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Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 3:27 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes hope to make up ground on Blackhawks

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It doesn't take much of a losing streak to lose ground in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. The Phoenix Coyotes found that out the hard way last week, when a 0-2-1 mini-slump left them looking up at West teams that just keep winning.

The Coyotes got back on track with a tight 2-1 road win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday and have a chance to make up ground Saturday against the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago moved eight points ahead of Phoenix with its fifth straight win, a 2-1 shootout victory against the Dallas Stars Friday.

Chicago is now 5-1 on a road trip that ends in Arizona, collecting points in bunches while the Coyotes scuffled before finding their game in front of backup goalie Thomas Greiss against the Wild.

"Before the game talked about not letting things spiral out of control, that losing three was bad enough," Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle said. "The great teams find ways to end those runs quickly, and now we have to take the momentum from that win and run with it."

The Coyotes are off to a 15-6-4 start after 25 games and things are looking up off the ice as well. The game on Saturday is a sellout and all 87 luxury suites have been sold at Arena for the first time since the Coyotes moved to Glendale in 2003. Team officials are projecting the highest regular season gate revenue since the team moved to Arizona in 1996

The Coyotes still have defenseman Rostislav Klesla on the roster, but after clearing waivers this week he is likely headed for the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. Klesla was allowed to stay in Arizona to tend to personal matters but it was clear coach Dave Tippett wants him to play heavy minutes in the minors and work on improving his game.

Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 2:54 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stastny returns for Avalanche against Wild

DENVER -- Center Paul Stastny will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup Saturday against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center after missing two games because of back spasms.

Stastny took part in the Avalanche's optional skate and is expected to skate on a line with left wing Jamie McGinn and right wing PA Parenteau.

The Avalanche are looking to sweep the home-and-home series with the Wild after winning the opening game 3-1 Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

"It was actually something away from hockey; it just acted up," Stastny said of his back ailment. "To me, that's a positive. I'd rather it happen away from hockey. I wasn't comfortable doing certain things and I didn't want to put our team in jeopardy. I didn't want to play five minutes and have to leave. You want to be smart about it so it doesn't act up later."

Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 2:16 PM

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

Capitals' Orlov, Islanders' de Haan set for debuts

The Washington Capitals and New York Islanders will each have a young defenseman making his season debut with the club Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.

Dmitry Orlov, who has been shuttling back and forth between the Capitals and Hershey of the American Hockey League all season, will finally earn a sweater for Washington. Orlov, a second-round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft (No. 55), has three goals and 20 points in 65 NHL games.

Most of that came in 2011-12, when he had a solid rookie season. He sustained a concussion playing for Hershey during the lockout last season and hasn't been able to find a consistent place in the Capitals lineup since.

Calvin de Haan, a first-round pick in 2009 (No. 12), will play his second NHL game for the Islanders. He dressed for one in 2011-12. The defenseman missed most of the 2012-13 season with a shoulder injury.

He will draw into the lineup for Radek Martinek.

Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 1:44 PM

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

Weber, Klein out for Predators against Flyers

Top defenseman Shea Weber is not expected to play Saturday night when the Nashville Predators welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to Bridgestone Arena.

Weber left Nashville's game Thursday with an eye injury and did not skate Saturday morning. Defenseman Kevin Klein is also out with a lower-body injury, and the Predators recalled Joe Piskula from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. To make room for Piskula on the active roster, forward Filip Forsberg was placed on injured reserve.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz told Josh Cooper of the Tennessean that Weber is day-to-day with the injury.

"We're very fortunate it's not a lot more serious," Trotz said.

Piskula, 29, will be the oldest member of the Nashville defense corps against Philadelphia. The other five are all 25 years old or younger. Roman Josi has the most NHL experience, and Saturday will be his 117th career NHL contest.

Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 1:22 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers, Canucks still searching for an identity

NEW YORK -- Roughly a third of the way into their first seasons with their respective new teams, Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella and New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault are still looking to establish a team identity, or at least one that matches what they envisioned when they first took over their new jobs.

It's an unusual situation, considering the two coaches essentially swapped jobs during the summer when Tortorella was fired after slightly more than four seasons in New York and Vigneault was let go after seven seasons in Vancouver.

Entering his first regular season game against his former team, Tortorella admitted the Canucks were still finding themselves as a team.

"I don't think so. I think we're making strides. I don't think we've totally nailed it down," Tortorella said when asked if the Canucks had found their identity. "I think it's very important we get there as soon as possible. I think you need it be who you are. We still haven't totally defined that. I have an idea of who we'd like to be. But we're still in the process of trying to get that to be instinctive for our players and how we play."

Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 12:30 PM

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

Winchester back for Panthers against Penguins

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers will have right wing Jesse Winchester back in the lineup Saturday when they try to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins at home for the second time this season.

Winchester missed the past four games because of a lower-body injury sustained in a 4-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 21. Winchester, signed as a free agent this summer after he spent all of 2012-13 playing in Europe, was one of Florida's most productive forwards earlier this season.

He had a run of five points in six games (three goals, two assists) before serving a three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly.

"He works hard in all three areas of the rink," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said after the morning skate Saturday. "He's not afraid to go into the hard areas. He's pretty good on the walls. That's one of the areas before I got here that he was one of the players who were doing what they needed to do and living up to their responsibilities. He's a good kid, he works hard, and he's kind of a workhorse that people can follow and use as an example."

Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 11:42 AM

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

Bruins' Iginla not worried about dip in production

BOSTON – Had Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla managed to score on his wide-open chance in the second period Friday, the Bruins' comeback would've kicked in gear sooner and their 3-2 win against the New York Rangers might've been less of a nail-biter.

Instead, Iginla's bullet from the high slot went wide and made a bigger noise on the glass than on the score sheet.

"I was pretty excited to get a one-timer in that position and it's what you're hoping for," Iginla said after the Bruins' optional morning skate Saturday. "I got a great pass from [Chris Kelly]. And I hit it hard, I just missed the net. I was probably a little too eager. But I try to get open for those and I'll try to get a few more of those."

Posted On Friday, 11.29.2013 / 6:36 PM

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

Parise returns to Wild lineup vs. Avalanche

Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise returned to the lineup Friday against the Colorado Avalanche, four days after injuring his left foot blocking a shot in a loss to the St. Louis Blues.

The Wild announced Tuesday that Parise was expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a contusion on his left foot, but Parise skated the next two days and was declared ready to go after getting through warm-ups Friday.

Posted On Friday, 11.29.2013 / 5:18 PM - 2013-2014 Situation Room blog

CGY @ ANA - 5:51 of the Second Period

At 5:51 of the second period in the Flames/Ducks game, video review was inconclusive in determining whether Ladislav Smid's shot completely crossed the goal line. The referee's call on the ice stands. Good goal Calgary.

Posted On Friday, 11.29.2013 / 3:18 PM

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

Islanders will scratch Bailey against Red Wings

The New York Islanders are expected to make slumping forward Josh Bailey a healthy scratch Friday against the Detroit Red Wings at Nassau Coliseum.

Bailey has no goals and two assists since Oct. 25. He sat with coach Jack Capuano on Thursday to discuss his recent play. Capuano said that the decision has more to do with Bailey putting too much pressure on himself in lieu of any wake-up call. Bailey has four goals and 10 points in 25 games this season.

"I don’t talk too much about our meetings with players, but I’ll tell you this: the conversation we spent together [Thursday] was good with him," Capuano said. "And I don’t know if it’s so much of a wake-up call, but just a player to me that puts so much pressure on himself just has to relax a little bit more and just play the game, the way that he played against [the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs] and the way that he started this year. Josh is fine. I have a lot of confidence that he'll bounce back."

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