JasonSpezza

After four-game absence, Sens captain Spezza set to return

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Ottawa will welcome back captain Jason Spezza tonight when it takes on the Avs in Colorado.

Spezza, who missed the last four contests with a hip injury, skated on a line with Zack Smith and Mark Stone during yesterday’s practice — forming the “SSS Line” — and will try to not upset the apple cart in his return.

The Sens have won four straight with Spezza out of the lineup, including Saturday’s 4-3 OT victory in Montreal. One of the players that’s stepped up in the captain’s absence is Mika Zibanejad, who has four points in his last three games and seems to have found chemistry on a line with Milan Michalek and Cory Conacher.

It’s been a nice stretch of play, but the Sens aren’t ready to rest on their laurels.

“The goal is to be in the playoffs at the end of the season,” said goalie Craig Anderson, per Sens Extra.

(Anderson will start versus the Avs tonight.)

“That’s been our goal since Day 1. Obviously we didn’t play the first half the way we wanted to, but things right now are starting to go in our favor. We’re working hard at it.

“We’re getting better every day. If you worry about what you can control, and that’s how we work and how we play, the end result, if we keep winning games, usually you end up in the playoffs because you’re winning more games than you’re losing.”

So good last season, Anderson’s numbers have fallen dramatically in 2013-14, from a save percentage of .941 to .904. But he’s been better lately, with five straight victories to show for it.

And according to coach Paul MacLean, “We’re not spending as much time in our own zone, or turning over as many pucks as we did earlier in the year, which makes it a little easier to manage momentum.”

Kopitar dominates with a hat trick to help Kings defeat Rangers in OT

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Anze Kopitar received high praise from L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter following Friday’s win over the New York Rangers.

All Kopitar did was score three goals on four shots on goal. He was also credited with five hits while winning 65 per cent of his faceoffs. His third goal of the evening with 30 seconds remaining in regulation pushed this game into overtime, where Tanner Pearson scored the winner for L.A. in a 5-4 victory.

“It was Kopi’s best game of the season, that’s for sure,” said Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.

“Not just because he scored three goals, but it was his best game all around in terms of using his whole package. I mean, he was a pretty dominant player.”

L.A. maintain an eight-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.

The Kings’ victory came at a cost. Marian Gaborik left the game in the first period after being involved in an awkward collision. He did not return, and Sutter didn’t have an update on the veteran forward when the game ended.

Video: P.K. Subban tossed after on-ice outburst toward officials

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P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.

Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.

Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.

The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.

 

Video: Doan ties Hawerchuk for most points in Jets/Coyotes history

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Shane Doan on Friday scored his 20th goal of the season, and tied a historical mark for the initial Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise in the process.

Doan scored in the first period against the Calgary Flames, tying him with Dale Hawerchuk for most points in Jets/Coyotes history with 929.

Now 39 years old, Doan has spent his entire career with that organization, playing one season in Winnipeg before the organization moved to Phoenix.

He also joined another impressive list, too.

Leafs’ Corrado returns to Vancouver with a chip on his shoulder

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Just as the Vancouver Canucks are once again struggling through injuries and with their depth on defense a constant question mark, Frank Corrado returns to town with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s a quick visit. The Leafs and Canucks do battle on Saturday, with the hosts wearing their famous ‘Flying Skate’ logo from the 1990s.

But the return of Corrado with a different team provides a juicy storyline in Vancouver.

The Canucks waived the 22-year-old defenseman in October.

He was claimed by the Leafs, which ended his time in Vancouver when it previously started with promise and optimism.

He quickly ascended as a prospect after being selected in the fifth round five years ago. But when training camp rolled around this season, Canucks GM Jim Benning was of the belief that Corrado had been passed in the depth chart by a few other defensemen in the system.

The move has been criticized in Vancouver because the Canucks lost an asset — a 22-year-old right-shooting defenseman with potential — for nothing.

Corrado had some interesting things to say about how his time in Vancouver eventually played out, as per Josh Clipperton of the Canadian Press.

Two examples:

Corrado has played 10 games for the Leafs this season, with three assists. He made his Leafs debut more than two months after being claimed.