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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 3:33 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sutter: Carter finding his niche with Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The stat sheet says Jeff Carter has yet to produce a point in three games as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

But coach Darryl Sutter isn’t concerned because Carter has been getting chances. He has eight shots on goal in three games and has hit at least two post going into Saturday' game againt Anaheim.

“He’s been really good,” Sutter said. “He’s had more quality scoring chances than anybody on our team. He moves it around on the power play.”

Sutter also likes that Carter’s role as second-line wing with Mike Richards allows the Kings to use the Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis line as a shut-down line.

Carter also plays up top on the penalty-killing unit with Richards. The Kings have killed all 10 penalties since Carter joined them in last week's blockbuster trade with Columbus that sent Jack Johnson to the Blue Jackets.

“The important part of it for us is that allows us to have a third line,” Sutter said. “It doesn’t bother us to get the right three there to play against anybody.”

Clifford back: It appears that Kyle Clifford will return to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Clifford has continued to show great potential as an aggressive fourth-line winger who can chip in a goal. But, he committed pivotal penalties against Phoenix and had a turnover against Colorado that led to a goal. Sutter talked to Clifford and the message was clear.

“I need to get my identity back,” Clifford said. “Every player goes through tough stretches. It’s about finding your identity and being the player that you are.”

Said Sutter, “He’s got a clear role, and when that role slips he becomes an American League player. You have to make clear to him what his identity is. We were saying as a captain or a physical defenseman and seems to step out of that role. Young guys do all the time. You have to reinforce it and be patient with it, but there’s also a point where you have to see it.”

Sutter on Selanne: Sutter caught parts of Friday night’s Anaheim-Calgary game and watched 41-year-old Teemu Selanne create a 2-on-1 and deliver a perfect saucer pass to Bobby Ryan for Anaheim’s first goal.

“Teemu, he must seem about 20 years (younger),” Sutter said. “Unbelievable. If we weren’t playing them so much, I could talk about him all day.”

DUCKS

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

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

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers

KINGS

Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford-Colin Fraser-Jordan Nolan

Drew Doughty-Rob Scuderi
Willie Mitchell-Slava Voynov
Matt Greene-Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
   
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 3:24 PM

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

Florida's Smithson excited to face former team

SUNRISE, Fla. — Jerred Smithson admitted he began thinking about Saturday's game almost immediately after being traded by Nashville to Florida eight days ago.

After spending 6-1/2 seasons with Nashville, Smithson was traded to the Panthers on Feb. 24 in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and he will face his former team for the first time Saturday night at the BankAtlantic Center.

"I looked right away, actually," Smithson said. "I knew we were coming to Florida fairly soon. That's kind of one game there I had circled in my head that I was looking forward to. Once I get that first shift out of the way, it'll feel a lot better and it's just a hockey game."

Smithson never recorded more than 16 points in a season after signing with Nashville in the first season after the lockout, but he was considered a big part of the Predators nonetheless because of his faceoff prowess, his work ethic and his locker-room presence.

Coach Barry Trotz thought enough of him that he called him after the trade.

"He was one of those guys who helped develop a pretty good culture," Trotz said Saturday. "He was a Predator. He was a guy who was discarded by L.A., signed by Nashville and sort of worked his way as an American League player to the NHL as a role player to a real diligent checker with our team, and he was a big part of the culture. He brings professional, he brings honesty to his game and a work ethic. Smitty made himself a player."

Smithson and Trotz chatted at the morning skate Saturday.

The 33-year-old center called Saturday's game "tough."

"At the end of the day, it's just a hockey game," he said. "They're all buddies over there, but they're going out there to win a hockey game, as are we. We'll go out there and play hard and do my usual thing and hopefully come out with two points."

Smithson is one of three former Nashville players on the Panthers along with Marcel Goc and Mike Santorelli.

His familiarity with the Predators came into play in preparation for this game.

"I've told them what I know and what I can help them out with," Smithson said. "At the end of the day, it's just us going out there and executing and going out there and working hard. We had a long day yesterday, so it's important for us to get a good stretch in and good sweat and just go out there and execute our game plan. That's going to be work ethic. It's going to be a tough game. Both teams can really wheel and deal and have a lot of speed, so it should be exciting."

