bragin, in a somewhat surprising move, will start Andrei Makarov between the pipes against the Swedes. Andrei Vasilevski had started all the big games for the Russians, but was pulled with less than five minutes remaining in Tuesday's semifinal round match with Canada after allowing four quick third-period goals.

Makarov entered the game cold and proceeded to stop all seven shots he faced in a 6-5 victory.

Not surprisingly, Sweden's Johan Gustafsson gets the nod in goal.

Here are the lineups:

Russia


G: Andrei Makarov
Apalkov-Kosov-Barbashev (Sergeyev-Arzamastsev)
Yakupov-Khokhlachev-Kuznetsov (Antipin-Ozhiganov)
Gusev-Kucherov-Grigorenko (Zheldakov-Nesterov)
Kulikov-Zemchenko-Telegin (Naumenkov)

Sweden

G: Johan Gustafsson
Larsson-Sundstrom-Friberg (Klefbom-Brodin)
Boyce Rotevall-Nordstrom-Thorell (Granberg-Nemeth)
Karlsson-Zibanejad-Rakell (Backman-Claesson)
Collberg-Forsberg-Rask-Rensfeldt (Klinberg)

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— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien after a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak
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