Minnesota captain Koivu returns to lineup

According to ESPN 1500 Minnesota, Wild captain Mikko Koivu will return to the lineup for tonight’s contest against Northwest Division rival Vancouver.

Koivu has missed Minnesota’s last eight games — and the 2012 All-Star Game in Ottawa — after injuring his left shoulder on Jan. 14. The Wild have gone 3-4-1 without him in the lineup, scoring one goal or fewer in five of the eight games.

It’s expected that head coach Mike Yeo will load up his first line, putting Koivu between Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. Heatley leads all Wild scorers with 17 goals this year while Setoguchi has chipped in with 10, despite missing 13 games with a knee injury.

[Setoguchi has struggled since returning from the injury and has just two goals in 11 games — things got so bad that Yeo demoted him to the third line in a 3-1 loss to Columbus on Tuesday. The hope is that Koivu’s presence can salvage what’s been a disappointing year thus far.]

“We have to make sure with Mikko coming back — he’s such an important part of the team — that we surround him the right way,” Yeo told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Putting him with Seto and Heater gives us a chance to get that line going.”

To make room for Koivu, Minnesota placed forward Jed Ortmeyer on waivers.

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.