Ryan Dadoun

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Struggling Sharks get Paul Martin back tonight

The San Jose Sharks haven’t been able to contain their opponents without defenseman Paul Martin. Fortunately for them, he’s coming back.

Following a three-game absence due to a lower-body injury, Martin is set to retake his spot alongside Brent Burns tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“He really stabilized our defense early in the season when he was in there,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the team’s website. “Not that we don’t have the people to get the job done when he’s not in there, but it’s nice having a veteran presence there. He just calms things down.”

While it seems extreme to attribute San Jose’s early success primarily to Martin or dismiss their recent struggles as a result of his absence, the difference between those two stretches are stark. San Jose is 4-0-0 while allowing just two goals with Martin in the lineup and it’s 0-3-0 while surrendering 14 goals without him.

Martin is playing in his first season with the Sharks after inking a four-year, $19.4 million deal.

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    Couturier not available Saturday following Rinaldo hit

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    Sean Couturier‘s upper-body injury will keep him out of tonight’s game against the New York Rangers, per CSN Philly.

    It will be the first game he has missed after former teammate and current Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo‘s controversial hit on Wednesday. Rinaldo received a five-minute charging major and game misconduct for his actions, but the league felt it wasn’t worthy of supplemental discipline.

    In Couturier, the Flyers will be missing a great defensive center. Sam Gagner will shift to his natural position of center for the first time this season as a result of Couturier’s absence.

    As previously reported, Philadelphia has also called up Jason LaBarbera to serve as Steve Mason‘s backup tonight as goalie Michal Neuvirth also sustained an upper-body injury on Wednesday.

    The silver lining for the Flyers was that they beat Boston in overtime for their third victory in four games. The Rangers have some momentum going into this contest too as they’ve won their last two contests.

    Suddenly streaking Kings pass ‘big test’

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    The Los Angeles Kings’ early season woes began with a 5-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks, so it seems appropriate that they climbed back to .500 with a decisive victory against their California rivals last night.

    “I think it was big for us to come in and prove ourselves, I guess,” Kings forward Jeff Carter said, per LA Kings Insider. “I don’t know if that’s the right word, but we pretty much had to. They pretty much ran over us in Game 1 and this was a big game for us. It was a big test to come in here.”

    The Kings opened the season with a three-game losing streak and has followed it up with three straight victories. However, even in the context of their improved results as of late, this game was an encouraging sign.

    It was the first time that their offense really showed much life as Los Angeles had just six goals over its first five games. Before Thursday night, half of their markers had been scored by Tyler Toffoli, but key forwards Jeff Carter and Milan Lucic‘s goal scoring droughts are now behind them.

    Jhonas Enroth also can hold his head high after making a strong Los Angeles Kings debut. While Jonathan Quick remains the Kings’ undisputed starter, having a backup netminder that the team can feel comfortable utilizing is important over the course of the campaign.

    Even still, it’s too early to say where the Kings recently showings will fit in the larger scheme of things. Is the worst already behind them? Should these six games be taken as a whole as an indication that the Kings are in for another roller coaster season that features both stretches of dominance and enough struggles sprinkled in to potentially sour the whole campaign.

    We’ll only be able to appreciate the full context in hindsight, but while this was just one early season game, it was an important win.

    Demers will have hearing for elbowing Bonino

    With less than four minutes left in Thursday’s contest, Dallas Stars defenseman Jason Demers elbowed Pittsburgh Penguins forward Nick Bonino in the face and for that Demers might be handed a fine or suspension.

    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that it has a hearing scheduled for today with Demers over the incident. He already received a five-minute elbowing penalty and a game misconduct for his actions.

    If you missed what happened, you can see it below:

    Bonino didn’t return to the game, although obviously the contest was almost over at that point anyways. He was on the ice for the Friday morning skate, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari

    After the contest, Demers said that he didn’t mean to hit Bonino in the head, per NHL.com’s Wes Crosby.

    Demers, 27, hasn’t previously been fined or suspended.

    Unbeaten at home, Preds off to another hot start

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    The Anaheim Ducks went into Thursday’s game sorely needing two points. Unfortunately they were in Nashville.

    Teams that visit the Bridgestone Arena haven’t enjoyed their stay more often than not. With a 5-1 victory over Anaheim last night, the Predators are 4-0-0 at home this season after posting a 28-9-4 record in Nashville in 2014-15.

    So far this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have come to closest to beating Nashville at home as they took three one-goal leads before ultimately falling in a shootout. The Predators other opponents have combined to score just two goals in three games in the Bridgestone Arena.

    Of course, Nashville has been fairly effective on the road too thus far and is tied for first place in the Western Conference with a 6-1-0 record. A lot of that success can be attributed to Pekka Rinne‘s early season dominance and James Neal rebounding from his less than stellar 2014-15 campaign. Meanwhile, Filip Forsberg has avoided a sophomore slump thus far.

    Still, Nashville has to be careful not to get ahead of itself. The Predators were 5-0-2 at this point last season, but they took a step back in the second half of that campaign and ultimately fell to Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. So they have a recent first hand example to look back on when the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” saying is thrown around.

    Nashville will look to extend its perfect home record on Saturday against Pittsburgh.