Ryan Miller

Goalie nods: Pekka back for Preds

All the latest from the blue paint…

Rinne Returns

Pekka Rinne will start in goal for Nashville — for the first time since Jan. 19 — when the Preds host the Ducks tonight at Bridgestone.

Rinne, the NHL’s wins leader (29), had been playing at a Vezina- and Hart-worthy level prior to suffering a sprained knee three weeks ago, posting a .931 save percentage and 1.96 GAA. While Nashville did well in his absence (Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec combined to go 4-2-2), Rinne’s return will be a massive boost, especially against a Ducks team that’s tied on 72 points with the Preds, but trails in the standings because of the regulation wins tiebreaker.

For Anaheim, Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

Blues at Sabres: Jake Allen vs. Jhonas Enroth

Isles at Flyers: Jaroslav Halak vs. Steve Mason

Caps at Sens: Braden Holtby vs. Robin Lehner

Kings at Panthers: Roberto Luongo for Florida, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

Bolts at Stars: Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa Bay, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Wings at Avs: Petr Mrazek for Detroit, no word on a Colorado starter.

‘Canes at Coyotes: Cam Ward vs. Mike Smith

Sharks at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.

From waiver wire to All-Star, Canucks’ Markstrom reviving career in AHL

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It has been an interesting seven months for goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

In July he reportedly asked for a trade out of Vancouver following the signing of Ryan Miller. The Canucks agreed they would explore that option.

Markstrom was placed on waivers and cleared in September eventually joining the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets in October. Canucks’ goaltending consultant Dan Cloutier admitted on Saturday that he wasn’t sure what state of mind the goaltender would be in joining the AHL club.

“I didn’t know what to expect when he first came down. It’s always hard for a guy to come down. A guy that got traded (to Vancouver) last year and it was kind of in the plans, but that’s the game of hockey,” Cloutier told PHT. “New management came in and all of a sudden he’s waking up in Utica. I have to give him a lot of credit. He’s been working extremely hard, he’s been a good teammate and he’s done everything I could’ve asked.

“I’ve been there before so I know what he’s going through. It’s not easy, but he’s definitely been a very positive influence on the guys.

Markstrom registered career numbers through the first half of the AHL season, was named the AHL All-Star Game’s co-MVP and according to reports last week is no longer a piece Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning is looking to deal.

Markstrom is 12-5-2 with a 1.98 G.A.A. and a .930 save percentage in 19 games this season.

“It started good and then it’s like the whole team for a goalie. If the team is doing good, the goalie is doing good too,” Markstrom said of his season. “These guys have been making life easy for me. The All-Star Game was an unreal experience especially being in Utica too the fans were great. It was fun.”

A lot of his success this season has to do with the help he received from Canucks’ goaltending coach, Roland Melanson.

“He was a guy that was a little bit out of control,” said Cloutier. “(Working with Melanson) settled him down and now that I get a chance to work with him, now that he’s got that technical base, I just want to make sure he doesn’t lose his athleticism.

“He was playing, sometimes, a little bit out of the blue. I think for a big guy like him, we wanted him to utilize his size more because he does have athleticism and he does have power.”

Markstrom admitted the adjustment took some getting used to.

“It was weird in the beginning, but right now I don’t even think about it. If you do enough reps in practice, it’s going to feel comfortable,” he said. “Different angles, everything is going to be at a different angle. Obviously you give yourself a chance on every rebound if you’re a little deeper in the net.

“My game right now, I like it and I feel comfortable with it.”

The 25-year-old is scheduled to become a restricted free agent following this season. As of right now, it appears Markstrom’s play has kept him in the Canucks’ future plans.

Wild extend win streak to three games with victory over the Canucks

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The Minnesota Wild stretched their win streak to three games with a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday afternoon.

The Wild have now picked up wins in five of their last seven games.

Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon and Thomas Vanek gave the Wild a 3-0 lead.

Jason Zucker added an empty netter with 55 seconds remaining. Mikael Granlund had two assists in the win.

Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves to improve to 5-1-0 with a .935 save percentage since being acquired by the Wild on Jan. 14.

Canucks rookie Ronalds Kenins scored his first career NHL goal. Daniel Sedin had the other Vancouver goal.

Adam Clendening, who was acquired by Vancouver from Chicago on Thursday, played 19:03 in his Canucks debut.

Ryan Miller made 16 saves in the loss.

Vancouver has now lost four of five on home ice and three of four overall.

Miller sends ex-Buffalo mates to 14th straight loss

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After being shutout in back-to-back home games the Vancouver Canucks exploded for five goals Friday night defeating the lowly Buffalo Sabres 5-2.

With the win, the Canucks avoided losing a third straight game.

Buffalo has now lost 14 straight overall and 14 consecutive road contests.

Bo Horvat, Yannick Weber and Nick Bonino gave Vancouver a 3-1 lead.

Chris Stewart had both Buffalo goals.

Chris Higgins and Radim Vrbata added third period markers.

Ryan Miller made 20 saves for his first career win against Buffalo. He has now beaten all 30 teams.

Matt Hackett, who was making his first NHL appearance since April 12, 2014, stopped 33 shots in the loss.

Buffalo concluded the month of January with an 0-12-0 record. They have not won since a 4-3 shootout victory over the New York Islanders on Dec. 27. The Sabres last regulation win came on Dec. 11 against the Calgary Flames.

The Sabres last win away from home came Nov. 29 in Montreal. Buffalo’s next game is in Montreal on Tuesday.

Goalie nods: Miller faces Sabres for first time

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Miller to face ex-mates

Ryan Miller will take on Buffalo for the first time since last season’s trade to St. Louis when his new team, the Vancouver Canucks, host the Sabres tonight at Rogers Arena.

Miller spent the first 11 seasons of his NHL career with Buffalo, going 284-186-57 with a 2.60 goals-against average and 28 shutouts. He also captured the Vezina award in ’10, becoming the first Sabres netminder to do it since Dominik Hasek.

Now a Canuck, Miller has done well throughout the first half of the year. He’s gone 23-11-1 with a 2.33 GAA and .917 save percentage, and sits second in the league with five shutouts.

No word yet on who’ll start for Buffalo this evening.

Elsewhere…

Pens at Devils: Cory Schneider for New Jersey, Marc-Andre Fleury likely for Pittsburgh.

Blues at ‘Canes: Jake Allen vs. Anton Khudobin

Preds at Avs: Semyon Varlamov for Colorado, no word yet on a Nashville starter.

‘Hawks at Ducks: Corey Crawford for Chicago, Frederik Andersen likely for Anaheim.