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Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 2:44 PM

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

Stars have seen season turn since rout by Hawks

CHICAGO -- It's been almost a month since the Dallas Stars lived through a hockey nightmare against the Chicago Blackhawks at American Airlines Center.

Chicago came into "The Big D" on March 16 and put up a memorable 8-1 blowout victory on the board that included starting goalie Kari Lehtonen being chased and backup Richard Bachman also surrendering four goals -- including a Patrick Kane jaw-dropping spin-o-rama backhand number from the right circle.

Now the Stars will conclude their season series against the Blackhawks on Monday night at United Center, and things have changed considerably for Dallas. Since that Chicago rout, the Stars are 9-5-0 and currently riding a five-game win streak that's put them into contention for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a handful of other Western Conference teams.

Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 1:44 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Prust to miss Canadiens' game against Flyers

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will be missing Brandon Prust when they face the Philadelphia Flyers at Bell Centre on Monday night.

The rugged forward appeared to hurt his left arm or shoulder when he was driven into the glass in a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, but coach Michel Therrien says he should be back in the lineup in time for Wednesday night's game in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

He said keeping Prust out was a precautionary measure.

Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 1:31 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Caps a contender with Ovi's re-emergence

It was only a few years ago that we were looking at Alex Ovechkin being one of the biggest stars in the world, and then by the beginning of this season it looked as if he was the highest-paid grinder in the NHL.

Well, after writing the poor guy off at the start of the year, it's no secret that Ovi's back.

Ovechkin had been written off by just about everybody, but now he's leading the League in goals after one of the most impressive offensive stretches we've seen in years, and the Washington Capitals, who struggled throughout the first half of the season, are reaping the benefits. It certainly looks like the Caps are going to win the Southeast Division unless they completely fall apart, and even when they've had obstacles lately -- like Saturday night when they nearly blew a 5-1 lead -- the Capitals have managed to stay afloat.

Washington's 6-5 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday was a wake-up call. The Caps tried to win without playing the third period, and I think it was a good lesson for them, but the biggest news out of that game might have been that Ovechkin scored yet again. At the start of this season Ovi was hitting everything that moves and making a number of hard checks, but he wasn't scoring at all. That's completely changed now. He's scoring highlight-reel goals, his wrist shot is happening again, he's confident and he's still continuing to hit and play aggressively.

He's back to being Alex.

Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 1:10 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Luongo gets second start in three games for Canucks

NASHVILLE -- When he made his highly-publicized comments after the NHL Trade Deadline on April 3 about his frustration that his contract made it difficult for him to be moved, Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo was in the midst of a stretch of earning only one start in 11 games.

On Monday, when Vancouver visits the Nashville Predators, Luongo will start for the second time in three games. Last Wednesday, Luongo stopped 40 of 41 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames.

"It gives him a chance to play," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. Number one goalie Cory Schneider "was on such a roll, and then he got sick and Louie came in and did an incredible job in Calgary for us, and that's what we expect tonight."

Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 12:44 PM

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

Hamilton back in for Bruins, maybe Bergeron as well

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will look to snap their two-game losing streak Monday against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden, and they'll have at least one player back in their lineup after a short absence.

Rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton is expected to play after resting the last two games. Hamilton has played around 80 games dating back to last May in international competition, junior and the NHL.

"Obviously, just playing so much, it kind of feels like the end of the year, which it is," Hamilton said after the Bruins' morning skate. "But I think just to get a rest, I guess, mentally most of all, just to get away from playing and to be able to come back and kind of it feels like junior a little bit when you get the week off and then you go back and play on the weekends. So I think hopefully I didn't get too rusty over the couple days. But I think I feel good, so I'm pretty happy."

Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 12:26 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ekholm set to be latest rookie add to Predators' lineup

NASHVILLE -- The parade from Milwaukee to Nashville continues, as the Nashville Predators recalled defenseman Mattias Ekholm on Monday from their American Hockey League affiliate.

Second-pair defenseman Kevin Klein suffered an injury in the Predators' 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, and so the team was forced to recall Ekholm on Monday morning. Nashville coach Barry Trotz, who would not specify the injury, said Klein was highly questionable to play.

Ekholm was expected to arrive in Nashville later in the day. As the injuries continue to pile up, Ekholm will be the sixth rookie on the Predators' roster and the third Swede to suit up for the team in roughly one week's time.

Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 12:24 PM

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

Kovalchuk possible for Thursday; Salvador still out

There's an outside chance right wing Ilya Kovalchuk could return to the lineup on Thursday when the New Jersey Devils visit Wells Fargo Center to face the Philadelphia Flyers.

Kovalchuk, who turned 30 today, will miss his 10th straight game on Monday with a right shoulder injury. The Devils visit Air Canada Centre to face the Toronto Maple Leafs.

According to Devils coach Pete DeBoer, Kovalchuk had a good skating session on Sunday and will skate again on Monday in New Jersey.

"I would call him day-to-day," DeBoer told local reporters. "My conversation with [Kovalchuk] before we left New Jersey [Sunday] was he had a good day [Sunday] morning, he was going to try to have another good one [Monday] and we would talk tomorrow morning."

Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 12:16 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Fortunes have changed for Devils, Leafs in past year

TORONTO -- A year ago former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke described his team as being akin to an 18-wheel truck being driven over a cliff.

After a terrific start to the year, the Maple Leafs went into a tailspin that ultimately caused them to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the seventh season in a row and cost coach Ron Wilson his job.

The New Jersey Devils, meanwhile, went about their business as usual as one of the hardest-working and best defensive teams in the NHL, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final ultimately losing to the Los Angeles Kings.

This year it's the Devils who resemble the 18-wheeler going off a cliff while the Maple Leafs, who have been transformed into a tough, hard-checking group by new coach Randy Carlyle, are on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Devils are winless in their past nine games (0-5-4) and sit 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Posted On Sunday, 04.14.2013 / 3:32 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Predators ready for Forsberg's debut

NASHVILLE – Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg will make his much-anticipated NHL debut on Sunday as a member of the team’s top line and first power-play unit.

One day after arriving from Sweden, the 18-year-old is set to play on a line with David Legwand, who has played for the Predators in every season of their existence, and rookie Taylor Beck, who has three goals in 13 games.

That the Predators’ top line is comprised of two rookies with a total of 13 NHL games between them is a testament to the extent to which injuries have impacted the Predators but also to how they have fallen out of the Stanley Cup Playoff race. They have lost eight out of nine entering their game on Sunday with the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena and were 13th in the Western Conference.

Forsberg, drafted 11th in the 2012 NHL Draft, is the player whom the Predators received in exchange from the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat, who ranks second all-time in most Nashville offensive categories.

Posted On Sunday, 04.14.2013 / 11:49 AM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Bolland in, Sharp out for Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- Dave Bolland is back, but Patrick Sharp is out from the Chicago Blackhawks' lineup Sunday when they face the St. Louis Blues [12:30 p.m. ET] on NBC's Game of the Week.

Bolland missed the previous four games with a lower-body injury, initially hurt against the Nashville Predators while blocking a Shea Weber shot April 1. Bolland played the next game against the Blues in Chicago three days later but has not dressed since.

Sharp, who had missed 14 games with a shoulder injury, returned to play the last two games but will not be in the lineup today after not making the trip Saturday with an upper-body injury, presumably the same one that forced Sharp to miss a month.

For the Blues, T.J. Oshie (foot) will miss his eighth consecutive game Sunday. He was injured blocking a shot against the Los Angeles Kings March 28. Oshie's been on the ice and skated for the last week and is presumably close to returning, perhaps during the Blues' four-game homestand this week.

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