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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 1:58 PM

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

Former teammates Varlamov, Neuvirth face off

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Like the nylon mesh enclosing the goals that they strive to protect, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov and Washington Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth are intertwined.

Selected 11 picks apart by Washington in the 2006 NHL Draft, the two were heralded as the future of the Capitals' crease. They made their respective League debuts nearly two months apart during the 2008-09 season, both allowing one goal in victories. Varlamov wowed with acrobatic saves, explosiveness that Neuvirth balanced with a more conservative approach.

In the summer of 2011, following a season where Neuvirth earned 27 victories while Varlamov spent most of his time languishing on injured reserve, the Capitals traded Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for a first-round draft pick and a conditional second-round pick.

Varlamov and Neuvirth stood at opposite sides of the ice countless times during practice, but for the first time the two will do so in a meaningful game as they will start against one another when the Capitals host the Avalanche Saturday at Verizon Center.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Veteran backups to play in goal for Stars, Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Both the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars will start their veteran backups in goal Saturday when the new Central Division rivals play at Xcel Energy Center.

Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen left Friday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets early in the second period, stopping all 21 shots he faced to that point. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the injury is day-to-day.

With Lehtonen unavailable, the Stars called up Jack Campbell from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. He will back up Dan Ellis tonight against the Wild.

"Encouraging that [Lehtonen] could be back at practice [Sunday]," Ruff said.

Ellis made his first appearance of the season Friday against the Jets and allowed one goal on 23 shots.

Minnesota will go with its own backup goaltender for the second straight game in Josh Harding. Niklas Backstrom, injured Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators, practiced Friday and took part in the morning skate Saturday, but is still unavailable. He is expected to join the Wild on a seven-day, four-game Eastern Conference road trip starting Monday at the Buffalo Sabres.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 1:15 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues bracing for angry, motivated Rangers

ST. LOUIS -- First, it was a 9-2 thumping against the San Jose Sharks, followed by a 6-0 drubbing against the Anaheim Ducks. Outscored 15-2 in their last two games, the New York Rangers come into St. Louis a wounded animal to face a blazing Blues team in search of their first 4-0-0 start in franchise history.

So with two teams in different ends of the spectrum, is there a clear-cut advantage?

Hardly.

The Blues play host to the Rangers Saturday night, but the home side is not taking a proud franchise for granted.

"It doesn't matter if it's the Rangers or Blackhawks or whoever it is, they've been humbled like that for a couple games, you know coming in they're going to be hungry," Blues left wing Brenden Morrow said of the Rangers. "[Rangers coach Alain] Vigneault has probably been putting them through the paces and they're probably going to be an angry bear or wounded animal and sometimes those are the worst types to find."

So instead of focusing on what the Rangers haven't done well in the previous two games, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has stressed the point of focusing on New York's lone victory: a 3-1 triumph Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

"When we talked about New York, we watched them beat L.A., and that's the game we're focusing on," Hitchcock said. "To me, you've got an eastern team learning what it's like to play out west, not fun.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 1:04 PM

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

Penguins look to end Lightning's three-game streak

TAMPA BAY -- The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their season-long seven-game homestand when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Tampa Bay could have found an easier opportunity to put their three-game winning streak on the line against, as the Penguins enter the game having won six straight games and eight of their past 10 meetings against the Lightning, including a 6-3 win in one of the 16 games that Lightning coach Jon Cooper was behind the bench for last season.

"That game could just as well have been 16-2," Cooper said.

After that dominating performance, Cooper has circled this game on the schedule as an important test for the Lightning.

"This one I've been looking forward to," Cooper said. "Just in the sense that it is a measuring stick for us. This is the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference. I know it's really early and I don't know how much you can take from it but on a personal side and for our team I want to see where we are at."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 12:20 PM

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

Stars recall goalie Campbell

The Dallas Stars have recalled goaltender Jack Campbell under emergency conditions from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

The Stars were forced to call up their top goaltending prospect after starter Kari Lehtonen sustained a lower-body injury in a 4-1 win Friday against the Jets in Winnipeg. He is listed as day-to-day.

Dallas plays against the Wild in Minnesota Saturday in the second of back-to-back games and the second contest in a stretch that will see them play three games in four nights. Campbell was Dallas' first-round pick (No. 11) in the 2010 draft and posted a 19-13-3 record last season with Texas. Campbell made his only start of the 2013-14 AHL season on Oct. 5, making 18 saves in Texas' 4-1 win against the Chicago Wolves.

Veteran backup Dan Ellis made his first appearance of the season Friday night in relief of the injured Lehtonen. He stopped 22 of 23 shots in the appearance and is expected to be Dallas' starter moving forward.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 11:46 AM

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

Avalanche-Capitals matchup full of intrigue

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Considering his fiery disposition on the ice, it should come as no surprise that Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby idolized Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy growing up.

Holtby will not play Saturday when the Capitals host the Avalanche at Verizon Center, but will he catch a glimpse of his childhood hero on the opposing bench?

"I'll try not to look," Holtby joked. "Try not to meet your idols, I guess."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 11:02 AM

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

Blackhawks call up Pirri, send down Hayes

The Chicago Blackhawks announced late Friday that they have recalled forward Brandon Pirri from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. The team also assigned forward Jimmy Hayes to their AHL affiliate.

A second-round pick (No. 59) in 2009, Pirri led the IceHogs in scoring last season, recording 75 points in 78 games. In seven career games with the Blackhawks, he has recorded no goals and two assists. He was expected to compete in training camp for the team's second-line center job, but was sent down by Chicago just days before the start of the season.

The 6-foot-6, 221-pound Hayes played in two games to start the 2013-14 season, recording no points and one shot. In 43 career games with Chicago, he has six goals and 13 points.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 10:47 AM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin set for season debut against Bruins

COLUMBUS -- Watching from the press box is an unfamiliar concept for Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin so it's understandable why he's happy the game Saturday against the Boston Bruins in Nationwide Arena is a matinee: the sooner he gets back on the ice the better.

Tyutin played all 48 games last season and at least 80 in each of three of the past four seasons with the Blue Jackets but he missed the first three this season after dealing with a lower-body injury near the end of the preseason.

"After you miss a few games it's exciting to get back with the guys, first with practice and then to play the games," he said.

Coach Todd Richards said Tyutin will play against the Bruins but acknowledged Friday that the deciding which defenseman will sit will be harder than anticipated because of the progress shown by Ryan Murray and David Savard.

After losing the season opener 4-3 to Calgary, the Jackets went on the road to defeat the New York Islanders in a shootout and Thursday in Buffalo bested the Sabres 4-1 as the rookie Murray recorded his first NHL assist.

Murray seems a lock to stay in the lineup and Richards specifically said so will Savard, who was considered the eighth defenseman coming out of training camp, but has two assists and is tied with center Brandon Dubinsky for the team lead with a plus-three rating.

"The way Savard's played, the way Ryan Murray's played - all of those guys have done a good job," Richards said. "That's what you want, your young guys making cases for them to stay in the lineup."

As Richards and his staff ponder who Tyutin replaces, another question is whether Tyutin will pair with Jack Johnson as he did in the preseason games.

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Posted On Friday, 10.11.2013 / 5:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes go for back-to-back wins vs. Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The team Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett saw Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings is the one he hopes he brought with him to Wells Fargo Center for a game Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Coyotes got a pair of third-period goals to beat the Red Wings 4-2 at Joe Louis Arena and snap a two-game losing streak.


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Posted On Friday, 10.11.2013 / 3:24 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils seeking first win of season in Calgary

CALGARY -- Though the New Jersey Devils are still seeking their first win of the season as they visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night, coach Peter DeBoer doesn't think the team's situation is as dire as it's been made out to be.

DeBoer's Devils (0-1-3) have earned points in three of four games this season. Getting two in Calgary would be a reward for the coach.

"I don't think the picture is as bleak as I've read it is," DeBoer said. "I think we've done some good things. We're close to getting some wins and some points. It'd be nice to get a first one, I think. It would take a little bit of pressure off."


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Quote of the Day

I don't think it's really truly going to sink in until we drop the puck, to be honest. I know there's going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors with the media attention and all that. We came [Monday] and it was sort of a light day to get things organized. We just want to focus in on the business aspect, the game itself. That's what we're preparing to do. Get these next couple of days out of the way and it's game on.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on playing in his first Stanley Cup Final