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Playoff Countdown: Four teams can clinch berths

Saturday, 04.04.2015 / 12:00 PM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks can join the field for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday.

The Capitals (43-25-10) don't need help from anyone. If they defeat the Ottawa Senators in regulation at Canadian Tire Centre, they'll be back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Capitals have won three in a row, including a 5-4 shootout victory at the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday that moved them past the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

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Playoff clinching scenarios for Saturday, April 4

Saturday, 04.04.2015 / 11:50 AM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With eight days remaining in the regular season, there are nine berths up for grabs in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

These are the clinching scenarios for games Saturday:

* The Washington Capitals would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Ottawa Senators in regulation.

* The New York Islanders would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Buffalo Sabres in any fashion AND the Senators lose in regulation.

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Hall of Fame forward Elmer Lach dies at 97

Saturday, 04.04.2015 / 11:32 AM / News

NHL.com

Elmer Lach, a Hockey Hall of Fame member who won the Hart Trophy in 1945 while centering the famous "Punch Line" with Maurice Richard and Toe Blake, and helped the Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup three times, died Saturday at age 97, the Canadiens announced.

Lach was born in Nokomis, Saskatchewan, on Jan. 22, 1918. He played 14 seasons in the NHL, all with Montreal, before retiring after the 1953-54 season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

"The National Hockey League deeply mourns the passing of Elmer Lach -- center on Montreal's legendary 'Punch Line' with Toe Blake and Maurice Richard, owner of the sole assist on Richard's 50th goal in 50 games in 1944-45 and someone who, at 97 years of age, was just a few months younger than the League itself," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "The League sends heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this three-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time scoring champion and 1945 Hart Trophy winner."

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Around the League notebook for Friday, April 3

Saturday, 04.04.2015 / 2:01 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

SCHWARTZ’S HAT TRICK LIFTS ST. LOUIS TO TOP OF CENTRAL DIVISION STANDINGS...

Jaden Schwartz (3-0—3) recorded the second hat trick of his NHL career to power the St. Louis Blues to a 7-5 victory against the Dallas Stars. The Blues improved to 48-23-7 (103 points) and tied the idle Nashville Predators for first in the Central Division. Nashville, however, owns the ROW tiebreaker (NSH: 41, STL: 39).

* The Blues matched a season-high with seven goals; St. Louis defeated the San Jose Sharks 7-2 on Jan. 3 and again on Jan. 8.

* Schwartz’s first career hat trick came on Oct. 18, 2014, when he posted 3-1—4 versus the Arizona Coyotes. Schwartz has five points (4-1—5) in his past two games.

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Blackhawks rookie van Riemsdyk to have surgery

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 9:05 PM / News

ChicagoBlackhawks.com

The following statement was issued today by Chicago Blackhawks Head Team Physician Dr. Michael Terry:

Trevor van Riemsdyk suffered a right wrist injury in a recent game. He will undergo surgery on Tuesday, April 7. We anticipate a full recovery and a return to full hockey activities in approximately eight weeks.”

Van Riemsdyk, 23, has one assist in 18 games in his first professional season with the Blackhawks. The Middletown, N.J., native also collected three assists in eight games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League this season. Signed as a free agent on March 24, 2014, van Riemsdyk tallied his first professional point with an assist on Nov. 9 against San Jose. He previously recorded 75 points (16G, 59A) in three seasons at the University of New Hampshire.

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Goalie Ryan Miller back at practice with Canucks

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 6:51 PM / News

NHL.com

Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller practiced Friday for the first time since he sustained a knee  injury almost six weeks ago.

Miller, who was injured Feb. 22 against the New York Islanders when teammate Jannik Hansen crashed into him, is not ready to return to game action, coach Willie Desjardins told the Canucks website after practice in Winnipeg.

"It's exciting to finally get back, even if it's just practicing and going to meetings," Miller said. "At home, I've been around the rink and being a part of everything I can be a part of, but it's tough, guys are in game mode and are making the push here, so I try to stay out of their way.

"So it's nice to just be back in the locker room and feel like I'm a part of everything, especially this great time of year."

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Flames recall Sam Bennett, 4th pick in 2014 draft

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 6:19 PM / News

NHL.com

The Calgary Flames recalled forward Sam Bennett, the fourth player taken in the 2014 NHL Draft, from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League on Friday.

Bennett, 18, will join the Flames prior to their road game against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; CBC).

"It's pretty surreal right now," Bennett told the Flames website. "I’m sure when I’m out there and around the team, it will feel a lot more real. Obviously I’m really excited to be out there with them. It's a really exciting time of the year, especially for Calgary right now. I can't wait.

"This is what I have wanted since I was 4 years old. I’m really excited to get going and meet the team."

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Red Wings' Datsyuk could play Saturday vs. Wild

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 5:04 PM / News

NHL.com

Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk said he'll return to the lineup Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

"I'm good to go," Datsyuk told the Red Wings website Friday.

Datsyuk has missed the past two games and seven of the past nine with a lower-body injury. He has 24 goals and 60 points in 59 games.

"Pavel will be a game-time decision, or a tomorrow-morning decision," coach Mike Babcock said. "We played him on a line (at practice) today like he was playing, but we don't know how it'll react so we'll decide tomorrow morning."

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Malkin, Letang, Ehrhoff remain out for Penguins

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 2:08 PM / News

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH –- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin will not play Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Malkin, who leads Pittsburgh with 28 goals and is second with 70 points, will miss a second consecutive game with an undisclosed injury, Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. Malkin could return Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I think anytime you can have Geno in the lineup, you want Geno in the lineup, for sure," Johnston said. "With a back-to-back coming off an injury, especially a nagging injury, we knew coming into the weekend, that if he is able to play, it was probably only going to be one game. We'll see how he recovers from the skate today and hope he'll be able to play on Sunday.

"But we'll see."

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Stone contributing to Senators' late-season surge

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 12:19 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- There are several key reasons the Ottawa Senators have been one of the great stories in the NHL for the past couple months.

Backed by goaltender Andrew Hammond, "The Hamburglar," they have been on a potentially record-setting roll as they try to overcome a 14-point deficit on Feb. 10 and earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That would be the biggest deficit a team has overcome since the NHL went to an Eastern-Western conference format in 1993-94.

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Quote of the Day

It's very special, obviously; there is draft day and then there's the day that you sign your first deal. It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I'm very honored to be able to do that."

— Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid on signing his first professional contract