Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
 
SHARE
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 4:22 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

'Yotes hope struggling Wild the tonic for March slump

One week ago, the Phoenix Coyotes were two games away from the longest unbeaten streak in franchise history, completing an 11-0-1 February with a leap from 12th place in the Western Conference to the Pacific Division lead with 23 points in a month.

Just seven days later, everything is upside down. The Coyotes are in the midst of the longest pointless streak in coach Dave Tippett's coaching tenure in Phoenix -- four games -- and face the prospect of their first five-game losing streak since February of 2009 when they host the Minnesota Wild.

The Coyotes will start goalie Jason LaBarbera tonight after Mike Smith allowed two goals in the first four minutes of a 3-2 loss in Columbus on Tuesday. The Coyotes have five players still on the injured list and none will play tonight, with enforcer Paul Bissonnette expected to replace Gilbert Brule.

The Coyotes are still seventh in the West and just two points behind Dallas for the Pacific Division lead, but are just one point ahead of San Jose, Los Angeles and Colorado, and need a win to stop the bleeding.

Minnesota knows all about losing streaks. The Wild are 0-4-1 in the last five -- scoring just one goal in the last three games, on a penalty shot by Devin Setoguchi on Tuesday with Minnesota already hoplessly out of a 7-1 loss at Colorado. They have only three wins in the last 16 games (3-10-3) and are now 13th in the Western Conference.

Minnesota was 20-7-3 and had the NHL's best record the last time it was in Phoenix (Dec. 10). Since then, the Wild are 8-22-7.

Only seven players who dressed for that Dec. 10 game will play tonight: Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cullen, Dany Heatley, Nick Johnson, Darroll Powe, Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon.

The rest are either injured, in the minors or no longer part of the organization. How bad has the turnover been?  If defenseman Tyler Cuma, who was called up on Thursday, makes his NHL debut tonight he would become 45th player to wear a Minnesota jersey this season.

Josh Harding will be in goal after Matt Hackett was bombed in Colorado. Cuma will replace Jared Spurgeon (flu). Cal Clutterbuck (upper body) is still out, along with a list too long to mention here.

Here's how the lineups could look tonight:

COYOTES
Raffi Torres - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Ray Whitney - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Daymond Langkow - Paul Bissonnette

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
David Rundblad - Chris Summers

Jason LaBarbera
Mike Smith

WILD

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Darroll Powe - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi
Stephane Veilleux - Erik Christensen - Nick Palmieri
Matt Kassian - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer

Marco Scandella - Tyler Cuma
Steven Kampfer - Tom Gilbert
Nate Prosser - Kurtis Foster

Josh Harding
Matt Hackett

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 3:58 PM

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

Canucks reunite 'American Express' line

The Canucks continue to tinker with their forward units and defense, re-uniting the American Express line of U.S.-born forwards Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler and David Booth as they attempt to bump their worst slump in four months.

That it’s a two-game losing streak in regulation -- four of five (1-2-2) if you throw in overtime and shootout losses that sandwiched a win over St. Louis -- says a lot about expectations surrounding a Vancouver team that ran away with the Western Conference last season, but comes into this game second.

Still, there are improvements needed, so the changes continue against the Jets on Thursday night, with newcomer Marc-Andre Gragnani now on a third pairing with youngster Christopher Tanev while the more established Aaron Rome joins fellow veteran Andrew Alberts in the press box as healthy scratches on defense.

Here are the rest of the expected lineups for Thursday night. The Canucks are 41-18-8, while the Jets are 32-27-8 come to Rogers Arena on a 6-1-2 roll, but will have to reverse the trend of being much better at home (21-10-4) than on the road (11-17-4) to hold onto the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Mason Raymond - Samuel Pahlsson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Zack Kassian
 
Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Marc-Andre Gragnani - Christopher Tanev
 
Cory Schneider, who cut his professional teeth in Winnipeg with the Canucks' AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, is back in goal after watching Roberto Luongo start the last three.
 
In addition to the goaltending change, the re-unification of the American Express second line that showed so much promise earlier in the season also changes up the third and fourth units, with the struggling speedster Raymond now on a checking unit, and big trade addition Kassian moving back to more of a crash-and-bang fourth line after a game-plus experiment on that second line.
 