In four games with the Panthers, Smithson has yet to record a point, but he's won 57.2 percent of his faceoffs. One of the few bright spots in Thursday's 7-0 loss at Winnipeg was Smithson's 7-for-9 performance on draws.

"Jerred Smithson has come in and done a good job for us," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "He's given us some great options."

Smithson didn't get the chance to visit with some of his former teammates Friday night because the Panthers didn't return from Winnipeg until close to midnight.

"I text the guys here and there, but I'm not quite sure on that end what's going on," he said. "I've gotten a lot of text messages and phone calls from the guys wishing me luck and thanking me and vice versa. They'll always be good friends and I'll stay in contact with them. Just another chapter."

Saturday night, though, it's all business.

Smithson did joke when he was asked whether there was any Nashville player in particular he wanted to hit.

"I'll just go out there and play hard, there's a few guys," he said. "No, I'm just kidding. It should be fun. I'm excited."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 3:17 PM

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

McLellan still suffering concussion symptoms

SAN JOSE – San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will likely miss his third straight game Saturday night against St. Louis because of a concussion, but he said he’s “feeling better every day” and expects to be back behind the bench “very soon.”

The Sharks, though, should have leading goal scorer Logan Couture back in the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. And there’s a chance top-six defenseman Douglas Murray will return. He has missed eight games since being hit in the Adam’s apple with a puck against Tampa Bay.

“I still have some moments that aren’t real good,” McLellan said after the Sharks morning skate at HP Pavilion, talking to reporters for the first time since being hit in the head by a stick during Sunday’s game at Minnesota.

“I can tell you I have a much better appreciation for head injuries,” McLellan said. “I was one of those guys that stated that we probably all played with them, we’ve all had them in the past. But until you really get cracked and feel the way I’ve felt over the last five or six days -- you tend to lose that opinion quickly and maybe appreciate a little bit more what a lot of these players have gone through.”

McLellan said he is still suffering “typical concussion symptoms.”

“There’s times where I feel really good, and then a lot of the motion and movement makes it hard for one to focus a little bit,” he explained. “But I am getting better every day.”

McLellan was on the ice Friday and conducted San Jose’s practice.

“I felt really good in the morning and didn’t feel that good after practice,” McLellan said.

McLellan said he doesn’t remember getting hit by the stick of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella, but remembers everything before and soon after that incident.

“A coach takes that risk a lot, trainers do,” McLellan said. “Your focus often isn’t on the puck, it’s on people around you and what’s happening. Trainers are getting skates and gloves, and you’re not always paying attention. For the most part you usually can get your hands up and protect yourself. That was a situation where I couldn’t.”

After taking practice off on Friday, Couture took part in the entire optional skate Saturday morning.

“I think I’m in,” Courture said. “We’ll see when I get to the rink, but felt good in morning skate. Obviously we didn’t do any line rushes or anything like that, but felt pretty good. So we’ll see what happens when I come to the rink. Hopefully I’m ready to play. … I felt pretty good out on the ice. Another day’s rest definitely helped.”

Murray was one of the first defensemen off the ice Saturday morning, a sign that he’ll likely be in the lineup, although he said he was waiting to hear if he has been “officially” cleared by team doctors to play.

“I guess that I’ll be playing pretty soon,” Murray said.

When he returns, Murray will have added protection in the front of his shoulder pads to help shield his throat. The concern has been that if he gets hit in the same area again it will cause dangerous swelling that could affect his breathing.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 3:17 PM

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

McLellan still suffering concussion symptoms

SAN JOSE – San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will likely miss his third straight game Saturday night against St. Louis because of a concussion, but he said he’s “feeling better every day” and expects to be back behind the bench “very soon.”

The Sharks, though, should have leading goal scorer Logan Couture back in the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. And there’s a chance top-six defenseman Douglas Murray will return. He has missed eight games since being hit in the Adam’s apple with a puck against Tampa Bay.

“I still have some moments that aren’t real good,” McLellan said after the Sharks morning skate at HP Pavilion, talking to reporters for the first time since being hit in the head by a stick during Sunday’s game at Minnesota.

“I can tell you I have a much better appreciation for head injuries,” McLellan said. “I was one of those guys that stated that we probably all played with them, we’ve all had them in the past. But until you really get cracked and feel the way I’ve felt over the last five or six days -- you tend to lose that opinion quickly and maybe appreciate a little bit more what a lot of these players have gone through.”

McLellan said he is still suffering “typical concussion symptoms.”

“There’s times where I feel really good, and then a lot of the motion and movement makes it hard for one to focus a little bit,” he explained. “But I am getting better every day.”

McLellan was on the ice Friday and conducted San Jose’s practice.

“I felt really good in the morning and didn’t feel that good after practice,” McLellan said.

McLellan said he doesn’t remember getting hit by the stick of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella, but remembers everything before and soon after that incident.

“A coach takes that risk a lot, trainers do,” McLellan said. “Your focus often isn’t on the puck, it’s on people around you and what’s happening. Trainers are getting skates and gloves, and you’re not always paying attention. For the most part you usually can get your hands up and protect yourself. That was a situation where I couldn’t.”

After taking practice off on Friday, Couture took part in the entire optional skate Saturday morning.

“I think I’m in,” Courture said. “We’ll see when I get to the rink, but felt good in morning skate. Obviously we didn’t do any line rushes or anything like that, but felt pretty good. So we’ll see what happens when I come to the rink. Hopefully I’m ready to play. … I felt pretty good out on the ice. Another day’s rest definitely helped.”

Murray was one of the first defensemen off the ice Saturday morning, a sign that he’ll likely be in the lineup, although he said he was waiting to hear if he has been “officially” cleared by team doctors to play.

“I guess that I’ll be playing pretty soon,” Murray said.

When he returns, Murray will have added protection in the front of his shoulder pads to help shield his throat. The concern has been that if he gets hit in the same area again it will cause dangerous swelling that could affect his breathing.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 3:05 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boston's Rask injured in Saturday's game


BOSTON – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was injured in the second period of Saturday afternoon's 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.

The Bruins did not provide an update after the game on the seriousness of the injury, but several reporters saw Rask leaving the arena on crutches. He will not travel to New York City for Sunday's NHL on NBC game against the New York rangers (12:30 p.m. ET).

The club called up minor-league goalie Michael Hutchinson under emergency conditions to back up Tim Thomas in Sunday's game.

Rask seemed to injure his left leg when attempting to make a save on a wide shot by Islanders forward Matt Martin. Rask fell onto his back to draw the whistle at 9:01 of the period and was replaced by Tim Thomas after the television timeout.

The game was tied at 1-1 at that point and Thomas let up two goals to absorb the loss.

"It's no fun whenever you see your partner get hurt," Thomas said after the game. "And you worry about him."

Milan Lucic, who scored the game's opening goal, said it was hard to see Rask helped off the ice after injuring his leg.

"It's obviously not great to see him not being able to get up after an effort to make a save," Lucic said. "He's been a big part of this team, as well, throughout the season. It (stinks) that he had to leave the game, but hopefully he's going to get better soon."


Rask had his left knee scoped this past summer, a procedure that didn't cause him to miss any time once training camp opened. He entered Saturday's game with a record of 11-8-3, a goals-against average of 2.05 and a .929 save percentage.

The Bruins likely had plans to use Rask regularly down the stretch to spell Thomas as the Bruins schedule is congested in the season's final month. Depending on the severity of the injury, that plan may have to be altered.

"You're hoping to be able to utilize your two goaltenders in this stretch because the next two weeks there's about four games per week," coach Claude Julien said "But we'll have to make do some way."









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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 3:00 PM

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

Panthers insist travel issues home are no excuse

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers were back on their home ice Saturday morning, looking to put behind what became a nightmarish trip to Winnipeg.

