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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 4:02 PM

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

Aittokallio to make NHL debut in Avalanche net

With regular starter Semyon Varlamov scratched due to a hip injury and the Colorado Avalanche playing their third game in four nights, they will turn to Sami Aittokallio on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, NHLN-CA).

The team announced via its Twitter feed Thursday that the 20-year-old will be making his first NHL appearance after veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere started four of Colorado's past five games, posting a 1-2-1 record.

A fourth-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Aittokallio has spent much of the season playing for Lake Erie of the American Hockey League. In 26 games with the Monsters, the native of Tampere, Finland posted a 2.89 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. He was the starting goaltender for a Finland squad that finished fourth at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 2:20 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets continue playoff push with Enstrom sidelined

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' push to earn the franchise's first berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2007 continues Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

The clubs meet at MTS Centre, where the Jets play the third game on their six-game homestand. They'll do so without defenseman Tobias Enstrom, who exited their 4-1 win Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres after a heavy hit from Steve Ott. Jets coach Claude Noel labeled Enstrom as day-to-day with what was termed a mid-body injury. Paul Postma will replace Enstrom.

Defenseman Mike Weaver (lower body) did not accompany the Panthers on their one-game trip to Winnipeg, but his return reportedly is imminent. Center Drew Shore has missed three games but could dress Thursday.

It is expected Jacob Markstrom will start in goal for the Panthers after a one-game respite Sunday. Ondrej Pavelec will make his 38th appearance for the Jets, ranking him second in the NHL to Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.

Here are the projected lineups for the Panthers and Jets:

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 1:58 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Senators hope Pageau raises team's energy level

PHILADELPHIA -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean said there are no messages being sent by center Jean-Gabriel Pageau being called up from Binghamton of the American Hockey League and inserted into the lineup for the game Thursday at the Philadelphia Flyers.

"We're trying to put the best team on the ice to give us a chance to win the game," MacLean, whose team has lost six straight, said after the team's morning skate here at Wells Fargo Center. "Right now we're not winning games, so we need to find a better group to do that with and that's what this is about."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 1:11 PM

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

Cisco NHL Live talks You Can Play Project

The National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association announced a historic partnership with the You Can Play Project on Thursday and Cisco NHL Live, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will have NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and founder of the You Can Play Project, Patrick Burke, on set to discuss this partnership.

The Phoenix Coyotes are back in the Stanley Cup Playoff picture thanks to goalie Mike Smith, who has stopped 93 of the 95 shots he has faced since returning from injury. We'll be joined by the Phoenix netminder. With nine games on the schedule Thursday night, Steve Mears and guest analyst Ken Daneyko will get live pre-game previews from our Cisco NHL Arena Cam in Boston, Detroit and give you a live look-in at warm-ups of the early games in our Ice Pass.

Don't forget to submit your #AskDano questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork, and stick around for the shootout as Ken picks each game being played on Thursday.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 1:09 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hartnell: Flyers need 'epic' run to make postseason

VOORHEES, N.J. -- A year ago Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers were in Pittsburgh, preparing for Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Penguins.

If they have any hope of getting back to the postseason this year, they'll need what Flyers forward Scott Hartnell called an "epic" final nine games of the regular season, starting with their game Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.

The Flyers are 12th in the Eastern Conference, seven points out of a playoff spot.

"We need to have an epic ending to the season," Hartnell said after practice Thursday morning. "Basically we need to win them all to have a chance. We need to get back to our winning ways. Hopefully we can come out here hard, lay it all out on the ice."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 1:04 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canadiens can reach first goal by clinching playoffs

BUFFALO -- The Montreal Canadiens have a chance to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday and the players are well aware of that opportunity.

The Canadiens can qualify for the playoffs with a win against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, or if they earn one point against the Sabres and the Florida Panthers defeat the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion Thursday.

"At the start of this season, your first goal is to get into the playoffs, and we have an opportunity tonight to reach that first goal," Canadiens alternate captain Josh Gorges said. "I think we have to understand and respect the importance of tonight's game and understand the opponent that we're facing too."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Cooper using rest of season to see what he's got

TAMPA -- Benoit Pouliot leads all Tampa Bay Lightning forwards with a plus-9 rating and has recorded three points (one goal and two assists) in the past three games he has played. Tom Pyatt ranks first among Lightning forwards with 33 blocked shots.

Both skaters, however, will be off the ice, scratched for the second consecutive game, when Tampa Bay faces the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Significant? Not to Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

"I wouldn't read too much into it about the guys that are scratched," Cooper said. "We're just caught between that, we're trying to win, we're trying to win, we're trying to win, but we are also trying to see what we have. What guys can handle this? What guys can play next year? It's tough to do; it's tough to balance."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 12:46 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Status for Bruins' Marchand still unclear

BOSTON Boston Bruins wing Brad Marchand’s health was being reassessed Thursday morning, coach Claude Julien said.

If Marchand, who was elbowed in the head by New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov on Wednesday night, is unable to play against the New York Islanders, the Bruins will be missing two-thirds of what’s been their most productive forward line this season.

Patrice Bergeron has been out since suffering a concussion April 2. He skated with the Bruins’ scratches during an optional morning skate at TD Garden. Tyler Seguin had been the other member of that line.

The Bruins should have Adam McQuaid back in the lineup for the first time since March 19, when he strained his shoulder.

Here are the projected lineups for the Bruins and Islanders:

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 12:30 PM

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

Penguins welcome Letang back to lineup

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma told the media that defenseman Kris Letang will return to the lineup Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Letang has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury believed to be a broken toe. He is third among NHL defensemen with 28 points despite playing in 28 games.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 12:27 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Here is how the lines for the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild could look when the teams face off Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center:


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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday