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Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, January 15th (early edition)

For a recap of the early afternoon tilt between the Penguins and Bruins, click here. We’ll provide summaries of Edmonton-Los Angeles and St. Louis-San Jose later on.

Florida 3, New Jersey 2 (OT)

The Devils have done a great job of boosting the confidence of other teams this season. Need to break a slump? Take a trip to Newark. The latest example: the Panthers sport the league’s worst power play, yet Florida generated two of their three goals on the man advantage to beat New Jersey.

Calgary 2, Toronto 1

Miikka Kiprusoff was perfect until there was only 13 seconds left in this game, allowing a game-tying Mikhail Grabovski goal while Toronto was on the power play. Yet considering the fact that the Maple Leafs out-shot the Flames 18-4 in that period, breaking even was quite the breakthrough. Both Kipper and J.S. Giguere stopped 32 out of 33 shots in this game, but the Finnish Flame was slightly better in the shootout.

NY Islanders 5, Buffalo 3

This one was a sight for Garth Snow’s sore eyes: John Tavares provided a natural hat trick while Rick DiPietro set aside 40 out of 43 shots to give the Islanders a win against the Sabres.

Carolina 6, Tampa Bay 4

The Hurricanes now find themselves only one point behind the eighth-seed Thrashers with three games in hand thanks in large part to a 7-1-2 run in their last 10 games. The Lightning are still first in the Southeast, but have lost four of six.

All of a sudden Eric Staal (one goal, two assists) and Erik Cole (three assists) are starting to look like a combo that took the NHL by storm in the first season after the lockout.

Montreal 3, NY Rangers 2

The Habs rode a lightning quick three goal in three minutes outburst to beat the Rangers, as tall forward Brian Boyle and spritely scorer Mats Zuccarello scored the game’s first and last goals.

Henrik Lundqvist earned 38 saves in defeat, but Rangers coach John Tortorella was most impressed by the emotion he showed when he punched forward Max Pacioretty, which earned the Swedish goalie a roughing penalty. Meanwhile Carey Price won, stopping 31 out of 33 shots.

Detroit 6, Columbus 5 (OT)

The Red Wings earned an overtime win in Detroit one night after losing in a shootout in Columbus. Every win will be a blessing as they face the tough reality of their injury situations. Rick Nash was impressive in defeat, scoring one goal and adding two assists.

Dallas 6, Atlanta 1

Kari Lehtonen watched his old team take quite a beating in this one, earning the win with a 29-save performance. Trevor Daley and James Neal scored two goals in the game as the Stars power play went three for five.

Nashville 3, Chicago 2 (SO)

While it won’t completely heal the wounds of that came from their collapse against the Blackhawks in the playoffs, it must have felt great for the Predators to come back after falling behind 2-0 in this game.

Phoenix 6, Anaheim 2

Ray Whitney reached the 900-point plateau while the Coyotes won their fourth game in a row, bumping their last 10 games total to an outstanding 7-1-2 mark. That leaves Phoenix in fourth place in the West while the Ducks are stuck in eighth. Whitney crossed that threshold with an impressive two goal, one assist night.

Malkin to miss third straight game with lower-body injury

Evgeni Malkin
AP
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Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.

The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.

Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.

McDonagh out with concussion after Saturday’s altercation with Simmonds

Ryan McDonagh
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The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.

McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.

Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.

Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

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Lucic’s plan is to ‘remain a King’ for remainder of career

Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis
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Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”

A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.

“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.

Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.

Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA

Despres, Perron return to Pittsburgh for the first time since being traded to Anaheim

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2015, file photo, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres skates before an NHL preseason hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. Despres has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Ducks on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, solidifying his role in Anaheim after joining the club in a trade last season. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)
Associated Press
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Simon Despres and David Perron will return to Pittsburgh for the first time since they were shipped to Anaheim via trade.

Monday’s tilt at the Consol Engery Center will be special for both individuals.

Despres was traded to Anaheim for Ben Lovejoy last March, while Perron was sent to the Ducks earlier this season.

Both players may have had some good times in Pittsburgh, but in both instances, things didn’t end up the way they had envisioned.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Perron said of things not working out in Pittsburgh, per the Post-Gazette. “I made some great relationships. Some really good friends.

“The only thing, it didn’t work. That’s what what [general manager] Jim Rutherford and I and [head coach] Mike Sullivan talked when the trade happened. I wish it would have been different but that’s the way it goes sometimes. It didn’t click as good as you wanted it to be. I’m happy I got a new start and it’s going well.”

The 27-year-old played 86 games over two seasons with the Penguins, and he managed to score just 16 goals and 38 points during that span.

Things have been a lot better for him since the move to Anaheim. Perron has three goals, five assists and a plus-7 rating in his first seven games as a Duck.

As for Despres, things haven’t been as smooth since his departure from the Penguins.

The 24-year-old played well in the final month of the season last year, but he missed 42 games in 2015-16 because of a concussion he suffered near the beginning of the season.

He’s been a welcomed addition to the lineup. Anaheim hasn’t lost since Despres returned to the lineup on Jan. 26.

“He hasn’t gotten any points but we haven’t lost since he’s been back,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said, via the Post-Gazette. “We missed him for sure. In the playoffs last year, he was as good of a defenseman as we had. Big and strong and played against big opposition and he didn’t tire. The more games he gets, the better he’s going to get.”

The defenseman spent most of his adult life in the Penguins organization and he admits that’s something he’ll never forget.

“I guarantee that I’ll be a little bit emotional for the game [tonight],” said Despres. “Spent a lot of years here. A lot of memories and good friends. A lot of friends in Pittsburgh.”