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Radulov (lower-body injury) returns to Habs lineup versus Oilers

Looking to take back top spot in the Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadiens will get a boost to their lineup when they visit the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

Habs coach Claude Julien announced this afternoon that forward Alex Radulov, out the last 10 days with a lower-body injury, will play tonight.

Montreal is tied with the Ottawa Senators, winners of six in a row, with 84 points for the lead in the Atlantic. A single point would move the Habs back into the lead, albeit Ottawa would still have two games in hand following tonight.

Radulov has been one of the best acquisitions from last summer’s free agent signing period, returning to the NHL after spending the last four seasons in the KHL. In 63 games with the Habs, Radulov has 15 goals and 46 points.

The Habs will also have Paul Byron in their lineup tonight. He had been battling the flu, said Julien.

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    Here come the Penguins: Pittsburgh now one point back of rival Capitals

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    It took a while, but the Pittsburgh Penguins finally solved Ryan Miller.

    They peppered the veteran Canucks goalie — a pending unrestricted free agent this summer — with 23 shots (!!) in the second period, and 47 total in the game, asserting their dominance over the rebuilding club in Vancouver.

    But it took a while before that eventually showed up on the scoreboard. Despite an impressive 45 saves from Miller, the Penguins managed a 3-0 win, giving them a fifth straight victory.

    It remained 1-0 Pittsburgh until a pair of late third-period goals from Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary put it away.

    That puts the Penguins one point back of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

    The Capitals lost to the L.A. Kings and are now only 5-5 in their last 10 games. Their recent funk, combined with Pittsburgh’s surge, has allowed the Penguins to get back into contention not only for the division but the possibility for home-ice advantage throughout the post-season.

    Despite the win, the Penguins received some bad news on the injury front.

    Carl Hagelin, who played Friday versus the Edmonton Oilers but not against the Canucks, could be out a minimum of four weeks with a lower-body injury, according to coach Mike Sullivan. That timeline is essentially the duration of the regular season.

    The Penguins end their regular season schedule on April 9 against the Rangers.

    Meanwhile, the Canucks were once again forced to go with a makeshift lineup after defenseman Chris Tanev and forward Markus Granlund were both held out of the lineup with what is believed to be food poisoning.

    Last month, Tanev and Granlund both showed symptoms of the mumps following an outbreak that affected several Canucks players.

    The Maple Leafs are back in a playoff position

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    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Morgan Rielly scored 2:13 into overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night.

    Rielly’s wrist shot past Cam Ward gave Toronto its third straight victory and moved them one point ahead of the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    Mitch Marner and James van Riemsdyk also scored for Toronto, and Frederik Andersen made 36 saves.

    Victor Rask and Teuvo Teravainen scored for Carolina, which has lost 11 of 15 games. Ward made 23 saves but couldn’t steer aside Rielly’s shot, which bounced off his left leg pad and angled into the back corner of the net.

    The Hurricanes led twice but couldn’t hold it either time.

    Rask opened the scoring when he corralled a rolling puck below the right faceoff dot and flipped it over Andersen’s left shoulder 8:59 into the first period.

    The Maple Leafs evened the score less than a minute later when Marner connected on a one-timer with a hard wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that zipped past Ward.

    Carolina retook the lead in the second period, but Toronto charged back quickly.

    Teravainen scored 45 seconds into the second when his wrist shot from the point was accidentally deflected in by Rielly, but van Riemsdyk got even for Toronto when he sneaked a wrist shot over Ward’s blocker at the 7:37 mark.

    That was all the scoring in regulation despite a fast-paced third period of frenzied shots and tough saves.

    Rielly broke through in the extra session. The Toronto defenseman carried the puck behind the Hurricanes net and circled back around in between the faceoff circles, and his attempt on net found its way in off Ward’s pad.

    Ekblad suffered concussion on a ‘real cheap shot from behind’

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    The losses continue to pile up for the Florida Panthers. So, too, do the injuries.

    Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe confirmed post-game that the club’s cornerstone defenseman Aaron Ekblad suffered a concussion on a hit in the second period from Gabrel Dumont. Ekblad left the game and didn’t return. Per the Sun Sentinel, the club also lost forward Denis Malgin to a concussion.

    There was no call on the Dumont hit on Ekblad, whose head was slammed into the glass, causing him to fall back to the ice.

    However, Rowe had some stern words about the incident.

    “I thought the hit on Ekblad was dangerous. We’ll leave it up to the league to review it and see what they think,” he said, later calling the hit “a real cheap shot from behind.”

    Ekblad is only 21 years old, but already has a concerning history when it comes to head injuries. During the World Cup prior to this season, he suffered what was first described as a mild concussion before that was changed to a neck injury.

    He also went through concussion protocol last year after a hit from Matt Hendricks.

    Just more bad news for the Panthers, who surged to a two-goal lead in the first period versus Tampa Bay, but lost 3-2. Ondrej Palat scored the winner with 2:23 remaining in regulation.

    The Panthers now have only two wins in their last 10 games.

    According to Sports Club Stats, the Panthers now have a 0.6 per cent chance of making the playoffs.

    Great comeback or squandered opportunity? Blue Jackets cough up early lead in loss to Sabres

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    Franchise history for the Columbus Blue Jackets will have to wait another day.

    After a terrific start against the Sabres on Saturday, working up a three-goal lead after the first period and forcing Robin Lehner off the bench and into the net, the Blue Jackets gave up five unanswered goals and Buffalo came all the way back for a 5-3 win.

    The Blue Jackets need just one more win to set a new franchise record for most victories in a single season. With 67 games played, it will happen. But this opportunity was squandered versus the Sabres.

    Jake McCabe scored 18 seconds into the second period, getting the Sabres on the board. Before the end of the period, they had tied the game at three goals apiece, thanks to a late equalizer from Sam Reinhart.

    “We’re out there and you give them life,” said Nick Foligno, per NHL.com. “You go into the period and then they start to push a little bit, (and we) give them a goal right away. It allowed them back in the game and then they got hungry and got momentum off that and we never seemed to have an answer for it in the second.”

    There is injury concern now for Columbus.

    Defenseman Ryan Murray left the game with an upper-body injury and didn’t return after just 1:44 of ice time in the first period, however coach John Tortorella didn’t have an update afterward. Meanwhile, Cam Atkinson left this game after he was cut by the skate of Marcus Foligno while down on the ice along the boards.

    Atkinson did return to the game, but only after receiving 17 stitches to his shoulder, per the Columbus Dispatch.

    “I definitely have a couple of guardian angels looking out for me,” said Atkinson. “I got a skate to the face a couple of years ago and it didn’t touch my eye. This, it could have been my neck, it could have been other damage, nerve damage. I’ve got to just count my lucky stars.”