Gragnani, who came to Vancouver with Kassian in the trade with Buffalo, will continue to get a look on a first power-play unit that still ranks third in the League but has just one goal in the last eight games amid a two-month slump.

JETS

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Tim Stapleton - Nik Antropov - Antti Miettinen
 
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Grant Clitsome
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart
 
Ondrej Pavelec starts in goal, with Chris Mason backing up.

No lineup changes for a Jets team that built most of its recent 6-1-2 run during a long homestand, but showed some improvement with a 4-3-0 record the last seven road games. That's a notable number considering they have lost 21 of 32 road contests this season.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 3:44 PM

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

Report: Tyutin (broken hand) likely out for season

The return of Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter certainly wasn't the only big story coming out of Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Thursday morning.

According to Blue Jackets TV play-by-play voice Jeff Rimer, the team has not only lost third-line center Derek MacKenzie with concussion-like symptoms, but defenseman Fedor Tyutin might be lost for the remainder of the season.

Rimer told NHL Home Ice on Thursday that Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards informed the media of the injuries following the team's afternoon practice.

"Tyutin wasn't on the ice for practice," Rimer said. "He had blocked a shot in third period [of a 3-2 win over Phoenix on Tuesday] from the point and continued to play, but broke his right hand and is likely out for the balance of the season."

Additionally, MacKenzie is out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms. No timetable has been given on his return and, according to Rimer, the team's medical staff will be monitoring him closely.

MacKenzie and Tyutin, along with captain Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal, were the only four to play in every game for Columbus this season. Tyutin has 5 goals and 26 points in 66 games, and MacKenzie has 7 goals and 14 points in as many games.

The absence of MacKenzie opens the door for rookie Ryan Johansen, who had been a healthy scratch the last two games. Johansen will draw back into the lineup and play center. Additionally, Maksim Mayorov has been recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Johansen has 9 goals and 17 points in 51 games for Columbus this season. Mayorov has 1 goal in eight appearances in 2011-12.

On Feb. 23, the Blue Jackets dealt Carter to the Kings in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick. Carter has 2 goals in five games for Los Angeles after scoring 15 goals in 29 contests for Columbus. This will be Carter's first visit to Columbus since the trade.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 3:02 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ankle injury to sideline Duchene 3-4 weeks

NASHVILLE -- Colorado center Matt Duchene's ankle injury will keep him out 3-4 weeks, coach Joe Sacco said on Thursday, costing the team one of its top players in the midst of a playoff drive.

Duchene, who has 13 goals and 13 assists in 48 games, hurt himself in Tuesday's 7-1 win over Minnesota after playing 11:36. It's the second time this season the Avs will be without the two-time 20-goal scorer, as a knee injury cost Duchene 20 games between Dec. 31 and Feb. 17. Colorado entered the day 10th in the Western Conference, but tied with 74 points with both San Jose and Los Angeles, which are in the eighth and ninth spots, respectively.

Sacco said the injury will not require surgery.

"We've done a good job of dealing with injuries and throughout this season we haven't had that many -- knock on wood -- not as many as we've had the last couple of years," Sacco said. "But he missed a significant amount of time before that with a knee injury and we were OK. It's just an opportunity, maybe, for other people to step into maybe more of a role than they previously had."

Sacco said for Thursday's game with Nashville, Mark Olver would move to Duchene's spot at center. Olver, 24, who was called up from Lake Erie (AHL) on Feb. 16, has 3 goals and 2 assists and is plus-3 in 10 games.

In hindsight, two moves that Colorado made before the NHL trading deadline passed that brought more scoring look prescient. The Avalanche sent defenseman Kyle Quincey to Tampa Bay and received forward Steve Downie, who has 14 goals, in return. Downie has 2 goals and 8 assists in seven games since coming over.

They also acquired left wing Jamie McGinn from the Sharks with Mike Connolly and Michael Sgarbossa for TJ Galiardi, Daniel Winnik and a seventh-round pick in 2013. McGinn, who has 15 goals on the season, has 3 goals and 1 assist in four games since joining Colorado.

