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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:27 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Purcell turning in top-line performance

TAMPA, Fla. -- Playing on the first-line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell is riding a career-best seven-game point-scoring streak. In four games last week, Purcell had 3 goals and 7 assists.

"Purcell has been terrific for the last 20 games, so I'm sure he wants to keep it going," said Lightning coach Guy Boucher. "He's reached the level of play we were hoping we would get from him at the beginning of the year, because of how he ended last year in the playoffs. For some reason he didn't start so well and it took until Christmas to see the best of him. I don't want it to end."

Purcell was a surprise standout for the Lightning in the playoffs last season with 17 points in 18 games. His 17 goals in 62 games this season match the career-best total he had in 82 games last season.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Latest Lightning challenge -- East-best Rangers

TAMPA, Fla. -- Six points out of a playoff spot with 19 games remaining, the Tampa Bay Lightning have battled a variety of plagues as they try to stay in the race.

There have been injuries to mainstays like Vincent Lecavalier, Victor Hedman and Marc-Andre Bergeron; trades with took three popular players out of the locker room; and most recently a flu bug which forced the team to use six AHL call-ups for Tuesday's game against Montreal. However, through all that, the Lightning have won five of their last seven games, including four straight at home.

Their next challenge arrives Friday as the New York Rangers visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the fourth and final meeting this season (7:30 p.m., NHLN-US).

While the Rangers provide one type of challenge, it appears another one seems to have moved on.

"I think everyone is healthy," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said regarding the flu virus. "I'm afraid to say for certain because there is still half-a-day left until we play."

Keith Aulie, acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline, will make his Lightning debut Friday. He was one of three blueliners -- along with Mike Commodore and Brian Lee -- the team acquired Monday. Commodore and Lee made their debuts with the team in Tuesday's win against Montreal.

"I thought Commodore and Lee played great last game," Boucher said. "Lee had a few solid body checks; Commodore, too. That was really welcome. We have been a smaller, skill-type of defensive team concerning our defensive corps, and it was good to see size and aggressiveness. They are welcome on our team; they are really good additions."

Here's what the rest of the Lightning lineup could look like tonight:

Teddy Purcell - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone - Adam Hall - Tim Wallace
Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson - JT Wyman
Brandon Segal - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Brett Clark
Mike Commodore - Brian Lee
Bruno Gervais - Brendan Mikkelson
Keith Aulie

Mathieu Garon will start in goal, with Dwayne Roloson the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:13 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Likely lineups for Wild, Red Wings

DETROIT -- The Minnesota Wild, coming off a tough shootout loss in Montreal on Thursday, didn't skate Friday morning ahead of their game against the Red Wings on Friday night.

The Red Wings did have a morning skate, but it didn't include captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who will miss Friday's game as well as Sunday's to rest his sore ankle.

Detroit went back ahead of the St. Louis Blues for the top spot in the Central Division and second place in the Western Conference when the Blues lost to Vancouver on Thursday -- both teams have 87 points, but the Wings have played one fewer game -- while Minnesota starts the day 12th in the conference, five points behind eight-place Dallas.

The Wild will be without goalie Niklas Backstrom, who injured his leg early in Thursday's loss. Minnesota recalled Matt Hackett from AHL Houston to be the backup against Detroit, while Josh Harding will get the start.

Here is what the lineups for both teams likely will look like when they take the ice at Joe Louis Arena:

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Palmieri
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi
Stephane Veilleux - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer
Matt Kassian - Darroll Powe - Nick Johnson

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Nate Prosser - Kurtis Foster
Justin Falk - Tom Gilbert

Josh Harding will start in goal, with Matt Hackett serving as the backup.

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

Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Ian White
Brendan Smith - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard will start in goal, with Joey MacDonald the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:01 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Toews unlikely to join Hawks on road trip

KANATA, Ont. -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Friday that he doubts team captain Jonathan Toews will join the team at any point during its road trip, which after Friday's game in Ottawa goes to Detroit and St. Louis.

