Phoenix Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres

Phoenix captain Doan returns from suspension Thursday

Losers in two of their last three games and clinging to eighth in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Coyotes will get a boost on Thursday when captain Shane Doan returns to face the Sharks.

Doan has completed his three-game suspension for elbowing Dallas’ Jamie Benn on Mar. 20. The Coyotes were victorious in their first game sans-captain — defeating Colorado 3-2 — before losing in a shootout to San Jose, then getting smoked 4-0 in St. Louis.

The 35-year-old is keen to get back in the lineup.

“Obviously you never want to be in the position I’m in right now with eight games to go and miss those three,” Doan told the Arizona Republic. “But it is what it is. It’s over. Now I have to get ready to go.”

How Doan reacts to the suspension remains to be seen. It’s the second three-game banishment of his career — he was tagged last season for hitting Anaheim’s Dan Sexton in the head — and with Phoenix embroiled in a playoff chase, things figure to be intense and extremely physical.

So, can Doan play that style of game without going over the edge?

Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett thinks he can.

“He obviously has to be aware of how he’s hitting people and where he’s hitting people, and hopefully him missing a couple games will tweak that memory in him,” Tippett said. “But he still has to be a hard player. He’s not going to be the same player if he tip-toes around out there. I certainly don’t expect him to do that.”

Doan is second on the Coyotes in hits (198, 22nd in the NHL) and third in goals (21). That mix of skill and physicality is his trademark, and Phoenix could use a bit of both — the ‘Yotes have only scored 12 times in the last six games and looked lethargic in Sunday’s loss to the Blues.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.