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At the Rink: Hurricanes at Rangers

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Right wing Alexander Semin will return to the Carolina Hurricanes lineup Sunday against the New York Rangers after sitting out the past six games with a lower-body injury.

In addition, Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles will be back after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in a shootout Saturday for their fifth consecutive victory.

Semin will start the game at Madison Square Garden on a line with Patrick Dwyer and Riley Nash. Liles will play alongside Tim Gleason. Semin has one goal in 21 games this season. He had three previous injuries that kept him out of the lineup for a total of five games.

"He's had a lot of resets," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "He's been hurt a lot. He stops, starts, stop, starts and never seems to get in the flow of the National Hockey League. The League is moving, and it's moving pretty good right now pre-Christmas, so he's coming off a situation where he hasn't played much recently and he has to be up to speed. He has to work hard enough to stay with the speed of the game."

Peters said he's hoping Liles can help Carolina's struggling power play, which went 0-for-4 against the Rangers on Saturday and was 1-for-11 in the three games Liles missed.

Carolina is 16th in the NHL on the power play this season (18.1 percent), but 2-for-28 in the past nine games.

"He should be able to move the puck and he should be able to help the power play," Peters said. "I thought the power play really struggled, really, really struggled, so he's a veteran guy who has been around the power play a long time in this League so he should help."

Goalie Anton Khudobin will start for the Hurricanes opposite Rangers goalie Cam Talbot. Cam Ward and Henrik Lundqvist were the goalies in Carolina on Saturday.

Peters said he considered going back to Ward, who made 32 saves, but he settled on Khudobin because the Hurricanes also play Tuesday at the New Jersey Devils. Khudobin made 33 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 16.

"I expect him to be good again tonight," Peters said.

Talbot is starting for the first time since Dec. 6. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn't consider going back to Lundqvist for the second game of the back-to-back even though he has played for the entirety of New York's current five-game winning streak.

"Cam has played extremely well and we're in another sequence here of three games in four nights," Vigneault said of starting Talbot. "It's the right thing to do."

Here are the projected lineups:


Nathan Gerbe - Eric Staal - Chris Terry

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm

Patrick Dwyer - Riley Nash - Alexander Semin

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Zach Boychuk

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

Tim Gleason - John-Michael Liles

Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore

Anton Khudobin

Cam Ward

Scratched: Michal Jordan

Injured: Jordan Staal (leg), Andrej Nestrasil (upper body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body)


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Matt Hunwick - Kevin Klein

Cam Talbot

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: John Moore

Injured: Lee Stempniak (illness)

Status report: Jordan is scratched for Carolina after playing in 12 consecutive games. … The Hurricanes returned Justin Shugg to Charlotte of the American Hockey League to make way for Semin to come off injured reserve. … John Moore is a scratch for the third straight game.

Who's hot: For the Rangers, Nash had an 11-game point streak snapped Saturday. He had 14 points on eight goals and six assists during the point streak. Zuccarello has five points on two goals and three assists in the past five games. Stepan has four points on one goal and three assists in the past four games. For the Hurricanes, Gerbe has three assists in the past two games and Lindholm carries a three-game point-scoring streak into the game Sunday. Terry has scored goals in back-to-back games.


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