Author: Mike Halford

Video: Parise exits after heavy Neal hit, won’t return

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A heavy hit from Preds forward James Neal has forced Minnesota alternate captain Zach Parise from tonight’s tilt at Xcel.

The hit, which occurred less than 90 seconds into the opening period, shook Parise up and momentarily forced him from the contest, though he did return to take five more shifts and finish with 4:59 of ice time.

Neal wasn’t penalized on the play.

Parise didn’t come out to start the second period and, shortly thereafter, the Wild ruled him out for the game. The club is calling it a lower-body injury.

While details on the ailment and severity are scarce, losing Parise for any length of time is a huge blow for Minnesota. The 31-year-old leads the team with seven goals through 11 games this season, and averages 19:43 TOI per night.

Lightning chase Ullmark with three goals on 11 shots

Mark Pysyk, Jakub Voracek, Linus Ullmark
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The Tampa Bay Lightning have been searching for offense over the last couple of weeks.

On Thursday night, they found it.

Quickly.

The Bolts chased Buffalo starter Linus Ullmark after just 20 minutes of action, scoring three times on 11 shots to send Ullmark packing after the first period.

Steve Stamkos got the scoring started at the 5:55 mark, on assists from Valtteri Filppula and Ondrej Palat. Just under six minutes later, Tyler Johnson made is 2-0 with his second goal of the season and, with 100 seconds to go in the period, Nikita Kucherov scored to push the lead to three, and end Ullmark’s night.

Chad Johnson took over for the Sabres to start the second frame.

Head coach Dan Bylsma’s move to yank Ullmark seemed to spark Buffalo, as Jack Eichel cut the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1 just 4:21 into the middle period.

That will probably be of little solace to the Swedish ‘tender, however — Ullmark came into tonight’s game riding a two-game winning streak, only to have it snapped in rather blunt fashion.

Carle, Bolts’ highest-paid d-man, healthy scratched for second time in four games

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Matt Carle, who’s halfway through a six-year, $33 million deal with Tampa Bay, is a healthy scratch tonight as Bolts take the Sabres — making it the second time in four games he’s been banished to the press box.

Carle’s first healthy scratch came on Saturday, when he was dropped from the lineup for a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The 31-year-old drew back in for Tampa’s next two contests, playing over 19 minutes in games against Carolina and Detroit, but was dropped again tonight as head coach Jon Cooper went with a six-man defensive unit of Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterov.

As mentioned above, Carle carries a pretty big price tag — $5.5 million annually, making him the average cap hit among Lightning defensemen. He’s pointless through 13 games this year and has poor possession metrics (including a team-worst Corsi).

That said, Cooper insists the decision isn’t about Carle, but rather rotating in all seven of his defensemen.

“We want a healthy (defense), and it’s not anything against Matt Carle,” Cooper said prior to the Boston game, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s going to happen, guys know it, so it wasn’t blindsiding.”

Pens prospect Pouliot cited for public drunkenness

Derrick Pouliot
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Derrick Pouliot’s in the news, but for all the wrong reasons.

Pouliot, the defenseman Pittsburgh took eighth overall at the 2012 draft, has been cited for public drunkenness stemming from an incident over the weekend, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

More:

Wilkes-Barre City police cited Pouliot early Sunday morning, according to a police report.

Officers responded to a verbal dispute between Pouliot and a taxi driver about an unpaid fare at 1:10 a.m. at Hazle and Gilligan streets and found the 21-year-old defenseman to be intoxicated, police said. Pouliot was taken to the police station and issued a non-traffic citation.

He was released to a sober adult, according to the report.

Pouliot, 21, failed to make the Penguins roster out of training camp this year, despite scoring seven points in 34 games last season. Pens head coach Mike Johnston offered a blunt critique of Pouliot’s play during the exhibition campaign, saying there were plenty of things the youngster needed to work on.

“He’s not a regular NHL player,” Johnston said, per Pensburgh. “He’s a guy who has played games.”

Pouliot has a goal and six points through eight games for Wilkes-Barre this season. He addressed the citation during practice on Thursday.

“I made a mistake. It was a bad decision and I’d just like to apologize to everybody that was involved in the incident,” Pouliot said, per the Citizens’ Voice. “I also apologize to my teammates, the coaching staff, and the Penguins organization for what happened.

“It was a mistake. It was a bad decision. Hopefully, I’ll use it as a learning experience and be able to move on and continue to help this team.”

It’s unclear if Pouliot will face any punishment from the Pittsburgh organization. GM Jim Rutherford told the Post-Gazette “it’s an unfortunate situation, but they’re on top of it [in Wilkes-Barre],” adding that assistant GM Bill Guerin is currently with the AHL club.

Coyotes get assist leader Hanzal back tonight

Phoenix Coyotes v Vancouver Canucks
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The Arizona Coyotes will get a key piece back in the lineup tonight when Martin Hanzal returns from a two-game absence to take on the Avalanche.

Hanzal, who leads the team with 10 assists — putting him top-15 in the league, alongside the likes of Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn — looks as though he’ll reunite with wingers Tobias Rieder and rookie standout Anthony Duclair.

“We had some good chemistry early on with Marty and Rieds,” Duclair said, per the Arizona Republic. “I think we just have to continue on that pace before he got injured, and we’re just happy to have him back.”

Hanzal’s absence from the Arizona lineup was quite noticeable.

In his last game, a 4-3 win over the Leafs, he notched an assist on Max Domi‘s opening tally before scoring one of his own — only to have it waived off for a high stick. That all happened in just 5:36 of ice time, as Hanzal quickly exited with his lower-body ailment.

In the two games since then, the Coyotes got blown out in Boston, 6-0, then returned home and lost to the Canucks, 4-3.

It’ll be interesting to see how profound an effect Hanzal’s return has on Duclair, who’s pointless in his last five games. The two connected early and often in the early parts of the season:

Duke