Bill Daly and Gary Bettman

NHL expansion talks emphatically shot down

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Last night, the Interweb was set aflame with news that the NHL was going to expand to Las Vegas.

Shortly thereafter, NHL expansion was trending — in addition to Sin City, the likes of Seattle, Quebec City and a second team in Toronto were all bandied about, thanks partly to this tweet from Sports Business News:

On Wednesday, a bucket of cold water was tossed on the whole thing. Make that buckets of cold water.

First, from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly:

“We are in no different position today with respect to expansion than we were the last time we answered the same questions,” he wrote in an email to National Post on Wednesday. “There has been interest expressed, we have and will listen to the interest, but we haven’t defined a process and certainly no decisions have been made.”

Then, from outgoing MLSE CEO and president Tim Leiweke (per Toronto’s Fan 590):

“The commissioner and I had other business this morning, so we talked for a while and this came up. I asked him, ‘did I miss a meeting?’ And he laughed and said, ‘no.’

“What I can tell you, 100 percent, as of this morning, for sure? This isn’t on the agenda right now.”

Finally, there was a report from King 5’s Chris Daniels, who has been on the NHL/NBA-to-Seattle beat for quite some time:

All of this, of course, won’t completely silence rumblings The Province’s Tony Gallagher made with his article on Tuesday, which claimed NHL expansion to Vegas was a “done deal.” The league’s imbalance — 14 teams in the Western Conference, 16 in the Eastern — and potential to score huge revenue with expansion fees are in plain view; the NHL also has some major history with Vegas, having hosted its annual awards show there (and the L.A. Kings have been playing an exhibition series at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for years.)

Sens’ Hoffman leaves game vs. Jets with lower-body injury

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 13: Mike Hoffman #68 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Minnesota Wild at Canadian Tire Centre on November 13, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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The Ottawa Senators will need a comeback effort today in order to take over top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Making matters more difficult: The Senators, in action today against the Winnipeg Jets and having gone down two goals after the first period, will strive for that without forward Mike Hoffman, one of their best scorers.

Hoffman left the game in the first period and will not return, the Senators said, because of a lower-body injury.

With a win today, the Senators would move into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens at 70 points, but they would take over first place in the division because they have fewer games played.

Hoffman is tied with Kyle Turris for second on the Senators in goal scoring with 19 goals.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Sabres

Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly
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A three-game winning streak has the Buffalo Sabres right back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

They’ll go for four wins in a row when they host the Chicago Blackhawks, who sit second in the Central Division, on Sunday (6 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blackhawks’ winning streak goes bye thanks to Talbot, Oilers

‘Hawks are happy with rookies’ progress

Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

Sabres win third in a row to stay in playoff race

Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 15:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres defends the net against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on January 15, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/NHLI via Getty Images)
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With three consecutive wins — and six wins in their past nine — the Buffalo Sabres are trying to keep things interesting in the Eastern Conference playoff race, entering play on Saturday just two points out of a wild card spot.

One of the biggest reasons for their success in recent weeks has been the fantastic play of starting goaltender Robin Lehner.

Not only has he won four of his past five starts (including all three during the Sabres’ current winning streak), but he has probably been the driving force behind that surge with a .949 save percentage, allowing more than two goals just once during that stretch.

In three of those games he has made at least 37 saves.

Lehner has been a pretty big positive for the Sabres this season overall with a .926 save percentage.

Since joining Buffalo at the start of the 2015-16 he is at .925 putting him with the best goaltenders in the league.

They are going to need him to be great on Sunday evening again with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are starting Scott Darling.

Elsewhere on Sunday…

— In the afternoon games it was Phillip Grubauer vs. Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers-Capitals game and Matt Murray vs. Petr Mrazek in the Penguins-Red Wings game in Pittsburgh.

Mike Condon draws back in for the Ottawa Senators when they look to move into a first place tie in the Atlantic Division. Connor Hellebuyck goes for the Jets.

Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they host the Nashville Predators. No official word from Nashville yet but with Pekka Rinne taking the loss on Saturday it would make sense to see Juuse Saros get the start.

Thomas Greiss gets the night off for the New York Islanders after he played on Saturday, which means Jean-Francois Berube goes when they take on the New Jersey Devils in the second half of their back-to-back. Keith Kinkaid gets the start for the Devils to give Cory Schneider a night off.

— Nothing official from Toronto yet but look for the Maple Leafs to give Curtis McElhinney the start in Carolina against the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have not announced their starter.

Calvin Pickard is expected to start for Colorado when the Avalanche host the Tampa Bay Lightning. No word yet from the Lightning on their starter.

— The Boston Bruins go for their fourth win in a row when they take on the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. It will be Tuukka Rask in net for the Bruins with Martin Jones going for the Sharks.

— The Kings and Ducks have not announced their starters yet.

— After leading the Canucks to a win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night Ryan Miller is going right back in the net for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.

Devils make Cammalleri healthy scratch for second straight game

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Michael Cammalleri #13 of the New Jersey Devils looks up while waiting for a faceoff in an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Prudential Center on December 27, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  Penguins won 5-2.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils made slumping forward Mike Cammalleri a healthy scratch for the first time in his career on Saturday evening for their 3-2 win over the New York Islanders, and he was not exactly thrilled about it.

He will remain a healthy scratch on Sunday night for the second half of their home-and-home series with the Islanders, most likely because NHL coaches are hesitant to make any sort of change to a lineup after a win.

That means with the Devils winning on Saturday, Cammalleri remains in the press box on Sunday.

With 17 points in his first 18 games this season Cammalleri was off to a promising start for the Devils. But everything has been downhill for him ever since with no goals in his past 18 games, only one in his past 33.

He has 12 assists during that same stretch.