Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 5:09 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Bruins

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins awoke Tuesday five points ahead of the Ottawa Senators for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Despite playing without injured center David Krejci, they're 8-2-1 in their past 11 heading into their game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

But the Bruins might receive a boost soon because Krejci, who sustained a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Feb. 20 against the St. Louis Blues, is getting closer to a return, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien. Krejci was projected to miss four to six weeks but has been out a little more than three.

Krejci had been skating on his own for a week before he joined the Bruins' morning skate Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 4:05 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flyers at Canucks

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks are finally healthy again, which means coach Willie Desjardins has some tough roster decisions against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Desjardins was spared from a tough call by giving forward Alexandre Burrows, who has been nursing a suspected groin injury, an extra day off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. With Burrows now ready to return, someone has to come out of the lineup.

“It makes it difficult but it’s all good,” Desjardins said.

The coach hinted he might use the newfound depth to rest veterans down the stretch, even with the Canucks just two points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who are currently out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It's not like we’re ever totally healthy at this time of year,” Desjardins said. “Nobody is. We have a couple things still.”

"If everyone can play, it won’t be easy choosing who comes out."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 3:34 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blues at Flames

CALGARY -- It's not quite do-or-die for the Calgary Flames, who host the St. Louis Blues at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday, but it's getting close.

The Flames, who currently sit third in the Pacific Division, are treating each of their remaining 13 regular-season games as must-win.

"Each game feels like it's so important with the way other teams are playing," Flames forward Joe Colborne said. "You can't even afford … each game feels like it's a do-or-die. You can't afford to miss these games. Obviously it's a very tough opponent we have tonight, but it doesn't change the way we have to play. We have to come out and show our will like we have lately."

A victory against the Blues coupled with a Vancouver Canucks loss to the Philadelphia Flyers would vault Calgary into second place in the Pacific and home-ice advantage. Conversely, a loss to St. Louis and a Winnipeg Jets win against the San Jose Sharks would leave the Flames on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoffs picture looking in.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 3:03 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The New York Islanders will be without goalie Jaroslav Halak when they face the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Tuesday.

Halak is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and did not make the trip. Goalie Kevin Poulin was recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Tuesday under emergency conditions and will back up Michal Neuvirth.

New York is also without defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and didn't make the trip. Defenseman Nick Leddy (upper body) skated but will miss his fourth straight game.

"We've got to get through this," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said after the morning skate. "We've got a lot of key guys out of our lineup, especially two defensemen and [Halak] now too. Just stay the course, fundamental hockey, that's all we can preach to our guys. Try to play the right way and give other guys an opportunity."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 2:55 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Red Wings' Zidlicky has possible future in Detroit

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Marek Zidlicky has fit in so well with the Detroit Red Wings since being acquired on March 2 that it wouldn't be a surprise to see general manager Ken Holland try to re-sign the veteran defenseman before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Zidlicky has seven points on three goals and four assists in seven games with the Red Wings.

"There's no doubt certainly it's a possibility," Holland said Tuesday from the general managers' meetings. "Now the player has to weigh in."

Holland indicated the possibility exists for the Red Wings to try to re-sign forward Erik Cole, who they also acquired on March 2, but Zidlicky in particularly has filled a big hole as a right-handed shooting defenseman who could quarterback Detroit's power play.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 2:48 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sharks at Jets

WINNIPEG -- The San Jose Sharks have an opportunity to edge closer to the Stanley Cup Playoff line in the Western Conference when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

The Sharks begin a seven-game road trip five points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the playoffs in the Western Conference. San Jose is also five points behind the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division.

Winnipeg trails Los Angeles by one point for the second wild card.

But if the Sharks are to catch the Kings or Flames, first they must pass the Jets. After the game Tuesday, the Sharks do not play a Western Conference team in playoff contention until the final game of the season, April 11 at Los Angeles.

"Tonight will be even better if we win because it [would go from a potential six-point gap] to two points," Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 2:04 PM

By Robby Stanley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Wild at Predators

NASHVILLE -- Goaltender Devan Dubnyk will make his 28th consecutive start since joining the Minnesota Wild, and 29th straight overall, against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena.

Dubynk is 20-5-1 with five shutouts since being traded from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14 and has won seven of his past nine games. He led Minnesota to a 4-2 win against Nashville on Feb. 26 at Bridgestone Arena.

"He's been really good," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. "He's brought a good confidence into the room. Hopefully we can continue to ride it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 1:37 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Penguins at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to reach the 40-win mark for the eighth consecutive 82-game NHL season when they play the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

The Penguins are 39-20-10 and third in the Metropolitan Division with 88 points, two points ahead of the Washington Capitals and two points behind the New York Islanders, with 13 games remaining. The Penguins have two games in hand on the Capitals and Islanders.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston announced Monday that center Evgeni Malkin will miss his second straight game because of a lower-body injury. Malkin, who could miss 1-2 weeks according to general manager Jim Rutherford, sustained his injury during his first shift of a 2-0 loss against the Boston Bruins on Saturday. He returned for four shifts but didn't play after the first period. Johnston said Malkin could join the team at some point during its three-game road trip, which continues against the Dallas Stars on Thursday and the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

Dating to 2006-07, Malkin's rookie season, the Penguins have won 412 games, the most in the League.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 1:28 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Senators at Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Ottawa Senators continue to be a hot team and feel-good story. With an 11-1-1 mark in their past 13 games, they are five points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

All eyes will be on goaltender Andrew Hammond against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. He can tie Hockey Hall of Fame member Frank Brimsek's record for starting his career with 12 straight games allowing fewer than three goals (Boston Bruins, 1938-39). Hammond has a 10-0-1 record.

Hammond has spent most of the past two seasons honing his game with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. He has put up much better statistical numbers in the NHL than the AHL, something he attributes to the quality of play in front of him in Ottawa.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 12:55 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canadiens at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo took part in the morning skate Tuesday for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury two weeks ago, but he'll miss his sixth consecutive game when the Panthers play the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center.

"It's getting a lot better," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said of Luongo's right shoulder. "He's not 100 percent but it's getting real close. It's good to take a full morning skate and hopefully that will lead to a full practice tomorrow. [He's] getting closer and getting better but still not in tonight."

With Al Montoya still out because of a groin injury sustained after he replaced Luongo in a 3-2 home loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3, Dan Ellis will make his sixth straight start for the Panthers.

Ellis has been impressive since being recalled from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, going 3-1-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.

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Quote of the Day

It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.

— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday
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