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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 4:50 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sharks expect Oilers will be looking for payback

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It was just nine days ago that the San Jose Sharks exploded for six goals in the first period and defeated Edmonton 6-3, spoiling the Oilers' home opener.

They meet again Thursday night, and the Sharks expect to face a motivated team looking for payback.

"Obviously, Edmonton's going to play hard," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We kind of embarrassed them in their building. They're coming off a big win last night, so they'll want to kind of get revenge for their loss."

The Oilers beat the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night 2-1 in overtime as they kicked off a three-game road swing. Edmonton improved to 4-2-0 but will face the NHL's last undefeated team. San Jose improved to 6-0-0 with a 3-2 shootout win Tuesday night against Anaheim.

The Sharks beat Anaheim despite being outshot 30-18 and playing what they said was their worst game of the season.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he doesn't expect a first-period replay of San Jose's first game against Edmonton.

"I don't think we're going to see the same start from Edmonton," McLellan said. "They were a young team that was real excited at home in front of their crowd. They made some mistakes. I haven't seen them make those mistakes since that first period. The second and third was a pretty evenly-played match. I think you'll see more of that tonight.

"Our game against Anaheim was not to our standards in a lot of different areas, so we have to get better. That will be our goal, to improve and clean a few things up. It will be more of a speed game, I believe, than it was against Anaheim. That's just how Edmonton is built. They can fly. We'll have to be well aware of that."

McLellan shuffled his bottom three lines in the third period and overtime against Anaheim, and, based on Wednesday's practice, he'll likely open with that new look. The biggest change is Scott Gomez moving to the second line as a wing alongside center Logan Couture with Martin Havlat dropping to the third line.

"He's a good player, sees the ice well, good passer, speed," Couture said of Gomez. "It's going to be fun playing with him and (Ryane Clowe) tonight."

McLellan said he shuffled his lines Tuesday because "a couple lines were very unproductive last game, not even creating anything toward the net, just minute eaters. We need more production from different people, so we moved things around. We'll take a look at how they're going to start, who will be in their lineup, and make decisions from there."

The Sharks' roster will definitely have a different look tonight. They lost forward Frazer McLaren off waivers to Toronto, and that open roster spot will likely go to defenseman Jason Demers, McLellan said. Demers has been recovering from a fractured wrist he suffered while playing in Europe during the lockout.

"Not everybody can stay on a roster," McLellan said. "Unfortunately you're only given 23 spots. Organizations have to make decisions. We had to make a tough one yesterday in putting (McLaren) on waivers. Doesn't surprise me that he was picked up. He's a quality individual, fulfills a role in the League right now and on many teams, and fulfills that role well. He'll do well in Toronto, and we wish him all the best. We're proud he was a Shark at one point."

McLaren, a seventh-round pick by San Jose in the 2007 NHL Draft, racked up 490 penalty minutes for Worcester of the American Hockey League, a franchise record. He appeared in 40 career games for the Sharks, including one this season, compiling 85 penalty minutes, one goal and five assists.

McLellan said there's a chance Demers could be in the lineup tonight. But there's also a good chance that defenseman Dan Boyle will return to the lineup after missing Tuesday night's game with the flu.

Boyle, who missed practice Wednesday, took part in an optional morning skate and said he would play tonight.

Boyle said he felt "better, or I wouldn't be here. Whatever I had kicked my [rear]."

Boyle also missed the entire third period of Sunday's game against Vancouver because of a nosebleed that trainers had trouble stopping. Boyle said he got hit in the nose in the second period but "was fine" when he came off the ice at the end of that period.

"They started playing around up in there and then waterworks came out," Boyle said. "It was nonstop. I've never experienced a nosebleed like that in my life. … I don't know if there's an artery up there, but something. We hit something. It was disgusting is what it was."

Boyle said he's glad to be back on the ice and part of the NHL's last undefeated team -- Chicago fell to 6-0-1 with a 3-2 shootout loss Wednesday to the Minnesota Wild.

"I like being a part of that," Boyle said. "Obviously we're probably going to lose at some point, but it's fun. It's fun to have something like that going for us. See how far we can take this."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 4:47 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Oilers, Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Here are how the lineups could look Thursday night when the Sharks face the Oilers at HP Pavilion:

OILERS

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

Ryan Smyth - Eric Belanger - Lennart Petrell

Teemu Hartikainen - Anton Landers - Darcy Hordichuk

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz - Justin Schultz

Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk

Nikolai Khabibulin

Injured: Shawn Horcoff

Scratches: Mark Fistric, Theo Peckham

The Oilers did not have a morning skate, but captain Shawn Horcoff reportedly will miss the game with a strained neck. The Oilers sent forward Magnus Paajarvi to Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League and called up forward Anton Landers. Coach Ralph Krueger has not named his starting goaltender for tonight's game, but it's likely Dubnyk, coming off a strong game Wednesday, will be in net again, despite facing a back-to-back. Khabibulin started the season on injured reserve and has been active for only Wednesday's game.

