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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 10:22 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NSH @ MIN - 9:22 of the Third Period

At 9:22 of the third period in the Predators/Wild game, video review conclusively determined that Brandon Yip's shot completely crossed the goal line. Good Goal Minnesota.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 10:19 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Kelowna boys receive loudest ovation

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Not surprisingly, Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons and defenseman Damon Severson received the loudest ovation during pre-game introductions for the CHL/NHL Home Hardware Top Prospects Skills Competition here at Prospera Place.

Sissons, ranked No. 14 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, is currently in this second season with the Rockets. He's produced 26 goals and 38 points in 51 games this season for Kelowna.

"It's definitely more comfortable for me being there than for some of the guys coming into Kelowna," Sissons told NHL.com. "I'm used to it here. Our fans will be loud and into it, and hopefully all our fans will get to enjoy our fans like I do night in and night out."

Sissons will participate in the showdown breakaway contest for Team Orr.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 9:58 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

DET @ CGY - 19:09 of the First Period

At 19:09 of the first period in the Flames/Wings game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Dan Cleary's backhand did not cross the goal line. No Goal Detroit.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 9:42 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

TOR @ PIT - 19:53 of the Third Period

At 19:53 of the third period in the Maple Leafs/Penguins game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that James Neal's shot deflected off Evgeni Malkin's chest and into the net in a legal fashion. According to rule 78.4 "If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed." Good Goal Pittsburgh.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 9:16 PM

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

Mason gets call for Columbus

SAN JOSE -- Columbus goaltender Curtis Sanford has allowed just four total goals in two games against San Jose this season - both 2-1 losses - but Steve Mason will be in goal Tuesday night when the Blue Jackets face the Sharks at HP Pavilion.

On their last California road trip earlier in January, Sanford suffered a one-goal loss to the Sharks then beat the Los Angeles Kings 1-0. The Blue Jackets will face the Kings again in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

"We're playing back-to-back games," Columbus interim coach Todd Richards said of his decision to start Mason. "Sanford played both games, here in San Jose and also in L.A. He played well in both buildings, but we're playing back-to-back. Steve's played well in his last two starts. (Sanford) played the last game in Tampa. It seems logical to us that he'll play tonight and Sanford will play tomorrow in L.A."

Mason will play in his 200th career game Tuesday night. He has an 82-85-25 career mark with a 2.85 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. This season he is 5-18-2 with a 3.42 goals against average and a .882 save percentage.

It's been that type of season for the Blue Jackets, who are last in the NHL with just 32 points. While the Sharks and most NHL teams begin their playoff pushes, Columbus has to set for smaller goals.

"I talked to the guys about the goal I have for this road trip, and hopefully they have the same type of goals and what they want to accomplish as a group because I can have one thing and want one thing and it might not mean the same to them," Richards said. "So hopefully we're kind of on the same road as far as what we want, but it's getting those small goals and what's realistic, what we can achieve.

"Trying to create a fun atmosphere again, too. We've been beaten up so much this year. A lot of it is self-inflicted, with the beating up that we've done, but it's trying to create a positive environment again where we can enjoy being around each other, enjoy being at the rink and enjoy doing what we're doing."

Richards declined to reveal his specific goals for his team's three-game California swing against the Sharks, Kings and Ducks.

"It has nothing to do with points," he said. "It has nothing to do with wins, losses or ties. It's just something that as a coach, as a coaching staff that we just want to see from our team"

Opening on the road against San Jose is a tough assignment for the Blue Jackets in their first game after the All-Star Game break, but they've played the Sharks tough twice in one-goal losses, at HP Pavilion and at home.

"They've obviously got a lot of skill and a lot of talent on their team, but for many years they've been a hard-working team, too," captain Rick Nash said. "I think that's the way we have success is by outworking them. They've got a lot of weapons over there. They're a pretty dangerous team. Good goal tending. We've got to make sure we outwork them."

Getting off to a good start after the long break will be important for both teams.

"I think the biggest thing is getting our timing back right away," Nash said. "You sometimes lose that after one day off. So four or five days off, we're going to have to get our legs back and our timing."

