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Avalanche avoid arbitration hearings by giving Ryan Wilson, Kevin Porter one-year deals

While the countdown to salary arbitration continues for the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and several other NHL teams, the Colorado Avalanche won’t have to worry about those often-awkward proceedings. They signed two restricted free agents who were headed to salary arbitration today, locking up forward Kevin Porter and defenseman Ryan Wilson to one-year deals.

Porter will make $850K while Wilson shall receive $1.275 million for their efforts during the 2011-12 season. Porter is 25 years old while Wilson is 24.

Porter achieved career highs in goals (14), assists (11), points (25) and games played (74) in the 2010-11 season while averaging 13:49 minutes per game. He also had 27 penalty minutes and a -11 rating last season.

Wilson’s 2009-10 stats (21 points and +13 rating in 61 games played) look better than the 16 points and -8 rating he earned in 67 games in 10-11, but that is likely as much a reflection on Colorado’s success in those respective seasons as Wilson’s play. He enjoyed a bigger role in 10-11, averaging 19:49 minutes per game after receiving 16:16 per contest in 09-10.

These two players aren’t the kind of guys who would break the bank during arbitration hearings, but it’s probably best for Colorado to maintain as much positivity as possible after their locker room seemed to crater in 2010-11. Wilson and Porter will gain an opportunity to prove that they can be pieces of the puzzle for the Avs because they’re around the age when mid-level prospects either work out at the NHL level or become journeymen players.

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer