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Goalie Darling delivers to power surging Blackhawks

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 11:45 AM / Top Performer

NHL.com

His Chicago Blackhawks facing the second of a back-to-back set against the top team in the NHL, coach Joel Quenneville decided to start rookie goalie Scott Darling over Corey Crawford against the New York Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Crawford is 6-0-1 with a 1.13 goals-against average and .964 save percentage in his past seven games but also made 38 saves Tuesday in a win against the New York Islanders at United Center.

Starting his first game in three weeks, Darling vindicated Quenneville's decision with 25 saves in a 1-0 win against the Rangers to give Chicago its fourth straight victory for the first time since winning eight straight in late November-early December.

Darling is 7-3-0 with a 1.96 GAA, .936 save percentage and his first NHL shutout.

"I'm just thrilled; it's an amazing stage to [get a shutout] at Madison Square Garden," Darling said. "It feels great to just get back in the net and do my job. This is one of the most famous arenas in the world against one of the most iconic jerseys there is. An 'Original Six' matchup on the NBC Sports Network; you really can't ask for much more."

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Unmasked: Remarkable journey for Rangers' Skapski

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 10:43 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Mackenzie Skapski had just won his first NHL start, but there was something the rookie goalie for the New York Rangers needed to do before the celebrations could start in earnest.

Skapski, 20, called home to share the moment with his parents. It was a conversation that left Skapski's father, Denis, a wreck.

"He was pretty happy when I talked to him, and then my mom told me later that he got pretty emotional afterward," Skapski said, noting the uncharacteristic display of emotion from his dad had other family members asking what was wrong. "I've never seen him like that personally. My mom said the only other time she's seen him like that was my bus accident."

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Bruins to contend with Hammond, surging Senators

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has heard of Ottawa Senators rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond, and the Bruins' leading scorer with 22 goals is impressed.

"I heard he likes to eat McDonald's. That's about it," Marchand said Wednesday after practice at Ristuccia Arena. "He's in a pretty good spot, McDonald's for life, can't argue with that one."

Hammond, nicknamed "The Hamburglar," has been given free food for life at six McDonald's locations in the Ottawa Valley. But he didn't get that reward because he's expressed a love for the food. Recently, the 27-year-old with the fast-food nickname has been as dominant as any goaltender in the NHL and he's helped the Senators stay in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

In his first 12 NHL starts, Hammond is 11-0-1 with a 1.35 goals-against average and .956 save percentage. He is the second goaltender in NHL history to yield two or fewer goals in each of his first 12 starts, which ties the record of Boston's Frank Brimsek set in 1938-39.

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Pirri goes from scratch to scorer for Panthers

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- This is how things have been going lately for Florida Panthers forward Brandon Pirri.

Forward Brad Boyes had just skated near the outside of the right circle when he dropped a pass near the top of the circle. Almost as quickly as Pirri received the pass, he released a wrist shot that whizzed between a couple of Montreal Canadiens players and rang in off the far post.

Just like that, Pirri had his 13th goal in 18 games, an Ovechkin-like pace that projects to 59 goals over a full NHL regular season.

"They're looking for a scorer in Florida," play-by-play voice Steve Goldstein said during the Panthers'  3-2 loss Tuesday. "He may be right here in this building. That guy."

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Top prospect Marner not letting size hold him back

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

London Knights forward Mitchell Marner said he believes anything's possible if you're willing to put in the work.

Even for a 5-foot-11, 155-pound right-shot center who might mistakenly be overlooked at the 2015 NHL Draft because of his size.

"The NHL right now is at a point where size doesn't matter; it's all about the skill and passion," Marner said. "I think if you go out there and show that you're willing to go every shift, willing to prove a point and prove that you can hold your own, that skills are more important than the size."

Marner has not only made a believer out of a lot of scouts, but a former teammate now starring in the NHL.

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Around the NHL notebook for Wednesday, March 18

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 2:25 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

DUCKS STAGE (ANOTHER) FREEWAY FACEOFF RALLY, MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE

Trailing 1-0 at the outset of the third period, the Anaheim Ducks pulled ahead 2-1 before surrendering a late goal to the Los Angeles Kings. But Ryan Kesler tallied the game-winner 45 seconds into overtime to give Anaheim the win in the fifth and final installment of the Freeway Faceoff (ANA: 4-0-1, LAK: 1-1-3).

* The Ducks (45-20-7, 97 points) reached 45 wins for the fifth time in franchise history and tied the St. Louis Blues for the most victories in the NHL. The Ducks also leapfrogged three clubs into first place in the NHL standings.

* The Ducks overcame a deficit at any point in the third period in all four of their wins against the Kings this season. They lead the League with 12 wins when trailing after two periods (12-20-0) and hold an NHL-best .375 winning percentage in those scenarios; the Calgary Flames rank second with 10 such wins, and the Detroit Red Wings are second with a .346 winning percentage.

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Rangers' Lundqvist to return 'when the time is right'

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 7:56 PM / News

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist doesn't have a specific date when he might return to the lineup, but he's eager to resume his familiar role.

Lundqvist spoke to the media at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday for the first time since the Rangers announced Tuesday he was cleared by doctors to begin practicing.

"Hockey is such a big part of my life, and when you miss if for that long you feel a little off," Lundqvist said. "Physically I feel great, so now it's about getting out there and getting the timing right, getting comfortable in practice and game situations.

"When you're out this long, you start missing everything about the game. You miss coming to games and the pressure of the games; it made me appreciate the game even more."

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Red Wings' Datsyuk to miss at least two games

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 7:38 PM / News

NHL.com

Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk will miss at least the next two games with a lower-body injury, coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday.

"Not making the trip," Babcock told the Red Wings website. "He's got a lower-body ache."

Datsyuk has 23 goals and 58 points in 57 games this season. The 36-year-old missed the first five games of the regular season with a shoulder injury, and six of eight games with a sore hip in November.

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Bruins' Krejci 'back pretty soon'; Rask practices

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 7:06 PM / News

NHL.com

Boston Bruins forward David Krejci and goalie Tuukka Rask were at practice Wednesday.

Krejci has been out since sustaining a knee injury on Feb. 20 and has missed 12 games. It was the second time he skated with teammates since the injury.

"I feel pretty comfortable that I will be back pretty soon and I can play a bunch of games," Krejci told the Bruins website. "That should be enough to get myself ready for the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. Once I am 100 percent, I will be back."

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Penguins forward Malkin out two more games

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 6:58 PM / News

Evgeni Malkin will not join the Pittsburgh Penguins on their road trip, meaning the forward will be out at least until Tuesday.

"He'll meet us when we get back [to Pittsburgh]," coach Mike Johnston told the Penguins website Wednesday. "We'll get a skate with him and see where he's at. It sounds like things are progressing quite well, but he won't join us on the trip."

Malkin has missed two games with a lower-body injury he sustained in the first period of a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on March 14.

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Quote of the Day

I definitely think going back down helped me, I had a lot of confidence down there, I played a lot of minutes and I think that helped me a lot. With the 37 games up here, that gave me experience as well. I know what it takes to play in the NHL and now it's time for me to show that I'm capable of being a full-time NHL player.

— Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl on finishing the 2014-15 season in juniors after playing 37 games with Edmonton to begin the season