Hedman missed one game when he was hit in the leg with a puck during the Lightning's game Jan. 18 against the San Jose Sharks. That was one game too many for Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
"You miss a 24-minute [of ice time per game] defenseman that plays the whole 200 feet," Cooper said. "You take arguably the best defenseman off any team and it will leave a hole. When he is on the ice it is harder for teams to get into our zone. Just the way he can cut the ice down on teams and not give them space just because of his speed, and then we usually have the puck a lot more when he is on the ice, just in the sense that he retrieves it quicker and he's got that ability to jump into plays.
"He plays all situations for us, power plays and penalty kill, so it's tough when you miss guys like that."
Parise, who has been skating with teammates for several days, on Wednesday completed his second full-contact practice, a key step in getting back to the lineup. Wild coach Mike Yeo said then it would be up to Parise after the morning skate Thursday to decide whether he'd play against Chicago.
"Felt good again this morning so I think we're going to give it a shot," Parise said. "It's tough when you're watching games from the press box so I'm looking forward to it."
"We had a pretty good feeling he would be [back in the lineup] yesterday as long as he felt good again this morning," Yeo said. "Obviously we're very excited to have him back."
Though the Penguins and Islanders reside at opposite ends of the Metropolitan Division standings -- 23 points separates first-place Pittsburgh from eighth-place New York -- a run of 10 wins in 13 games has pulled the Islanders to within five points of the Columbus Blue Jackets for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.
These teams met in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, with the Islanders taking the Penguins to overtime of Game 6 before they were eliminated on a Brooks Orpik goal. New York won the opener of the 2013-14 season series before Pittsburgh came back to take the next two, including the previous game at the Coliseum on Dec. 3, 3-2 on an overtime goal by Sidney Crosby.
COLUMBUS -- Unless the teams meet in the playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason will have to wait until next season for his first start in Nationwide Arena against his former team.
Mason, traded to the Flyers in April after five seasons with Columbus Blue Jackets, was a victim of the heavy snowfall Tuesday in Philadelphia that forced the postponement of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
He was in goal for the rescheduled game Wednesday and lost 3-2. Since Flyers coach Craig Berube has been pretty consistent in not playing his goalies on consecutive nights he opted to go with Ray Emery on Thursday against the Blue Jackets.
"It's the way the weather situation worked out," Mason said. "Had it not snowed I was going to be starting here. The way this year has gone with back-to-backs, and [Emery] has been playing well lately, there's plenty more opportunities for me."
Forward Philip Varone was called up from the American Hockey League on Wednesday and will make his NHL debut Thursday.
"I don't think words can describe it," Varone said. "Extremely humbled, extremely excited, nervous. I mean, it's been a long time coming. I've worked my whole life for it. When it finally comes you don't expect it."
Varone was a 2009 fifth-round pick (No. 147) of the San Jose Sharks but never signed with the team. He's spent the past two seasons in the AHL with the Rochester Americans. He'll play Thursday on the third line with Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn.
NHL Live with Steve Mears and Ken Daneyko, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will get fans set for a 10-game Thursday night that features the Columbus Blue Jackets hosting the Philadelphia Flyers as they shoot for an eight consecutive win. Jody Shelley, who played for both teams over the course of his career, joins us from the Arena Cam at Nationwide Arena to talk about the game.
At 8:41 of the first period in the Blackhawks/Red Wings game, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that the puck deflected off of Marian Hossa and into the Detroit net in a legal manner. According to Rule 78.4 "if an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed." Good goal Chicago.
At 17:40 of the first period in the Canadiens/Penguins game, the Situation Room initiated video review to further examine a play at the Pittsburgh net. Video review determined that Rene Bourque's shot completely crossed the goal line. According to Rule 38.6 "In the event that a video replay shows a goal was scored prior to the play being stopped, the Video Goal Judge will inform the Game Timekeeper and Official Scorer of the time and the amount of playing time left to be reset on the game clock and penalty time clocks (if applicable)." Good goal Montreal.
Voracek left the Flyers' 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Monday midway through the third period with what the team has called an upper-body injury. It was reported by multiple media outlets that the injury was to Voracek's left hand. He did not take part in the team's morning skate Tuesday, but the game scheduled for that evening was postponed until Wednesday due to a snowstorm and the extra time may have helped Voracek's chances to play.
In 50 games Voracek has 14 goals and 35 points. He hasn't missed a game since March 8-11, 2012.
We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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