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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 1:47 PM

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

At the Rink: Ducks at Jets

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will have left wing Evander Kane back in their lineup when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

Kane served a two-game suspension this week for his hit from behind on Anaheim defenseman Clayton Stoner at MTS Centre on Dec. 7. The suspension was the first of Kane’s career.

Kane, who has four goals this season, will skate with center Adam Lowry and right wing Matt Halischuk against the Ducks, who won their sixth consecutive game 4-2 against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 1:32 PM

By John Kreiser - Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blackhawks at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Chicago Blackhawks will be at full strength up front Saturday when they try for their ninth consecutive victory.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who left the Blackhawks’ 3-2 road victory against the Boston Bruins on Thursday in the second period after being checked face-first into the end boards, took part in the morning skate and will be in the lineup against the New York Islanders.

“I feel great,” said Toews, who has a history of concussions. “I felt fine after the hit and in the third period, but the training staff held me back as a precaution.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews was kept out of the remainder of the game against the Bruins after the hit by defenseman Dennis Seidenberg as a precaution. “He wanted to play,” Quenneville said. “But there are certain protocols you have to go through. We followed it and he’s ready to go.”

Chicago has been on a tear for nearly a month. The Blackhawks have won eight in a row, 11 of 12, and 13 of 15 games since Nov. 9. They’ve moved into first place in the Central Division and are second in the overall standings.

“Consistency,” Quenneville said when asked what he’s liked about his team’s play. “I like the four-line rotation; real solid across the board and everybody’s playing the right way. The penalty-killing has been great; our goaltending all year has been excellent. We’ve got a little momentum, a little excitement within our team right now. Everybody’s excited about playing games. We’ve got a little confidence that we didn’t see earlier in the year.”

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 1:02 PM

By Craig Merz - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Penguins at Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS – Star attractions will be missing, but that shouldn’t diminish the intensity when the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday for the first time since their First Round series in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins (19-6-3) defeated the Blue Jackets 4-3 on April 28 to win the best-of-seven series 4-2 and the Blue Jackets haven’t forgotten.

“They’re the team [that] knocked us out last year and ended our season,” Columbus left wing Matt Calvert said. “We want to win against them as much as we can. I know our fans love it when we beat these guys. Being so close [geographically] it builds that rivalry.”

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 12:55 PM

By Adam Vingan - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Lightning at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Part of what allowed the Washington Capitals to develop into Stanley Cup contenders several seasons ago was their distinct home-ice advantage. Between the 2008-09 and 2013-14 seasons, the Capitals’ 146 home victories were fourth-most in the NHL.

This season, however, Verizon Center has been too welcoming to opposing teams.

Washington has a 5-5-4 record at home, having lost four of its last five at Verizon Center entering its game Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is the Capitals’ worst home start in seven years.

“I can’t put my finger on it,” Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I’m sure there’s got to be a difference. I don’t know what it is.”

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 12:41 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Panthers at Sabres

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are seeking their fifth consecutive win but will have to beat a Florida Panthers team on Saturday that they haven’t had much success against recently to do it.

The Sabres have lost five consecutive to the Panthers and four straight at First Niagara Center. The Sabres dropped a 3-2 decision to the Panthers Dec. 6 in Sunrise.

"Last game we put a ton of shots on net and had really good chances," Sabres forward Cody Hodgson said. "Either [Roberto Luongo or Al Montoya] will be a challenge tonight. Hopefully we get a lot of puck on the net and keep the offense rolling."

Hodgson will re-enter the Sabres lineup after he was a healthy scratch against the Calgary Flames on Thursday. He takes the place of Cody McCormick who is out with a lower-body injury. Hodgson skated on a line with Chris Stewart and Patrick Kaleta at practice on Friday.

"We’ve got the [Zemgus] Girgensons line going now and we’ve got the [Torrey] Mitchell line going," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "We’re just kind of finding those mixtures there. If we get [Drew] Stafford continuing to play, we’ll get that mixture going. You never know what will get Cody going from within."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 12:40 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Maple Leafs

TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs won against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday, but were not happy with their effort.

The Maple Leafs relied heavily on their goalie, James Reimer, in a 2-1 victory in which they were outshot 42-19. Toronto hopes its goaltender is not as busy when they host the Red Wings Saturday.

“We have to give up fewer shots,” said left wing David Booth. “It’s that simple. Detroit is a very, very good team with a lot of skill. The Red Wings are going to generate chances; I just don’t know if we can give them as many as we did Wednesday night.”

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 11:26 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said his lineup Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers is a game-time decision based around the status of forward Jiri Tlusty.

Tlusty sustained an upper-body injury in the Hurricanes' 2-1 loss Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"He'll warm up and we'll know after that," Peters said. "We'll go 11 [forwards] and seven [defensemen] if he can't go. We'll know as soon as warm-ups are done. He'll be honest with us. We'll put our best lineup out there and go from there. ... He's an offensive guy who plays on our power-play unit. He'll cause us to shuffle the deck but we're prepared to do that if we have to."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 12:59 AM

By David Satriano - Staff Writer / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Letang returns; Weiss injured

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby (illness) was unable to play in a 3-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Friday, but defenseman Kris Letang returned after missing five games with a groin injury.

Letang, partnered with Paul Martin, generated numerous scoring opportunities, had a first-period goal (which turned out to be the game-winner), and created another in the third period starting a rush out of the Penguins end which led to a goal by Rob Klinkhammer.

Letang led the Penguins in ice time (27:16) and played 5:25 on the power play, mostly with the first unit. Pittsburgh was 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.

Forward Patric Hornqvist, who returned after missing two games with an undisclosed injury, played with Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling but didn't do much. He had four shots on goal and two penalty minutes in 18:40 of ice time.

Blake Comeau (owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues), playing on the top line with Evgeni Malkin instead of Crosby, had a goal and three hits in 17:33. It was the first goal in seven games for Comeau, who is second on the Penguins with 80 hits.

-- Red Wings forward Stephen Weiss, who had 10 points in 10 games before Friday (four goals, six assists) left a 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers after taking a hit in the second period. Coach Mike Babcock said Weiss has a shoulder injury and won't play on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 4:58 PM

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

Benn: Stars have to change their mindset

The first step to finding a solution to a problem is identifying you have a problem. The Dallas Stars have a problem, and they know it.

"Pretty much we simply have to play better team defense," Stars captain Jamie Benn said during a phone conversation Friday.

Nobody will dispute that.

The Stars have allowed five goals in five of their past six games. Not surprisingly, they're 0-5 in those games.

Go back 22 games and they've allowed 78 goals, an average of 3.54 per game. That they're scoring 2.59 per game in the past 22 games, a reasonable number if you have a good defense, is totally irrelevant.

The Stars are 6-13-3 since opening the season with a 4-1-2 record in their first seven games.

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 4:34 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Ducks at Oilers

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers continue to have difficulty scoring.

Edmonton's inability to score more than two goals per game is a contributing factor in its struggles during the past month. The Oilers host the Anaheim Ducks at Rexall Place on Friday.

The Oilers (7-17-5) have lost two in a row and 13 of their past 14 games. They were unable to score more than two goals in 10 of those defeats, including a 2-1 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday.

"We definitely have a lot of skilled forwards in here that can put the puck in the net and we just have to find a way to be consistent in that," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "We've been shooting the puck a lot this season. I think we get a lot of first shots, but I think we have to find those second and third shots and we'll have more success."

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Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning
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