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NHL • Thursday Service Plays • 4/7/16

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    Preview: Detroit at Boston

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

    The Detroit Red Wings are showing their championship pedigree when it matters most and can extend the longest playoff run in the history of major North American team sports when they visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Red Wings can secure their 25th consecutive postseason berth by defeating the Bruins in any fashion.

    Detroit posted its third straight win with a 3-0 shutout of Philadelphia to move two points ahead of slumping Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division. “Just been here before,” Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard told NBC Sports after blanking the Flyers. “You know, we’ve been through the battle. … It just feels comfortable that we can get the job done.” That hasn’t been the feeling in the locker room of the Bruins, who tumbled to their eighth setback in 10 games (2-7-1) with Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Carolina. ““Nobody likes losing,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “It’s what we have to deal with that we’ve been through this, and we need to find ways to win hockey games.”

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, FSN Detroit, NESN Plus (Boston)

    ABOUT THE RED WINGS (41-28-11): A longtime standout in net for Detroit, Howard has been in moth balls for much of the season due to a combination of his own ineffectiveness and the stellar play of Petr Mrazek, who seized the starting job. But with Mrazek slumping down the stretch, Howard has received the nod in the past three games and allowed a total of four goals, including his second shutout of the season and 22nd career. Coach Jeff Blashill declined to name a starter for Thursday’s clash but told reporters that Howard was in a groove.

    ABOUT THE BRUINS (41-30-9): After surrendering nine goals in back-to-back losses to Chicago and St. Louis, goaltender Tuukka Rask regained his equilibrium by making 27 saves in the shootout loss to Carolina. Still, Rask found himself addressing a biting criticism that he “couldn’t stop a beach ball” from Hockey Night in Canada analyst and former Bruins coach Don Cherry. “People have their opinions, and they can say whatever they want,” Rask said. “I just follow my own thing, and I know when I make a mistake and when I don’t. That’s good enough (for me).”


    1. Howard is 5-2-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average in his career versus Boston.

    2. Bruins D Dennis Seidenberg and F Jimmy Hayes missed practice Wednesday, prompting the emergency recall of F Max Talbot.

    3. The Red Wings have killed off all eight power plays in the past three games and got a short-handed tally from Andreas Athanasiou on Wednesday.

    PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Red Wings 2


    Preview: Tampa Bay at New Jersey

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

    The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty to worry about over the next few weeks, but making the playoffs is not one of them after clinching a spot Tuesday despite dropping a 3-2 decision against the New York Rangers. The injury plagued Lightning attempt to seal home-ice advantage in the first round with a victory when they visit the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

    “I know it’s a sour note because we lost the game,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters after his team posted 41 shots on goal Tuesday. “But ultimately we can sit back and say our season is not ending Saturday. And we’re really excited about that.” Captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) is out 1-to-3 months and defenseman Anton Stralman (broken fibula) is lost indefinitely while Norris Trophy candidate Victor Hedman (upper body) and forward Ryan Callahan (lower body) could miss the rest of the regular season for the Lightning. Tampa Bay goes after the three-game sweep against New Jersey this season after outscoring them 7-1 in the first two. The Devils have dropped five of six (1-4-1) and need to avoid losing the final two to remain better than .500.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), MSG Plus (New Jersey)

    ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (45-30-5): Callahan and Hedman are considered day-to-day while others could possibly be rested with minor injuries after a physical game against the Rangers. Tampa Bay has dropped four of six games and allowed 17 goals since the dependable Stralman went down, but could have Ben Bishop (34-21-4, 2.06 goals-against) back in net Thursday after he was rested last time out. Nikita Kucherov leads the team with 65 points – one better than Stamkos – and Brian Boyle has scored twice in the last three games.

    ABOUT THE DEVILS (37-35-8): Veteran forward Patrik Elias returned to the lineup for the first time since December after undergoing knee surgery and played 14:15 in the 3-1 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday. “Physically, it was fine,” Elias told reporters. “Hockey-wise, a little rusty on a couple of the plays passing and shooting, obviously, but overall not bad for a first game back.” Kyle Palmieri has gone six games without a goal as he sits on a career-high 29 and Adam Henrique is three points shy of his career-best 51 in 2011-12.


    1. The Devils have managed only eight goals in the last six games and stand last in the league in scoring (2.19).

    2. Tampa Bay LW Ondrej Palat has registered 20 points in 20 games since posting a goal and an assist at New Jersey in a 4-0 victory Feb. 26.

    3. New Jersey G Keith Kinkaid is expected to get the start Thursday while G Cory Schneider is slated to play the season finale against Toronto on Saturday.

    PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Devils 1


    Preview: NY Islanders at NY Rangers

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

    The New York Islanders look to complete their first-ever season sweep of the New York Rangers and pull even in points with the cross-town rivals when the clubs meet at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Winners of two in a row and five of their last six, the Islanders clinched a postseason berth for the third time in four seasons with a 4-3 overtime victory over Washington on Tuesday.

    Captain John Tavares scored a goal and set up two others for the second straight outing and has five tallies and six assists in his last eight contests for the Islanders, who have a game in hand on the third-place Rangers. Tavares has tormented the Rangers throughout his career with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 34 meetings, including a goal in the Islanders’ 2-1 shootout win on Dec. 2 and an assist in both a 3-1 victory on Jan. 14 and a 6-4 triumph on March 6. Rangers forward Derek Stepan had an assist in the last encounter with the Islanders but has recorded 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in his last eight games overall. The 25-year-old tallied twice and set up Chris Kreider for his fifth goal and eighth point in six games on Tuesday as the Rangers rallied from a two-goal deficit to post a 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG, MSG-Plus2, NHL.TV

    ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (44-26-9): Bob Nystrom, Pat LaFontaine and Clark Gillies are among the many of the team’s alumni expected to be in attendance on Thursday to honor Hockey Hall of Fame coach Al Arbour at the Fox Hollow Inn in Woodbury, N.Y. “We were always planning to have some sort of an event up here,” said Nystrom, who scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in overtime against Philadelphia to give Arbour and the Islanders their first championship. “This is where Al coached and this is where we all played. Needless to say, we think this would be an ideal place to memorialize him.” Arbour, who won 740 games as coach of the club, died on Aug. 28 at the age of 82.

    ABOUT THE RANGERS (45-26-9): With captain Ryan McDonagh (right hand) ruled out indefinitely, New York’s woes on the back line quickly doubled as fellow defenseman Dan Girardi suffered an undisclosed injury following a hit from former teammate Brian Boyle on Tuesday. “It’s not good,” Henrik Lundqvist told the New York Daily News. “It’s definitely not this time of year. I really hope (Girardi’s injury) is not too serious. He’s a guy who plays hard and doesn’t go down unless it’s really painful. I’m gonna hope for the best here.” Kevin Klein (team-high 27:24 of ice time on Tuesday) and Marc Staal (23:13) logged significant minutes in his absence while fellow blue-liner and 2012 first-round pick Brady Skjei could see added ice time on the heels of his third recall this season.


    1. Islanders RW Kyle Okposo has recorded back-to-back multi-point performances overall and scored and set up a goal in each of the last two meetings with the Rangers.

    2. Rangers RW Mats Zuccarello has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last eight games, but has been held without a goal in 19 career encounters with the Islanders.

    3. The Islanders are 3-for-7 on the power play versus the Rangers this season and killed off all but one of nine short-handed opportunities.

    PREDICTION: Islanders 3, Rangers 2


    Preview: Toronto at Philadelphia

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Philadelphia Flyers have picked an inopportune time to drop back-to-back contests as they continue their three-team tango for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers look to apply the brakes and improve their postseason standing on Thursday, when they host the spiraling Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Philadelphia used a scintillating 13-3-2 surge to climb into playoff contention, but Sunday’s 6-2 setback in Pittsburgh and a 3-0 loss at Detroit three nights later have the club clinging to the second wild-card spot in the East. Although the Red Wings moved two points ahead of the Flyers, the latter remained even in points with Boston with a game in hand for the last available postseason berth. While Philadelphia is eyeing the NHL’s second season, Toronto is keeping tabs on 2016-17 as it has dropped into 30th place in the NHL with losses in four straight and six of its last seven. “I see where people are coming from,” Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak said of the lottery implications. “Obviously, (fans) want the No. 1 pick, and if you lose, you’ve got a better chance of getting it, so I see what people are saying. But within our room, there’s not one guy in here who wants to lose.”

