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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 5:42 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ovechkin moving back to left wing for Capitals

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Alex Ovechkin at right wing experiment is on hold for the moment. The Washington Capitals superstar said he is moving back to the left wing for Friday's game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Ovechkin has lined up on the right side in each of the first three games, but he shifted to the left side in the third period of Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

The Capitals are 0-3 and Ovechkin has not scored this season.

"We'll see how it goes," Ovechkin said prior to the game. "It doesn't matter if I'm going to play left side, center or right side; we just have to play the system that [coach Adam Oates] tells us. We just have to be mentally ready. It's not about one player or two players, it's everybody."

Ovechkin said he spoke with Oates about moving back to the left side, where he has played his entire career up until now.

"Of course I feel much more comfortable on the left side; it's not a secret," Ovechkin said. "But, again, creativity, what we try to do, it's working but we have to work harder, I think."

Oates said he doesn't see the pressure to score getting to Ovechkin, at least not yet, but he knows it is there and perhaps this move back to the left wing will give the Capitals' captain a sense of comfort heading into the game.

"He has that pressure [to score] every night," Oates said. "He comes to the rink expecting to do that and he's done it his entire career. That never changes and it never will. In saying that, he's gotta play his game and be part of the team and the structure, and hopefully over time he'll have success."

Ovechkin said he was OK with playing on the right side, but clearly it has not worked as of yet.

"I feel responsible for the opportunities we have and I have to find the space in the offensive zone," Ovechkin said. "My linemates have to play better. I have to play better. It starts with me and it goes to everybody."

Oates confirmed that Michal Neuvirth will get the start in net for the Capitals after giving up four goals on 22 shots in Thursday's loss to the Canadiens.

Neuvirth is 4-1-2 with one shutout, a 1.95 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in seven career starts against New Jersey. He is 5-2-1 in the second game when he starts two nights in a row.

"He played really well [Thursday] night and I felt bad for him that we let it get away," Oates said. "I thought he really gave us a chance in the first 30 minutes and he looked very sharp, so he gets it tonight."

For Oates, Friday's game is a mini-homecoming. He was an assistant on Devils coach Peter DeBoer's staff last season and said walking back into Prudential Center brings back great memories of New Jersey's run to the Stanley Cup Final, which they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.

"It was a great year, a great run," Oates said. "We got very close and when you go through that as a staff you get closer. You get closer to with the players. I got to be here for two years. It was a great feeling. It will be great to see the guys, but obviously I'd like to get the win."

Wojtek Wolski - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Alex Ovechkin - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb

Jason Chimera - Mike Ribeiro - Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks - Marcus Johansson - Eric Fehr

Karl Alzner - Mike Green

John Erskine - John Carlson

Jeff Schultz - Tomas Kundratek

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 3:24 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Groin injury won't keep Canucks' Lapierre out

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Vancouver Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre said he will play Friday against the Anaheim Ducks after he injured his groin against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

Lapierre was one of just four skaters at an optional morning skate for the Canucks.

"Obviously there's some pain but I’ll be fine for tonight," Lapierre said after a 30-minute workout. "I think the day [off] yesterday helped a little bit, and I feel OK for tonight."

Manny Malhotra is not with Vancouver because his wife is expecting a baby, a team official said. Malhotra is expected to re-join the team Saturday.

Lapierre is expected to center the fourth line, with Andrew Ebbett playing on the wing.

Here is the how the rest of the lineup likely will look for the Canucks on Friday:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Zack Kassian

Chris Higgins - Alexandre Burrows - Jannik Hansen

Mason Raymond - Jordan Schroeder - Dale Weise

Andrew Ebbett - Maxim Lapierre - Aaron Volpatti

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa

Jason Garrison - Alexander Edler

Keith Ballard - Christopher Tanev

Cory Schneider

Roberto Luongo

Injured: Ryan Kesler, David Booth

Scratched: Andrew Alberts, Cam Barker

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 3:22 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jagr misses practice, day-to-day with stiff back

FRISCO, Texas -- After leaving the ice late in the third period of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, Dallas Stars wing Jaromir Jagr missed practice Friday, putting his status in doubt for Saturday's game with the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.

"Yeah, he'll probably be day-to-day. [His] lower back today is a little stiff," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said after practice. "So we'll see how he is in the next couple days. But he knows himself better than we do and he's stiff in his lower back today, hip."

Jagr had two goals and two assists in his Dallas debut last Saturday in a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, his first four-point game since 2007. However, the 41-year-old wing hasn't registered a point since that victory. He had been playing right wing on Dallas' top line alongside Loui Eriksson and center Derek Roy.

The Stars conclude a quick two-game homestand on Saturday night against the Blues, and Gulutzan isn't quite ready to rule Jagr out for that game.

"We'll see what he’s like tomorrow. Right now, I would have to say it's 60/40 no, I would say right now, or maybe even more. But we'll see how he is in the morning and we'll re-evaluate," Gulutzan said. "So you never know. He's a fit guy and he knows what he can and cannot do. So we'll wait and see how Jags is tomorrow."