Toews will miss his sixth straight game Friday with an upper-body injury. He's back in Chicago taking part in off-ice workouts, but has yet to skate.

"Right now I don't want to get anyone excited," Quenneville said. "We'll just say, 'We'll see.' We're hopeful. To give you a better idea, until we get him on the ice, we'll know more."
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 1:44 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Quincey back in for Wings

DETROIT -- While the Detroit Red Wings won't have Nicklas Lidstrom for at least two more games, they will get one veteran defenseman back in the lineup.

Kyle Quincey, who sat out Tuesday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets with a sore groin, said after the team's morning skate Friday that he feels good enough to play against Minnesota.  That prompted the Wings to send defenseman Doug Janik back to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League on Friday afternoon.

Quincey will play with Ian White. Nicklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart will be another pairing, while rookie Brendan Smith and 25-year old Jakub Kindl – playing his 100th NHL game -- will form Detroit's third defense pair.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 1:37 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wings' Lidstrom to sit out weekend games

DETROIT -- Nicklas Lidstrom was hoping he could get back on the ice by now, at least to test out his sore ankle, which has a deep bone bruise after getting hit with a slap shot a week ago.

Instead, the 41-year old Detroit Red Wings defenseman and captain, who sat out Tuesday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, will miss Friday's game against the Minnesota Wild and Sunday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, and then he and the team will re-evaluate the ankle on Monday.

"I've had it X-rayed twice, so we'll see what they want me to do on Monday," said Lidstrom, who has missed a total of 38 games out of a possible 1,850 regular season and playoff games in his NHL career. "Right now just ... I can ride the bike. Not pushing off with my toe, but I can still ride the bike and work out that way."

The longest period of time Lidstrom has missed is six games in 2007-08, when he had a knee sprain. Is he concerned this current injury might require a longer time to heal, especially with just 18 games left in the regular season?

"A little bit, especially when it's been almost a week now and it's still sore," Lidstrom said after Detroit's morning skate Friday. "I was hoping it was going to be a couple of days and I'd miss one game and be back at it, but this is lingering longer than I was hoping for."

Lidstrom was struck on the outside of the ankle by a slap shot during a 4-3 home loss Feb. 25 to the Colorado Avalanche. A week prior, Lidstrom was struck on the inside of the same foot by a Mike Fisher wrist shot early in the third period of Detroit's game against the Nashville Predators.

He played through the Fisher shot, which caused some soreness but wasn't as severe. Lidstrom even felt strong enough to assist on the game-winning goal.

"I got hit a few weeks ago on the inside," Lidstrom said. "That was different. It wasn't as bad. It wasn't as sore as this one is. (This one) just hit me right in that spot where, even though the skate is protected, it's still going to hurt ... and I think it hit right in that spot."

The good news for Lidstrom is the swelling has subsided from a few days ago and he can get his foot in his skate thanks to some alterations made to it. The problem is when he ties it tight enough to skate.

"It was just too sore once I tied the skate, too sore to push off," said Lidstrom, who has 10 goals, 21 and a plus-25 rating in 62 games. "When you're skating, you kind of push off with your toes and I just couldn't push off. That's the problem with it."

Lidstrom isn't used to missing games, and with the uncertainty surrounding his current ailment, he's getting frustrated.

"I don't like it, really," said Lidstrom, whose skate has already been fitted with a protective outer shell to absorb impact whenever he is able to return. "I'd rather be on the ice or on the bench being part of the game. It's a lot harder sitting on the side and watching rather than being part of the game."

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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 12:53 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Coyotes sign WHL top scorer Shinnimin

The Phoenix Coyotes on Friday signed free-agent Tri-City Americans center Brendan Shinnimin to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The undrafted Shinnimin leads the Western Hockey League with 117 points. His 52 goals are tied for second and his 65 assists are third.

"Brendan attended our 2011 training camp last September and has had a terrific season to date," said Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney. "His offensive statistics are impressive, yet it is his character, work ethic and competitive level we are excited to add to our organization."

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Shinnimin was named the Canadian Hockey League's Player of the Month for February, when he had 20 goals and 43 points in just 14 games. The 21-year-old had 11 multi-point games last month, helping lead the Americans to a 10-3-0-1 record.

In 258 career games, spanning four seasons with the Americans, the Winnipeg native has 125 goals and 316 points.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 12:46 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Senators, Blackhawks

KANATA, Ont. – Here are the projected lineups for Friday's game between the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Place:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Colin Greening - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Jim O’Brien - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Zack Smith - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar

Robin Lehner will start in goal, with Alex Auld the backup.

Goalie Craig Anderson, out with a hand injury, spoke to the media on Thursday but did not offer any timeline for his return.

Kaspars Daugavins and Matt Carkner will be healthy scratches.

Andrew Brunette - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Viktor Stalberg
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig - Jamal Mayers - Jimmy Hayes

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Johnny Oduya
Sami Lepisto - Dylan Olsen

Ray Emery will start in goal, with Corey Crawford the backup. It will be Emery's first start in Ottawa since he was bought out of his contract by the Senators following the 2007-08 season.

"It's exciting -- I have good memories of being here," Emery said following the Hawks' morning skate. "That said, it's an important time of year for the team. We've got 17 games left here and it's a real fight in the West. I want to stay focused and win the game. You always get motivation from playing your old teams, especially when you see the success they've had here."

Defenseman Nicklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) is day-to-day, as is Jonathan Toews (upper body).

Sean O’Donnell, Brendan Morrison and Michael Frolik will be healthy scratches.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 12:22 PM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Caps focused on having big weekend

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals seek a return to the top eight in the Eastern Conference on Friday as they continue their season-long five-game homestand against the New Jersey Devils.

After consecutive wins against the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, the competition gets stiffer this weekend with the Devils' visit tonight and the Philadelphia Flyers in town Sunday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

"It’s a challenge for us," Capitals forward Joel Ward said of the weekend ahead. "Obviously if you win outright, you can advance and move up in the standings as much as you can. We've had some success at home, so we just have to keep building on that."

The Caps have the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference (21-7-2), but they enter play tonight in ninth place in the conference, one point behind eighth-place Winnipeg and six points behind seventh place New Jersey.

Washington also is within three points of the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers.

The Devils will look to snap a four-game winless streak (0-3-1), following last night's 4-3 overtime loss in Boston. The last time New Jersey went winless in five straight was a six-game skid from Dec. 17-29, 2011.

Michal Neuvirth (9-9-3) will make his fourth straight start for the Capitals while Johan Hedberg (13-7-2) is expected to start for the Devils. Martin Brodeur played last night in Boston, his ninth straight start.

"They had an overtime loss last night," Caps forward Matt Hendricks said of the Devils, "so they're going to try to take it to us early and then play defense for the rest of the game. So we need to get on them, force them into penalties and not allow them many chances."

The Devils did not skate this morning while all but four Capitals (Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson and Dennis Wideman) took part in an optional skate.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter said all four players will play tonight. Veterans Roman Hamrlik and Mike Knuble will be healthy scratches for the fifth and fourth straight games respectively.

Here are the projected lineups for tonight’s game:

Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Keith Aucoin
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Jay Beagle - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman

Michal Neuvirth will start in goal, with Tomas Vokoun the backup.

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrick Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier

Mark Fayne - Andy Greene
Marek Zidlicky - Anton Volchenkov
Adam Larsson - Bryce Salvador

Johan Hedberg will get the start in goal, with Martin Brodeur the backup.

Sykora will play his 999th NHL game tonight.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 12:13 AM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BUF @ SJ - 18:25 of the Third Period

At 18:25 of the second period in the Sabres/Sharks game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Ryane Clowe's shot never crossed the goal line. No Goal San Jose.
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Quote of the Day

Obviously there's a lot of expectations around me but it's something I try not to focus on. I'm just trying to go out there, be myself on the ice every day, try to get better, be myself around the guys in the locker room. I think that's what's made me successful and the person that I am.

— Sabres forward Jack Eichel on transitioning from college hockey to the NHL