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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flames to add offense with return of Glencross

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are expected to welcome back a big piece of their offense Thursday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes.

Forward Curtis Glencross, who has missed 13 games with a knee injury, could return alongside Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla as the Flames make their playoff push.

"I feel pretty good and hopefully I get the nod," Glencross said. "The biggest thing is we don't know for sure what's going on. It's a game-time decision for the coaches. For me, it's just keeping it simple and get the feet back underneath me and try not to do anything out of the ordinary and get pucks on the net."

Only Iginla's 23 goals are more than what Glencross has contributed to the Flames this season despite missing the last five weeks of action. Both he and Jokinen have found the back of the net 18 times this year.

"Offensively, until he got hurt, he was having a career year," coach Brent Sutter said. "(But) it's the other things -- speed, killing penalties, we can use him on the power play -- there are different variables in Glennie's game that helps the team and helps the team have success."

Defenseman Derek Smith could also return to the lineup tonight after missing 22 games with a high ankle sprain. Smith, like Glencross, will be a game-time decision.

"It's definitely something I've been looking forward to the last eight weeks," Smith said. "I feel good. It's a coaches decision, it's a game-time decision, but as of right now I feel ready to go."

It's not all good news for the Flames.

Though they were handed an embarrassing 6-1 defeat at the hands of the provincial-rival Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the bigger loss might have come with defenseman Chris Butler.

Racing back to cover an odd-man rush, Butler plowed into goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, cutting his leg in the process. He’s expected out three weeks.

Here's the Flames' projected lineup for tonight:

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Blake Comeau
Krys Kolanos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Lance Bouma

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:35 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sturggling Panthers searching for offense

SUNRISE, Fla. — Goals have been hard to come by for the Florida Panthers during their disappointing homestand. They’re hoping things will change in the finale Thursday against Minnesota.

In losing in regulation to Ottawa, Washington and Anaheim over the past week, the Panthers scored only three goals. It’s their lowest-scoring three-game stretch of the season.

The reasons for the scoring woes include a struggling power play, the absence of three regular defensemen and some occasional overpassing.

Coach Kevin Dineen also believes his team has to stop letting the opponent dictate the pace of the game.

“For us, our speed game needs to first and foremost come as a factor in every game,” he said after Thursday’s optional morning skate. “A lot of times we’re starting in our own zone and we feel that if we can play solid defense it can transition into good offense. If we get our speed going, that opens up the opportunities in the other zone.”

The Panthers, who will go into Thursday’s game tied with Winnipeg atop the Southeast Division with 65 games but with four games in hand, are coming off a 2-0 loss to Anaheim on Sunday.

Florida outshot the Ducks 31-27 but had few quality scoring chances.

The power play didn’t help, going 0-for-4. In a 2-1 loss Friday to Washington, the Panthers were 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

“It obviously becomes an issue when you’re in tight-checking, tight-scoring games,” Dineen said. “When you get a man advantage, you have to take advantage of it. We’re certainly aware that our power play needs to produce. Sometimes it might not be goals on the board, but it’s walking out of there with what I call feel good, that you walk out it’s up-tempo, opportunities present themselves, and the game carries on from there. But it would certainly be nice to score more consistently on the power play like we did earlier in the year.”

Kris Versteeg, who leads the team in scoring with 48 points, says low-scoring games are to be expected at this time of year.

“I guess you just keep the pedal to the metal is one thing you’re going to do,” Versteeg said. “The power play has got to get us some goals here now. We’ve also got to work hard to draw some penalties to get us on the power play. It comes hand in hand. We’re just going to keep doing what we do. We’ve been throwing a lot of pucks at the net.”
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:34 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hurricanes backup goalie has Boudreau's attention

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is making his first trip to Carolina as the Ducks' bench boss, but the stop over in Raleigh is a familiar one from his days with Washington. So he knows a thing or two about the Hurricanes.

That's why he seemed genuinely concerned about facing goaltender Justin Peters, who has made 26 NHL appearances over three seasons. In his last outing, Peters recorded his first NHL shutout, a 5-0 effort against the Capitals.

"I'm always leery against guys like that," said Boudreau, whose Capitals faced Peters twice in previous seasons. "I've seen Justin a lot, and when he's on, he’s on. He's probably feeling pretty good about himself coming off his first shutout."

Peters has appeared in three straight games after a call-up from Charlotte. He won a 3-2 decision against San Jose last Friday, before replacing injured Cam Ward (lower body) in a Saturday loss to the New York Islanders. He stopped 17 shots to defeat Washington on Monday.

"I've seen it happen so many times, that you face guys that aren't used to being in the limelight -- and then for short periods of time, they can be superhuman," Boudreau said. "Then they end up coming back to earth with one game. There's a reason they're in the minors for so many years, but then they come in and stand on their head and they look as good as anybody. (Peters) is in one of those modes, and the team is in that mindset. It makes for a tough game."

Tonight's game is the final outing in an eight-game road trip for the Ducks, in which they have posted a 4-1-2 mark.

DUCKS
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - Devante Smith-Pelly

Cam Fowler - Francois Beauchemin
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Jerome Samson
Jussi Jokinen - Jeff Skinner - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Brandon Sutter - Andreas Nodl
Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Derek Joslin

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Justin Peters
Mike Murphy
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Maple Leafs

Here's the projected rosters for San Jose and Toronto as they face off Thursday night at Air Canada Centre:

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau- Joe Thornton- Joe Pavelski
Tommy Wingels- Logan Couture- Ryane Clowe
Jamie McGinn- Torrey Mitchell - Benn Ferriero
Brad Winchester- Michal Handzus - Andrew Desjardins

Colin White- Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic- Brent Burns
Jason Demers- Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul- Tyler Bozak- Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur- Mikhail Grabovski- Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi- Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Darryl Boyce- David Steckel- Mike Brown

Carl Gunnarsson- Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner- Luke Schenn

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 12:11 PM

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

Ovechkin skates briefly before Caps practice

Alex Ovechkin skated for about 15 minutes ahead of practice Thursday morning for the Washington Capitals, according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post.

Ovechkin did not play Wednesday night in a critical 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. He left the previous game, a 5-0 loss to Carolina, but later returned and the absence was deemed an equipment issue. Before the game Wednesday in Ottawa, Ovechkin told reporters he was not feeling well, but coach Dale Hunter said he had a lower-body injury.

The Capitals lost the three games of a four-game road trip and remain in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Despite their struggles, they are just two points out of eighth place in the East and two behind the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Southeast Division.

Carrera noted that Ovechkin twice tried to skate at full speed, but quickly pulled up and spent of the time on the ice skating at half-speed. The Capitals play Montreal at Verizon Center on Friday before a trip Saturday to Toronto. They are also still without top center Nicklas Backstrom, who has not skated in weeks because of a concussion.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:28 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BOS @ STL - 7:34 of the Second Period

At 7:34 of the second period in the Bruins/Blues game, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that Johnny Boychuk's shot never crossed the goal line. No goal Boston.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 5:30 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ovechkin out for Caps tonight

The Washington Capitals' attempt to jump back into the top eight into the Eastern Conference Wednesday will take place without their captain and leading scorer, Alex Ovechkin.

The Washington Capitals announced Ovechkin will miss tonight's game against the Ottawa Senators due to a lower-body injury.

Ovechkin was on the ice for about eight minutes during the team's morning skate, with coach Dale Hunter revealing the injury after the full team practice.

Ovechkin likely suffered the injury during Monday's 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, which saw Ovechkin play just 15:43, including just five shifts in the third period. The team announced after the game that Ovechkin played so little -- it was the second-lowest ice time he's had this season -- due to an equipment issue.

However, Ovechkin was seen by reporters limping after the game, and he sat out Tuesday's practice.

The Capitals had recalled forward Keith Aucoin from AHL Hershey earlier Wednesday.

The Caps, who have won just three of their last 10 games, enter Wednesday's game 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind eighth-place Toronto, which hosts San Jose tonight. A win and regulation losses by Leafs and the ninth-place Winnipeg Jets, who host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, would move the Caps into eighth place.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 4:49 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Duchene cites Saints QB as help in his recovery

DENVER -- The Avalanche hope to get a boost tonight from Matt Duchene, who will play his second game since missing 20 with a knee injury. The game against the Kings will be his first home game since getting hurt in a Dec. 29 game against Phoenix at Pepsi Center.

"Right now my only focus is to help my teammates around me, to help my team make the playoffs as best I can," said Duchene, who will play left wing on a line with center Paul Stastny and right wing Milan Hejduk. "No one can do it alone, so I'm not going to try and be some sort of hero; that's not the right approach at all."

While rehabilitating his knee, Duchene began to read Drew Brees' "Coming Back Stronger," which chronicles the New Orleans Saints quarterback's comeback from a potentially career-ending shoulder injury with San Diego in 2005 that led to his arrival in New Orleans and eventual Super Bowl championship in 2010.

"I used it to help me heal my body and my mind, as well," Duchene said. "I think the mind healing was even more beneficial. I feel really refreshed physically and mentally, and I have a new outlook on things. I read it on game days before I come to the rink. He (Brees) is an amazing person and I think there are a lot of scenarios that are similar in terms of how we look at things in life and our sport. He's a guy based on faith and so am I. He works real hard and does things the right way, so it's good to know his story."
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 4:47 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Downie to debut on line with O'Reilly, Landeskog

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche expect to be a more difficult team to play against now that Steve Downie has joined the lineup. The hard-nosed right wing will make his Avalanche debut tonight (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center.

Acquired on Tuesday from Tampa Bay in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey, who then was sent to Detroit for a 2012 first-round draft pick and a prospect, Downie will skate on a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and center Ryan O'Reilly.

"I want to give him a shot there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning. "He's a right-handed shot and he certainly played with some pretty good players in Tampa Bay, so I think he'll be a nice fit for O'Reilly and Landeskog with the grit that he can add on that line and with the ability to make some plays."

Downie, 24, had 12 goals, 16 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 55 games with the Lightning. He arrived in Denver around midnight, checked into his hotel an hour later and didn't get much sleep before heading to the arena for the morning skate.

"It's been crazy," he said. "It was disappointing taking off on a plane (from Tampa), but it was even more exciting landing. The drive in (from the airport), it was late last night, but it was exciting. I'm real excited to be here. I had trouble sleeping, but I'll have a good nap today and get ready to go.

"I'm excited to get things going. I'm going to bring grit and play the body as much as I can. I can chip in in the offensive part of the game, too."

Downie said the trade didn't come as a complete surprise, even though the Lightning is only five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Avalanche are four points behind the eighth-place Kings in the West. The Kings, who are 1-3-2 in their past six games, didn't skate this morning after squandering 3-0 and 4-2 leads Tuesday in a 5-4 shootout loss to Phoenix.

"I knew they were doing stuff over there, trying to get draft picks in the building," Downie said of the Lightning. "So you know about (a possible trade), but you don't. It was tough leaving there. I was there for a long time, but it's real exciting to be here and to see all these guys. They're fast and they have a lot of skill. They have some really skilled guys and it's going to be fun to watch them and to play with them."

Downie said the chance to skate with Landeskog and O'Reilly is a "good opportunity," add added, "Two great players. I'm going to complement them as much as I can, give them the puck and go to the net."
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 3:41 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Caps' shopping Roman Hamrlik?

Washington Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik will be a healthy scratch Wednesday night in a critical contest against the Ottawa Senators, but his long-term future with the club could also be in doubt.

Renaud P. Lavoie of RDS reported Wednesday that the Capitals have shopped Hamrlik for a potential trade. Hamrlik's agent, Petr Svoboda told Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times that neither he nor his client have asked for a trade, but Lavoie reports Hamrlik "very much would like to play elsewhere."

Hamrlik has two goals and 10 points for the Capitals this season. He is a plus-11 in 37 games with Dale Hunter as the coach, but he's also been on the ice for more goals against than for at even strength this season.

"You want him to be a defensive defenseman," Hunter told reporters. "He's giving up too many chances, so he's out of the lineup."

He signed a two-year, $7 million contract in the offseason. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Blues have been scouting Washington games with regularity of late, and Hamrlik could be a veteran defenseman they'd be interested in.
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Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1