Jagr, who wasn't at the team's practice facility and thus did not speak to the media, wasn't the only Stars player to miss practice Friday. Fellow newcomers Roy and Ray Whitney also missed the session at the team's Frisco headquarters with what Gulutzan termed as a maintenance day for both players. The Stars coach said Roy and Whitney should be ready to go against St. Louis.

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 3:19 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Holland to get chance on Ducks' fourth line

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Peter Holland will get his second turn in the NHL when the Anaheim Ducks host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

After a year of hard work in the American Hockey League and an abbreviated training camp with the Ducks, the 22-year-old Holland will center the fourth line in Anaheim's home opener.

Coach Bruce Boudreau had used 19-year-old Rickard Rakell in the first two games, but wants to give Holland a look, even if it's in a limited role.

"As a scorer he's not being put in a position to score being on the so-called fourth line, but we'd love to see where his compete level is," Boudreau said. "When they talk about him game in and game out, the consistency of the compete level isn't there, but I'd like to see a solid game from him. And if somebody in the top three centers go out, he's a guy that can easily replace them with offensive ability. We think it's a good fit right now."

Boudreau said Rakell, Anaheim's first round pick in 2011, "has been very good" the first two games. But Holland might be the right fit long term given he has more professional experience.

A center in the Ryan Getzlaf mold with a good shot, Holland scored a goal in a four-game stint with Anaheim last season under former coach Randy Carlyle. He is the leading scorer for Norfolk, the Ducks' American Hockey League team, and was named to the AHL All-Star team.

Holland naturally was eager to get in the lineup and knows this is a new opportunity under Boudreau.

"I definitely think there's a little bit of anxiety and a little bit of nervousness," Holland said. "Obviously the goal was to be in every game this year. To not play the first two makes you really want to come out and have a good showing here, and especially in the home opener."

Here is the lineup the Ducks likely will go with Friday:

Kyle Palmieri - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Teemu Selanne

Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Daniel Winnik

Matt Beleskey - Peter Holland - Devante Smith-Pelly

Toni Lydman - Francois Beauchemin

Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Souray

Bryan Allen - Cam Fowler

Jonas Hiller

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Jordan Hendry, Brad Staubitz, Rickard Rakell

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:53 PM

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

Leafs send Gardiner back to AHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday returned defenseman Jake Gardiner to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

Gardiner had no points and four shots on goal in two games with the Leafs. They were his first games since Dec. 8, when he sustained a concussion playing for the Marlies.

Prior to his injury, Gardiner had 17 points in 22 AHL games this season. He had 30 points in 75 NHL games last season.

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:26 PM

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

Penguins look to rebound from first loss of season

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Pittsburgh Penguins arrived here Thursday evening looking to move past a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their home opener Wednesday.

The defeat took some of the shine off a season-opening built on consecutive road wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers last weekend. Pittsburgh's run of four road games in its first five contests continues Sunday at the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins face a Winnipeg Jets team they tormented last season. Center Evgeni Malkin posted three goals and eight assists in his three games against the Jets.

Coach Dan Bylsma will make two changes to the lineup that faced Toronto. Offseason acquisition Tomas Vokoun will make his second start in net for Pittsburgh. Ben Lovejoy will dress for the first time this season and take the place of Simon Despres on the Penguins' third defensive pairing with Deryk Engelland.

Right wing Tanner Glass, will make his return to Winnipeg, where he was a fan favorite last season with the Jets before signing in the summer with the Penguins.

Here are the possible line combinations for the Penguins:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Tyler Kennedy - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tanner Glass

Eric Tangradi - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Matt Niskanen - Kris Letang

Deryk Engelland - Ben Lovejoy

Tomas Vokoun

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Dustin Jeffrey

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:19 PM

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

Wellwood in, Scheifele out of lineup for Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets returned home from a brief two-game road swing to Boston and Washington in a much better mood than when they departed last Saturday.

A 2-1 shootout loss to the Bruins and a 4-2 win against the Capitals took some of the sting out of a season-opening 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators that opened the Jets’ home schedule last weekend. The Jets’ 1-1-1 start represents the franchise's best beginning to a season since 2009-10, when it was the Atlanta Thrashers.

However, the Pittsburgh Penguins arrived in town Thursday, presenting a potential road block to a Winnipeg club looking to earn its first home win and establish itself as a legitimate contender for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

Coach Claude Noel repeatedly emphasized the need for his club to avoid any temptation to trade goals with the Penguins, a trap the Jets often fell into last season against Pittsburgh and other high-scoring opponents. Pittsburgh tormented the Jets last season, taking three of the four meetings between the clubs, including an 8-4 loss at Consol Energy Center that dealt a devastating blow to Winnipeg's postseason ambitions last March.

Noel continues to tinker with his lineup and will re-insert veteran Kyle Wellwood, a healthy scratch against the Capitals, on the right wing on the third line in place of rookie Mark Scheifele.

Ondrej Pavelec will make his fourth start of the season in goal for Winnipeg.

Here is how the lineup likely will look Friday:

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Bryan Little

Alexei Ponikarovsky - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood

James Wright - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Ron Hainsey

Grant Clitsome - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Injured: Zach Bogosian, Antti Miettinen

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Mark Scheifele

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:16 PM

By Matt Cubeta -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: The impact of Jamie Benn

With hockey talk surrounding key injuries to Joffrey Lupul and Scott Hartenll, fantasy owners finally received some relieving news: Forward Jamie Benn agreed to a five-year deal with the Dallas Stars.

Drafted on average with the 79th overall pick in Yahoo! Leagues, Benn will be a welcome sight for his owners after he had an extremely productive and well-rounded 2011-12 season -- 26 goals, 63 points, plus-15, 55 penalty minutes, 10 power play points and 203 shots on goal in 71 games.

Benn, center and left wing eligible in Yahoo! Leagues, is not expected to make his season debut until Monday, where he'll likely center the team's top line with Jaromir Jagr and Loui Eriksson as his wings. That's an extremely talented group of forwards and it could turn Benn into an elite fantasy player for the remainder of this condensed season.

The 23-year-old forward has all the tools to become one of fantasy hockey's most dominant players -- he has size and grit and plays a physical game, which will result in solid penalty minutes; he will see more power play time this season after averaging 2:17 last year; he has a quality team around him which will result in a good plus/minus; he has unbelievable hands which should result in plenty of points (just check out this goal from last season, and how about this pass?); and he has improved his stats every year he's been in the NHL (22 G, 41 points as a rookie in 2009-10, 22 G, 56 points in 2010-11, 26 G, 63 points last season). There's literally no flaw in his game from a fantasy standpoint.

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:16 PM

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

Lightning start long homestand against hot Senators

TAMPA, Fla. -- This is the first of five straight home games for the Tampa Bay Lightning -- the team's longest homestand of the season.

“For us, this is one game. [Friday night], we are playing the Ottawa Senators,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. “That’s all I’m focusing on. This game. Period.”

Vincent Lecavalier will be honored before the game for playing in his 1,000th NHL game Monday night in Uniondale against the New York Islanders. This will be the first home game since Lecavalier reached his milestone.

The Lightning will hold an eight-minute ceremony prior to the game during which his teammates will present gifts and the team will honor him with the traditional inscribed silver stick. Lecavalier is expecting 35 friends and family members to be in attendance.

The Senators are undefeated after three games and have yielded two goals, but will have a slightly different look against the Lightning. Coach Paul MacLean announced after the team's skate Friday that forward Kaspars Daugavins and defenseman Mark Borowiecki will replace Guillaume Latendresse and Patrick Wiercioch in the lineup. Latendresse reportedly has a minor injury, while Wiercioch appears to be a healthy scratch.

Ottawa goaltender Ben Bishop will get the call in net, his first start of the season. Bishop collected his first win with the Senators against the Lightning, a 7-3 victory on March 6, 2012.

“That’s got to help,” Bishop said. “It’s a good memory.”

LIGHTNING

Martin St. Louis – Steven StamkosRyan Malone

Cory ConacherVincent LecavalierTeddy Purcell

Nate ThompsonAdam HallB.J. Crombeen

Tom PyattBenoit Pouliot

Eric Brewer – Matt Carle

Victor HedmanSami Salo

Brian LeeMarc-Andre Bergeron

Keith Aulie

Anders Lindback

Mathieu Garon

Scratched: Dana Tyrell, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Brendan Mikkelson

NOTE: Tampa Bay will dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

MacLean told reporters he wasn't sure how the Senators' lineup would shake out because of the two changes. Latendresse had been skating on Ottawa's second line with Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson, while Wiercioch had been part of the team's third defense pairing with Andre Benoit.

SENATORS

Milan MichalekJason SpezzaJakob Silfverberg

Kaspars DaugavinsKyle TurrisDaniel Alfredsson

Colin GreeningZack SmithChris Neil

Peter Regin – Jim O’Brien – Erik Condra

Erik KarlssonMarc Methot

Sergei GoncharChris Phillips

Andre BenoitMark Borowiecki

Ben Bishop

Craig Anderson

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 12:54 PM

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

Cisco NHL Live looks back at fantastic finishes

We are almost done with the opening week of the 2012-13 National Hockey League season, and we had some fantastic finishes last night in the NHL. Cisco NHL Live, at 5 p.m. ET on the NHL Network, will review and preview with Bill Pidto and EJ Hradek. Nail Yakupov's fantastic goal celebration got EJ thinking of his Top 5 celebrations. We will have them in his signature segment, The EJ5.

 

We'll also go live to Detroit, on our Cisco NHL Arena Cam, to preview the Red Wings vs. the Wild, which airs tonight 7:30 ET on the NHL Network. NBC Sports analyst Eddie Olczyk, Jeremy Roenick and NHL Network's Barry Melrose will all stop by the program to give their opinions on some of the great starts to the season.

Don't forget to submit your #AskEJ questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL, and stick around for the shootout as EJ picks each game being played on Friday.

NAIL YAKUPOV - SLIDING CELEBRATION VS. KINGS

THEO FLEURY - SLIDING CELEBRATION VS. OILERS

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