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Scott Gomez

Tommy Wingels - Michal Handzus - Martin Havlat

TJ Galiardi - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Brent Burns

Scratched: James Sheppard, Nick Petrecki, Jason Demers

Demers, recovering from a broken wrist, was expected to be activated and might be in the lineup. Boyle, who missed Wednesday's game with the flu, will be a game-time decision. McLellan said Sheppard could potentially be in the lineup for third time this season.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 3:57 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kings' Clifford making a name for himself

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Few observers of the Los Angeles Kings in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs got to know Kyle Clifford.

The Kings' rough-and-tumble wing was concussed after a hit by the Vancouver Canucks' Byron Bitz in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals and didn't play the rest of the postseason. But Clifford is making up for that lost time with a role on L.A.'s second line.

Clifford is again expected to play beside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter when the Kings host the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

"I'm coming in and not changing my game -- I'm playing my style," Clifford said at the morning skate. "It's a privilege to play with those two guys -- Carts and Richards. I'm just trying to do my best and keep it simple."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 3:10 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Coyotes expect Smith will start in goal Friday

According to the Phoenix Coyotes, starting goaltender Mike Smith will return from a lower-body injury and start Friday night against the Dallas Stars.

"He's going to play tomorrow, barring anything between now and then," Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke told NHL.com Thursday. "He'll go out in the morning skate tomorrow and if everything goes well he'll play tomorrow night in Dallas."

Smith, who enjoyed a breakout year last season in Phoenix when he set career highs in games (67), wins (38), minutes (3.902), goals-against average (2.21) and save percentage (.930), missed four games with the injury. He initially suffered a groin injury during pregame warm-ups before the Jan. 23 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was pulled from that game after facing four shots and was officially placed on the injured reserve list Monday.

According to Dave Vest, the Coyotes senior director of news content, Smith participated in the team's optional skate Thursday before declaring himself ready to play.

"It's gotten a lot better over the last few days, so I'm excited to get back in the lineup. I'm ready," Smith said.

In his absence, the Coyotes suffered losses to the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings in which backup Jason LaBarbera stopped 57 of 65 shots for an .877 save percentage. Following those two losses, Phoenix decided to replace LaBarbera as starter with Chad Johnson, who was called up from the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates on Monday. In the two games Johnson started, Phoenix went 1-0-1 with Johnson allowing two goals, including Nail Yakupov's overtime winner on the power play for the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

"I think we've played a lot better as of late ... so it's an exciting time to get back in," Smith said.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 3:05 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Luongo will start third straight for Canucks on Friday

The Vancouver Canucks will continue to ride the hot hand in goal, and for now that means Roberto Luongo.

The Canucks announced Thursday via their official Twitter account that Luongo will receive his third straight start on Friday when the team hosts the Chicago Blackhawks.

Luongo shut out the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, giving him a 1-0-2 record with a 1.61 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in four appearances (three starts) this season.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 2:28 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Avs expected to give Giguere first start of season

CALGARY, Alberta -- Jean-Sebastien Giguere is expected to get his first start of the season Thursday night when the Colorado Avalanche visit Scotiabank Saddledome to take on the Calgary Flames.

In his only appearance this year, Giguere kicked aside 17 shots in relief of Semyon Varlamov in Colorado's 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks Saturday.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog remains questionable to face the Flames.

Here are Colorado's lines as the Avalanche look to snap a three-game losing streak against the Flames:

Jamie McGinnMatt DuchenePA Parenteau

John MitchellPaul StastnyDavid Jones

Chuck KobasewMichael SgarbossaMilan Hejduk

Cody McLeodMark OlverPatrick Bordeleau

Erik JohnsonRyan Wilson

Greg ZanonMatt Hunwick

Ryan O'ByrneJan Hejda

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Shane O'Brien

Injured: Steve Downie, Gabriel Landeskog

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 2:24 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Islanders sign Strait to three-year contract

The New York Islanders have signed defenseman Brian Strait to a three-year contract, reportedly worth $775,000 per season.

Strait is scoreless in six games with the team this season since being claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 18.

Prior to joining the Islanders, Strait had appeared in 12 NHL games with the Penguins, collecting one assist and four penalty minutes. The Penguins selected the 6-foot-1, 200-pound defenseman in the third round (No. 65) of the 2006 NHL Draft.

In 220 career American Hockey League games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Boston native has eight goals, 40 points and a plus-46 rating.

Strait played three years of college hockey at Boston University, highlighted by a NCAA National Championship in 2009, his final season with the team. He also spent two seasons with the United States National Development Team in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

On the international stage, Strait played for the U.S. National Team at the 2008 World Junior Championship and the 2006 Under-18 World Championship, winning gold as team captain in 2006.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 2:10 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flames' Baertschi out 'week-to-week'

CALGARY, Alberta -- Rookie Sven Baertschi will be out of the lineup when the Calgary Flames host the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

Baertschi suffered a hip flexor injury in practice Tuesday and is listed by the team as week-to-week.

"I was skating and my left skate seemed to have caught a rut in the ice and my legs kind of went into a splits position," Baertschi said in a statement. "I felt pain immediately and left the ice to have it checked. It’s very disappointing to learn that it’s a hip flexor injury that will keep me out of the lineup.”

Coach Bob Hartley said he will soldier on without the 20-year-old.

"You can't win with the players you don't have," Hartley said. "You play with the 20 bodies that you have in your lineup. Sven is capable of many great things, but we believe in everyone in this lineup. It's not a one-man show. It's about being a team. There's always a good and a bad part to injuries. The bad part is the player can't play. The good part, it gives opportunities to others to get some roles, to get some responsibilities."

Here are the Flames' lines against the Avalanche as Calgary looks for its second consecutive win of the season:

Curtis GlencrossAlex TanguayJarome Iginla

Lee StempniakMikael BacklundMichael Cammalleri

Jiri HudlerMatt StajanRoman Cervenka

Blake ComeauBlair JonesTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterMark Giordano

Dennis WidemanTJ Brodie

Cory SarichChris Butler

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

Injured: Anton Babchuk, Sven Baertschi

Scratched: Steve Begin, Derek Smith

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 1:58 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Panthers want Gudbranson to finish rehab in AHL

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson will start his season in the American Hockey League and how well he plays will determine how long he'll be away from the NHL.

Gudbranson, the third pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, has been sidelined with a shoulder injury which occurred during the summer while wakeboarding, and the Panthers sent him to the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday.

Gudbranson is scheduled to make his AHL debut Friday night when San Antonio plays host to the Rockford IceHogs.

After spending the 2010-11 season in the Ontario Hockey League, Gudbranson went straight to the NHL, where he played in 72 games for the Panthers last season.

Florida coach Kevin Dineen said there was no set number of games he wanted Gudbranson to play in the AHL.

"It depends on what we think of him," Dineen said. "We'll see where he's at. We'll watch the game tomorrow night and see how he's doing and go from there. He's got to go down and establish his play, and play."

Gudbranson was one of two Panthers players loaned to San Antonio, the other being forward Mike Santorelli.

After clearing waivers before the start of the regular season, Santorelli opened the season playing on the first line but was dropped to the third line after the game and was a healthy scratch three of the past four contests.

Santorelli didn't have a point in three games this season. He had 20 goals in 82 games in 2010-11, but had nine goals and two assists in 60 games last season.

"I've always been a believer that Santo is a top-six player," Dineen said. "That's his skill set, as a higher-end skilled forward. Unfortunately, we don't have that fit for him right now. He's got to either diversify his game or get a major dose of confidence. I feel that some time in the American League is going to give him that jolt and that quality ice time that he'll need to get things turned around.

"That book is not closed yet, but he's got to go down there and expand his game and as much so get his confidence back."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 1:53 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Leafs recall Hamilton, claim McLaren off waivers

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs (3-3-0) are gunning for their first home win against the Washington Capitals (1-4-1), who are still adjusting to playing under rookie coach Adam Oates.

After stopping 28 shots in the Maple Leafs overtime victory in Buffalo on Tuesday, James Reimer will get the start in goal.

Gritty fourth line forward Mike Brown has a shoulder strain that Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said will keep him out of action for at least seven days. In Brown's place, Toronto has called up Ryan Hamilton, captain of its American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

"He's added another gear … and now he is getting an opportunity tonight and the issue will be where to play him in the lineup," Carlyle said. "Right now we brought him up to fill in for Mike Brown, but we wouldn't be afraid to put him higher in the lineup."

The Maple Leafs also claimed forward Frazer McLaren off waivers from the San Jose Sharks. In 40 career NHL games, all with San Jose, McLaren has registered one goal, five assists and 85 penalty minutes.

Capitals forward Brooks Laich skated with his teammates for the first time this season but he will remain out with a groin injury and there is no timetable on his return.

"The guys gave a little round of applause which is nice," Laich said after leaving the ice. "I wake up feeling better every day -- the more I can get on the ice with the guys, the quicker it will be. As far as a timeline, I can't really tell you, I don't have an exact date, but (I'm) getting closer and closer every day."

Alex Ovechkin, who has one goal this season, also spoke with the media after the morning skate.

"Two points is not good enough for me," Ovechkin said. "It's not my game, I have to be better."

Ovechkin did not record a goal last season in two games in Toronto but did have two assists in Washington's previous game at the Air Canada Centre, a 4-2 win on Feb. 25.

MAPLE LEAFS

James Van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Jay McClement - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

Matt Frattin - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Ryan Hamilton - David Steckel - Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf - Michael Kostka

Carl Gunnarsson - John-Michael Liles

Mark Fraser - Cody Franson

James Reimer

Ben Scrivens

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb

Wojtek Wolski - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Mike Ribeiro - Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks - Marcus Johansson - Eric Fehr

Karl Alzner - Mike Green

John Erskine - John Carlson

Jeff Schultz - Tomas Kundratek

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential