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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 12:41 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Islanders slot Boulton in for suspended McDonald

NEWARK, N.J. -- Eric Boulton, who signed a free-agent contract with the New York Islanders in July after spending last season with the New Jersey Devils, will be in the lineup on Thursday against his former team at Prudential Center.

Boulton is in the lineup for suspended Islanders right wing Colin McDonald. McDonald is serving the first of a two-game suspension for an illegal hit that occurred in his team's 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

Boulton has no points and no penalty minutes in two games for the Islanders this season. He had no points and racked up 115 penalty minutes in 51 appearances for the Devils last season. In 602 career games in the NHL, the 6-foot, 224-pound enforcer has 73 points and 1,265 PIM.

The Islanders will conclude a five-game road trip on Thursday and are currently 2-1-1 away from the Nassau Coliseum. The club will play its next two games at home, against the Devils on Sunday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, before visiting Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Feb. 7.

The Islanders held an optional skate at Prudential Center on Thursday afternoon in preparation for their game against the Devils. Evgeni Nabokov (3-1-1, 2.99 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) will get the start between the pipes for the visitors. In nine career games against the Devils, the 37-year-old Nabokov is 2-7-0 with a 3.43 GAA and .869 save percentage.

Here are the possible line combinations for the Islanders:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Brad Boyes

David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Casey Cizikas

Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Eric Boulton

Mark Streit - Brian Strait

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Matt Carkner

Evgeni Nabokov

Rick DiPietro

Injured: Josh Bailey, Jesse Joensuu

Suspended: Colin McDonald

Scratched: Joe Finley, Radek Martinek

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 12:32 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Cisco NHL Live talks Rangers-Pens, You Can Play

The Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers, Thursday night on the NHL Network. We'll fire up the Cisco NHL Arena Cam to get live previews from the arena on this big Atlantic Division matchup. Cisco NHL Live with Bill Pidto and NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen, at 5 p.m. ET on the NHL Network, will get you ready for that game and eight others slated for tonight.

The You Can Play Project has taken a stand for LGBT athletes everywhere, and today we'll be joined by one of the founding partners, Patrick Burke. Patrick, son of Brian Burke, will talk about the strides his project is making and also the team he is a scout for, the Philadelphia Flyers.

We're also changing up the EJ5 today, but you'll have to tune in to see. Don't forget to submit your #AskDan questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @drosennhl and stick around for the shootout as Dan picks each game being played on Thursday. No pressure for Dan, but our guest analyst Butch Goring went 4-0 in last night's picks!

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 12:11 PM

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

Penguins claim Boychuk off waivers

The Pittsburgh Penguins have claimed forward Zach Boychuk off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 23-year-old Boychuk was the 14th pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, but was never able to find a regular place in the Carolina lineup. He played in the Hurricanes' season opener and hadn't seen action again since.

In 73 games over parts of five seasons, Boychuk posted seven goals, 18 points and a minus-4 rating. He was a 20-goal scorer each of the past two seasons for Carolina's American Hockey League affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he expects to give Boychuk a chance to play on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

"He's a guy who's a first-round pick," Bylsma said. "He's got speed to his game. He's got limited NHL experience, but he's going to add some competition in our lineup. He could see time on Malkin's line on that wing and see him in that position and adding speed and a little bit of grit to that line."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 11:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Henrique, Larsson to make season debuts for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils will see two familiar faces returning to the lineup on Thursday when center Adam Henrique and defenseman Adam Larsson make their season debut against the New York Islanders at Prudential Center.

The plan is for Henrique to open the game on a line with wings Krystofer Barch and Matt Anderson. Larsson will be paired with Andy Greene. Larsson will be replacing injured Mark Fayne (arm).

"I thought we did a great job as a group in stepping up while [Henrique] was out, but he's a big part of our team and now we can start to slot people in the right spots," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We will start him on the fourth line, but I'm sure, knowing him, that's not going to last for long."

Henrique, who underwent surgery on Nov. 29 to reattach the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, began skating with the team again on Friday. He suffered his injury on Nov. 25 while playing for the Devils' American Hockey League affiliate in Albany.

"Right now, first game, I'm not going to look too far ahead," Henrique said. "It's difficult going from skating on your own, to a couple of guys and then getting into a game. It's a different speed. I'm sure it will take a little bit to just get back to normal. But I fully expect my game to be where it was last year and down the stretch. I'm excited to be back and around the guys."

In 74 games last season for the Devils, Henrique, a 2012 Calder Trophy finalist, had 16 goals, 51 points and a plus-8 rating. He also led the team with four shorthanded goals and won 48.8 percent of his faceoffs.

Greene is looking forward to having Larsson as a partner against the Islanders.

"It's exciting for [Larsson] to get back in because he's worked extremely hard this year being down in Albany and being able to play," Greene told NHL.com. "He hasn't been in an NHL game in a while, but he'll be ready and sure he'll be looking forward to it."

Larsson played in 65 games as a rookie last season with the Devils, producing two goals, 18 points and a minus-7 rating. He finished the season tied for second among NHL rookie defensemen with 16 assists.

"I'm not putting any pressure on myself … I know my game and I'm not going to change anything just because I sat out for the first five games," Larsson said. "Getting back into it with a partner like Andy Greene will help me. He's been really good so far, so that's going to help me for sure."

Meanwhile, Devils rookie Stefan Matteau will be a healthy scratch for the contest.

The question on everyone's mind, of course, is whether or not Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello intends to keep Matteau on the roster now that his five-game tryout has concluded.

Lamoriello told reporters on Wednesday that Matteau would remain with the club for the time being and not be returned to his junior team, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior League. If Matteau suits up for another NHL game, it would mark his sixth game with the Devils and his entry-level contract would officially kick in. If Lamoriello opts to return him to juniors before playing a sixth game, the organization would save a year.

"I think Lou said it best [on Wednesday], that he'll stay as long as he belongs here and we feel he's getting better, so it's a day-to-day thing," DeBoer said.

Lamoriello said the decision regarding Matteau would not come down to whether they could save a year on his contract. Instead, it's all about Matteau, and what would best benefit his development with the organization.

"He will not be going back immediately and we're not going to let his contract status get in the way," Lamoriello said Wednesday. "We're going to continue evaluating this and a decision won't be made at this point."

Matteau has yet to record a point in five games, sports a plus-1 rating and has averaged 8:28 in ice time. He's also opened the last two road games on the team's top line alongside center Travis Zajac and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk.

Here are the possible line combinations for the Devils against the Islanders:

Jacob Josefson - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk

Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Krystofer Barch - Adam Henrique - Matt Anderson

Bryce SalvadorMarek Zidlicky

Henrik TallinderAnton Volchenkov

Andy GreeneAdam Larsson

Martin Brodeur

Johan Hedberg

Injured: Mark Fayne

Scratched: Peter Harrold, Stefan Matteau

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 10:52 AM

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

Spezza to undergo surgical procedure on back

Jason Spezza, the Ottawa Senators top center, will undergo a surgical procedure on his back.

The Senators have tweeted the following statement from general manager Bryan Murray: "Jason Spezza is out indefinitely. Will have back surgery in Toronto on Friday."

According to reports, the surgery is not considered to be major. Murray is currently holding an 11 a.m. press conference.

Spezza has missed the past two games with what the team is terming an upper-body injury that occurred sometime during Ottawa's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.

Spezza, a four-time 30-goal scorer, has been a point-per-game player this season, with two goals and three assists in five games.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 9:54 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Coyotes' Sullivan out with lower-body injury

Steve Sullivan
Left Wing - PHX
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 5
SOG: 10 | +/-: -3
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix left wing Steve Sullivan, who leads the team with four goals in the first six games, is the latest Coyote to join the injured list.

Sullivan did not skate Wednesday morning and will sit out the game with the Edmonton Oilers with a lower-body injury. He one of five major cogs who will miss the game, along with goalie Mike Smith (groin), center Martin Hanzal (lower body) and defenseman Rostislav Klesla (lower body) and winger Raffi Torres -- who still has two games left on his suspension dating back to last year's playoffs.

The Coyotes have only 11 healthy forwards for the game and will dress seven defensemen against the Oilers.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 9:48 PM

By Jason Bull -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Bull scores against Grant Fuhr

LAS VEGAS -- Just when I think this trip can't get any better, the bar gets set even higher for the next day.

The highlight Wednesday was getting a chance to take a faceoff against The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky. I was called for my first shift and there he was, skating out there at the same time. And, right then and there, I knew I was going to be taking a draw with Gretzky.

The ref dropped the puck and I won the faceoff, and nearly created a scoring chance for myself as well. That's a memory of a lifetime.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 9:17 PM

NHL.com - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

MTL @ OTT - 1:02 of the Third Period

At 1:02 of the third period in the Canadiens/Senators game video review upheld the referee's call on-ice that Lars Eller directed the puck into the net with a high stick. According to Rule 60.5 "An apparent goal scored by an attacking player who strikes the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar of the goal frame shall not be allowed. The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick." No Goal Montreal.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 7:59 PM

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

Coyotes hope to have Smith back by weekend

The Phoenix Coyotes have spent a week without starting goaltender Mike Smith, who left last Wednesday's game with a lower-body injury, but they're hopeful he'll be back in a couple of days.

Coach Dave Tippett had high hopes for an early return after watching Smith practice on Wednesday.

"I'd be surprised if he's not ready by the weekend," Tippett said.

Smith is eligible to be activated from injured reserve on Friday. Phoenix has a home-and-home series with Dallas on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 7:22 PM

NHL.com - NHL Live blog

CISCO NHL Live: Joe Pavelski

The San Jose Sharks are 6-0, with Joe Pavelski having points in each game. The forward stopped by Cisco NHL Live to talk about his and the teams hot start.

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Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares