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Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 5:27 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Stuart expects 'strange' game against former mates

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart has played in 894 NHL games over 13 seasons. He's played for five teams -- he's in his second stint with the Sharks -- and is no stranger to playing games against former clubs and teammates.

Yet Stuart knows that when he takes the ice Thursday night at HP Pavilion for the first time against his former Detroit Red Wings teammates, his emotions will be running stronger than usual. This won't be just another game.

"It will be a little strange," Stuart said after the Sharks' morning skate. "Probably not as bad as if I was in Joe Louis [Arena]. That will be a little stranger. It should be fun too. I've got a lot of good memories of being part of that organization. I've moved on, but it's still going to be a little weird to play against these guys."

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 4:14 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Gustavsson set to make first start for Red Wings

SAN JOSE -- Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson's long wait will end Thursday night when he makes his first start for the Detroit Red Wings against the San Jose Sharks.

"I'm really excited," Gustavsson said after taking part in an optional morning skate at HP Pavilion. "It's been a long time since I've started in this league. This is something I've been looking forward to during the lockout and during the summer. So I'm really excited."

Gustavsson, a former Toronto Maple Leafs player, signed a two-year contract with Detroit as a free agent in July, but a nagging groin injury has limited him to two appearances in relief of starter Jimmy Howard.

"Obviously it wouldn't hurt to see him play, and I think it's important that your starting goalie doesn't have to play every night," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The other thing about it, a real good opportunity for him. We need a win on the road, and he's capable of doing that. So, get in there and play like he can."

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:30 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Duchene declares himself ready to return for Avs

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene will be back in the lineup Thursday night to play against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center.

Duchene missed Tuesday's game at the San Jose Sharks because of a groin injury.

"I feel good to go," Duchene said Thursday morning after taking part in the pregame skate. "I felt like I had that step. The last game-and-a-half I felt pretty awful and I definitely feel better than that, so that's a positive. Let's hope it feels good throughout the game.

"I pushed it pretty hard (Thursday) and I'm usually pretty honest with myself. It's really hard for me to sit games out. Even last game it was really hard to be in the room just watching rather than being out there. It feels good enough to go, so that's the decision."

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:28 PM

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

Devils hope to stop rare losing streak

WINNIPEG -- The New Jersey Devils begin a three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday hoping to stop a rare multigame losing streak.

Losses to the Jets on Feb. 24 and to the Washington Capitals the day before marked the first consecutive regulation losses for the Devils (10-5-4) since March 17-19, 2012.

New Jersey will start goaltender Johan Hedberg for the third consecutive game after placing Martin Brodeur on injured reserve this week.
Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:22 PM

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

Lehtonen returns for Stars; Oilers get Hall back

DALLAS -- When the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars hit the ice Thursday night at American Airlines Center, each team will have key members back in the fold.

Edmonton will have first-line wing Taylor Hall for the first time after he served a two-game suspension for kneeing Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild, and no one could be happier than Oilers coach Ralph Krueger.

"Well, he adds an amazing amount of pressure on the opposition's defense and on their defensive structure," Krueger said of Hall. "To have [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins], [Jordan Eberle] and [Hall] back together gives us a real weapon here. We're very pleased to have Taylor's speed and offensive pressure back."

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:11 PM

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

Rangers send Kreider to AHL; Nash could play

The New York Rangers on Thursday sent forward Chris Kreider to the Connecticut Whale, the team's American Hockey League affiliate.

Kreider has two points in 11 games this season.

This move could mean Rick Nash, who has missed the past four games with an undisclosed injury, could be ready to return to the lineup for Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. At Thursday's morning skate, Nash said he would be a game-time decision.

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:11 PM

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

Blues looking to end Blackhawks' streak

ST. LOUIS -- Someone has tried unsuccessfully to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation or overtime 19 times this season, including the St. Louis Blues. Now that they're again facing a Blackhawks team that is still cruising, the Blues are asking, "Why not us?"

The Blackhawks, who come to St. Louis for an 8 p.m. ET puck-drop Thursday, have gotten at least one point in 19 consecutive to start the season. They come to St. Louis with a 16-0-3 record, and the Blues (10-6-2) are aware that they're up against the League's best team.

"They're a really good team," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Blackhawks, who defeated the Blues 3-2 on Jan. 22 in Chicago. "Winning is a feeling. When you have the right feeling going, you win all the close games, you get the goal at the end, you win in overtime, you win in the shootout. It's a feeling, and they've got the feeling going right now. Somebody's going to have to break the feeling. Might as well be us."

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:04 PM

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

Successful trip complete, Jets focus on home record

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets left town Feb. 18 a team fighting to save its season. Now the Jets are back with a new outlook on their Stanley Cup Playoff hopes after an eventful 4-0-1 road trip.

The Jets (9-9-1) make a two-game pit stop at MTS Centre that starts Thursday night when the New Jersey Devils make their lone visit to Winnipeg. After a Southeast Division contest with the Washington Capitals at home Saturday afternoon, the Jets will again hit the road for another week-long trip.

Winnipeg has rectified some of the road issues that derailed the club last season, but now home ice is a concern. The Jets have dropped four consecutive games at MTS Centre and are 3-5-0 at home this season. The clubs split two MTS Centre dates last season, and the Jets scored a 4-2 decision when the teams met Feb. 24 at New Jersey.

"It's really good when you go around the city and people congratulate you on the road trip, which is good," Jets coach Claude Noel said of life in a city that was rather displeased with its club earlier this month. "I think that our players will be ready."

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Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website
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