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Buffalo Sabres will play an exhibition game in Mannheim, Germany on October 4

It’s unclear if the Buffalo Sabres will play another game in the month of April after tonight, but we already know what they’ll be doing on October 4. The NHL announced that the team will play an exhibition game Mannheim, Germany’s SAP Arena against Adler Mannheim. This game will be part of the 2011 Premiere Challenge, the league’s annual set of overseas games used to kick off each season.

This won’t be the first game Adler Mannheim will play against an NHL team, either. The team lost to the San Jose Sharks in a shootout last year.

The team selections for these types of events often include some kind of hometown connection and this situation is no different. Sabres forward Jochen Hecht is from Mannheim and actually played five seasons for Adler Mannheim, including the 2004-05 lockout season. Hecht also represented Germany during three Olympic runs: 1998, 2002 and 2010.

Hecht described this experience as a dream come true.

“I am very excited to return to my hometown and play against my former club,” said Hecht. “The National Hockey League is the highest level of the game in the world. Not only is it a great opportunity to have the NHL brought to Mannheim, but to be a part of the experience is a dream come true.”

Here’s a little more information about the league’s five consecutive years of playing regular season games in Europe, via the league’s press release.

Next season marks a record fifth consecutive season the NHL will be playing regular-season games in Europe as part of 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere™ and NHL Face-Off™.  NHL teams will play a total of four games in three different European capital cities – Berlin, Stockholm and Helsinki.  On Friday, Oct. 7, the Sabres will play the Anaheim Ducks at Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland, and the New York Rangers will play the Los Angeles Kings at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.  The next day, Saturday, Oct. 8, the Sabres and Kings will play each other at the O2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany, and the Rangers face off against the Ducks in Stockholm.

By the end of 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere, 17 NHL teams – over half of the NHL – will have played regular-season and exhibition games in Europe since 2007. The Sabres have visited Europe one other time in franchise history. To open the 1998 pre-season, the Sabres and Lightning traveled to Austria to participate in the NHL International Challenge, playing a series of exhibition games against Austrian teams as well as exhibitions against each other.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay