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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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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 4:12 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will get two key players back but be without their superstar when they face the Calgary Flames at Consol Energy Center on Friday.

Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) and defenseman Kris Letang (groin) are expected to play against Calgary after each participated in Pittsburgh's morning skate Friday. Letang and Hornqvist, who also practiced Thursday, missed five and two games respectively, which added to an already lengthy injury list.

Forwards Chris Kunitz (foot fracture), Beau Bennett (lower body) and Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) have each missed significant time, and defenseman Olli Maatta did not play against the New York Rangers on Tuesday because of an upper-body injury.

Without Hornqvist and Kunitz, Pittsburgh has struggled to generate goals from around the crease. Penguins coach Mike Johnston said he hopes they can influence the rest of the lineup when healthy.

"We've got two of the best, as I talked about earlier in the season, in Kunitz and Hornqvist around the net," Johnston said. "I think a lot of our players can learn from them. How they play in front of the net. How they're good at not only setting a screen, but at times, providing a stick for deflections."

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 4:10 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

Penguins' Crosby to miss next two games with illness

PITTSBURGH -- Forward Sidney Crosby will miss the Pittsburgh Penguins next two games after saying he was healthy enough to play against the Calgary Flames on Friday.

Crosby participated in Pittsburgh's morning skate at Consol Energy Center after missing practice on Thursday with an undisclosed illness. Crosby and Penguins coach Mike Johnston each said Crosby felt well enough to play against the Flames following the morning skate.

Medical specialists made a recommendation to sit Crosby over the weekend, against the Flames and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, after further tests came back Friday, according to a release on the Penguins website.

"There is no indication at this time that this is the mumps, but we are going to hold him out as a precaution," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. "We'll have additional test results in a few days."

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 2:56 PM

By Staff -  / - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Bruins to assign Pastrnak to Czech team for WJC

The Boston Bruins will assign forward David Pastrnak to the Czech National Junior team following the Providence Bruins game on Dec. 20, the team announced Friday.

The move will allow Pastrnak to compete for the Czech Republic in the 2015 World Junior Championship, which begins Dec. 26

The 18-year-old has five goals and 20 points for Providence of the American Hockey League in his first professional season. He has played in five games for Boston, picking up his first NHL point with an assist Dec. 1 against the Anaheim Ducks.

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 2:47 PM

By Paul Harris - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Panthers at Red Wings

DETROIT -- The Florida Panthers are the only team to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in regulation in Detroit's past nine games.

The teams play again Friday at Joe Louis Arena, where the Panthers defeated the Red Wings 4-3 on Dec. 2.

"I think we played one of our best games of the season and if we want to win tonight, we're going to have to play that way again," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said.

The Panthers (11-8-7) have been in Detroit for three days since losing 4-2 at the St. Louis Blues on Monday. Instead of flying back to the Miami area and coming back to Detroit, the team flew in directly from St. Louis and set up its base.

"It's definitely weird. You prefer to be home for those three days," Gallant said. "But it doesn't make sense to fly all the way there and then back here."

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 2:06 PM

By Sean Farrell - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Canadiens

MONTREAL -- Anze Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings are ready to face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Friday.

Kopitar scored his first goal in 11 games Thursday and Los Angeles ended a two-game losing streak with a 5-3 win at the Ottawa Senators.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter acknowledged Kopitar's lack of offensive production recently is cause for concern.

"Sure it is. (Kopitar's) a point-per-game guy," Sutter said. "He's still our most complete forward in terms of the whole package, but at the same time you want him feeling good about his game and his numbers too, and how he's playing, so I was the happiest guy in Ottawa last night to see (Kopitar) score."

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 12:20 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Live blog

Gold medalist, SPHL pro Szabados on NHL Live

NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will talk to NBCSN analyst Eddie Olczyk, who calls in the show at 5:40 p.m.

Goaltender Shannon Szabados, an Olympic gold medalist for Canada who is now playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League, will call the show at 5:30 p.m.

There are four games on the Friday schedule including the Montreal Canadiens hosting the Los Angeles Kings. Color analyst Jim Fox from the Kings will join us via the Arena Cam at Bell Centre at 6:15 p.m. to talk about this matchup.

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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 9:30 AM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

McDavid 'very hopeful' he'll play in WJC exhibition

TORONTO -- Connor McDavid was wearing gold. Can he help Canada win gold?

McDavid, the top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft and the injured prospect for Canada's National Junior Team for the 2015 World Junior Championship, wore a don't-hit-me gold jersey at the team's first gathering at MasterCard Centre on Thursday.

Don't be fooled by the jersey, McDavid said. He's ready to play.

"It's fine," McDavid said of his injured hand. "I felt good. Obviously I had a couple of hiccups with the puck, but I was shooting it fine."

McDavid has been skating for the past three weeks after breaking his hand in a fight in November and expects to be in the lineup when Canada plays its first game at the 2015 World Junior Championship Dec. 26 in Montreal.

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday