***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
Saturday, December 21st
(All times Eastern)
CALGARY FLAMES (13-16-6) AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (26-10-1), 1 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins will try to push their
season-best winning streak to seven games when they host the Calgary Flames in
Saturday's matinee clash at CONSOL Energy Center.
Pittsburgh has won six in a row and 11 of its last 12 games to open a big lead
atop the Metropolitan Division. With 53 points, the Penguins are 12 points
ahead of Washington for the division's top spot and Pittsburgh also is five
points in front of Boston for the Eastern Conference lead.
Despite battling a rash of injuries, the Pens posted their two most recent
wins on back-to-back nights, beating the New York Rangers on the road in a 4-3
shootout on Wednesday before downing the visiting Minnesota Wild by a 5-2
score on Thursday.
The decisive victory over the Wild was the ninth straight win on home ice for
the Pens, who are off to a stellar 16-3-0 mark as the host this season.
If history is any indication, Pittsburgh has a good chance to make it 10
straight home wins this afternoon. The Pens are 12-1-0 with two ties in their
last 15 home games against the Flames, and Calgary has lost eight of 10
overall in this series.
Pittsburgh is currently dealing with injuries to star forward Evgeni Malkin
and defensemen Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi. With
their top-four blueliners out of the lineup on Thursday, rookie defenseman
Olli Maatta took charge in the win over Minnesota.
Maatta scored a key short-handed goal on a penalty shot and collected one
assist, helping the Penguins post a 5-2 decision over the Wild. A first-round
pick (22nd overall) in the 2012 draft, the 19-year-old Maatta has three goals
and eight assists in 37 games this season. The Finnish prospect has done most
of his damage recently, notching seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) over his
last 10 outings.
Maatta became only the second defenseman in Penguins history to score on a
penalty shot after he was hooked on a breakaway by Minnesota's Jonas Brodin at
7:54 of the third period. He came in wide from the right side and snapped a
wrister that trickled across the goal line to give Pittsburgh a 5-2 lead.
"I've tried that move in practice a few times. It's the only move I have,"
Maatta said. "I thought (Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom) got it at first.
Then I saw it go in so I was pretty excited."
Chris Kunitz had two goals for the Penguins, while Jeff Zatkoff made 24 saves
for the win.
Malkin is questionable for today's game, while Letang, Martin, Orpik and
Scuderi are out.
While Pittsburgh aims for its 10th straight home win on Saturday, the Flames
will try to halt a three-game road slide. Calgary began a five-game road trip
with last Saturday's overtime win in Buffalo, but Bob Hartley's club has gone
The Flames played Thursday evening in Detroit and was dealt a 3-2 overtime
loss by the Red Wings, who won after Daniel Alfredsson scored his second goal
of the game just 63 seconds into the extra session. Detroit got a power play
when Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie was whistled for hooking with 42 seconds
left in regulation. On the ensuing power play, Pavel Datsyuk fed Alfredsson
for a one-timer in the slot and the veteran ripped the shot past Karri Ramo.
Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano both scored for Calgary. Ramo stopped 35
shots in defeat.
After closing its road trip on Saturday, Calgary will play its next five games
at the Saddledome, beginning with Monday's game against St. Louis. The Flames
are 7-9-3 as the guest this season and 6-7-3 at home.
PHOENIX COYOTES (18-10-6) AT OTTAWA SENATORS (14-17-6), 2 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling clubs will fight for a much-needed
win on Saturday afternoon, as the Ottawa Senators welcome the Phoenix Coyotes
for a battle at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Coyotes enter Saturday's matinee on a three-game slide and also have
dropped five of seven and nine of their last 13 tilts. Ottawa hasn't fared
much better recently, losing two straight as part of a 6-10-2 stretch over its
last 18 games.
Phoenix has lost the first two tests on a four-game road trip, giving the
Coyotes four defeats in their past five games as the guest. The club is only
8-7-4 as the road team this season and will complete the trek Monday in
After dropping a 3-1 decision Tuesday in Montreal, the Coyotes were dealt a
2-1 shootout setback by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. James van
Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul both scored in the shootout to help the Leafs snap
a two-game slide with the close win at Air Canada Centre.
Martin Hanzal tied the game late in the third for Phoenix, while Mike Smith
stopped 26-of-27 shots through regulation and overtime.
"We wanted to play a hard road game. Our tempo got better as the game went on.
We had multiple opportunities in the third period to tie and then take the
lead. We got the one we needed," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. "It's a step
in the right direction. We're a little banged up and looking for some guys to
elevate their game."
Coyotes captain Shane Doan has missed the last six games with an illness that
Phoenix has categorized as Rocky Mountain fever. Doan is on medication to
battle the bacterial disease and his status is considered week-to-week.
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek will miss a second straight contest today for the
Coyotes and is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.
The Senators, meanwhile, could be without forward Mika Zibanejad on Saturday
after he sustained an upper-body injury in Ottawa's most recent loss, a 4-2
home defeat on Thursday against Florida. Zibanejad, who has eight goals and
seven assists this season, is considered day-to-day and will be a game-time
decision for this afternoon's tilt.
Ottawa lost its second straight game in regulation on Thursday despite going
into the closing minutes of the third period tied with the Panthers. Tom
Gilbert scored the go-ahead power-play goal for Florida with 2:32 remaining in
the third and Tomas Kopecky added the insurance tally just 51 seconds later
with a shorthanded goal.
Chris Neil and Jason Spezza scored for the Senators, who have dropped four of
six. Craig Anderson took the loss despite 31 stops.
"It's my job to stop the puck," said Anderson. "It's one of those things where
we were there, we were close (to winning). But close isn't good enough."
The Senators, who began a three-game homestand on Thursday, fell to 7-10-3 as
the host this season. Ottawa will close the residency when it welcomes
Pittsburgh to town on Monday.
Ottawa has gotten the better of the Coyotes in recent years, claiming seven of
the past nine overall encounters in this series and winning six straight on
home ice. Phoenix's last win in Canada's capital city came on Dec. 12, 1998.
COLORADO AVALANCHE (23-10-1) AT LOS ANGELES KINGS (24-8-4), 4 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings will seek revenge against the only
team that has shut them out this season, as they host the Colorado Avalanche
in Saturday's afternoon showdown at the Staples Center.
Los Angeles hosted the Avalanche back on Nov. 23 and was dealt a 1-0 overtime
loss as Jamie McGinn scored off a lucky bounce at 2:31 of the extra session
for Colorado. After the clubs played scoreless hockey through regulation,
McGinn fired a shot on net that Kings goaltender Ben Scrivens stopped only to
see the rebound hit off his own player before trickling into the net.
Meanwhile, Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves for the shutout win, as Colorado beat
L.A. for the sixth time in eight meetings. It was also the third loss for the
Kings in their last five home tilts versus the Avs.
Last month's loss against Colorado was part of a 1-1-3 stretch for the Kings
at the end of November, but L.A. has won eight of nine games so far in
After losing Sunday in Chicago, the Kings have bounced back by going 2-0 so
far on a four-game homestand. Los Angeles notched a 3-0 win Tuesday against
Edmonton and then posted a 4-1 decision against the rival San Jose Sharks on
Martin Jones made 31 saves against the Sharks to earn the win, as the rookie
improved to 7-0-0 in seven career games. The NHL record for consecutive wins
to start an NHL career belongs to Bob Froese, who went 8-0-0 to begin his
career with Philadelphia in 1982-83.
Jones should get a chance to tie that record today, as he is expected to get a
third straight start over Scrivens.
Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Dwight King each had one goal and an assist in
Thursday's win, while Alec Martinez added the other score.
"I don't think our team ever really struggles with confidence. It does not
really matter what the score is, I don't think confidence is an issue for our
team," said Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
The Kings won on Thursday despite playing most of the game without captain
Dustin Brown, who was ejected in the first period for a knee-on-knee hit
against San Jose's Tomas Hertl. Hertl could miss a month or more after
getting injured on the play, but Brown will not face a suspension by the
league for delivering the hit.
Defenseman Willie Mitchell is questionable for the Kings after sitting out the
last three games with an upper-body injury.
Los Angeles, which will cap this homestand Monday against Dallas, has
identical 12-4-2 records at home and on the road this season.
While the Kings enter today's test on a roll, Colorado has been up-and-down in
recent weeks, going 4-4-1 since the start of December.
The Avs did win for the second time in three games when they posted Thursday's
home win over the Edmonton Oilers. Maxime Talbot's shorthanded goal late in
the second period proved to be the difference in Colorado's 4-2 victory.
Talbot added the go-ahead goal just under 3 1/2 minutes after his teammate
Ryan O'Reilly knotted the score at 2-2 with 5:00 left in the second. Marc-
Andre Cliche picked off a lazy pass in the Colorado zone and raced up ice
before backhanding a pass to Talbot, who went backhand on Devan Dubnyk for a
"That was a great cutoff and pass by Cliche. I just closed my eyes and put it
in," Talbot said.
Matt Duchene had an empty-net goal and two assists for the Avs, who received
27 saves from Varlamov in the win.
Colorado is kicking off a three-game road trip on Saturday and is 11-5-0 as
the guest this season.
In off-ice news for the Avs, Varlamov had domestic violence charges against
him dropped on Friday after prosecutors said they couldn't prove the case
against him beyond a reasonable doubt. Varlamov was arrested in October for
allegedly attacking his girlfriend during a dispute at their Denver home.
BUFFALO SABRES (9-23-3) AT BOSTON BRUINS (23-10-2), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Sabres will try to pull off an improbable
home-and-home sweep when they visit the Boston Bruins for Saturday's Atlantic
Division clash at TD Garden.
Buffalo claimed a 4-2 home win Thursday night against the Bruins, as the last-
place team in the Atlantic beat the division leaders. Even after the win, the
lowly Sabres are still 27 points behind Boston in the standings and Buffalo is
12 points in back of seventh-place Florida.
The Bruins held a 2-1 lead after scoring twice in the early stages of the
second period on Thursday, but allowed Buffalo to score three unanswered goals
to close the game. Drew Stafford scored the go-ahead goal for the Sabres on a
wrap-around with 5:41 left in the third period and Tyler Myers extended the
cushion just 80 seconds later.
Thursday's triumph marked the second straight win for the Sabres, giving
Buffalo consecutive victories for the first time since Nov. 12-15. The Sabres,
who had lost 10 of 13 heading into the home-and-home opener, haven't won three
in a row since April 13-17 of last season.
Brian Flynn and Marcus Foligno also scored for Buffalo on Tuesday, while Ryan
Miller stood tall with 34 saves for the win.
"This is a huge win for us and a step in the right direction," said Foligno.
Brad Marchand had both Boston goals and Chad Johnson allowed four goals on 23
shots. The Bruins have lost two of three since a four-game winning streak.
Marchand has struggled to produce this season, but three of his seven goals in
2013-14 have come over his last four games. The pesky winger led Boston with
18 goals in 45 games last season.
"I think he was close to his old self tonight and that was nice to see,"
Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Marchand. "He competed hard in all areas
and he skated better than I've seen him skate in a long time. He got rewarded
with a couple goals and even could've had a few more with a little bit of
luck. I liked his game tonight."
Tuukka Rask expects to get the start in net for the Bruins in tonight's
rematch and he is 4-5-1 with a 2.71 goals against average in 12 career tilts
against the Sabres.
Miller, meanwhile, is 26-9-7 with a 2.56 GAA in 42 lifetime starts versus
Although Buffalo is just 3-11-1 as the away team this season, the club has
claimed the last two meetings in Boston. The Bruins, who are 14-3-2 as the
host in 2013-14, have taken five of the last eight overall encounters in this
DETROIT RED WINGS (16-12-9) AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (18-16-3), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A preview of the upcoming Winter Classic is on tap
Saturday night in Toronto, as the Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings at
Air Canada Centre.
Saturday's tilt is the first of four scheduled meetings between the Red Wings
and Leafs this season. The next encounter will be staged outdoors, as Detroit
is set to host this year's Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium.
Before battling in front of 100,000 or so people, however, these two Original
Six rivals will get together for tonight's clash in Toronto, where the Red
Wings have lost four straight games since last beating the Leafs on the road
on Nov. 16, 2002.
Toronto has taken four of five overall from the Red Wings, who are now playing
in the same division as the Maple Leafs thanks to the onset of realignment.
Detroit moved from the Western Conference to the East prior to this season and
joined Toronto in the Atlantic Division.
The Red Wings hope to stay on the right track tonight after halting a six-game
losing streak in their last trip to the ice. Detroit stopped the 0-4-2 slide
with Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over Calgary, as the Wings salvaged the final
test of four-game homestand.
Daniel Alfredsson scored his second goal of the game just 63 seconds into
overtime to help the Red Wings defeat the Flames and record their first win
since a road victory over New Jersey on Dec. 6.
The Red Wings got a power play when Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie was whistled
for hooking with 42 seconds left in regulation. On the ensuing power play,
Pavel Datsyuk fed Alfredsson for a one-timer in the slot and the veteran
buried a shot past Karri Ramo.
"We're hanging in games and we're playing some good hockey, and then all of a
sudden, we have some lapses where we give the other team way too many
chances," said Alfredsson. "We did that at times (tonight) too, but we grinded
throughout the whole time, 60 minutes, and obviously Pavel's play there at the
end of regulation to draw the penalty turns out to be huge."
Jonas Gustavsson made 20 saves for the Red Wings, who avoided their sixth
consecutive loss on home ice. Detroit is playing three of its next four games
on the road before hosting the Winter Classic and has a solid 10-3-3 away
record this season.
With regular No. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard still out with a knee injury.
Gustavsson expects to start tonight against his former team. It would mark the
goaltender's first appearance against the Leafs since he joined Detroit as a
free agent in the summer of 2012.
In addition to Howard, forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Darren
Helm and Johan Franzen will miss tonight's game due to various injuries.
However, Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is expected to return to the
lineup Saturday after missing the last 15 games with a separated left
The Maple Leafs also will try for a second straight win on Saturday after
halting a two-game slide of their own on Thursday.
Toronto won for just the second time in six outings with a 2-1 shootout win
against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes. James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul
both scored in the shootout on Thursday to help the Maple Leafs pick up two
Van Riemsdyk slipped the puck through Mike Smith's five-hole on the backhand.
Smith flew back into the net and did not allow the referees to see where the
puck went. After a review, the goal was deemed to be good. Mikkel Boedker then
beat James Reimer on a backhand shot, but two Toronto shooters later, Lupul
lit the lamp after faking the shot and wristing the puck over the shoulder of
Troy Bodie netted Toronto's lone goal in regulation. Cody Franson and Peter
Holland picked up the assists on the score and Reimer turned aside 34 shots
for the win.
"You're always looking for someone to step up for you. Obviously our
goaltending has been strong for us. Tonight was another example of James
Reimer stepping up. We're very fortunate to have him," said Maple Leafs coach
Toronto is capping a three-game homestand tonight and is 12-8-0 as the host
CAROLINA HURRICANES (14-14-7) AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (21-11-3), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to match their longest
winning streak of the season when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in
Saturday's battle in Central Florida.
With recent wins over Detroit, the New York Islanders and Nashville, the
Lightning have notched their fourth three-game winning streak of the season
and the first since Tampa rattled off a season-best four consecutive victories
from Nov. 1-9. It also marks the longest winning streak for the Bolts since
star centerman Steven Stamkos went down to a broken leg on Nov. 11.
After beating the Red Wings and Islanders on the road, the Lightning returned
home to defeat the Predators by a 4-2 score in Thursday's matchup at Tampa Bay
Times Forum. Alex Killorn had one goal and an assist to lead the Bolts
Lightning to a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Richard Panik also tallied for the
Lightning. Anders Lindback made 28 saves in the win and improved to 3-6-1 this
"Lindback deserves better from us. He and (Ben) Bishop have been A and A-
plus," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "Hopefully we can continue to give him
goal support because he's played better than his record."
Bishop expects to get the call in net tonight. He is 2-0 with two shutouts in
his career against the Hurricanes and stopped all 31 shots sent his way when
Tampa downed Carolina by a 3-0 score on Nov. 1 in Raleigh.
The Lightning, who are 13-3-1 as the host this season, have won five of their
last six encounters against Carolina, but the clubs have split the last eight
tilts in Tampa.
Carolina, meanwhile, has lost four of its last five games and was handed a 4-2
setback by the visiting Washington Capitals on Friday. Alex Ovechkin scored
his 400th career goal late in the third period, and the Caps went 3-for-4 on
the power play en route to the victory at PNC Arena.
Cam Ward stopped 25 shots for Carolina, which failed to produce an equalizer
despite a pair of third-period power plays. The Hurricanes went 1-for-5 with
the man advantage on the night.
"They got a potent power play and obviously it was the big difference
tonight," said Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller.
Carolina, which is 7-7-3 on the road this season, will follow this game in
Tampa by playing three of its next four on home ice.
ANAHEIM DUCKS (25-7-5) AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS (10-19-7), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks will try to record the longest winning
streak in team history, as they shoot for an eighth consecutive victory in
Saturday's road test against the New York Islanders.
The Ducks are on their second seven-game winning streak of the 2013-14 season,
having matched the club mark from Oct. 5-20. Anaheim also won seven in a row
from Feb. 20-March 7, 1999, but has never claimed eight straight victories.
Anaheim also has won four consecutive road games, including the first two
tilts of a four-game swing that is set to end Monday in Washington. The Ducks
were in New Jersey on Friday and picked up a 3-2 overtime when after Kyle
Palmieri potted the game-winner 2:37 into overtime at Prudential Center.
On the decisive play, Palmieri sliced through the right circle while holding
off a defender before dipping below the goal line, working around the net, and
stuffing in a wraparound from the low left side to send Anaheim to victory.
"It was exciting," Palmieri said of scoring a game-winner in New Jersey, where
he grew up. "It definitely added a little something to the game and the
Palmieri, Cam Fowler and Mathieu Perreault each registered a goal and an
assist, while Jonas Hiller stopped 19 shots for the Ducks.
In addition to their lengthy winning streak, Anaheim also has recorded at
least a point in 10 straight outings, going 8-0-2 since its last regulation
loss, a 6-3 setback in Dallas on Nov. 26.
The Ducks enter Saturday with a three-point lead over Los Angeles for first
place in the Pacific. Anaheim is also just one point behind Chicago for the
top spot in the Western Conference and NHL. The Blackhawks are idle on
The Islanders are coming off a rare win, as they were able to notch a 5-3 road
bictory Saturday against the rival New York Rangers. Michael Grabner broke out
of a scoring slump with a pair of goals to lead the Islanders to the win at
Madison Square Garden.
It was only the second win in the last 15 games for the Isles and it was the
club's first regulation triumph since beating a visiting Nashville team on
Grabner, who hadn't tallied in 31 straight games since a two-goal effort in
the season opener, and Cal Clutterbuck netted short-handed markers in the
first period, while Thomas Vanek snapped a 3-3 tie with a power-play score
1:18 into the third.
Brian Strait added a goal and Evgeni Nabokov made 21 saves to help the Isles
pick up their first regulation victory on the road since Oct. 25 in
"We got 60 minutes of consistent effort from our guys," said Islanders head
coach Jack Capuano. "Our penalty kill came up big when they had to and I
thought Nabokov did a great job for us."
After beating the Rangers in Manhattan, the Isles will try to record their
first home victory in over a month. New York has dropped six straight on Long
Island since beating Detroit 5-4 in a shootout on Nov. 16.
Anaheim has claimed two straight and four of the last five overall meetings
against the Islanders, but New York has won two in a row and four of the past
five encounters at Nassau Coliseum.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS (14-15-7) AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS (19-13-3), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Ovechkin reached an impressive career milestone in
a road win on Friday and he'll try to lead the Washington Capitals to a second
straight victory when they host the New Jersey Devils in Saturday's clash at
Washington had lost two of three heading into Friday's away game against the
Carolina Hurricanes, but the Capitals earned a 4-2 decision by going 3-for-4
on the power play.
The only goal that didn't come on the man advantage for the Caps on Friday was
Ovechkin's empty-netter with 25 seconds left. The insurance tally was the
400th goal of Ovechkin's career and the Russian sniper became the sixth-
fastest to reach that mark in NHL history. Ovechkin was playing in his 634th
NHL game, meaning only Wayne Gretzky (436 games), Mike Bossy (506 games),
Mario Lemieux (508 games), Brett Hull (520 games) and Jari Kurri (608 games)
reached the 400-goal mark quicker.
Ovechkin is leading the NHL with 29 goals this season and he has recorded 13
markers and 34 points in 29 career games against the Devils.
Nicklas Backstrom collected four assists for the Capitals, who got a 39-save
performance from Philipp Grubauer. Marcus Johansson, John Carlson and Troy
Brouwer all scored power-play goals in Friday's win.
"We did some good things to earn the power plays and that can't get
overlooked," said Washington head coach Adam Oates. "Yeah, we lived off the
power play, but we also had zone time to earn those power plays."
Washington is ranked second in the NHL in power-play efficiency, scoring on
26.3 percent of its opportunities with the man advantage. Only Pittsburgh
(26.8 percent) has a better power-play unit this season.
This evening's matchup is the first of four scheduled meetings between the
Devils and Capitals this season. It's also the first encounter for the teams
as members of the Metropolitan Division, which was created for this season's
The Devils won two of three against Washington last season, but the Caps took
the last encounter by a 5-1 score when the clubs met in D.C. on Feb. 23. New
Jersey has taken six of the last 10 overall encounters in this series, but the
Capitals have won four of seven and five of the last nine at the Verizon
New Jersey had a two-game win streak snapped on Friday, as it lost a 3-2
overtime decision against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. Kyle Palmieri, who grew
up in New Jersey, potted the game-winner 2:37 into overtime to lift the Ducks
to the close win at Prudential Center.
Andy Greene and Michael Ryder scored a goal apiece for the Devils, while Cory
Schneider allowed all three goals on 24 shots in the loss.
"We wanted that second point, we really did," Greene said. "We have to forget
about it now and just get ready for Washington tomorrow."
New Jersey has struggled on the road this season, going 7-10-3 away from the
Garden State. Washington, meanwhile, has a stout 12-7-0 mark in D.C.
Devils forward Damien Brunner suffered a right knee injury in Friday's loss
and is questionable for tonight's game.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (16-15-4) AT COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (14-17-4), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After a spirited comeback lifted Philadelphia to an
eighth straight victory at home, the Flyers aim to find the win column again
on Saturday night as they wrap a home-and-home series with the Columbus Blue
Philadelphia scored five times in the third period on Thursday, erasing
deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 to best Columbus. Claude Giroux notched two assists
before scoring the final two goals of the 5-4 win.
Giroux scored twice in a 2:08 span, tying the game when he put home a rebound
before notching his 100th career goal with 1:38 left on the clock. The
highlight-reel tally saw the forward whip home a backhander top shelf with his
back to the net.
"It's just that kind of game when you get the bounces. Sometimes you don't get
the bounces but we got them this time," said Giroux when asked if this was the
kind of game where more was expected of a team captain.
Giroux has four goals and six assists over a five-game point streak, while
forward and former Blue Jacket Jakub Voracek has six goals and four assists
over a six-game run. He scored and assisted on two others in Thursday's win,
which pushed the Flyers to 3-0-1 in their last four.
Braydon Coburn and Erik Gustafsson also scored in the third period and Steve
Mason made 25 saves in facing his former club for the first time.
"Yeah it was not exactly how I drew it up on the board but you know sometimes
your team comes through for you and that feels great," Mason admitted.
The netminder was a third-round draft pick by Columbus in 2006 and spent his
first four-plus seasons in the NHL with the Blue Jackets before getting dealt
to Philadelphia in April of this year. The 25-year-old had his best season in
Columbus as a rookie in 2008-09, when he won the Calder Trophy and led the
Blue Jackets to their one and only playoff appearance.
It is unknown if Mason will get the start tonight in his return to Columbus or
if Ray Emery will get the call in net. Emery is 3-0-1 with a 2.56 goals
against average in his career versus the Jackets.
Cam Atkinson, Jack Skille and Nick Foligno tallied for the Blue Jackets, who
have lost three straight, while Curtis McElhinney yielded five goals on 39
"I'm extremely disappointed in how we mismanaged the game," said Columbus head
coach Todd Richards. "We should be angry and upset after this. At least I hope
our players are."
Richards could have some reinforcements tonight as both forward Marian Gaborik
and defenseman James Wisniewski may return from injury.
Gaborik, who has five goals and 11 points in 17 games this season, has not
played since Nov. 14 due to a sprained left knee, while Wisniewski has missed
the last six with an upper-body injury.
McElhinney, meanwhile, is expected to get the start after falling to 1-1-0
with a 3.54 GAA in two starts versus the Flyers.
Columbus fell to 0-5-0 with a tie all-time in Philadelphia and is 2-2-0 with a
pair of ties in franchise history when facing the Flyers at home.
MONTREAL CANADIENS (21-13-3) AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS (16-16-3), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens hope to put their offensive
struggles to rest on Saturday night when they resume their road trip against
the Nashville Predators.
The Habs have lost four of their past six games and opened up a six-game swing
with Thursday's 5-1 setback to the St. Louis Blues.
Brendan Gallagher scored his first goal in 12 games, giving him 10 on the
season, and Carey Price allowed five scores on 29 shots faced.
The setback marked the fifth time in Montreal's past six games it has scored
one goal or fewer.
"We're making simple mistakes that we shouldn't be making," said Montreal
winger Brian Gionta. "We're not supporting each other. We're not backing each
other up and ... that's just not the way we need to be playing."
Montreal's offense also failed to come through in an earlier meeting with
Nashville, which picked up a 2-1 road victory back on Oct. 19. Gallagher had
the lone goal on that day and the Habs wasted Price's 35 saves.
Price remained winless in his career versus the Predators despite the solid
outing, falling to 0-3-0 with a 2.35 goals against average in three meetings.
Nashville, which got goals from defensemen Seth Jones and Shea Weber, is 3-0-1
in its past four versus Montreal and 3-1-2 with a tie all-time against the
franchise at home.
The Preds will try to bounce back from their seventh loss in 10 games, a 4-2
setback at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
Craig Smith scored twice for Nashville, with each tally making it a one-goal
game, but Tampa Bay responded with a goal shortly after both times.
"They took some momentum away by scoring just after we did," Smith said. "They
are a good team, but so are we. They can do some good things and so can we.
They came out on top tonight and converted their chances."
Carter Hutton allowed four goals on just 14 shots before he was pulled in
favor of Marek Mazanec in the second period. Mazanec made 19 saves in the
Neither Hutton or Mazanec have ever faced the Canadiens. Injured goaltender
Pekka Rinne made 28 saves in the first meeting of the season.
ST. LOUIS BLUES (23-7-4) AT EDMONTON OILERS (11-23-3), 10 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - It didn't take long for Alexander Steen to make the St.
Louis Blues' investment in him pay off.
Steen looks to set a new career high for goals in a season on Saturday night
as the Blues visit the struggling Edmonton Oilers.
The 29-year-old Steen officially signed a three-year contract extension on
Thursday worth $17.4 million and went out that night and scored twice in a 5-1
win over the Montreal Canadiens.
The extension was a no-brainer for the Blues as Steen leads the club with 24
goals, matching the previous career high he set over 68 games in 2009-10. The
forward has 38 points in 34 games this season.
Jaden Schwartz, Chris Stewart and Maxim Lapierre all scored for the Blues and
Brenden Morrow tallied his 300th assist to help the Blues snap a two-game
losing streak and improve to 4-1-1 in the last six games.
T.J. Oshie added two assists and Jaroslav Halak came up with 25 saves.
"We stuck with it and just played the way we should be playing, the way we
were playing early in the season," said Steen.
St. Louis, which played on Thursday without Vladimir Sobotka and David Backes
due to upper-body injuries, is expected to give Brian Elliott his 10th start
of the season tonight. He is 4-3-0 with a 3.05 goals against average in his
career versus the Oilers.
Edmonton is set to play two straight and three of its next four at home after
going winless on a four-game road trip. The Oilers have lost a season high-
tying five straight overall following a 4-2 setback to the Colorado Avalanche
Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins both finished with a goal and an assist
for the Oilers, while Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves.
Edmonton has been outscored 18-6 over its losing streak.
"We played three good games on this trip. It was frustrating losing them, they
were all close. We have to be the ones getting the empty-net goals, not them,"
Ilya Bryzgalov may get the start for the Oilers and is 6-9-1 with a 2.96 GAA
in his career when facing the Blues. Also helping Bryzgalov's case is the fact
that Dubnyk is 0-7-0 with a 4.72 GAA in his career versus St. Louis.
Edmonton forward David Perron is set to play his former St. Louis club for the
first time. He was a first-round pick by the Blues in 2007, taken 26th
overall, and logged 84 goals, 114 assists and 198 points in 340 games before
getting traded to the Oilers on July 10 for Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 second-
The Oilers had lost five straight to the Blues before notching a 3-0 victory
in St. Louis on the most recent meeting on March 26.
The Blues are still 11-2-1 in the past 14 in the series and have won two
straight and five of their last seven in Edmonton.
DALLAS STARS (17-12-5) AT SAN JOSE SHARKS (21-8-6), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars hope to push their winning streak to
three straight games on Saturday night as they visit the San Jose Sharks.
The Stars were last in action on Thursday, when they notched a 4-1 victory
over the Vancouver Canucks. It gave Dallas a win in three of its last four
games, including back-to-back victories for the first time since a three-game
run from Nov. 13-17.
Erik Cole paced the offense with a goal and two assists, while Kari Lehtonen
made 27 saves to earn his 100th victory in a Dallas uniform.
Valeri Nichushkin, Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour added goals for a Stars club
looking to find some winning consistency.
"We can't be a team that's going to win three and lose two or lose three and
win one," said Cole. "It's not going to gain any ground especially in the
west. We all know what a big stretch of games this is against the opponents
that we are playing. It's all teams we are chasing. It's nice we were able to
get another two (points) here, especially at home where we've struggled."
Sceviour has been a spark in four games since being recalled from the minors
on Dec. 9, netting the first three goals of his NHL career in that time. His
goal on Thursday came 15 seconds after Benn scored to put Dallas up 2-0 less
than five minutes into the game.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have lost six of their last eight and dropped a 4-1
decision to the hosting Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
Patrick Marleau scored a goal in his 1,200th career game and Antti Niemi gave
up all four goals on 32 shots, though head coach Todd McLellan was putting the
blame squarely on his goaltender.
"I think (Niemi) is like some others on our team, some go-to guys that have to
step up. He knows that, we know it, his teammates know it. But we are talking
about one individual who wears the (goalie) pads. There are some others who
didn't have a very good night. The focus can't just go on him," said McLellan.
San Jose played most of the game without rookie Tomas Hertl, who exited with a
bruised right knee after taking a knee-on-knee hit from Los Angeles' Dustin
Brown late in the first period. Hertl has 15 goals and 25 points in 35 games
According to a report by CSNBayArea.com, Hertl could miss a month of action
due to the injury. Brown was ejected from the game but will not face further
discipline from the league.
San Jose may have some revenge on its mind after having its season-opening
seven-game winning streak snapped with a 4-3 shootout loss in Dallas on Oct.
The Stars have won four of the past five meetings overall, but the Sharks are
5-0-1 in the last six played in San Jose.
Niemi is 9-4-5 with a 2.28 goals against average in his career versus the
Stars, while Lehtonen is 5-7-1 with a 3.54 GAA when squaring off with the
12/21 11:33:06 ET