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Admitted gamer Steven Stamkos will be the cover star for NHL ’12

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EA Sports announced that Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos will be the cover star for their next hockey video game NHL ’12. This breaks the run of Chicago Blackhawks stars who graced the series’ covers in the last two years (Jonathan Toews for NHL ’11; Patrick Kane for NHL ’10).

One of the appealing by-products of the post-lockout era’s surge in young stars is their familiarity with video games. Most of them have probably grown up playing hockey video games; one can only imagine the ribbing a player might get for having a pitiful speed rating. (Toews, Kane and Stamkos aren’t much older than the seminal NHL ’94 title , after all.)

Stamkos ranks as one of those guys who played hockey video games growing up. In fact, he admitted that it was often on his wish list at Christmas time and he excitedly bought the first NHL title that featured his likeness.

“I was a big gamer, especially as a kid,” Stamkos said. “I asked for it every Christmas. You dream of playing in the NHL one day but you never really dream of being on the cover of the NHL video games, especially the most popular one. My friends are just as excited.”

Stamkos said that he doesn’t know his player rating just yet, but noticed some flaws in the game of his polygonal counterpart.

“My faceoffs weren’t very good in the game, so maybe I’ll take a hint to get better [in that area],” Stamkos said. “I haven’t checked out the ratings system yet, but usually when you’re on the cover you get a good one.”

Every now and then, a cover player doesn’t have an outstanding rating in a hockey video game, but you usually have to be at an elite level to grace a game cover in the first place.

The cover art might bring a surprise for fans who haven’t been paying attention to uniform-related news: he’s wearing the new blue and white getup that the Lightning will wear in the 2011-12 season. The game is expected to be released on September 13, giving hockey-starved fans a needed distraction a few weeks before the beginning of next season.

‘He has earned the opportunity’ — Coyotes recall 2014 first-round pick Perlini

Brendan Perlini
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Brendan Perlini is off to an impressive start this season with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the American Hockey League. The scoring has been there. The production has been there.

Averaging a point per game with 11 goals through 16 contests in the minors, Perlini is on his way to the NHL. The Arizona Coyotes officially recalled the 20-year-old forward — selected 12th overall in the 2014 draft — from Tuscon on Sunday.

The rebuilding, youthful Coyotes are last in the Pacific Division right now, stuck with eight wins through 23 games.

They gave up 60 shots to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but managed to earn a single point thanks to the play of their goalie Mike Smith.

The Coyotes are on the road Monday and Tuesday this week. They’ll open this quick trip against Columbus, although it hasn’t been determined when Perlini will get into the lineup.

But with a back-to-back situation on the road, it seems likely he’ll make his NHL debut at some point in the next two days.

“Brendan possesses elite speed and goal scoring ability,” said general manager John Chayka. “He has led the AHL in scoring early on and we believe he has earned the opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level.”

Video: Tootoo and Thorburn drop the gloves early as Blackhawks, Jets clash

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Not much in the way of pleasantries between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

It started with Jordin Tootoo and Chris Thorburn dropping the gloves just 2:22 into this Central Division contest, with the Jets forward earning the takedown at the end of the scrap.

Bit of a size mismatch. Tootoo is listed at five-foot-nine-inches and 195 pounds, while Thorburn is six-foot-three-inches tall and 235 pounds.

Both teams are missing key players in this one.

Jonathan Toews is once again out of the Chicago lineup — and, it was revealed before Sunday’s game, that he won’t skate for the next few days — while Mark Scheifele misses this game for the Jets.

Video: Flyers’ Read (upper-body injury) will not return versus Predators

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Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read is done for the night with an upper-body injury, the team announced.

Read, who only played three shifts today, was hit into the net by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg during the first period. Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced the veteran forward suffered an upper-body injury.

There was no call on the play.

In 26 games this season, Read has six goals and 10 points.

Video: Radulov goes top shelf in the shootout and it’s pretty sweet

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 08:  Alexander Radulov #47 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the warmup prior to the NHL game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 8, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Alexander Radulov has been a pretty good acquisition for the Montreal Canadiens, and he continued to prove that Sunday against the L.A. Kings.

Radulov scored in the shootout against the Kings, helping the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory. He also scored in the second period and had two assists for a three-point night. Not bad.

But his shootout goal was sweet. Just made it look easy, as he went to the backhand, top shelf on Peter Budaj.

With reported tension between coach Michel Therrien and Max Pacioretty, the Habs captain scored twice and had an assist. Another three-point night.

So, the Habs got offensive contributions from their best players.

That said, one of their best players, Alex Galchenyuk left the game late in the third period after a collision with Anze Kopitar away from the puck.

Galchenyuk didn’t return for the overtime. In 25 games, he has nine goals and 23 points, emerging as the No. 1 center in Montreal when the season began.