Jason Brough

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Ekman-Larsson will miss final three Coyotes games following death of mother

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Oliver Ekman-Larsson is traveling back to Sweden today following the death of his mother.

The 25-year-old defenseman has been granted a leave of absence from the Arizona Coyotes. He will not play their final three games.

His mother had been battling cancer.

“This has been a very difficult year for me personally,” Ekman-Larsson said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the Coyotes organization and all of my teammates for their incredible support all season long. I’m sorry that I’ll miss our last three games but family comes first.”

McAvoy shows ‘poise’ in AHL debut

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Charlie McAvoy’s first two AHL games didn’t do anything to quell the talk he could make his NHL debut this season.

The 19-year-old defenseman registered two assists for Providence, and he got a solid review from Bruins GM Don Sweeney.

“His poise is probably what stands out the most,” said Sweeney, per CSN New England. “His understanding of holding it for that one extra second and not panicking in certain situations [was noticeable] as was his offensive blue line stuff. That stuff is nice and he’s made some nice high-end plays for [goals]. His puck play stuff is really good and now he’s learning in terms of structure without the puck. That’s probably the area that continues to need to be worked on.”

Sweeney wouldn’t say whether he expects McAvoy to get the call to the big club.

“We’ve left that option open and we’re happy that we left it open,” he said.

Winners of five straight in regulation, the Bruins don’t exactly have a pressing need for a right-shot defenseman. Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, and Kevan Miller have all been getting it done lately.

If there’s a question mark, it’s the left side of the third pair, a job that’s currently between Colin Miller and John-Michael Liles.

In theory, Kevan Miller could move to the left side and skate with McAvoy. But we’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out.

The Bruins host Tampa Bay tomorrow.

Related: McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now

Canucks coach calls out Goldobin, says he needs to work harder

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Nikolay Goldobin got off to a nice start with his new club, scoring the winning goal against the Los Angeles Kings back on March 4.

But the 21-year-old winger didn’t register a point in his next seven games for the Vancouver Canucks, and he only managed six shots combined.

So on Sunday, Goldobin was a healthy scratch against his old team, the San Jose Sharks.

“I think he needs to prove that he’s gonna go hard at this level,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “It’s not like I don’t play young guys. If guys come in and they’re going and playing hard, then they play. … We’ve just gotta get him more engaged.”

Desjardins has, indeed, been playing some of Vancouver’s new, young guys. Brock Boeser, the best example, has averaged 16:42 in five games while skating on a line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. The 20-year-old winger has also scored twice, with 14 shots combined.

To be sure, there’s no denying Goldobin’s talent. It’s why he was 27th overall pick in 2014.

“He’s a skilled player,” said Desjardins.

But?

“You gotta get your skill working hard.”

Goal-starved Blue Jackets recall Milano

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The struggling Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled the leading scorer on their AHL team.

Sonny Milano is on his way to the big club. The 20-year-old winger, the 16th overall pick in the 2014 draft, has 16 goals and 27 assists in 59 games for Cleveland this season.

The Jackets are 2-3-2 in their last seven games, with just 11 goals combined. On Sunday, they dropped a 3-2 decision to Washington, despite racking up 37 shots.

“In the second period, we developed 10 scoring chances,” coach John Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “We had a ton of odd-man rushes. We just couldn’t score.”

Columbus takes on the Penguins tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

Injuries aside, the Sens are ‘still in a pretty good spot’

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The Ottawa Senators may have serious injury problems, and after four straight losses, they may have fallen into the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

But according to their general manager, there’s no need to lose faith now.

“Overall, we’re still in a pretty good spot,” Pierre Dorion said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “We were going to hit a bump at some point in time in the year and unfortunately this bump has come when we’ve seen injuries — we’ve lost our top three defensemen.”

Indeed, the Sens are currently dealing with injuries to Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, and now, Cody Ceci, who left Saturday’s loss in Winnipeg with a lower-body injury and is expected to be out “a while,” per Dorion.

But the Sens also have a three-point lead on Tampa Bay, with five games remaining to the Lightning’s four. According to Sports Club Stats, even if the Sens went 0-3-2, there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll make the playoffs.

“We’re happy where we are,” said winger Mark Stone. “We’re happy with where we’re at in the standings and obviously we want to have a little bit more separation in the standings but we’re comfortable in these tight games, these close games and most of us have played in pressure games.”

The Sens are in Detroit to take on the Red Wings tonight. Karlsson is not expected to play, but could return soon.