Mike Halford

Dallas Stars left wing Patrick Sharp greets Chicago Blackhawks fans during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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After six-game absence, Sharp returns for Dallas tonight

Dallas will get a key piece back up front tonight when it takes on Tampa Bay, as Patrick Sharp will play for the first time since Mar. 1.

Sharp, who’s missed the last six games with a lower-body ailment, will draw back in on the club’s fourth line next to Colton Sceviour and Vernon Fiddler, per the Dallas Morning-News.

It’s a bit of an uncommon role for Sharp, who’s played with top-liners Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for long stretches this season, but it’s one he’s being forced into as head coach Lindy Ruff wants to keep his top three units together.

Sharp’s been relatively productive in his first year in Dallas. He sits fourth on the team in goals, with 17, and has 47 points through 65 games.

 

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    Goalie nods: Pens to give Murray seventh career start

    Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal (12) collides with Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    Pittsburgh, in the thick of the Eastern Conference wild card race, will turn to freshman netminder Matt Murray tonight when it hosts Carolina at Consol.

    Murray, 21, is considered one of the best young goaltending prospects in hockey. He’s thrived at the AHL level and was one of three goalies selected to Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, along with Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck and Anaheim’s John Gibson.

    Tonight’s start is Murray’s seventh in the NHL, and first at home since a 3-2 shootout loss to Toronto on Dec. 30. He’s since spent considerable time in AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but comes back into action with pretty solid big-league numbers on the year: 3-2-1 record, 1.82 GAA and .934 save percentage.

    “We believe strongly that Matt gives us a good chance to win,” Pens head coach Mike Sullivan said, per NHL.com. “He’s played extremely well for us when he’s been in there. He’s a good goalie.”

    For the ‘Canes, Eddie Lack‘s in goal.

    Elsewhere…

    Keith Kinkaid continues to carry the Devils’ starting load with Cory Schneider out injured. Kinkaid will face the visiting Minnesota Wild tonight, and the Wild have yet to announce a starter.

    Petr Mrazek is sick, so Jimmy Howard starts against the Blue Jackets. Columbus is going with Sergei Bobrovsky.

    Roberto Luongo versus Jonathan Bernier as the Panthers take on the Leafs in Toronto.

    — After J-F Berube played on Tuesday night, Thomas Greiss is back in goal for the Islanders. No word yet on who’s in net for the host Preds.

    Ben Bishop will go for the Lightning tonight, while it looks like Kari Lehtonen is in for Dallas.

    — It’s Martin Jones versus Mike Smith as the Sharks take on the Coyotes in Arizona.

    Henrik Lundqvist is in for the Rangers tonight in Los Angeles. Jonathan Quick is likely for the Kings.

    Morrow officially retires, leaves ‘indelible mark’ on Stars franchise

    DALLAS, TX - MARCH 10: Brenden Morrow #10 of the Dallas Stars takes the ice for warmups before the start of the first period of a hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks at the American Airlines Center on March 10, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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    One of the longest-serving captains in Dallas history called it a career on Thursday, as Brenden Morrow hung up his skates after 15 seasons.

    “The game of hockey has given me so many opportunities in my life,” Morrow said, in a statement released by the Stars.  “Winning a gold medal for Canada at the Olympic Games and appearing in two Stanley Cup Final series are things that I only dreamed of growing up.  Getting to perform on those stages is still surreal to me.  To all my family, friends, trainers, equipment managers, coaches and teammates, thank you for supporting and pushing me throughout my career.

    “Being able to put on an NHL sweater was something that I never took for granted, and it’s with a full heart that my family and I have decided that it’s time for me to officially retire from the National Hockey League.”

    Morrow spent time with the Lightning, Blues and Penguins during his career, but it was with Dallas where he established himself as a tough, hard-nosed competitor with some good offensive upside. The club’s first-round pick (25th overall) in 1997, Morrow’s best year came during the 2007-08 campaign, when he posted a career-high 74 points, finishing seventh in Selke voting.

    That effort came during the midst of his seven-year run as Dallas’ captain — only Derian Hatcher had a longer stint wearing the “C” since the club moved from Minnesota.

    “Brenden exemplified what a captain should be,” said Dallas Stars President Jim Lites. “He left an indelible mark on this franchise, leading with heart and passion.

    “There wasn’t a night where he didn’t give every ounce of energy he had, and we deeply appreciate all of his contributions to the game.”

    Brown to become 10th Leaf to make NHL debut this season

    Toronto Maple Leafs' Jonathan Bernier, right, stops Connor Brown, left, during NHL hockey training camp at the BMO Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Byron Froese, William Nylander, Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman, Viktor Loov, Garret Sparks, Rinat Valiev, Nikita Soshnikov and now, Connor Brown — those are the 10 Toronto Maple Leafs that’ve made their NHL debuts this season.

    Well, almost.

    Brown, lucky No. 10, has yet to technically make his — but it will happen tonight, as the Leafs take on Florida at the ACC. The 22-year-old’s debut is well deserved, as Brown, a sixth-round pick in 2012, made the AHL All-Star Game last season (his first year of professional hockey) and came back from a broken ankle this year to rack up 24 points in 28 games for the Marlies.

    “He was our best kid in training camp for sure, could’ve made our team,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said, per the Globe and Mail. “He’s going to be a good NHL player for a long period of time.”

    Brown’s debut comes at the expense of Leo Komarov, who’s banged up and will sit tonight. Brown is expected to skate on a line with Milan Michalek and Ben Smith.

    Related: Leafs recall another — this time, defenseman Valiev

    VandeVelde to have hearing after illegal check to Toews’ head

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    Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde will face a disciplinary hearing for his high hit on Chicago captain Jonathan Toews from Wednesday night, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has announced.

    VandeVelde was given a two-minute elbowing minor for the above infraction, which occurred late in the first period.

    Toews briefly left the bench but returned to finish the contest, with just over 19 minutes of ice time.

    VandeVelde, 29, has no history of disciplinary issues with the league.