As if their 7-0 loss Thursday night weren't bad enough, the Panthers then had to wait more than nine hours at the airport before they finally were able to fly home Friday night.

Coach Kevin Dineen, however, said the travel ordeal should have no effect on Saturday night's home game against the Nashville Predators.

"It makes for a little bit of a tougher today when you come off a pretty good beating in Winnipeg in more than one way," he said after the morning skate. "We had some travel issues as well. You know what? That's part of our business.

"That's an excuse. We haven't used excuses at all this year. We feel that the game is on schedule, it was a tough day for us getting home yesterday but that, by far, doesn't factor into today's game or tonight's performance."

The Panthers were stuck in Winnipeg because of plane issues.

After arriving at the airport around 8:30 a.m., they had to wait until about 6 p.m. before the flight departed. It landed in Fort Lauderdale around 11:15 p.m.

Some players read, others spent time on their computers, others walked around the terminal.

"A lot of cards, a lot of talking," said defenseman Erik Gudbranson. "A couple of guys fell asleep on the plane and passed the time there. I watched a couple movies myself.

"I watched ‘Last King of Scotland,' ‘Defiance,'  what else did I watch? I watched another one, I forget what it was. Read a little bit, too. Passed the time well."

For new Panthers center Jerred Smithson, the long delay provided an opportunity to get better acquainted with some of his new teammates.

"Boy, what didn't I do?" said Smithson, acquired Feb. 24 in a trade with Nashville. "There's only so much you can do in the Winnipeg airport. You walk around, you go for lunch. It actually gave me a good chance to talk to some of the other guys that I haven't really talked to too much.

"Just tried to stay loose. It was such a long time, especially mentally, too. Physically, it was tough, but mentally you just wanted to get home and kind of relax. No big deal. It's part of the game, I guess. It doesn't happen every day, thank God."

Also on the agenda was a quick review of Thursday night's game, one which didn't feature many highlights for the Southeast Division-leading Panthers.

"Obviously we went over some video and some clips and we took the time necessary to review what happened and we thought about it, let it sink in," Gudbranson said. "But that's over with, we forget about it. Those games happen. It's happened a couple of times this year, not just us, to other teams. We know that and we're just going to continue."

Gudbranson, the Panthers' 20-year-old rookie, tried to put a positive spin on the long travel day.

"Those kind of events, as much as it (stunk) while we were doing it, that's the kind of stuff that brings a team together and we laugh about it later," he said. "We made our own fun and enjoyed ourselves as much as we could and ended up getting home safely."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 2:44 PM

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

Probable lineups for Penguins vs. Avs


DENVER – These are the projected lineups for Saturday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

PENGUINS

Chris KunitzEvgeni MalkinJames Neal
Steve SullivanJordan StaalPascal Dupuis
Matt CookeJoe VitaleRichard Park
Eric TangradiCraig AdamsArron Asham

Paul MartinBen Lovejoy
Brooks OrpikZbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanan – Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brad Thiessen

INJURIES: C Sidney Crosby (concussion), G Brent Johnson (undisclosed), RW Tyler Kennedy (ankle) and D Kris Letang (concussion) are out.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Steve Downie
Matt DuchenePaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
Jamie McGinnMark OlverDavid Jones
Cody McLeodJay McClementPeter Mueller

Shane O’Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Matt Hunwick - Stefan Elliott

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

INJURIES: RW Chuck Kobasew (back) and D Ryan O’Byrne (knee) are out.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 2:41 PM

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

Gaustad to make Predators debut

SUNRISE, Fla. — After sitting out Wednesday's game at Carolina, Paul Gaustad will make his Nashville debut Saturday night at Florida.

"I'm excited," the 30-year-old center said. "I'm looking forward. It's been a good week trying to get adjusted and acclimated. Still got to be patient, a little trial-and-error, system-wise, but I'm excited to play tonight.

"I'm going to try to approach it as any other game. That's what's made me successful and that's what I'm going to try to do tonight."

Gaustad was acquired from Buffalo at the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday in exchange for a first-round pick in this year's NHL Draft. The Predators also got a 2013 fourth-round pick in the deal.

