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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 3:42 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Islanders, Hurricanes finding consistency up front

While their teams were mired in respective early-season three-game losing streaks, Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller and New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano preached patience. Neither coach felt compelled to make major changes during that time and both teams rewarded that patience with wins Thursday.

After the Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 and the Islanders topped the Edmonton Oilers by the same score, the two teams will face off Saturday on Long Island. The consistency both coaches were praising, even during their losing skids, primarily was regarding new forward combinations installed at the beginning of the season.

Capuano made his mark early this season by breaking up the combinations of captain John Tavares and Matt Moulson as well as emerging forwards Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo. Bailey and Okposo were an explosive pair late last season but both have found success on new lines. Okposo has been skating on the top line with Tavares and speedster Michael Grabner while Bailey has found chemistry on the second line with Frans Nielsen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. That line opened the scoring Thursday against Edmonton and has provided a spark for the Islanders.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 2:15 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Capitals' Erat ready for expanded role

ARLINGTON, Va. -- When Martin Erat left the Nashville Predators for the Washington Capitals at last season's trade deadline, he ranked second in franchise history in most points, goals, assists and games played, accolades he accumulated as a top-six fixture.

Erat, however, never was afforded a proper opportunity to establish himself among the Capitals' top forwards upon his arrival as untimely injuries -- a left knee injury sustained in his second game against the Florida Panthers and a dislocated left elbow that ended his season in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers -- bookended his initial stint in Washington.

The Capitals acquired the 32-year-old to bolster their top-six forward depth, trading away highly touted prospect Filip Forsberg to do so. Yet when this season began, a healthy Erat found himself on the fourth line, playing single-digit minutes per night.

Erat's ice time reached its nadir Wednesday during the Capitals' 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers when he registered a season-low 6:20, the third-lowest ice time of his 739-game NHL career when he didn't leave the game early due to injury.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 2:04 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Vigneault: Schneider 'one of the best … in the League'

NEWARK, N.J. -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will see a familiar goalie in the opposite net Saturday at Prudential Center as Cory Schneider is scheduled to get the start for the New Jersey Devils.

Schneider and Vigneault were together for the past several seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. They along with Roberto Luongo were part of the NHL's most publicized goaltending controversy in recent history.

Considering the opinion Vigneault offered on Schneider after the morning skate Saturday, clearly he thinks quite highly of his former goalie.

"I think he's one of the best goaltenders in the League," Vigneault said of Schneider. "He's really a student of the game and a great teammate. I'm sure that in time here people in Jersey are going to really appreciate him. He's a great goaltender."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:56 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild, Panthers experiment with forward lines

SUNRISE, Fla -- The Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild will go into their matchup Saturday with almost entirely new line combinations.

For Florida, the only line staying intact is the top trio of Tomas Fleischmann, rookie Aleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes.

For Minnesota, the only line unchanged is the fourth unit of Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka and Stephane Veilleux.

"We need to try to find some offense here," Wild coach Mike Yeo said after his team's morning skate. "We've got to try to get more balance through our lineup."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:55 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bruins' Soderberg could make season debut

TAMPA -- Carl Soderberg may make his season debut Saturday for the Boston Bruins when his team plays at the Tampa Bay Lightning. But then again, he may not.

Soderberg, recovering from an ankle injury, skated with the team Saturday morning but afterward was unsure if he would be in the lineup or not.

"I have no idea," he said.

His coach wasn't offering any answers either.

"I haven't told anybody yet if Soderberg is in the lineup," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "That's why the players don't know. I haven't made that decision yet."

Julien said he won't make that decision until shortly before the puck drops.

"It's a difficult decision as to who to take out," he said. "It's pretty obvious that it is not an easy decision but you better make those decisions come game time, right?"

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Strong defensive play leaves Del Zotto out of lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- After watching his team put together it's most complete 60-minute, defensive effort of the season Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he saw no reason to change the lineup for his team's game Saturday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

That means defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who sat out the game in Washington with the flu, will be a healthy scratch Saturday in New Jersey. Justin Falk, who played 15 shifts totaling 8:57 in Washington, will be in the lineup and on the third defense pair with John Moore.

"In our first five games we had one game where I was pleased with how our six [defensemen] had played and that was the L.A. game," Vigneault said, referring to the Rangers' 3-1 defeat of the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 7. "The three after that I could have taken any defensemen out and they all deserved it. Nobody was playing really well then. They gave up 20 goals in three games. Michael was sick; we went into Washington and played our best game of the year as far as a group of six defensemen. Nobody deserved to come out. Everybody played well. That's why I'm sticking with the same six guys."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:26 PM

By Joe Yerdon -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres could add rookie Zadorov to lineup

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres had an optional skate Saturday so their lineup for their game Saturday against the visiting Colorado Avalanche won't be known until the teams take the ice at 7 p.m. ET.

Sabres coach Ron Rolston was able to confirm one player returning to action would be forward Zemgus Girgensons. Girgensons had missed the Sabres' game Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks after being struck in the face by a Tyler Myers shot Tuesday in New York.

"[Healing] was quick," Girgensons said. "The day after the eye was totally shut, but now it's perfect."

Forward Cody McCormick was hurt against Vancouver after taking a slap shot in the leg and will sit out Saturday. Rolston was coy about what other moves could happen, saying it's possible 2013 first-round pick defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who has been out all season with a badly cut finger, could play.

"He's ready to go at any time," Rolston said of Zadorov. "It could be [Saturday]."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:11 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks put Toews, Kane on different lines

CHICAGO -- Looking for more offensive production, the Chicago Blackhawks are going back to what worked last season.

Heading into their game Saturday at United Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC), Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is splitting up star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Quenneville did the same thing for most of the 2012-13 regular season, which ended with Chicago winning the Presidents' Trophy prior to winning the 2013 Stanley Cup.

Kane and Toews were on the same line midway through the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs and started this season the same way. But with the Blackhawks struggling to score more than two goals a game, Quenneville is ready to see what the old line combinations can do.

Marian Hossa, who didn't practice Friday but is expected to play, likely will move to right wing on the top line with Toews while Kane likely will slide back into the right-wing spot on the second line opposite left wing Patrick Sharp.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:10 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils looking to turn things around against Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ryane Clowe is out. Patrik Elias is sick and doubtful to play Saturday against the New York Rangers. Damien Brunner is a gametime decision as he deals with what coach Peter DeBoer called "some nagging stuff." Oh, and the New Jersey Devils are the only team in the NHL without a win so far in the 2013-14 season.

The players in the Devils' dressing room are doing all they can not to stay positive. They think they can start working their way out of this mess Saturday at Prudential Center.

"We can't [feel sorry for ourselves]. We need a win," Devils center Travis Zajac told NHL.com. "That's got to be our focus. No matter who is in the lineup we have to be ready to play. Everyone has injuries. You look at the Rangers, they've got guys out. That's going to happen throughout the year. We have to make sure we're prepared and ready with whoever is in the lineup."

He's right about the Rangers. They won't have Rick Nash (concussion), Ryan Callahan (broken thumb) or Carl Hagelin (rehab from shoulder surgery) in the lineup Saturday.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 12:33 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bylsma only sees talent, not opponents' records

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are not treating their matchup with the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) differently than any previous game.

The Penguins have built a 6-1-0 record while facing five sub-.500 teams -- four who have won one game or fewer -- but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said teams' records this early in the season are not indicative of their skill level.

"Early in the season I don't give a lot of credit to the record and where they're at in the standings," Bylsma said after Pittsburgh's Friday practice. "The Flyers were a win away from being six points behind us in the standings, which isn't that far and a lot can be said for their start or lack of their start. But that game [Thursday] would've put them within four or six points.

"It's tough to give those records credence. We're playing a Vancouver team that is good in a lot of areas, good with their top skill and are a good team and that's what we're looking at, at a John Tortorella team."

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Quote of the Day

That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.

— Flames forward Mikael Backlund on scoring the overtime winner against the Ducks in Gm. 3