Video: Lehtera, Blues edge Panthers in shootout

Jori Lehtera had the shootout winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the Florida Panthers 2-1 Sunday night.

With the win the Blues have won three straight and 15 of their last 18. St. Louis is now four points back of the Nashville Predators for top spot in the Western Conference.

Jaden Schwartz’s 20th of the season was the lone Blues’ regulation goal while Brian Elliott made 40 saves in the win.

With Roberto Luongo pulled, Nick Bjugstad tied the game 1-1 at 18:47 of the third period to force overtime. With his assist on the goal, defenseman Aaron Ekblad made a little history.

The Panthers have now gone three straight without a win. However, the single point moves Florida to within three points of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Luongo made 32 saves in the loss.

Predators waive Stalberg (again)

Big moves like David Clarkson’s terrible contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs get a lot of attention, yet there are often under-the-radar signings that are pretty lousy in their own right.

Many were excited when the Nashville Predators added Viktor Stalberg to the mix, but he just hasn’t worked out. He was placed on waivers for the second time in 2015 on Sunday, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

The Predators also reassigned Anthony Bitetto on a busy day for the organization.

In other waiver news, the New York Islanders moved bruising defenseman Matt Carkner from IR to waivers.

The last bit of minor news is that the Dallas Stars sent Travis Morin to the AHL on Sunday, the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika reports.

Loading up: Predators acquire Franson, Santorelli from Leafs

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The Nashville Predators opened up a healthy lead ahead of the rest of the NHL on Saturday and then threw down the gauntlet on Sunday.

In a big trade, the Predators acquired Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic and Nashville’s 2015 first-round draft pick.

One interesting twist to this move is that both Franson and Santorelli will already have some familiarity with their situation, as they both played for the Predators before.

The Predators selected Franson, 27, with the 79th pick of the 2005 NHL Draft. He showed promise in his first two seasons with Nashville before being traded to Toronto in a package that also highlighted Matthew Lombardi.

(Let’s just say the Maple Leafs came out on top in that one.)

In a shallow free agent market, Franson is one of the most desirable defensive targets. Toronto couldn’t come to terms with him, and it remains to be seen if Nashville can (or even aims to). In the interim, the Predators’ already-loaded defense adds another dangerous scoring threat.

The Predators selected Santorelli, 29, with a sixth-round pick (178th overall) in 2004. He’s bounced around the league a bit, yet his efforts stood out on a troubled Toronto team.

From Toronto’s perspective, the best parts of the trade are focused on the future. More specifically, the Predators’ first-round pick is likely the gem of this deal, even if it’s probably going to be a late selection.

Brendan Leipsic was the 89th pick of the 2012 Draft. The 20-year-old’s the other main takeway for Toronto, as he’s shown some potential with 35 points in 47 AHL games and some big WHL numbers.

Jokinen provides some veteran experience, yet he was often lost in the Nashville mix. Apparently joining the Buds hasn’t improved his mood.

To little surprise, it sounds like the Maple Leafs still have some work to do, as multiple reporters point to Daniel Winnik as another target for contenders.

It’s easy to see where both teams are coming from here, with the Leafs continuing to build for 2015-16 (and beyond) while the Predators hope for the deepest run in franchise history.

Goalie Nods: Howard returns for Detroit

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Howard returns from groin injury

Jimmy Howard will make his first start since Jan. 10 tonight when the Detroit Red Wings play host to the Winnipeg Jets. Howard missed 10 games with a groin injury. He made four saves in relief of Petr Mrazec on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Howard is 16-7-7 with a 2.09 G.A.A. and a .920 save percentage this season.

Michael Hutchinson is expected to start for the Jets.

Elsewhere…

Maple Leafs at Canadiens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Carey Price

Blue Jackets at Islanders: Anton Forsberg vs. Jaroslav Halak

Rangers at Coyotes: Cam Talbot vs. Mike Smith

Hurricanes at Wild: Anton Khudobin vs. Devan Dubnyk

Devils at Predators: Cory Schneider vs. Pekka Rinne

Stars at Avalanche: Jhonas Enroth vs. Semyon Varlamov

Canucks at Flames: Ryan Miller vs. Karri Ramo

Capitals at Kings: Braden Holtby vs. Jonathan Quick

Stars place Seguin and Eaves on IR

The Dallas Stars have placed forwards Tyler Seguin (lower body) and Patrick Eaves on injured reserve the club announced Saturday.

Both suffered injuries in the third period of Friday night’s 2-0 win over the Florida Panthers.

In a corresponding move the club recalled Brett Ritchie and Travis Morin from the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars.

Panthers’ defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was assessed a major penalty for clipping and a game misconduct for his hit on Seguin late in the third period.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the league is reviewing the Kulikov hit.

“It’s a dirty shot. It’s just something that ends up taking your best player out of the game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff postgame. “Not only out of the game, it is taking him out of the lineup for a little while for us.

“(We will) just let the league deal with it. I used to yell and scream about it but that doesn’t do any good. It’s just a shot that didn’t need to happen.”

Moments later Eaves took a puck to the head and left the game.

“(Patrick) Eaves is on his way to the hospital to get x-rays,” said Ruff. “He took a pretty hard shot to the head. He’s had a previous injury there so we’re fairly concerned.”

Eaves suffered a concussion and a broken jaw after being hit by a Roman Josi slap shot in November 2011.

The Stars will also be without Ales Hemsky tonight when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.

Hemsky (lower body) played just three shifts in the first period Friday night.

“Hemsky is going to stay back (in Dallas) too,” said Ruff. “He’s going to miss some time so it’s been a tough night on the injury front.”

Colorado has won all three meetings between the two clubs this season including a 3-2 shootout victory 11 days ago.