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet Ontario (Toronto), CSN Philadelphia

    ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (28-41-11): Although the team has been mired in a campaign that it would like to forget, defenseman Morgan Rielly continued his career season with his personal-best ninth goal in Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to Columbus. The 22-year-old Rielly, who is due to be a restricted free agent this summer, has notched one tally and two assists during his three-game point streak. Playing in his fifth career contest, fellow former first-round pick Frederik Gauthier set up Rielly’s short-handed goal during the second period for his first NHL point.

    ABOUT THE FLYERS (39-27-13): Steve Mason, who made 23 saves against the Red Wings, is expected to make his 11th consecutive start and 16th in 17 outings on Thursday. The 27-year-old yielded five goals on 38 shots versus the Penguins when he last played on consecutive days and is 1-2-2 with a 3.31 goals-against average in that scenario. Fellow Ontario native Claude Giroux has recorded 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 24 career encounters with Toronto, but the captain was held off the scoresheet in his lone meeting with the Maple Leafs this season and has been limited to just one assist in his last three games overall.


    1. Philadelphia can clinch a playoff berth by earning five points in its last three games.

    2. The Maple Leafs, who have two games remaining on their schedule, can finish no better than second-to-last in the league.

    3. Flyers rookie D Shayne Gostisbehere has scored in both meetings with Toronto this season – including the overtime goal in a 5-4 victory on Feb. 20.

    PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 3, Flyers 2


    Preview: Pittsburgh at Washington

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Verizon Center, Washington, District Of Columbia

    The white-hot Pittsburgh Penguins have seen their high-powered offense propel the club up the ranks in the Eastern Conference. Winners of a season-high seven in a row and 13 of 14, the visiting Penguins attempt to clinch home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff series on Thursday should they emerge victorious against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals.

    Captain Sidney Crosby has keyed the assault as he extended his point streak to seven games (four goals, four assists) with a two-goal performance in Pittsburgh’s 5-3 win over Ottawa on Tuesday. The two-time Hart Trophy winner traditionally brings his A-game against rival Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, recording 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) in 37 career meetings – including two assists in a 6-2 triumph on March 20. Braden Holtby, who was blitzed for five goals before being relieved in that contest, will vie for his 48th victory to match Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur’s single-season league record. The front-runner for the Vezina Trophy, Holtby seemed to be on the way to notching that win before letting a two-goal advantage in the third period slip away en route to a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), CSMA (Washington), SN360, NHL.TV

    ABOUT THE PENGUINS (47-25-8): Like Crosby, defenseman Kris Letang also is riding a seven-game point streak (two goals, nine assists) as he pads his offensive totals on his career-best season. The gaudy numbers are nothing new for Pittsburgh, which rallied from a three-goal deficit versus the Senators to score at least five goals in regulation for the fourth straight contest. “They’ve shown themselves that regardless of how the game goes, or especially early on if we’re down in games, we have the ability to come back,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think it’s an indication of the mindset of the group.”

    ABOUT THE CAPITALS (55-17-7): Ovechkin recorded his 107th multi-goal performance of his career to move with three tallies of his seventh 50-goal season. The three-time Hart Trophy winner has yet to score versus Pittsburgh in 2015-16, but meshed well in his third game while playing with new linemates T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson. Speaking of Oshie, the United States Olympian scored his ninth goal in 16 contests and added two assists on Tuesday to reach the 50-point plateau for the third straight season and fourth in five campaigns.


    1. Pittsburgh rookie G Matt Murray has won six in a row to improve to 8-2-1 with a slim 1.98 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

    2. Washington, which is 0-1-1 in its last two contests, is the only team in the NHL that has yet to lose three in a row this season.

    3. The Penguins have killed off all 15 short-handed opportunities in the last four games.

    PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Capitals 2


    Preview: Montreal at Carolina

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

    A season that began with such immense promise is nearing a merciful end for the Montreal Canadiens, who will play their final road game with a visit to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. It also marks the final home game for the Hurricanes, who will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.

    Montreal burst out of the gates with a record-setting 9-0-0 start to stamp itself as an early Stanley Cup favorite. Injuries, particularly to reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price, KO’d the Canadiens, who have won only 17 times in their last 54 games (17-34-3) following a blistering 19-4-3 start. Carolina was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday but coach Bill Peters liked the way his team rebounded by playing the role of spoiler with a 2-1 shootout victory at Boston on Tuesday night. “Well, I think Detroit thinks it’s very meaningful,” Peters said, referring to the Red Wings’ pursuit of a playoff berth. “I think Philadelphia and Boston think it’s meaningful. I think it’s meaningful.”

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, RDS, Sportsnet East (Montreal), FSN Carolinas

    ABOUT THE CANADIENS (36-38-6): Montreal announced on Wednesday that Price and standout defenseman P.K. Subban are done for the season. Subban has been out with a neck injury since March 10, when he was stretched off the ice following a scary collision, while Price has not played since Nov. 25 with what the team revealed was a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. “Although Carey has made excellent progress and is very close to being able to return to competition, he has not presently been cleared to do so,” team physician Vincent Lacroix said

    ABOUT THE HURRICANES (35-29-16): Rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin, who grew up in suburban Boston and played collegiately at Boston College, had a homecoming to remember when he netting the lone goal in the shootout to damage the postseason hopes of the team he cheered for growing up.
    “It was pretty cool,” said Hanifin, the No. 5 overall pick in 2015. “I don’t know how many of my buddies are going to be happy about it, but it was definitely special.” Carolina’s Cam Ward has permitted a combined seven goals during his current 3-0-1 streak.


    1. Canadiens G Charlie Lindgren will make his NHL debut against Carolina.

    2. The Hurricanes have dropped six of their last seven (1-5-1) in the series, including a 2-1 shootout loss at Montreal on Feb. 7.

    3. The Canadiens are 4-for-53 on the power play over their last 19 games.

    PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Hurricanes 2


    Preview: Florida at Ottawa

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario

    The Florida Panthers have sealed their second division title in franchise history as they approach the final road game of the regular season Thursday against the Ottawa Senators. The Panthers reached a team-record 101 points with a 4-1 victory at Montreal on Tuesday, as Tampa Bay was losing, to push their lead in the Atlantic Division to six with two games left.

    “We worked hard, planted some good seeds last year and now we have the tune up and get ready for the playoffs,” Florida defenseman Brian Campbell told reporters after playing his 1,000th career NHL game Tuesday. “We have a good bunch in here.” The Panthers have won four straight games and six of seven as they take on the Senators, who were eliminated from the playoffs last week after making the postseason in 2014-15. Ottawa blew a three-goal lead in a 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and is winding down a disappointing season with changes coming on the horizon. Craig Anderson is expected to be in goal for the Senators and boasts a 12-6-2 mark with a .929 save percentage in his career against Florida.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, RDS2 and TSN5 (Ottawa)

    ABOUT THE PANTHERS (46-25-9): Coach Gerard Gallant could give some key personnel some rest in the final two games with nothing left to play for in the regular season as they prepare for the playoffs. Jonathan Huberdeau (six goals, four assists), Aleksander Barkov (five, six) each take seven-game point streaks into the contest while Jussi Jokinen has not recorded a point in the last five contests. Jaromir Jagr leads the team with 64 points – his second most in the NHL since 2007-08 – after notching two assists Tuesday.

    ABOUT THE SENATORS (36-35-9): Captain Erik Karlsson leads all defensemen in the league with a career-high 80 points – seven in the last seven games – but his team’s demise will hurt his chances of a third Norris Trophy. Mark Stone (chest), who is second on the team with 61 points, will likely miss the final two games and Mike Hoffman (58) could catch him after registering two goals and two assists the last two contests. Forward Bobby Ryan has gone 14 games without a goal and is day-to-day with an apparent leg injury.


    1. Campbell has played all 374 games since joining Florida, going past Olli Jokinen for the franchise record of consecutive games played (373).

    2. The Senators are 1-for-40 on the power play over the past 16 games and were 28th in the league (15.5 percent) through Tuesday.

    3. The Panthers have won the last three meetings, including a 6-2 triumph March 10.

    PREDICTION: Senators 4, Panthers 3


    Preview: Arizona at Nashville

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee

    After finally putting an end to a four-game slide, the Nashville Predators will play their final home contest of the regular season when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The Predators, who already are locked into the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference, have split two meetings with Arizona this season.

    Although Nashville has had nothing for which to play, it picked up a confidence-building win Tuesday with a 4-3 victory that eliminated visiting Colorado for playoff contention. “We still have a little ways to go in how we want to play, but it’s just nice to be back on the winning side of things,” Predators forward Ryan Johansen said. With a likely matchup against Anaheim or Los Angeles in the playoffs, Nashville takes a 12-3-5 mark against Pacific Division foes into Thursday’s game. Arizona has been pounded by St. Louis and Chicago by a combined 11-4 margin on the first two legs of its season-ending four-game road trip.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, FSN Tennessee (Nashville)

    ABOUT THE COYOTES (35-38-7): Rookie Louis Domingue, who earned his second career shutout in a 4-0 victory over Nashville on Jan. 9, has left the club due to family reasons, according to the team. In his absence, coach Dave Tippett said the start will go to veteran Mike Smith, who has been tormented by the Predators, losing six consecutive decisions (0-5-1) while surrendering at least three goals in each one. Forward Martin Hanzal, who was riding a four-game point streak, will miss his fourth consecutive game due to an upper-body injury.

    ABOUT THE PREDATORS (40-26-14): Nashville leading scorer Filip Forsberg scored a highlight-reel goal against the Avalanche to move within one tally of tying the franchise’s single-season record of 33 set by Jason Arnott in 2008-09. “Obviously, it would be awesome, but it’s nothing that I would cry myself to sleep (about) if I don’t do it, but for sure it’d be pretty cool if it happened,” Forsberg said after Wednesday’s practice. Forward James Neal, who scored 10 times last month and has 18 goals since the All-Star break to give him 31, has a shot at the record.


    1. Johansen has one goal and five assists during a four-game point streak.

    2. Coyotes captain Shane Doan has scored only seven of his 27 goals away from home.

    3. Nashville set a franchise mark with an NHL-best 199 points from its defensemen.

    PREDICTION: Predators 5, Coyotes 3


    Preview: St. Louis at Chicago

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

    Although the Central Division title is still up for grabs, the St. Louis Blues can secure home-ice advantage for at least the opening round of the playoffs should they record one point versus the host Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. Brian Elliott has keyed the Blues’ surge by posting a 12-1-1 mark with four shutouts and a slim 1.74 goals-against average in his last 14 decisions, but gave the team’s fans a scare after he exited Wednesday’s optional skate following a shot off the inside of his blocker.

    “Totally fine. It happens every day in practice, you’re always taking shots,” Elliott told the team website. St. Louis is taking its best shot to catapult to the top of the Central, as it has been victorious in 13 of its last 16 contests to pull even in points with Dallas – although it has three fewer regulation/overtime wins. Chicago, which resides four points shy of the Blues and Stars, converted three times on the power play in Tuesday’s 6-2 win over Arizona to improve to 6-for-12 during the team’s three-game winning streak. The Blackhawks have also killed off all 17 short-handed situations in the past six contests, but yielded four power-play goals en route to splitting four meetings with St. Louis this season.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), CSN Chicago, NHL.TV

    ABOUT THE BLUES (48-23-9): Vladimir Tarasenko extended his point streak to six games (three goals, five assists) by scoring and setting up a goal in Monday’s 5-2 win over the Coyotes and has three goals and two assists in the season series versus Chicago. Rookie Robby Fabbri (lower body), who has recorded three points versus the Blackhawks in 2015-16, joined defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (upper body) in being active participants in Wednesday’s practice. “It’s probably the fourth day in a row where they’ve looked good, but neither (has) been cleared for play right now,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’ll have to wait on that.”

    ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (47-26-7): Chicago is turning to a familiar face in the wake of a rash of injuries as it recalled veteran forward Bryan Bickell from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Signed to a four-year deal worth $16 million in 2013, Bickell helped the club win a Stanley Cup last year before being limited to just two assists in 23 games this season. The 30-year-old Bickell could see action in lieu of injuries to forwards Marian Hossa (lower body), Andrew Shaw (upper body) and Artem Anisimov (upper body).


    1. Chicago G Scott Darling is in line to make his 11th straight start on Thursday – and first versus St. Louis.

    2. Blues C Kyle Brodziak has four goals and an assist in his last six contests after recording just six points (three goals, three assists) in his previous 68.

    3. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has scored two goals and set up five others during a five-game point streak.

    PREDICTION: Blues 3, Blackhawks 2


    Preview: Colorado at Dallas

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

    The Dallas Stars have a chance to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and the Central Division title when they host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. Dallas, which is tied with St. Louis atop the division, will clinch with a victory over the Avalanche and a regulation loss by the Blues at Chicago on Thursday.

    The Stars own the tiebreaker and can take St. Louis out of the equation by simply winning the final two games – both at home – against Colorado and Nashville, which is locked into the No. 7 seed and has nothing for which to play. “I like where our team is at,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve got two left and we want to win them both.” The Stars had a four-game winning streak halted with a 3-1 loss at Anaheim on Sunday, only their second defeat in nine games (7-2-0). The Avalanche were eliminated from postseason contention after falling to Nashville 4-3 on Tuesday for their fourth loss in a row and sixth in seven games.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Altitude (Colorado), FSN Southwest-Plus (Dallas)

    ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (39-37-4): Colorado could not overcome injuries to its top two scorers and staggered down the stretch while failing to make the postseason for the second straight year following its surprising run to the Central Division title in 2013-14. “Today I am very disappointed,” coach Patrick Roy told “I’m sure we’re going to have plenty of time to talk about it, but I mean it’s not what we expect from this team. We expect more from this team.” Defenseman Nikita Zadorov is expected back in the lineup after missing two games with a head injury.

    ABOUT THE STARS (48-23-9): While Dallas is dealing with a slew of injuries, there is reason for optimism as Kris Russell is expected back in the lineup following a seven-game absence and fellow defenseman Jason Demers is closer to returning after missing the past 12 contests. Patrick Eaves will not play Thursday due to a mid-body injury, Ruff said, while fellow forwards Mattias Janmark and Brett Ritchie also sat out Wednesday’s practice. Curtis McKenzie was recalled from Texas of the American Hockey League and is expected to be in the lineup.


    1. The Stars ended an eight-game losing streak in the series with a 4-3 overtime win at Colorado on Feb. 4.

    2. The Avalanche are 2-for-24 on the power play over the past 10 games.

    3. Ruff said Wednesday that it’s too early to tell if F Tyler Seguin (Achilles) will be ready for the playoff opener.

    PREDICTION: Stars 4, Avalanche 2


    Preview: Vancouver at Calgary

    When: 9:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta

    The Vancouver Canucks attempt to finish a disappointing season with a winning record on the road when they visit the Calgary Flames on Thursday. Vancouver enters its final game away from home with a 16-16-8 record but has dropped six of its last eight on the road, including a 6-2 setback at Edmonton on Wednesday in the Oilers’ final contest at Rexall Place.

    Bo Horvat, who ranks third on the Canucks in scoring (38 points), is riding a four-game point streak during which he has recorded three goals and two assists. Calgary is wrapping up its schedule at home, where it is an impressive 20-16-4 despite losing its last three (0-1-2). The Flames, who failed to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, need to win their last two games to avoid their lowest total of victories in a full campaign since posting 29 in 2002-03. Calgary, which is even in points with Vancouver, won three of the first four meetings between the Pacific Division rivals this season.

    TV: 9 p.m. ET, Sportsnet Pacific (Vancouver), Sportsnet West (Calgary)

    ABOUT THE CANUCKS (30-37-13): Captain Henrik Sedin is three assists away from tying Larry Robinson (750) for 42nd place on the all-time list. The 35-year-old Swede has struggled scoring goals, however, as he enters Thursday with an 11-game drought and one tally in his last 22 contests. Vancouver has six players who have reached double digits in goals, with Alex Burrows and Jared McCann on the cusp at nine apiece.

    ABOUT THE FLAMES (33-40-7): Captain Mark Giordano scored his career-high 21st goal in Tuesday’s overtime loss to Los Angeles, the highest total by a Flames defenseman since Al MacInnis netted 28 tallies in 1993-94. The 32-year-old Giordano leads the team with nine power-play goals — his total in 125 games during the previous two seasons. Lance Bouma, who recorded two goals in 44 games after registering 16 in 78 contests last campaign, is done for the season after suffering an upper-body injury against the Kings.


    1. Flames LW Johnny Gaudreau has notched two points in each of his last two games and has not gone more than one contest without a point since a four-game drought from March 1-7.

    2. Vancouver ranks 27th in the league on the power play (15.9 percent) but is a respectable 12th on the penalty kill (81.8).

    3. Calgary will have Joni Ortio in net against the Canucks while fellow G Niklas Backstrom is expected to start Saturday’s season finale versus Minnesota.

    PREDICTION: Flames 3, Canucks 1


    Preview: Anaheim at Los Angeles

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

    The Pacific Division title and home ice for at least two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs are still at stake as the Los Angeles Kings host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. Los Angeles and Anaheim are tied for the Pacific lead as the Kings – two-time Stanley Cup champions in the past four seasons – gun for their first division title since winning the Smythe in 1990-91 while the Ducks try for their fourth consecutive Pacific title with a game in hand on their rivals.

    Anaheim’s extra contest is far from desirable, though, as it flies across the country to face Presidents’ Trophy winner Washington on Sunday in a makeup of a Jan. 22 game postponed because of snow after visiting Colorado on Saturday. Los Angeles finishes its regular season Saturday by hosting Winnipeg, which made life a little bit tougher on the Ducks with a 2-1 overtime victory in Anaheim on Tuesday. The Pacific champion meets the top wild-card team Nashville in the first round while the runner-up squares off against San Jose with home ice in that series still to be determined. The Ducks have won three straight meetings, including a 3-2 verdict March 5 that vaulted them past the Kings and into first place while capping an 18-1-1 stretch that erased a 16-point division deficit.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket and FSN San Diego (Anaheim), FSN West (Los Angeles), Sportsnet 360

    ABOUT THE DUCKS (44-24-11): Anaheim is starting to get some of its injured players back as defenseman Simon Despres (concussion) returned to the lineup Tuesday and forward Rickard Rakell (appendectomy) could play against Los Angeles after missing four games. The addition of Rakell would be beneficial as the forward is enjoying a breakout season with 20 goals and 23 assists in 72 games after totaling nine and 22 in 71 contests last season. Goaltender Frederik Andersen participated in practice this week and could play for the first time since suffering a concussion versus Calgary on March 30 in one of the final two games.

    ABOUT THE KINGS (47-28-5): Los Angeles center Jeff Carter (24 goals, 61 points) is heating up at the right time with six tallies in his last six games, including the overtime score in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory in Calgary for their franchise-record 47th win. The Kings have an injury concern of their own as defensemen Alec Martinez (undisclosed) has missed the last two contests – his first two of the season – despite making the trip to western Canada. Jonathan Quick did not play Tuesday after losing his first two April starts, including 3-2 in Vancouver on Monday, but will be back in goal trying to improve on his 15-10-6 record against the Ducks.


    1. If the teams are tied after 82 games, Los Angeles wins the division because it would have a greater number of regulation and overtime victories.

    2. Anaheim is No. 1 on the power play and in penalty killing as it bids to become the first team since the 1984-85 New York Islanders to accomplish the feat.

    3. The Kings have permitted a power-play goal in their last three games and in five of their last six contests.

    PREDICTION: Kings 3, Ducks 2


    Preview: Winnipeg at San Jose

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Thursday, April 7, 2016
    Where: SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, California

    Home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs remains a possibility for the San Jose Sharks, who seek their third straight victory and fifth in six contests when they begin a season-ending two-game homestand Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. San Jose can climb into second place in the Pacific Division with a pair of victories and either two regulation losses by Los Angeles or three by Anaheim, as it trails both the Kings and Ducks by three points.

    Joe Thornton leads the Sharks with 79 points and needs two tallies to give the club six 20-goal scorers this season. Winnipeg continues its season-ending three-game trek through California after edging Anaheim in overtime on Tuesday. Blake Wheeler, who tops the team with a career-high 74 points, has collected six goals and six assists during his personal-best nine-game point streak while Mark Scheifele has notched four tallies and seven assists on his career high-tying eight-game run. The Sharks and the Jets split their first two meetings this season, with each posting a 4-1 victory on the road in January.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TSN3 (Winnipeg), CSN California Plus (San Jose)

    ABOUT THE JETS (33-39-8): Drew Stafford has recorded 21 goals, his highest total since netting 20 with Buffalo in 2011-12, but enters Thursday with a career-worst minus-22 rating. It also is the worst mark on the team, with injured Bryan Little a distant second at minus-13. Winnipeg will need to address its special teams in the offseason as it ranks last on the power play (14.4 percent) and 25th on the penalty kill (78.8) through Tuesday.

    ABOUT THE SHARKS (45-29-6): Thornton’s next point will be the 1,339th of his career, breaking a three-way tie with Denis Savard and Dave Andreychuk for 28th place on the all-time list. The 36-year-old also is three assists shy of passing Doug Gilmour (964) for 13th in league history. With a league-best 28-10-3 road record, San Jose has recorded the second-most road wins since the inception of the NHL (Detroit, 31 in 2005-06) and is one of only two teams (Montreal – 1976-77 and 1977-78) to register two seasons of at least 27 victories away from home, as it notched 27 in 2007-08.


    1. The Jets are seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season.

    2. By winning each of its last two games, San Jose would reach the 100-point plateau for the eighth time in franchise history.

    3. Winnipeg is expected to start Ondrej Pavelec against San Jose, with fellow G Michael Hutchinson likely to be in net for Saturday’s season finale at Los Angeles.

    PREDICTION: Sharks 5, Jets 2


    Hot teams
    — Penguins won their last seven games.
    — Islanders won five of their last six games. Rangers are 5-3 in their last eight games.
    — Flyers won last three home games, all by one goal.
    — Detroit won four of its last five games.
    — Florida won six of its last seven games.
    — Dallas Stars won seven of their last nine games.
    — Blues won seven of their last eight games. Chicago won five of its last six.
    — Vancouver won three of its last four games.
    — Anaheim won four of its last six games.
    — Sharks won four of their last five games. Jets won last two games, 5-1/2-1ot.

    Cold teams
    — Washington lost three of its last four games.
    — Montreal lost six of its last nine games. Carolina is 2-3 in its last five home games.
    — Maple Leafs lost six of their last seven games.
    — Tampa Bay lost three of its last four games. Devils lost five of their last six games.
    — Bruins lost eight of their last ten games.
    — Ottawa lost five of its last seven games.
    — Arizona, Nashville both lost four of their last five games.
    — Colorado lost six of its last seven games.
    — Calgary lost three of its last four games.
    — Los Angeles lost six of its last nine games.

    Series records
    — Washington is 5-3 in its last eight games with Pittsburgh.
    — Montreal won six of last seven games with Carolina.
    — Islanders won their last three games with the Rangers.
    — Flyers won four of last six games with Toronto.
    — Lightning won their last three games with New Jersey.
    — Bruins won six of last seven games with Detroit.
    — Florida won four of its last five games with Ottawa.
    — Nashville won six of last seven games with Arizona.
    — Avalanche won eight of last nine games with Dallas.
    — Blues won four of last six games with Chicago.
    — Flames won four of last five games with Vancouver.
    — Ducks won six of last seven games with Los Angeles.
    — Jets won three of last five visits to San Jose.

    — Over is 5-1-1 in last seven Penguin games.
    — Five of last seven Montreal games went over.
    — Five of last seven Islander-Ranger games stayed under.
    — Over is 3-1-1 in last five Toronto games.
    — Seven of last eight Lightning-Devil games stayed under.
    — Three of last four Detroit road games went over.
    — Over is 4-1-1 in last six Florida games.
    — Over is 6-1-1 in last eight Nashville games.
    — Four of last five Colorado games went over the total.
    — Last three Chicago games went over the total.
    — Over is 3-1-1 in last five Vancouver games.
    — Under is 3-1-1 in last five Anaheim games.
    — Last four San Jose home games went over the total.

    — Toronto is 3-12 if it played the night before. Flyers are 4-7.
    — Red Wings lost their last nine games if they played the night before..
    — Vancouver is 5-6 if it played the night before.


    Grand Salami – April
    By VI News

    The Grand Salami in pro hockey is decided by adding up all the goals scored in every game scheduled for that particular day. You can wager on ‘over’ or ‘under’ the Grand Salami total. The total is set by adding up all listed ‘over/under’ odds for each game on that particular day.

    Note: The Grand Salami will have no action if any game is suspended or cancelled before the regulation time of three twenty minute periods. Also, regardless of the number of goals scored during the shoot out portion of the overtime, the final scored recorded for the game will give the winning team on more goal than its opponent based on the score at the end of regulation time.

    *The majority of sportsbooks do not put out a total on the Grand Salami when there is only one game on the card. For tracking purposes, we will continue to show the ‘over/under’ for goals and combined goals scored on days with just one game.

    October | November | December | January | February | March


    Date No. of Games Total Goals Combined Goals Scored Result

    4/1 5 25 36 OVER
    4/2 11 58 57 UNDER
    4/3 5 26 34 OVER
    4/4 5 25.5 32 OVER
    4/5 11 59.5 62 OVER
    4/6 3 16.5 17 OVER
    4/7 13 – – –

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