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Daily Primer Nov. 30: Tortorella's homecoming

by John Kreiser

A couple of minutes after 2 p.m. this afternoon, John Tortorella will leave his team's dressing room at Madison Square Garden and find his way to the bench. It's a walk he's made hundreds of times the past few years. What will make this one different is that he'll be going to the visiting team's bench.

Tortorella returns to the Garden on Saturday as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, who continue a four-game road trip against the New York Rangers (2 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), the team that fired him last May. He was succeeded by Alain Vigneault, who had been let go by the Canucks.

Tortorella has tried to play down his first game back at the Garden.

"Quite honestly, we've beaten this thing up," he said Friday. "It's another game on the schedule. It's a very important game for us to try to gain some traction. We need to continue trying to gain traction. That's all this is about. We have enough things to worry about with our hockey club."

Vigneault won't have his homecoming until the Rangers visit Vancouver on April 1.

Here's a complete look at the NHL action Saturday:

Vancouver Canucks at New York Rangers -- The Canucks could relax a bit in the Big Apple on Friday after opening their trip the night before with a 5-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators, a game that featured a four-goal second period. If they opted to do so, they could have watched the Rangers take a 2-1 lead into the third period against the Boston Bruins only to come home with a 3-2 loss that left Vigneault saying that "we got exactly what we deserved." That included failing to get a point when leading after two periods for the first time in 102 games; the Rangers had been 95-0-6 when taking a lead into the third period.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Boston Bruins -- The Blue Jackets were so eager to avenge a 7-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers 11 days earlier that they almost forgot to win the game. Columbus led 4-0 after two periods, but instead of being able to stretch their lead, the Blue Jackets allowed a pair of third-period goals and had to hang on for a 4-2 win. The Bruins got a Gordie Howe Hat Trick from captain Zdeno Chara, whose goal midway through the third period against the Rangers snapped a 2-2 tie, wiping away a lot of the bad feelings from a 6-1 road loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens -- These two old rivals haven't seen each other since opening night, when the Maple Leafs came to Bell Centre and left with a 4-3 victory. They come to Montreal on Saturday trying to avoid a winless weekend after losing 3-2 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. The Canadiens are also coming off a night in which they had to settle for one point instead of two; Montreal allowed the Washington Capitals to tie the game late in regulation, and Peter Budaj was beaten on three of four shots in the shootout for a 3-2 loss.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Florida Panthers -- The Penguins' weekend in Florida got off to a positive start Friday when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 behind two goals by Chris Kunitz and 21 saves by Marc-Andre Fleury. It was an afternoon of redemption for Fleury, who was pulled early in the second period against Toronto on Wednesday night, a game the Penguins won 6-5 in a shootout. The Panthers have been off since a 5-2 home loss to the Rangers on Wednesday.

Buffalo Sabres at New Jersey Devils -- Maybe the Sabres need more Friday night games against Toronto. They've won twice in seven games since Ted Nolan took over as coach; both have come against the Maple Leafs on a Friday night at First Niagara Center, including a 3-2 overtime win in front of a holiday weekend crowd. The Devils are back in Newark after winning the back end of a home-and-home series against the Carolina Hurricanes by scoring four times in the third period for a 5-2 win.

Washington Capitals at New York Islanders -- Both teams took four-game losing streaks into Friday. The Capitals ended their slide by beating the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout that saw three of four Washington shooters score. Mikhail Grabovski tied the game with 5:32 left in regulation and won it in the tiebreaker. The Islanders' struggles continued when they were routed 5-0 at home by the Detroit Red Wings. New York has dropped five in a row and has trailed at least 3-0 in each of the past three.

Philadelphia Flyers at Nashville Predators -- The Flyers were ready for their early call on Friday, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in a game that started at 11:30 a.m. ET. Steve Mason stopped 25 shots to make unassisted goals by Scott Hartnell and Sean Couturier stand up. The Predators were off on Black Friday after a disappointing 3-0 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thanksgiving night.

Chicago Blackhawks at Phoenix Coyotes -- Chicago's "Circus Trip" comes to an end at Arena, where the Blackhawks will try for their sixth consecutive win after beginning the trip with a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Chicago had to go 11 rounds in the shootout on Friday before Ben Smith scored to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars. Phoenix got back to the tight-checking hockey coach Dave Tippett teaches in a 3-1 road win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, ending a three-game losing streak.

Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche -- Colorado coach Patrick Roy took goaltending coach Francois Allaire's advice and started Jean-Sebastien Giguere against the Wild on Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home series. He was rewarded with a 27-save performance in a 3-1 victory. Not even the return of Zach Parise, whose bruised left foot was expected to keep him out for at least two weeks, was enough to help the Wild avoid a third consecutive loss.

Calgary Flames at Los Angeles Kings -- The Kings have lost six times in regulation, but one of those losses came the last time the Flames visited Staples Center; TJ Brodie's goal with 30 seconds left gave Calgary a 3-2 win. That's more success than the Flames have had against the Anaheim Ducks in Orange County; a 5-2 loss Friday was Calgary's 18th consecutive defeat at Honda Center. The Kings are back home and have had a couple of days off after a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. Coach Darryl Sutter says he'll keep riding goaltender Ben Scrivens in goal while starter Jonathan Quick recovers from a groin strain. L.A. is 5-0-3 in Scrivens' eight starts since assuming the starting job.

Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks -- It may be hard to believe, but this is the first game of the season between the Pacific Division rivals, who don't see each other again until after Christmas. Anaheim's big line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner rode roughshod over the Flames on Friday, accounting for three goals in a 5-2 victory. The Sharks routed the St. Louis Blues 6-3 at SAP Center thanks to a four-goal first period and the first career hat trick by Brent Burns. This is the 57th regular-season game between the teams in San Jose; each team has won 27 and two ended in ties.

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