San Jose forward Patrick Marleau said the key tonight for the Sharks will be to "keep it simple" in their first post-break game.

"Get your legs, your body, your mind into it early. Attention to detail is going to be important," Marleau said.

"You've got to be sharp from the get-go," Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray said. "The big thing is to get your confidence back and your skating and your puckhandling and your passing, just try to be as sharp as possible from the beginning."

Blue Jackets center Jeff Carter hasn't played since suffering a separated shoulder on Jan. 8, but he was on the ice for the morning skate at HP Pavilion. Although Carter won't play tonight, Richards sounded positive about his chances of returning to action soon.

"He's getting close," Richards said. "I don't know if that means tomorrow night or our game in Anaheim."

Center Andrew Joudrey, called up Monday from Springfield of the AHL, isn't expected to play Tuesday night, but he might make his NHL debut during the road trip.

"When you talk to the coaches down there and talk to the guys who have seen him play in management, they say he has been playing extremely well, and he's earned the opportunity to get up here and the opportunity, if it does present itself, to play," Richards said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 7:23 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Russians on top

KELOWNA, B.C. -- At the 2004 Entry Draft, a pair of Russian forwards were taken with the top two picks for the first time ever -- Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

That could be repeated at the 2012 NHL Draft.

Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov and Quebec Remparts center Mikhail Grigorenko are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters, and are the frontrunners to hear their names called first in June.

That decision wasn't an easy one for Central Scouting.

"Right now, Yakupov has shown, with the level that he's played, that he does have the ability to make a difference in the game," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told NHL.com. "That's not saying that Grigorenko doesn't make a difference. Grigorenko controls the play, can dictate how the game is played when he's on the ice. But, right now, the consensus was Yakupov has the potential to be a difference-maker in a game. He can just turn a game around in a couple of shifts; he's that dynamic a player."

Of Grigorenko, Marr said: "When Mikhail is on the ice, he controls the play and he's got deceptive speed for a 6-foot-3.25, 200-pound man.

Despite missing time with a knee injury suffered at the World Junior Championship, Yakupov has 22 goals and 33 assists in 29 games. He returned Friday from his injury and has a goal and an assist in three games. He opted against playing in the Top Prospects Game.

Grigorenko injured his ankle at the WJC, but has recovered to the point where he'll take part in Top Prospects. He has 64 points in 41 games, tied for ninth in the QMJHL in scoring. He also leads all first-year players in the league in goals (28), assists (36) and points. 

"It's really nice," Grigorenko said of him and Yakupov topping the rankings. "I'm really happy about this, two Russian guys are first and second. It's really nice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 7:07 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Athanasiou has big move in store for skills competition

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Will London Knights wing Andreas Athanasiou be able to pull off the ridiculous move he has up his sleeve at the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Skill competition on Tuesday here at Prospera Place.

If he does, it could turn out to be even more spectacular than last year's lacrosse-style scoop and wicked backhand off a spin-o-rama by Detroit Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco.

"I remember watching that move last year by Jurco … it was pretty amazing," Athanasiou told NHL.com.

While the 6-foot-1, 174-pound native of Woodbridge, Ont., would not reveal the exact move he had prepared for the scouts and fans in attendance, he was certain that if he's able to execute, it will be something special.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 6:25 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Grigorenko feeling good

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Quebec Remparts star forward Mikhail Grigorenko said he's not quite 100-percent healed from the ankle injury he suffered last month during the World Junior Championship, but he's still here for the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

"Not 100 percent, maybe 80 percent, probably," he told NHL.com. "It's going the right direction, feeling good now."

Grigorenko injured his left ankle during Russia's preliminary-round game against Latvia, when he collided with Latvia defenseman Artus Salija.

"It was a bad first pass from my (defenseman) and I didn't see the guy who hit me," Grigorenko told NHL.com. "I saw him at like the last moment. I just went out from him and he pushed me and my leg was twisted."

Grigorenko missed one game, but played the rest of the way in helping Russia win the silver medal. He finished with 2 goals and 3 assists in six games, but felt he wasn't able to showcase his full skill set.

"I think I played well without the puck," he said. "I didn't want to score a goal or do something with the puck, just tried to play for my team, just stay in my zone and help my (defense). I think I did really well."

He has 3 goals and 3 assists in five games since returning from the injury. For the season, he has 28 goals and 36 assists in 41 games. He's tied for ninth in the QMJHL in scoring with 64 points, and he leads all first-year QMJHL players in goals, assists and points.

At No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft, Grigorenko is the top-rated skater taking part in tomorrow's Top Prospects Game (10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet). He'll play for Team Orr, which will be coached by Pat Quinn.

He'll be taking part in the accuracy shooting competition tonight as part of the skills contest.

"I've never tried it," he said. "I hope I will be good at this. Yesterday I tried to shoot the puck and I missed the net."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 6:06 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Morrison faces old team in debut with Hawks

VANCOUVER -- One of the first things Brendan Morrison did after getting traded from Calgary to Chicago was buy his wife and four kids some Blackhawks apparel. The next step may be warning them not to wear it this summer, when he typically returns to his hometown just outside of Vancouver.

"They're safe, they're in Calgary," Morrison said of having his family wear Hawks' attire. "We'll just have to hide it in the summertime."

As Morrison prepared to make his first start with his new teammates Tuesday night, he didn't need any history lessons on their long and often bitter rivalry against his old Canucks team. After three straight playoff meetings, the mutual dislike is well documented.

"Nothing like getting thrown into the fire first game," joked Morrison, who started his NHL career in New Jersey but established himself in the League during eight seasons with the Canucks.

Chicago is Morrison's fifth team in less than four seasons since leaving Vancouver, but he still comes home in the summer and is familiar with the rivalry against the Blackhawks. Most are.

"I don't think it takes anybody long to figure out the history between these two teams," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who will return to the lineup after missing a game and a half with a wrist injury. "Now he's on our side, so he's got to get his priorities right."

The rivalry started three seasons ago with a line brawl and grew when they met in the playoffs soon after. It's continued to grow through two more post-season meetings, with the Canucks finally winning in the opening round last season - in overtime of Game 7 after blowing a 3-0 series lead -- after dropping second-round series in each of the two preceding years.

If the Vancouver's nasty Stanley Cup Final series against Boston last year created a new, equally bitter rival for the Canucks, it felt very familiar to Toews.

"It just seems to get worse every year," he said. "Watching that seven-game series, you see a lot of things that went on between Boston and Vancouver that happened between our two teams as well."

Things were slightly tamer during the first two meetings between the Canucks and Blackhawks this season - Vancouver won the first 6-2 in Chicago on Nov. 6 and the Hawks returned the favor 5-1 here 10 days later.

"Not every game is going to be line brawls and physical," cautioned Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. "But it usually doesn't matter what time of the year it is, they are playoff-type games and physical and emotional and always fun to play in."

Of course, both games this season were played before checking center Dave Bolland went on a Chicago radio station and - with some prompting from the hosts and a live audience - called the Canucks' identical twin forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin "sisters," joking they would never be Blackhawks and slept in bunk beds.

Canucks' coach Alain Vigneault responded by mocking Bolland's IQ and looks. Neither side wanted to talk much about it before Tuesday's game, though Vigneault explained his reaction a day earlier.

"Any time you attack two players with the class that Henrik and Daniel have and what they do not just for the game, but for outside the game, it's crossing the line," he said. "That said, we've moved on."

Whether it adds to the rivalry on the ice, Vigneault wondered how it "could be more intense than it already is." Toews wasn't as sure, but at least hoped it would bring the best out of Bolland, who has long owned the Sedin line. As if playing the Canucks isn't enough.

"We'll find out I guess," Toews said. "There's always some stuff going on back and forth in the media and that's nothing new. We all know Bolly is one of those guys that likes to get under his opponent's skin, especially this team so I'm sure we'll see his best game tonight."

As for Morrison, he has no problems with the ever-changing rivalries that come in switching teams. His last season ended prematurely with a serious knee injury suffered against the Blackhawks, and Morrison was upset after being mocked by the Chicago bench. But all is forgotten now.