"We feel we have good depth at all our positions right now," Sacco said. "We have good depth up front, we have good depth on defense, our goaltending's been pretty solid for us throughout the whole course of the season, so it is nice obviously when you lose a body here or there that you know you can rely on a couple guys for at the deadline, Downie, both him and Jamie McGinn, both players have been real good for us since the trade.

"Both are starting to find their way around the locker room, their way around the players, but more importantly they've been very productive and have had an impact on our team in a positive way, so they've been good."

Downie missed Sunday's game with Minnesota because of an injury, but returned on Tuesday and had 3 assists in 18:27 of time on ice. Sacco said he was fine to play on Thursday.

Thursday will be the first time that Avs defenseman Shane O'Brien, a member of the Predators last season, will play against his former team this season. O'Brien was an important penalty killer for the Predators, as they won the first playoff round in franchise history last season in the first round against Anaheim.

O'Brien ended up departing as a free agent and signing with Colorado in the offseason. O'Brien, who is now with his fifth team in six NHL seasons, had something of a reputation as perhaps a malcontent -- Nashville coach Barry Trotz affectionately referred to him as a "chirper" on Thursday.

O'Brien thanked Nashville for helping to rehab that image.

"I was probably a little surprised," O'Brien said. "I wasn't disappointed. I mean, they gave me a great opportunity to come in and kind of just change my, maybe persona, the way people thought about me around the League. Trotzy was unbelievable with me all year. (General manager David) Poile was great, everybody was great.

"I was a little surprised maybe when they didn't re-sign me, but that's the business side of it. Obviously, no hard feelings. It was a great year and that's the way the business works."
 
Projected lineup:
 
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Steve Downie - Ryan O'Reilly - Gabriel Landeskog
Mike Connolly - Mark Olver - Peter Mueller
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Milan Hejduk
 
Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Matt Hunwick - Stefan Elliott
 
Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 2:27 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stamkos leading Lightning charge, nearing 50 goals


WASHINGTON -- Nearly three years after Alex Ovechkin celebrated his 50th goal of the 2008-09 season at then-called St. Pete Times Forum, Steven Stamkos has the chance to return the favor Thursday night at Verizon Center as the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Washington Capitals.

Stamkos leads the NHL with 48 goals and is tied with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin with 81 points. The 22-year-old Stamkos has been on a tear of late with 11 goals and 19 points in his last 10 games.

The Lightning have won four of five games and seven of 10 overall to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race and Stamkos may be the biggest reason. The 11th-place Lightning have pulled within four points of eighth-place Winnipeg and they sit two points behind ninth-place Washington.

"I think he's upped his game to not just that superstar status, but to that elite [status], like when [Ovechkin] had 65 goals," said Caps defenseman Karl Alzner, teammates with Stamkos at the 2008 World Junior Championship.

"I remember we played them at home last time and he had half a second in front of the net to score a goal and shoot the puck and he shoots it post and in like it's so easy, like he's sleeping doing it. He's just one of those guys, there's a reason why he's there. He's hard to stop."

Alzner referenced Stamkos scoring from in front of the net, and those around Stamkos acknowledge that with more teams taking away his patented one-timer from the left faceoff circle, more of his goals are coming from around the blue paint.

"He'll score some goals on the power play, but it's not his one-timer from the side anymore on the power play, it's his entire game," Lightning coach Guy Boucher explained.

"He's taken this quest of becoming a complete player and a winner very, very seriously and that's why he's benefitting from scoring from all angles, all kinds of situations -- whether it's a breakaway, two-on-one, wraparound, screen, tip, jam. He does it all."

For Stamkos, becoming a complete player also involved improving his play at even-strength. With more teams taking away his one-timer on the power play, Stamkos has adjusted accordingly. His 38 even-strength goals this season are already second most since the 2005 work stoppage, behind only Ovechkin's 43 in 2007-08.

"There are a lot of good players in this League and when you've played in the League for a while, people pick up on things," Stamkos said.

"They pick up on where you score from, what you like to do when you're in the offensive zone, so you have to make adjustments and be able to adapt to your surroundings. It's about finding ways to score more goals five-on-five, or scoring more goals around the net, whether it's a rebound or a tip. So for me it was something that I wanted to adjust. As you mature throughout your career, you'll always keep finding new ways to get opportunities."

With Vincent Lecavalier missing his ninth straight game tonight because of an upper-body injury, and the February trades of Steve Downie, Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina, even more weight has been placed on Stamkos' broad shoulders.

But along with Teddy Purcell, who enters play on a 10-game point streak, and Martin St. Louis (6 goals, 5 assists in his last 10 games), Tampa Bay's No. 1 line has responded.

"I put that pressure on myself regardless of who is in the lineup," Stamkos said. "Obviously it's magnified now with the trades that we made and with Vinny out and Heddy out for a while -- it was nice to get him back last game -- but for right now for Teddy, Marty and I, we realize that we need to score goals to help our team win and we like that pressure."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 2:26 PM

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

Ducks still riding wave of positive momentum

ST. LOUIS -- With a plethora of in-season coaching changes around the NHL this season, the St. Louis Blues (42-18-7) have certainly reaped the benefits of bringing in the veteran Ken Hitchcock after a rough 6-7-0 start this season.

The Anaheim Ducks (29-28-10) were in a similar position when they made the change on Jan. 30 to Bruce Boudreau, who replaced Randy Carlyle (who's since taken over the resigns in Toronto).

The Ducks were 7-13-4 when the coaching change was made following a home win over Montreal. Things didn't start as well under Boudreau, who was 3-9-2 in his first 14 games.

"The new coaching staff came in and we were still losing games and we were pretty down on ourselves," Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa said. "I wouldn't say we stopped believing in ourselves, but we got pretty close to that. (The coaching staff) kept telling us to stay positive and it's going to turn around eventually and that's what we did. Games got closer and closer and we started winning games and just started building. It added up. It gives us confidence."

That confidence boost has turned into a 19-6-4 run since Jan. 6 and has the Ducks, who were laboring near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, just six points behind eighth-place San Jose going into tonight's clash with the Blues.

"They really are playing good," Hitchcock said of the Ducks. "They're playing about as well as anybody in the West right now. You can see what Bruce has done systems-wise. There's a change from when Randy was there. There's a different style, but I think it's like anything else ... when your best players are your best players, you're going to win a lot of hockey games. (Jonas) Hiller's been great in goal, they got (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Corey) Perry engaged, they're obviously good players.

"I just think sometimes as a team, you kick yourself for not starting the engine a little quicker. ... They look like they could win every game the way they're playing right now."

Boudreau, who was fired earlier this season in Washington and within a week hired in Anaheim, has taken a positive approach and turned it into a winning formula in Orange County.

"He approaches things positive," Sbisa said of Boudreau. "I was thinking he was more of an offensive-minded guy when he came in. In Washington, they were scoring a bunch of goals and stuff, but the defensive side of our game got way better since he came in. We used to be a team that got outshot every night. Now we keep teams to around 20 shots, which is great and we have to do that if you want a chance to win. If Hiller plays every night, you can't give up 40 shots a night."

With 15 games remaining on the schedule, the Ducks, even at the tough grind they've been on just to get themselves back in contention, believe they have their fate in their own hands.

"It's been a grind, but it's way more fun when you win," Sbisa said. "When we were on that losing streak early in the season on that long road trip, guys just got tired early, especially mentally just couldn't stay up. But on the one we had just this past month, the trip was even longer, but I felt I had more energy and most of the guys felt the same way because of the fact that we were winning. It makes everything better going to the rink, going to practice, wanting to practice and all that stuff. It's been a change in attitude."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 2:20 PM

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

Simplifying game got Shattenkirk out of rut

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has by his own admission been a streaky player. So when the 23-year-old recently went through a stretch without a point in 14 of 15 games, the tendencies were to try and press the issue, force something that may not be there.

"When things kind of take a downward spiral for me, I start thinking too much," Shattenkirk said. "You can see it out there just in some stagnant play. That's something that we talk about day in and day out, is just go out there and play, skate and let everything kind of come naturally to you. (The coaches) know as well as anyone that I like to play off my instincts and I react to plays more to kind of set (the teammates) up ahead of time. It's nice to have coaches who understand how I play and who understand how to get players out of those ruts."

Shattenkirk is out of that "rut." With 8 points in five games and 12 in the last 11, he is setting a standard along with fellow defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (29 points in 29 games) that the Blues have some special blueliners.