Coach Barry Trotz said he was looking forward to seeing first-hand what Gaustad could add to this team.

"He's a big body, he's a draw guy and gives us a little more weight on the puck and physicality," Trotz said. "It makes us real solid. We can move parts around to have four pretty good lines when we want to."

Gaustad, who had seven goals and 10 assists in 56 games with Buffalo this season, has spent the week trying to get acclimated to his new team.

He missed Wednesday's 4-3 loss at Carolina because of an upper-body injury.

"It was tough for me," Gaustad said. "I wanted to play. They were really good about giving me some rest to rest up a couple of injuries that I've been having. It's healed up nicely and everything is looking good."

PREDATORS

Forwards
Sergei Kostitsyn   --   Mike Fisher   --   Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn  --  David Legwand  --  Patric Hornqvist
Colin Wilson  --  Nick Spaling  --  Jordin Tootoo
Gabriel Bourque  --  Paul Gaustad  --  Brandon Yip

Defensemen
Ryan Suter  --  Shea Weber
Roman Josi  --  Hal Gill
Francis Bouillon  --  Jack Hillen

Goalies
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 2:37 PM

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

Jovanovski questionable for Predators game

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida defenseman Ed Jovanovski is a question mark for Saturday night's game against Nashville after he sat out the morning skate and the Panthers called up Tyson Strachan from the American Hockey League.

Coach Kevin Dineen, however, didn't rule out Jonavovski playing against the Predators.

"He's got a maintenance day today," Dineen said. "We'll see how he feels as we get closer to tonight."

Strachan was recalled for the second time this season. He played 12 games after being called up on Jan. 23, scoring his first NHL goal Feb. 12 in a 4 - 1 victory against the New York Islanders.

He was sent back down to San Antonio on Feb. 24 when Jason Garrison returned to the lineup.

Jovanovski played 17:11 in Thursday's 7 - 0 loss at Winnipeg and finished the game.

"As a precaution, we felt it was important to get Tyson in town just to make sure that we can fulfill a lineup tonight depending on Jovo's feeling," Dineen said.

The Panthers definitely will be without their leading scorer, Kris Versteeg, who will miss his third consecutive game with a lower - body injury. Dineen said Versteeg also will not play Sunday against Ottawa.

PANTHERS

Forwards
Sean Bergenheim - Stephen Weiss - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Wojtek Wolski
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Marco Sturm - Jerred Smithson - Mike Santorelli

Defensemen
Jason Garrison - Mike Weaver
Brian Campbell - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Goalies
Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 1:02 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins-Isles lineups

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins will be without defenseman Andrew Ference, while defenseman Johnny Boychuk makes his return after a two-absence with a concussion Saturday against the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.

Ference suffered a lower-body injury Thursday in the third period of an overtime win against New Jersey. He did not return to the game and missed Friday’s practice. He’s classified as day-to-day, according to coach Claude Julien.

The Islanders will similarly be missing forward Michael Grabner on Saturday. Islanders coach Jack Capuano said that Grabner’s flu-like symptoms were the main reason for the forward’s scratch.

Here are the lineups for the Bruins and Islanders:

BRUINS

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Tyler Seguin

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brian Rolston

Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Jordan Caron

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton


Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk

Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo

Greg Zanon-Adam McQuaid


Tuukka Rask

Tim Thomas


ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson-John Tavares-PA Parenteau

Nino Niederreiter-Casey Cizikas-Kyle Okposo

David Ullstrom-Frans Nielsen-Josh Bailey

Jay Pandolfo-Marty Reasoner-Matt Martin


Mark Streit-Steve Staios

Andrew MacDonald-Travis Hamonic

Mark Eaton-Milan Jurcina


Evgeni Nabokov

Anders Nilsson
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It's such a privilege to be one of these 80 great players to do this milestone, and it doesn't get better than this doing it where I started. It means a lot to me. A big thanks goes to all the players tonight who helped me to achieve that and also all the players through my career.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after scoring his 1,000th career point on Thursday night in Ottawa
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