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Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 3:17 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - USA Selection Camp Blog

U.S. set for exhibition opener at Minnesota State

MINNEAPOLIS -- For those players on the bubble with visions of earning a roster spot on the United States National Junior Team that will travel to Sweden for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, the first major test is Tuesday in an exhibition game against Minnesota State University at Verizon Wireless Arena in Mankato (8:37 p.m. ET).

U.S. coach Don Lucia will lead his charges against the Mavericks before making three cuts to pare his roster to 26 players, including 15 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies. The coach will conduct one more practice at Mariucci Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Wednesday morning before he and his team depart for Angelholm, Sweden, to continue the evaluation Thursday.

The United States will have exhibition games against Sweden on Dec. 20 and Finland on Dec. 22 before announcing the official 23-player roster headed to Malmo for the WJC that begins Dec. 26.

"We have to make some cuts before we head to Sweden [on Wednesday afternoon] to continue camp," Lucia said. "Against Minnesota State, we have to start forging that identity of our team."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 2:31 PM

By James Murphy - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bourque returns as Canadiens host Coyotes

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens forward Rene Bourque will be back in the lineup Tuesday when they host the Phoenix Coyotes at Bell Centre.

Bourque has been out with an upper-body injury since Dec. 2. He will skate on a line with Travis Moen and Brandon Prust.

"We will start him on the fourth line and gauge his progress," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told the media following his team's morning skate. "Physically, he is ready to go, it's just a matter of him getting used to the pace of the game, considering the fact that we haven't had too much practice time recently due to our busy schedule."

Therrien also told the media that forward George Parros is doing better and has been riding the stationary bike. Parros sustained his second concussion of the season in a fight with New York Islanders forward Eric Boulton during the Canadiens' 1-0 overtime win Saturday at New York.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 2:23 PM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Gudbranson back, Huberdeau a question for Panthers

Defenseman Erik Gudbranson will return to the lineup for the Florida Panthers after missing a game because of a cut from a skate blade, while forward Jonathan Huberdeau remains questionable for the team's game Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

George Richards of the Miami Herald reported Gudbranson is in the lineup. Huberdeau, who blocked a shot off his foot two games ago and also missed Florida's win Sunday in Montreal, remains a game-time decision.

Richards also reported that although Tim Thomas joined the morning skate partway through, Scott Clemmensen will make his third straight start in net. Clemmensen has stopped 40 of 43 shots to win his past two starts after starting the season with losses in his first five appearances.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 2:14 PM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Islanders searching for offensive spark

The New York Islanders enter their game Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning in search of offense they hope will end a 3-14-3 slide that's landed them at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

Out of the 16 goals the Islanders have scored in their past 11 games (1-7-3), 11 are from the top line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The second unit of Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey is struggling. Grabner has no goals in 30 straight games. Nielsen has none in his past 12 after scoring 10 in his first 22. Bailey hasn't scored in 23 games.

Coach Jack Capuano kept his lines intact during the morning skate. Ryan Strome, who will play in his second NHL game, will center the Islanders' third line. Strome was recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League last week after leading the AHL in points (33) and assists (24) with the idea that he'll add scoring punch. Although he went scoreless Saturday in his debut, Strome believes that it's a matter of time before the goals begin to arrive.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 1:31 PM

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

Canucks' Luongo hoping for Xcel exorcism vs. Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In his first career start against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in 2000,Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, then a member of the Florida Panthers, backstopped his team to a 0-0 tie.

But to say it's been a struggle for him in this building since would be an understatement. His career numbers at the X: 3-9-2 with a 3.92 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage (those numbers include the 0-0 tie). Luongo has been pulled in each of his past three starts here. It got so bad over the final years with Alain Vigneault behind the bench that he refused to start Luongo in St. Paul.

But with a new coach comes new confidence as Luongo will face the Wild in Minnesota on Tuesday for the first time since Oct. 19, 2010.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 1:23 PM

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

Sulzer, Porter back for Sabres; Pysyk sent to AHL

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres have shuffled the roster a little ahead of their game Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Sabres will have defenseman Alexander Sulzer back from injured reserve. To make room for him, they sent defensemen Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb along with forward Luke Adam to the American Hockey League and called up forward Kevin Porter and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

Pysyk has been a steady player in the Sabres lineup this season, playing in 31 of of their 33 games with no goals and four assists.

"Obviously Mark can play in this League and on this team right now, but is he at the mature level he could be? Not yet," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "He needs a bit more time to mature. He's a different type of send-down, he's not going down for a long time. He's just going down for a few days and go over to the Spengler Cup and he'll join us right after that."

Sulzer and Porter are expected to play against the Jets.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 1:08 PM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hutton, Predators chase fourth consecutive win

Carter Hutton will make a fourth consecutive start in goal for the Nashville Predators as they try to extend their winning streak to four games Tuesday in a game against the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks.

Hutton has stopped 97 of 101 shots (.960 save percentage) in leading the Predators to wins over the New York RangersDallas Stars and San Jose Sharks.

Marek Mazanec, the NHL's Rookie of the Month for November, wasn't feeling well Tuesday morning but was expected to dress as Hutton's backup against the Blackhawks, who lead the overall League standings with 53 points and also have the No. 1-ranked offense at 3.64 goals per game.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 12:40 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bruins' Iginla declares himself fit to face Flames

BOSTON -- Officially, Jarome Iginla's streak of consecutive regular-season games played ended last season at 441 when the Calgary Flames had to scratch the forward to keep him injury-free before trading him to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Iginla hadn't missed a game since April 8, 2007, when the Flames rested him.

Unofficially, his iron-man streak is approaching 500 games because that's how many he's played without missing any because of injury. A dislocated finger that forced him out of the first period of theBoston Bruins' loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday should also fail to keep Iginla from playing in a game.

Iginla took part in the morning skate Tuesday at TD Garden and declared he was ready to face the visiting Flames.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 11:12 AM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stars back home for second crack at Avalanche

After a solid 6-3 win on Saturday at Winnipeg, the Dallas Stars headed into their game Monday with the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center looking to finish their three-game Central Division road trip on a high note.

However, the Stars were overwhelmed by the speed of the Avalanche, who lit the lamp four times in the middle frame, including a goal with three seconds left to make it 5-1 heading into the second intermission.

"I think just as a team, we kind of got away from our game there," said Stars rookie defenseman Kevin Connauton, who had his first NHL goal late in the first period. "We handed them some easy chances and they've got so much skill up front that if you're going to give them looks like that they're going to bury them."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 10:54 AM

By Staff -  / - NHL Live blog

NHL Live talks to hockey author Jody Anderson

There are 12 games on the Tuesday schedule and NHL Live with Bill Pidto and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will get you set up for a night full of hockey.

Eddie Olczyk will join us on set to discuss who's hot and who's cold in the League.

In addition, hockey mom and writer Jody Anderson joins us from the Arena Cam at Xcel Energy Center prior to the Minnesota Wild hosting the Vancouver Canucks to talk about her new book, "Hockey Moms Aren't Crazy!"

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