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Weekly Primer

Stars prepare for key game with Blackhawks

Dallas without Seguin for Central clash; Detroit, Philadelphia jockey for position in East

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

If the Dallas Stars are going to win the Central Division, they'll have to do so without center Tyler Seguin.

The Stars will likely be without Seguin for the remainder of the regular season due to a 15 percent cut of his Achilles tendon in the final moments of a 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Dallas, which defeated the New York Islanders 3-0 on Saturday, will try to keep the momentum going against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, CSN-CH, NHL.TV).

Seguin ranks second on the Stars in scoring with 73 points (33 goals, 40 assists) in 72 games.

"I think we're fortunate that it is diagnosed what it is. It shouldn't be as tough to come back from," coach Lindy Ruff told the Stars website. "It will be a tough time of year to come back, I can tell you that. It'll be tough to catch up and get in playoff mode, it is a tough time of year."

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Monday, March 21: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-PH, TVA Sports) -- The Islanders return home after going 0-2-1 on a three-game road trip. New York, which scored three goals on the trip, will play eight of its final 12 regular-season games at home, where it's 21-8-4. Philadelphia, which will be without goalie Michal Neuvirth for three weeks because of a lower-body injury, is 7-2-1 in its past 10 and trails the Islanders by five points in the Metropolitan Division.  

Tuesday, March 22: Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, SUN, TVA Sports, SNO, SNW, NHL.TV) -- Six points separate the top four teams in the Atlantic Division, including the Red Wings (fourth) and Lightning (second). Detroit has won back-to-back games to move back into the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.  

Tuesday, March 22: St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-MW, CSN-CA, SNE, SNO, SNP, NHL.TV) -- Blues goalie Brian Elliott returned Saturday after missing 10 games because of a lower-body injury and shut out the Vancouver Canucks in a 3-0 win. St. Louis trails Dallas by two points for the Central Division lead. Center Joe Thornton has a point in 28 consecutive Sharks wins, including San Jose's 3-0 victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.

Video: STL@VAN: Elliott preserves lead with series of saves

Thursday, March 24: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, NESN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV) -- The Panthers are hanging on to their Atlantic Division lead by a thread following a 5-3 loss against Detroit on Saturday. Thursday marks the second of a three-game road trip for the Panthers; the Bruins return home after a four-game trip that concludes against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

Saturday, March 26: Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings (2 p.m. ET; ROOT, FS-D, SN, NHL.TV) -- The Penguins made it six in a row and moved into a tie with the Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 6-2 victory against the Washington Capitals on Sunday. It's Pittsburgh's second six-game win streak of the season; it also reeled off six straight between Oct. 24 and Nov. 6. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has a 12-game point streak and 17 points in March (six goals, 11 assists), the most in the NHL.

Saturday, March 26: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche (3 p.m. ET; FS-N, ALT, NHL.TV) -- The heated race for the second wild card from the Western Conference continues at Pepsi Center. One point separates the Wild and Avalanche, who each won Sunday. Colorado could be without forward Nathan MacKinnon, who sustained a knee injury on Friday at Calgary. Matt Duchene also has a knee injury and is day-to-day.

Saturday, March 26: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, SUN, NHL.TV) -- It's been a while that the Sunshine State rivals will face each other this late in the season with so much on the line for both teams, which should create for a phenomenal atmosphere at Amalie Arena. The Panthers have won three of four against the Lightning this season; Saturday is the final regular-season game between them.

Sunday, March 27: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports) -- Home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs is still very much up for grabs in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers will need to find a way to turn things around following a discouraging 4-1 loss at the San Jose Sharks on Saturday that could have been much worse if not for the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist.  

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks -- After scoring once in 11 games, Silfverberg has turned things around and has four goals in his past four games, including the overtime winner Sunday in a 3-2 victory at the Winnipeg Jets.

"It's huge starting off this trip with a win," Silfverberg told the Ducks website. "The first period wasn't anything we wanted, but after that we started playing. We got the win, and that's what matters."

Video: ANA@WPG: Silfverberg buries his own rebound for GWG

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings -- Kopitar's recent play helped the Kings secure a playoff spot, which they did with their 2-1 win against Boston on Saturday. Kopitar has four goals and three assists during a five-game point streak; he has six goals and seven assists over the past 10 games.

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames -- Gaudreau has one goal and four assists in his past four games and has eclipsed 70 points for the first time in his career. Gaudreau scored in Calgary's 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

LINE CHANGES

Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus Blue Jackets -- A third-round pick in 2013, Bjorkstrand scored twice in his second NHL game, a 6-3 win against the New Jersey Devils at Nationwide Arena on Saturday. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella placed Bjorkstrand on right wing alongside Matt Calvert and William Karlsson.

"It's nice to get the first goal and then one more after that," Bjorkstrand told the Blue Jackets website. "I feel really good right now. [Tortorella] was putting me out there a lot (to try to get a third goal) and all the guys were trying to get the puck to me, so it's nice to get all that support."

Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche -- Rantanen hadn't played in NHL since October, but with an injury to Nathan MacKinnon he was back with Colorado on Sunday and centered a line with Cody McLeod and Jack Skille during a 3-2 win at the Edmonton Oilers. Rantanen, the 10th player selected at last year's draft, had 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 44 games for San Antonio of the American Hockey League.  

"Of course, it helps that I was here two weeks at the start of the year, so I know guys better and it's easier to come into the locker room. It's good to be here," Rantanen told the Avalanche website. "You know a little bit how the game is, so it's not new. It's easier now."

Anthony Stolarz, Philadelphia Flyers -- With Neuvirth expected to miss three weeks, there's a good chance Stolarz will make his NHL debut before the conclusion of the regular season. Stolarz was 19-15-7 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage with Lehigh Valley. He was the Flyers' second-round pick (No. 45) at the 2012 NHL Draft.

"My mindset's kind of the same as it was last time," Stolarz told the Flyers website Sunday. "I just have to keep working hard and getting better. Obviously I'm still a young goalie, so there's always a learning process. But I think the things I've been working on from the last time I was here (last month) when I was in [Lehigh Valley] to now, I've definitely improved."

POINT SHOTS

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on forward David Perron, who left the game Sunday against Winnipeg because of an upper-body injury: "It's a tough loss for us. I don't know how long (he'll be out) or anything. It's an upper-body injury. It'll be better evaluated in the next day or two." Perron has eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games since being acquired from Pittsburgh. … New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider faced shots from goalie coach Chris Terreri on Sunday and could return to practice this week. Schneider sprained his right knee during a game against Dallas on March 4. "Nothing was different than what we had thought [Saturday]," Devils coach John Hynes told Northjersey.com. "We knew that he was going to get back skating and his progress was going well, so today was his first day he actually took shots. That went fairly well, so we're by no means going to rush this back, but he is on a normal track, like any other player would be, in good shape to, hopefully, progress into a practice situation this week and then see where it goes from there." … Flames goalie Niklas Backstrom made 21 saves in his first start since Jan. 13, 2015, against Montreal on Sunday. "I've been here for three weeks, but it feels like I've been here for many years," said Backstrom, who was acquired from Minnesota prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. "The guys have really welcomed me well here."

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