"To me it's a done deal, it's over with," said Morrison, who has played just 28 games this season because of his recovery from the ACL surgery that followed. "The one guy that I made eye contact with when something was said is not here, so there's no issues."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 4:36 PM

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

Still no Clowe for Sharks, but return could be soon

SAN JOSE -- Sharks forward Ryane Clowe skated for the second straight day Tuesday morning, but he'll miss his sixth straight game tonight when San Jose faces Columbus at HP Pavilion as he continues to recover from a facial fracture.

Clowe was hurt Jan. 10 at Minnesota when he went face-first into the glass. He played the next three games -- the first two while wearing a protective cage -- but not since then, and remains on injured reserve.

"I feel good," Clowe said after practice. "Obviously back on the ice yesterday and today, doing everything pretty normal and feeling good. I think I'll be back this week."

Clowe said he wants to make sure his fracture has healed to the point where it can withstand a blow when he returns.

"I guess the biggest worry is just getting hit there again," Clowe said. "I don't want to keep wearing a cage when I come back. I want to make sure if I do get hit there, if something happened and I get in a fight and get punched there, I'm not out another few weeks. The time's up to where it should be healed now."

Clowe said he never took a baseline concussion test after being injured in Minnesota because he never felt any concussion symptoms.

"My nose was bleeding, but I didn't feel anything like that," Clowe said. "As far as my head and all that, I felt good. No issues with that. We flew after the game, and I was fine."

After facing Columbus, the Sharks next game is Thursday at home against Dallas. Although Clowe said he hopes he's good to go against the Stars, there's no guarantee at this point.

"If he was completely comfortable and good we'd play him tonight," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's that important to our team. The sooner the better, but the other thing we have to consider is not only the injury but the fact he hasn't skated in a while. We want to make sure that when he does go in he's ready to play and play the way he can."

The Sharks are also missing top-six forward Martin Havlat, who will miss his 18th straight game Tuesday night. Havlat is recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn hamstring tendon, but McLellan said he’s making good progress.

"When I came back from the All-Star break and walked in and he met me in the hallway, he looked really good," McLellan said. "That was the best I've seen him look. No crutches, no limp, walking very good. I think from this point forward it's about getting it strengthened up and conditioning now. I can't pinpoint a day for you, but the sooner the better."

McLellan said he doesn't even know when Havlat will return to the ice and resume practicing.

"I don't know what the training staff is thinking," he said. "I just know that he looked real good and he was bright again, he was smiling, and that's a big step in the right direction."

With Havlat and Clowe out, the Sharks recalled forward John McCarthy from Worcester of the AHL, and he will likely center the fourth line against Columbus.

Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, meanwhile, will reach a milestone tonight when he plays in his 400th career game, all with San Jose.

"I love playing here," Murray said. "I don’t know if there's 29 other teams that don't want me or if I'm doing something right."

Murray, 31, is in his seventh season with the Sharks.

"I've got to be on some sort of record for how long it took me to get to 400," said a joking Murray.

Here's how the lineups could look tonight:

SHARKS
Andrew Desjardins - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - John McCarthy - Andrew Murray/Jim Vandermeer

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

BLUE JACKETS
Vinny Prospal - Antoine Vermette - Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger - Derick Brassard - Ryan Johansen
Ryan Russell - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Brett Lebda
John Moore - Marc Methot/David Savard
Aaron Johnson - Grant Clitsome

Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford

Mason will get the start in goal for Columbus, interim coach Todd Richards said. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, first off the ice after Tuesday morning's skate, is expected to start for San Jose. Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot missed the morning skate because of an illness and is questionable for the game. David Savard would likely take Methot’s place if he can't play. San Jose defenseman Jason Demers will miss the game with a lower-body injury, but defenseman Brent Burns will return to the lineup after missing one game because of a knee-to-knee collision Jan. 23 at Edmonton.  Sharks defenseman Jim Vandermeer skated with the forwards Tuesday morning, but McLellan said he didn't know whether he'd be in the lineup. Vandermeer saw action at forward in the Sharks' last game before the All-Star Game break against Calgary.
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A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery