TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Philadelphia at Detroit (7 p.m. ET)

A win was a win Tuesday over Florida, but Philly didn’t exactly look fantastic against the Panthers. Claude Giroux still doesn’t have a point. Ditto for Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell. If not for Steve Mason, Craig Berube’s head-coaching debut may not have ended so well. As for the Wings, they’ve dropped two straight since opening with a pair of wins, and head coach Mike Babcock was fuming after Thursday’s home loss to Phoenix.

Saturday: Colorado at Washington (7 p.m. ET)

If you haven’t seen the undefeated Avalanche play this season, make an effort to catch this one. Not only does new coach Patrick Roy have his young forwards showing off their speed and skill, the Avs’ goaltenders have combined to allow just three goals in their first four games. Semyon Varlamov should get the start against his old team after Jean-Sebastien Giguere shut out the Bruins on Thursday. On the other side of the ledger, with just one victory in their first four games, the Caps could really use a win here. And if somebody besides Alex Ovechkin would like to score for them, we bet Adam Oates would be most appreciative.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET)

No shortage of star power in this matchup. Not that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have needed to be dominant in the Pens’ first three games. Not with Marc-Andre Fleury providing all his doubters with something to think about. The 28-year-old starter has allowed just three goals in three starts and boasts a save percentage of .963. But Tampa Bay is playing pretty well, too. The Lightning blew away the Panthers, 7-2, on Thursday, with Steven Stamkos notching a hat trick.

Saturday: NY Rangers at St. Louis (8 p.m. ET)

If only to see if the Rangers can pull out of their death spiral against one of the best teams in the NHL. Alain Vigneault’s club has lost two straight shockers, 9-2 to San Jose and 6-0 to Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Blues are a perfect 3-0-0, including Wednesday’s 3-2 last-minute win over the defending champs from Chicago. Good luck, Martin Biron.

Sunday: Ottawa at Anaheim (8 p.m. ET)

Bobby Ryan returns to The Pond. That should be interesting. But more importantly, it’s Throwback Night! The Ducks will be celebrating their 20th anniversary season by wearing their retro purple jerseys and inviting old members of the original 1993-94 team to partake in festivities throughout the game. We hear Bob Corkum will be shot out of a cannon in the second intermission.

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.