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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 1:22 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs want to build momentum for playoffs

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After suffering a 5-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs held an optional morning skate at BB&T Center in preparation for their game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

A total of 15 players, including captain Dion Phaneuf and second-leading scorer Nazem Kadri, went on the ice.

The surprisingly large turnout could be attributed to two important reasons.

First and foremost, the Maple Leafs still have a shot at passing the Montreal Canadiens for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and getting home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Second, the Maple Leafs want to build some momentum entering the playoffs after losing three of their past four games.

"It just shows that the guys are willing to work to get back to where we were," Kadri said. "I don’t think we're far away from that. It's something that's very easy to correct, but at the same time we've got to be willing to work and execute the game plan."

Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 1:22 PM

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

Orpik, Vitale join Penguins' list of injured players

NEWARK, N.J. -- Just when it appears the Pittsburgh Penguins are close to getting healthy for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a few more injuries have popped up.

Brooks Orpik and Joe Vitale did not accompany the team on the trip for the game Thursday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) because each is dealing with a lower-body injury.

Orpik was injured in the game Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. Vitale did not play in either of the past two games.

Paul Martin and James Neal returned to practice Thursday, and though neither will play against the Devils, either could return for the regular-season finale Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Martin has missed the past 11 games with a broken hand, and Neal has missed the past seven with a concussion.

"I think that's the plan," Martin said of his status. "I was hoping for [Thursday], but now it looks like probably Saturday."

Sidney Crosby did not travel with the team due to a dental appointment Thursday, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. There still is no timetable for Crosby's return to the lineup from the broken jaw he sustained during a game March 30. He has been skating but has yet to return to full practices with the team.

Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 12:50 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Franzen expects to play in Wings' possible clincher

DETROIT -- Johan Franzen said he's confident he will play Thursday at Joe Louis Arena when the Detroit Red Wings take on the Nashville Predators in a game with potentially big Stanley Cup Playoff implications.

Franzen, who scored his 14th goal of the season in a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, didn't go back onto the ice for the last few minutes of the game. His status was undetermined afterward and no description of an injury was given -- only that Franzen wasn't available to go back on the ice despite staying on the bench.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock still didn't know whether Franzen would be available after Detroit's optional morning skate Thursday, but the Swedish power forward said he'd likely be in uniform. He also said his absence from the ice in the waning minutes of Wednesday's game isn't cause for alarm.

"Just got a little rest, no need to play those last minutes (with a two-goal lead)," said Franzen, who has six goals and 11 points in the past six games. "I thought I'd get off and take the rest, so that's it.''

Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 12:41 PM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Karlsson returns as Senators try to snap mini-slide

WASHINGTON – Defenseman Erik Karlsson will return to the Ottawa Senators lineup Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

The reigning Norris Trophy winner has not played since Feb. 13 when his Achilles tendon was sliced in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson underwent surgery Feb. 14 and was expected to miss four to six months. Instead, the 22-year-old will return exactly 10 weeks after the operation.

The Senators could clinch a second straight Stanley Cup Playoff berth as early as Thursday night with a win against the Capitals or a Winnipeg Jets’ regulation loss against the Montreal Canadiens.

Ottawa has lost two straight games since beating the Capitals 3-1 a week ago at ScotiaBank Place. The Senators have since been outscored 7-2 in back-to-back defeats by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Capitals’ loss in Ottawa last Thursday remains the club’s only blemish in a 10-1-0 month of April. Washington clinched the Southeast Division title and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 win Tuesday against Winnipeg.

Here is Ottawa’s projected lineup for Thursday night:

Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 12:33 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Horton remains out as Bruins host Lightning

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins will finish a string of three straight games against teams that aren’t going to be in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on Thursday.

The Bruins are 1-1-0 during this stretch, where they’ve found out just how hard the non-contenders are competing even with little more than pride on the line. Considering his team’s disappointing performance in a 5-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien knows his team cannot take anyone lightly.

“It’s a team that played, I thought, a really good game [Wednesday] night,” Julien said of the Lightning. “I watched them play, and I think you just have to look around at the schedule the other night, all the playoff-seeded teams, almost every one of them except for Washington, lost. So it goes to show you teams aren’t giving up. They’re coming out and playing some solid hockey. When you know you’ve only got 'X' number of games left and you want to finish on a positive note, you play your best. And that’s what we should expect from Tampa [on Thursday] night.”

The Bruins are almost completely healthy, with only Nathan Horton battling an injury. Julien said Horton skated Thursday morning but he is still day-to-day and will not face the Lightning.

The game with Tampa Bay will be Horton’s third game missed since he was injured against the Pittsburgh Penguins last Saturday.

Tampa Bay did not hold a morning skate after flying in from Tampa after a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 11:51 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hedberg starts, Gelinas makes NHL debut for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Johan Hedberg will make his first start in over a month Thursday when his team plays host to the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins in the final game of the season at Prudential Center.

Hedberg, who is making his first start since a March 19 loss to the New York Rangers, is 5-9-3 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in 17 games this season. In 10 career appearances against the Penguins, Hedberg is 3-5-1 with 2.84 GAA and .900 save percentage.

"It's been a while now since I last played, so it's nice to get one in and set up for next year," Hedberg told "We're playing for pride now. The fans have been great all year and coming to every game. That's really what we're playing for tonight … to show our appreciation for what they did for us."

Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 11:25 AM

By Staff -  / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Semin to miss rest of season with concussion

Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told the Raleigh News and Observer on Thursday that forward Alexander Semin has a concussion and will miss the team's final two regular-season games.

The Hurricanes play Thursday at home against the New York Rangers and Saturday at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In 44 games this season, Semin had 13 goals and 31 assists.

Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 11:10 AM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Neuvirth starting in net for Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Michal Neuvirth will make a rare start at Verizon Center on Thursday when the Washington Capitals host the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET, TSN).

Neuvirth will make just his fifth start at home Thursday, and his second since Feb. 5.

Here is the rest of Washington's projected lineup:

Posted On Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 11:07 PM - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

CHI @ EDM - 13:51 of the Second Period

At 13:51 of the second period in the Blackhawks/Oilers game during a scramble in the Edmonton crease, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck never completely crossed the goal line. No Goal Chicago.

Posted On Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 7:06 PM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

CISCO NHL Live: John Tavares

CISCO NHL Live talks with New York Islanders' Center John Tavares.

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