"He was forcing it," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Shattenkirk. "He was looking at stats, he was looking at points and he wasn't doing enough, so then he started forcing it and then it just snowballed and got worse and worse. Now he's just back simplifying it. He's not forcing it.

"To me, when he stopped forcing it defensively, then he started getting better offensively. I think he went through a stretch where he was gambling too much defensively and we were giving up odd-man rushes and pucks were in our net. I think he's just calmed down a lot and letting the game come to him. He's been way more effective."

Having a defensive partner like Barret Jackman seems to be a calming influence on the younger Shattenkirk, a go-getter who likes to join in the rush and attack the offensive zone as opposed to the more stay-at-home Jackman.

"He's getting some points on our power play and that's where he gets a lot of his points," Jackman said of his d-partner. "But it's simple hockey, he hasn't changed all year. He's been playing solid all year, moving the puck well and just moving his feet. He's such a great skater, sees the ice so well ... they're going to come. Speaking from a guy that went 150 games, eventually they come.

"He's got the skills, he's got all the tools. Sometimes the simpler you make it, the easier things come. You're not over-thinking the game. You just go out there and play and things fall into place. Once in a while, it just takes a bounce that goes your way. All of the sudden, you go into a stretch that both him and Petro are on right now. They're picking up points every night. We don't need them to do that every other night, but it definitely helps out our offense and gets our defense involved."

Shattenkirk, who is tied for fourth in the NHL at plus-26, is feeling it right now. And the feeling is pretty good.

"I always seem to have spurts when things kind of start falling into place," Shattenkirk said. "For a while there, it seemed like I was pressing and things weren't going my way or bounces weren't going my way. Now things are kind of just happening for me. When I feel these times coming along, you feel confident and you just stick with it because you have a feeling that maybe something might fall for you."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 2:05 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Good sign for Toews, who skates prior to practice

CHICAGO -- He'll miss another game when the New York Rangers come to town on Friday, but Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews took a signifcant step on Thursday toward returning to the ice.

Toews, who's been out for eight games with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related, skated on his own for the first time on Thursday since his injury was revealed after a Feb. 19 game against the St. Louis Blues.

"He had a good skate today," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was very exciting for us to see him back out here. He's encouraged as well, so it was a really good day."

Toews took the ice before the Hawks' practice, working out with strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman, and felt OK afterward.

"He felt good," Quenneville said. "That's part of it, as well. It was a big first step seeing him out here."

The Hawks aren't ready to put a more definitive timetable on Toews' return other than "day-to-day," but just seeing him back on the ice was encouraging.

"After that, we'll certainly get a [better] idea to when he's closer," Quenneville said. "He's progressing. It was nice to see him."

Toews' teammates also felt encouraged.

"He looked pretty good," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It was good to see his face all red and sweating coming off the ice, like he'd just been working hard. Hadn't seen that in a while, so it was nice to see."

Fellow defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson also liked what he saw from the team's top-line center and emotional leader.

"It's a step in the right direction, for sure," he said. "I think he likes being out there, too, instead of just being in the gym doing whatever he's doing. It's probably nice just to go out on the ice again."

If anybody knows the feeling, it's Hjalmarsson -- who's "hopeful" to return against the Rangers from his own upper-body injury believed to stem from a concussion. Hjalmarsson has missed 13 of the past 14 games, including the last six in a row after returning for just one game from a seven-game absence and then leaving the lineup again.

Hjalmarsson said conditioning becomes a big part of the equation toward the tail end of the recovery process. Thus, he knows what kind of skating work Toews has ahead of him before he's cleared to return for games.

"It's pretty amazing how long it takes to get back in shape and how fast it goes away," Hjalmarsson said. "It usually takes awhile to get back into good shape."

In other Hawks-related injury news, fourth-line center Jamal Mayers didn't skate because of what Quenneville called a "maintenance day," while defensemen Sami Lepisto and Steve Montador also didn't participate.

According to Quenneville, Lepisto will be out "indefinitely" with a lower-body injury that occurred in the second period of Chicago's last game. St. Louis forward David Perron fell on his left leg and he had trouble putting weight on the leg as he left the ice gingerly.

Montador is also out with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related, but has been skating on his own recently.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 1:46 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blues, Ducks

ST. LOUIS -- Here are the probable lineups for Thursday's matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks:

BLUES
Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Halak is 6-0-0 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in his last six starts. Elliott will get the start Saturday against Columbus.

On injured reserve are Alex Steen (concussion), Matt D'Agostini (concussion), Jamie Langenbrunner (broken foot) and Kris Russell (concussion symptoms). Defenseman Kent Huskins (bruised hand) will miss his second straight game. Huskins, Russell (in red no-contact jersey) and Langenbrunner all took part in the morning skate.

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

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

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers

Hiller, who leads the NHL in appearances and starts this season, will make his 62nd appearance this season. Hiller will be making his club-record 27th straight start tonight.

Healthy scratches for the Ducks will include winger George Parros and defenseman Nate Guenin. Goaltender Dan Ellis (groin strain) is on injured reserve.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 1:42 PM

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

First-place Stars try again to solve Sharks

DALLAS -- As good as the Dallas Stars (36-26-5, 77 points) have been during their current eight-game point streak, a run where they have gone 7-0-1 and taken 15 of a possible 16 points, on Thursday night at American Airlines Center they face a team they have yet to defeat this season in the San Jose Sharks (33-24-8, 74 points).

Dallas heads into tonight's Pacific Division battle just two days removed from an impressive 5-2 win at Vancouver on Tuesday, a victory that snapped a six-game losing streak on the Canucks' home ice.

That triumph gave the Stars a perfect 3-0-0 record in their road swing through Western Canada last week as they also won at Edmonton and Calgary earlier in the trip.

First-year coach Glen Gulutzan knows the reason for his club's recent upswing is actually a pretty simple one.

"Our guys are competing and it's probably well-documented they're a real tight group and they're playing for each other," Gulutzan said. "That's an important thing this time of year."

In their first three meetings with the Sharks this season, Dallas has been outscored 14-5 by San Jose, a trend Gulutzan obviously wants to see end tonight.

"We haven't really focused on San Jose other than our pre-scout and what they're doing. We've really isolated ourselves to what we need to do and the way we need to approach games. But certainly facts are facts and we know that we haven't beat them," Gulutzan said. "Today we're certainly focused on what our job is, what our game plan is and what it has been the last month. All that is just a distraction, we're focused on the way we need to play tonight."

Stars captain Brenden Morrow did go through his first morning skate since early February but he will miss a 17th straight game with an upper-body injury. He looks like a strong possibility to return to the ice on Saturday against Anaheim.

"Morrow's close, but not yet -- but I would say Brendan is a 60/40 for to play against Anaheim. If not, he'll play against Minnesota [next week]," Gulutzan said.

Second-line winger Steve Ott did not skate this morning due to an illness that continues to linger from the trip to Western Canada, but his coach isn't worried about the gritty forward being ready to go tonight.

"Otter's been sick the whole Western Canada trip and so we'll see how he is tonight, but he'll play," Gulutzan said. "He's getting better."

The Sharks are currently on a three-game losing streak, having lost 3-2 to Edmonton in overtime on Tuesday. But despite their current struggles, they aren't a team the Stars players are about to take lightly.

"They've been playing really well against us this year. We have to see if we can beat these guys," Dallas winger Loui Eriksson said. "It's going to be a hard-working game tonight again. We know they're right behind us in the standings. These two points are really huge for us to get, and we're going to do everything we can to get those."

And for 2012 All-Star center Jamie Benn, the key to getting both points tonight could be in how they approach their first game back after such a successful three-game road trip.

"Yeah, I think we've got to approach tonight like it's a road game. These first home games coming back after a road trip are pretty tough. I think we've got to play it as a road game -- play it the right way and go after them right away," Benn said.

Antti Niemi figures to start in goal for San Jose tonight, while it appears Dallas will go with Kari Lehtonen.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
First | Prev | 981 | 982 | 983 | 984 | 985 | 986 | 987-992 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

It's time we got a break. People that have watched us, I'm sure they said, 'Finally, some things are going our way.' We'll take the breaks when they go our way.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien after a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak
2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series