Dallas Stars

Nichushkin expected to return to Stars’ lineup tonight vs. St. Louis

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Valeri Nichushkin, who was recalled from his conditioning assignment on Thursday, is expected to return to the Stars’ lineup tonight when Dallas plays host to the St. Louis Blues.

Nichushkin has missed nearly five months after undergoing hip surgery in November.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff would not confirm Nichushkin’s return to the lineup, but Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News reports that it’s a safe bet the 20-year-old will appear in his first game since Nov. 6.

“He’s real excited to be back playing, to be back here and have the opportunity to play,” Ruff said.

Nichushkin had 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games during his rookie campaign last season while playing alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

He played in just four games registering a minus-3 rating this season prior to the surgery.

Ruff admits the club has missed the presence of the 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward.

“We’ve missed his size,” Ruff said. “For the most part, Seguin, Benn and Val were a good line. He was a guy who could hang onto the puck down low, physically dominate some teams, and even come off the wall in the offensive zone and make plays. And I really felt by the end of [last] year he was one of our best defenders coming back defending.”

Tonight concludes the five-game season series between the two clubs. Each team has won twice.

Stars recall Nichushkin for last-gasp playoff push

Dallas isn’t going down without a fight.

The Stars, six points out of playoffs with five games left, have recalled Valeri Nichushkin from his conditioning stint with AHL Texas.

Nichushkin, 20, has missed almost the entire regular season with a hip injury and subsequent surgery, appearing in just four games. It was a fairly significant loss for the Stars; in his rookie campaign, Nichushkin appeared in 79 contests and performed well, scoring 14 goals and 34 points while averaging just under 15 minutes per game.

The big Russian also played in all six of Dallas’ opening-round postseason games against Anaheim, scoring a goal and two points.

Should he shine in his return, Dallas will probably be thinking of what could’ve been.

After a slow start, the Stars have been one of the NHL’s top teams since Dec. 13 and made a strong playoff push in March, going 10-5-0. But for all the good they did, they also ended the month with a thud, losing 4-0 in Edmonton on Mar. 27 and 5-3 at home to Calgary on Mar. 30.

Dallas’ next game comes on Thursday, when it hosts the Blues.

Johnny Hockey named NHL’s rookie of the month for March

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The NHL’s rookie scoring leader is also its rookie of the month.

On Wednesday, the league announced that Calgary freshman Johnny Gaudreau took home the honors for March after putting up 16 points in 15 games, keeping the Flames afloat in the Western Conference playoff chase.

More:

Gaudreau edged Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone (4-11—15 in 16 GP), Boston Bruins teammates Ryan Spooner (7-7—14 in 15 GP) and David Pastrnak (3-10—13 in 15 GP), Carolina Hurricanes center Victor Rask (3-8—11 in 15 GP), and Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (6-2-0, 2.50 GAA, .918 SV%) for the honor.

Gaudreau, a fourth-round selection (104th overall) by the Flames in the 2011 NHL Draft, recorded at least one point in 10 of his 15 March appearances, highlighted by four multi-point efforts. Those included his fourth career multi-goal game in a 6-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks March 11 (2-0—2) and his fourth career game-winning goal in a 5-3 triumph over the Dallas Stars March 30 (1-1—2).

Gaudreau joins Tanner Pearson (October), Filip Forsberg (November), John Klingberg (January) and Anders Lee (February) as this season’s rookie of the month winners. He also looks to be a lock as one of this year’s three Calder Trophy finalists, along with Forbsberg and Aaron Ekblad.

PHT Morning Skate: Nemeth gets puck lodged in visor

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Dallas Stars defenseman Patrik Nemeth ended up with the puck lodged between his face and visor during Monday’s contest against Calgary. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt as a result of the fluky play:

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The argument against Alex Ovechkin as a Hart Trophy candidate. (News & Observer)

Devils GM and interim coach Lou Lamoriello felt Stefan Matteau “had an outstanding game” on Sunday. (The Bergen Record)

Chicago goaltender Scott Darling allowed a pretty ugly goal during last night’s contest against Los Angeles, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was pleased with how he responded. (CSN Chicago)

Speaking of which, here are the highlights from Chicago’s 4-1 win over Los Angeles:

Connor McDavid is already getting some unusual fan requests. (Sarnia Observer)

The Columbus Blue Jackets won’t make the playoffs, but they have still managed to break some franchise records. (Columbus Dispatch)

Video: Stars’ Ritchie with high hit on Flames’ Monahan

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The Calgary Flames’ breakout line of Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan keep scoring and scoring this season. You never know when an ill-fated hit could mess that up, though.

Monday produced a scare in the form of this highly questionable hit by rugged Dallas Stars forward Brett Ritchie, which only produced a two-minute minor:

Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski labels the hit as “predatory.” Is that accurate?

On the bright side, it seems like Monahan is OK.