Edmonton Oilers v Phoenix Coyotes

Hall: ‘Really going to be hard’ for Oilers to make playoffs after Ducks loss


The Edmonton Oilers had Tuesday’s game in Anaheim marked as a must-win.

And they proceeded to lose, 2-1.

That resulted in a lot of glum faces in the Edmonton dressing room, as players recognized their playoff hopes took a major blow.

None seemed to recognize it more than Taylor Hall.

“This was a huge game for our team. It’s really going to be hard from here on in,” Hall told the Edmonton Journal. “Three games ago, we were right there. Now, we’re a ways back. We’re just going to have to stay motivated.”

“You never know what can happen, but this was one we had to win.”

On Apr. 3, the Oilers beat the Flames 8-2 to move into sole possession of eighth in the West. Spirits were high. But three consecutive defeats have sent them crashing back down to earth.

With Tuesday’s loss, Edmonton now sits 12th in the Western Conference with 39 points, four points back of eighth-place Detroit with Dallas (41 points), Columbus (41) and Phoenix (40) still ahead in the standings.

If there is a silver lining for the Oilers, it’s their remaining schedule.

They’ll play seven of their last nine at the friendly confines of Rexall Place — where they’re 8-5-4 — and have a huge stretch coming up where they’ll face three non-playoff entities in the Coyotes, Flames and Avalanche.

Of course, they’ll also play their final five games of the season against top-six teams in the West: Anaheim (x2), Chicago, Minnesota and Vancouver.

Captain Shawn Horcoff says the team will turn it around for these final nine games.

“We’ll regroup and finish it out. We’re going to finish hard,” he told the Journal. “We’re not mathematically eliminated, so you never know.

“We’re not in a situation where we can just mail it in.”

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: