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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 11:54 AM

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

Devils get Foster, Carter back against Canucks

NEWARK, N.J. -- As if New Jersey Devils fans needed additional good news these days, on top of a successful climb up the Eastern Conference standings in recent weeks, the team is also regaining its health.
In the midst of a 9-1-1 run since the All-Star break, which has catapulted the team from eighth to fourth in the Eastern Conference, the Devils will have defenseman Kurtis Foster, who missed the last two games with back stiffness, and forward Ryan Carter (eight games, right hand fracture) back in the lineup against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday at Prudential Center.
Coach Peter DeBoer, who confirmed the return of the players after his team's practice, also noted that defenseman Adam Larsson will miss his 10th straight game with a bruised lower back. Larsson skated with the team the last two practices, but DeBoer wants the rookie at 100 percent before re-inserting him in the lineup.
"[Larsson] has had one full contact practice with the team in three weeks, so we want to make sure we do the right thing," DeBoer said.
Both Foster, who will begin the game alongside Matt Taormina, and Carter, who opens on left wing with center Jacob Josefson and right wing Peter Harrold, are looking forward to their return.
"I'm ready to get back in there and play a big game against the Canucks, who play a well-rounded game; the Sedins are top players in the game," Foster said. "We have to make sure it's a difficult game for them."
Carter, notified by DeBoer that he'd be in the lineup on Friday morning, said you can only watch from the sideline for so long before getting that itch to return to the lineup.
"It's that time of the year that's crunch time," Carter said. "I just want to keep it simple. You don't want to go out and try to win it yourself, so I'll just work my way into it and go from there."
The timing is impeccable as the Canucks, the League's top team on the road, are coming off an emotional 4-3 shootout decision over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. The victory ended Detroit's NHL-record home winning streak at 23 games.
"This is a great test for us to see how we match," DeBoer said. "The Sedins seem to know where each is on the ice. They almost invite contact and say, 'Come on out here and try and hit us.' Then they expose areas behind you better than anyone in the League … they're fantastic at that. So while you want to take away their time and space, you have to be aware they are dangerous in those situations if you get a little bit reckless."
Henrik Sedin leads the team with 66 points, including 53 assists. He holds a three point lead on twin brother, Daniel, who owns a team-leading 28 goals.
Here is how the Devils will likely line up on Friday:
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Dainius Zubrus - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Peter Harrold
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Matt Taormina - Kurtis Foster
Martin Brodeur will make his fifth straight start and Johan Hedberg will serve as backup.

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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 11:49 AM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Ovechkin says he's a go for Montreal game

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin is expected to play Friday night when the Washington Capitals host the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center.

Ovechkin missed Wednesday night's 5-2 loss against the Ottawa Senators due to a lower-body injury and did not practice Thursday.

The Capitals’ captain skated briefly on his own this morning in shorts and a T-shirt before taking part in the first 15 minutes of the team skate.

Shortly after coming off the ice, Ovechkin confirmed that he will be in the lineup against Montreal.
"We just tried a couple of days ago skating and I didn't feel well," Ovechkin said. "Last night I didn't feel well but today I feel normal."

The Capitals have lost three straight games and six of seven overall to fall four points behind the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets.

"It was frustrating, especially in this period of time in the season," Ovechkin said of missing Wednesday's game in Ottawa. "I was in a situation where I couldn't help my teammates and I couldn't help the team to win, so it was kind of bad feelings, but it is what it is and right now I feel normal and I'm ready to go."

Michal Neuvirth is expected to start in goal for the Capitals while John Erskine and Roman Hamrlik will likely be healthy scratches for the second straight game.

Neuvirth earned a 3-0 shutout at the Bell Centre, Jan. 18.
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 11:10 AM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Wild, Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Devin Setoguchi
Darroll Powe - Matt Cullen - Nick Johnson
Cal Clutterbuck - Erik Christensen - Chad Rau
Matt Kassian - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Nick Schultz - Nate Prosser
Greg Zanon - Marek Zidlicky

Niklas Backstrom
Matt Hackett

Scratches:  Justin Falk

Injuries: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), Josh Harding (lower body), Mikko Koivu (undisclosed), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Mike Lundin (lower body),  Jarod Palmer (concussion), Clayton Stoner (leg)

Notes: The Wild beat the Panthers 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday night in South Florida. Minnesota has just three wins in their last 10 games but has won two in a row. These teams last met in Dallas on Feb. 4 and it was the Stars who came away with a 2-1 win in a shootout. Minnesota had taken the first meeting of the year, on Jan. 24 in the Twin Cities, by a 5-2 margin. Heatley had 2 assists against Florida and now has 14 points over his last 13 games. Coach Mike Yeo might go with the rookie Hackett in goal tonight. He is 2-0-0 thus far with one shutout and a goals-against-average of 0.85.

Lou Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Toby Petersen - Ryan Garbutt - Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Mark Fistric
Philip Larsen - Sheldon Souray

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman

Scratches: Matt Fraser, Adam Pardy

Injuries: Jamie Benn (knee), Jake Dowell (finger), Brenden Morrow (upper body)

Notes: The Stars head into tonight’s game riding a two-game winning streak after road wins at Montreal on Tuesday (3-0) and Chicago on Thursday (3-1). Dallas is 0-9-2 this season in the second game of a back-to-back.  GM Joe Nieuwendyk said during a Thursday interview with a local sports radio station that 2012 All-Star Jamie Benn is doubtful for tonight's game. Benn didn't skate prior to Thursday's game in Chicago, and due to tonight's game being a back-to-back, there was no skate on Friday morning. Tonight's game begins a three-game homestand for the Stars and concludes a stretch where Dallas played in a different building each night for 11 straight games. Ribeiro, who had 2 assists in Thursday's win over the Blackhawks, is currently on a five-game point streak.
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:40 AM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Flood's return to lineup eases burden on Jets' defense

WINNIPEG -- Zach Bogosian's continued absence finally meant an entry into the Winnipeg Jets' lineup for Mark Flood.

The injured Bogosian missed the Jets' 4-3 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, his fifth consecutive absence. Randy Jones had replaced Bogosian on the Winnipeg blue line. Flood continued to remain a healthy scratch and before playing the Lightning had not dressed for a game since Jan. 19.

But Jets coach Claude Noel opted to go with seven defensemen against Tampa Bay and scratch forwards Eric Fehr and Antti Miettinen. A chaotic 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night had left the Winnipeg defense corps drained, and neither Fehr nor Miettinen has shown any indication of breaking loose of their season-long slumps.

Returning Flood to game action has been an objective for Noel in recent days. The Jets are loathe to attempt slipping Flood through the NHL waiver wire in order to assign him to the St. John's IceCaps, their AHL affiliate. Playing both Flood and Jones also allows the Jets to showcase one of the two for a potential trade before the NHL's Monday deadline, though Noel shooed away any such speculation on Thursday morning.

Flood stepped into the lineup and allowed the Winnipeg coaching staff to dial down the minutes that their workhorse defensemen had to play. Dustin Byfuglien, who played 26:51 against Philadelphia, logged a more manageable 20:32 with Flood available to provide blue-line relief. Ron Hainsey's ice time decreased from 24:24 on Tuesday to 19:51 against the Lightning.

Flood finished with 9:03 of ice time and assisted on the Jets' second goal.
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:34 AM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Trades, injuries have depleted Tampa's scoring lines

WINNIPEG -- Guy Boucher managed to survive a game-day without any dents to his roster.

Prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, Boucher's club had seen three players traded on the day of their previous three games over a five-day span. Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie all departed in separate trades, and none of the trio yielded a roster player in return.

For a club that began the night only five points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference and owning games in-hand, the losses hurt in the short-term. Those moves, coupled with captain Vincent Lecavalier's upper-body injury that will sideline him into March and Marc-Andre Bergeron's ongoing injury woes, left the Lightning roster thin for their crucial meeting with the Jets. Tampa Bay's second line of Ryan Malone, Nate Thompson and Adam Hall had combined for just 18 goals this season prior to facing the Jets.

The personnel losses left the scoring burden squarely on the shoulders on the Martin St. Louis-Steven Stamkos-Teddy Purcell first line, allowing Winnipeg to key on that trio throughout the contest until they finally broke loose late in the third period when the Jets already owned a 4-0 lead.

"Well, obviously, depth is huge in this League," Boucher said. "If [Lecavalier is] here tonight, we would certainly have two lines of guys who can score goals."

Adjusting to the changes has been a challenge, Boucher acknowledged.

"It's been tough for some of the players to manage it, but whether this year or last year, we have shown a lot of character," Boucher said. "We've had injuries all year. We've basically never played with our full lineup and it keeps on going. We've been adjusting for a while now."

While some clubs would bristle at losing roster players while fully engaged in a playoff battle, Boucher insists that Tampa Bay management has the support of the Lightning dressing room.

"The thing is that I'm the first guy that trusts (general manager) Steve Yzerman and the plan that he is putting forth, and the players that we have got all trust in him," he said. "In the long run, we know that it's going to be a plan that is going to take us closer to what we want to do."
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:26 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Mullet of the Week: Steven Stamkos

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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:25 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: Trade Deadline Moves

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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 10:58 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

DAL @ CHI - 16:12 of the Third Period

At 16:12 of the third period in the Stars/Blackhawks game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Loui Eriksson batted the puck into the net with his stick below the crossbar.  According to rule 60.5 "The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed."  Good goal Dallas.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 8:21 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL/NSH - 4:13 of the First Period

At 4:13 of the first period in the Blues/Predators game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Jason Arnott's centering pass deflected off Predators defenseman Kevin Klein's skate and then off Blues forward Chris Stewart's skate and into the Predators net. According to rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal."  Good Goal St Louis.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 6:06 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Hand laceration has Anderson out indefinitely

KANATA, Ont. -- After coming off a 5-2 victory against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson suffered a hand laceration at home while preparing a meal, which required medical treatment at a local hospital.

Anderson is expected to make a full recovery, but is out indefinitely. The Senators have yet to make any call-ups from Binghamton. 
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— Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after scoring his 1,000th career point on Thursday night in Ottawa
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