Early Ride on the Zamboni – Monday, February 7th

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Here are summaries of tonight’s first three games. Expect recaps for the second half of games later on.

Toronto 5, Atlanta 4

At this pace, the Thrashers might become an obvious “seller” during the upcoming trade deadline. It seems like the team needs to make some kind of swap to bring in some new blood, as Toronto handed Atlanta their fourth consecutive loss. The Thrashers have only won two games in the last month.

It was a high-scoring affair between the two squads, as the Leafs and Thrashers have combined for 30 goals in their three contests.

The Thrashers actually took 2-0 lead into the first intermission before being outscored 5-2 in the last two periods. Dustin Byfuglien ended his scoring slump with a power-play goal while Phil Kessel remained stuck in his slump, but their teams produced different results.

Detroit 3, NY Rangers 2

It didn’t take long for Pavel Datsyuk to make an impact in his first appearance with the Red Wings after missing 19 games. Detroit had gone two games without scoring a single goal before Dastyuk scored on his own rebound in the second period. He added an assist for a successful return to action as the Red Wings squeezed out a tough win against the rugged Rangers.

Jimmy Howard has been struggling quite a bit lately (as Mike Milbury noted), but he stopped 45 out of 47 shots in this game. Martin Biron was solid in his second straight start, making 32 saves, but he wasn’t able to earn the win.

Edmonton 4, Nashville 0

The Predators have now lost five of their last six games, with their only win coming against the Red Wings (of all teams). Nashville remains in fourth place in the West, but they are rapidly falling back into the conference’s sizable bubble. While the Oilers don’t have as much to play for, it must have been a relief for them to end their four-game losing streak.

The Predators weren’t exactly sleep-walking to start this game, though, as they out-shot Edmonton 13-1 through the game’s first 10 minutes. Devan Dubnyk stood strong to earn a 37-save shutout, the first of his NHL career. Pekka Rinne didn’t have such a good night on the other end of the ice, as he was pulled late in the game after allowing four goals on only 20 shots.

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

Jordan Weal to make NHL debut for Kings

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Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.

Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.

A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.

“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”

The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.

Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap