National Hockey League
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      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                              Tuesday, December 23
                              (All times Eastern)
 ( - The Boston Bruins will try to head into the NHL's
 Christmas break with consecutive victories on Tuesday when they host the
 Nashville Predators at TD Garden.
 The Bruins have won two of three and are coming off Sunday's overtime victory
 against visiting Buffalo. However, Boston hasn't earned two straight wins
 since a three-game run from Nov. 15-21.
 The Predators, meanwhile, picked up a third straight victory on Monday night,
 notching a 5-1 victory in Columbus. Nashville, which also has won five of six,
 enters Tuesday just two points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for first place
 in the Central Division. Chicago is also in action tonight, as it hosts the
 Winnipeg Jets.
 Tonight's combatants met in Nashville last Tuesday and the Predators recorded
 a 3-2 shootout win over the Bruins to halt a three-game slide in the series.
 The B's have dominated the Preds in Boston, going 6-2-0 with a tie in nine
 all-time encounters at TD Garden.
 Nashville has lost four straight in Beantown and last picked up a road win
 against the Bruins on Nov. 28, 2003.
 Boston pushed its home record this season to 10-6-2 with Sunday's 4-3 win over
 the Sabres. Loui Eriksson scored the game-winning goal at 2:14 of OT to grab
 the extra point for the Bruins.
 Eriksson took a touch pass from Milan Lucic through the neutral zone and
 fought off a defender before firing a shot through the pads of Jhonas Enroth
 for the win.
 It was Eriksson's seventh goal of the season and his fourth of the last seven
 games. The Swedish winger also provided the OT winner in last Wednesday's
 victory in Minnesota.
 "It's always fun to score those important goals," Eriksson said. "I don't know
 why it's been that way, but hopefully it continues like that."
 Dougie Hamilton finished with two goals and an assist, Chris Kelly also scored
 and Zdeno Chara added two helpers for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in
 the win.
 Boston, which won't play again until Saturday's game in Columbus, expects to
 go back to Rask tonight. The Bruins No. 1 netminder is 1-0-2 with a 2.55 goals
 against average in three career games against Nashville.
 Nashville has a chance to complete a three-game road trip with a perfect
 record tonight after posting recent wins in Minnesota and Columbus. Monday's
 lopsided win over the Blue Jackets improved Nashville's road record to 10-6-1.
 Pekka Rinne made 30 stops and Nashville broke open the game with three goals
 in a span of 2:14 early in the third period to down Columbus at Nationwide
 Craig Smith scored twice, while Mike Fisher, Colin Wilson and Seth Jones once
 each for the Predators.
 "It was a good effort by us," Rinne said. "That's the way we've been playing
 this year. Nothing changed tonight. We played a solid game, and at the end it
 was nice to have that cushion."
 The game was scoreless after one period and the Preds grabbed a 2-0 lead on
 second-period goals by Wilson and Smith. The three-goal burst in the third
 period pushed the cushion to five goals.
 With the Predators off until Saturday's home game against Philadelphia, Rinne
 could get the start on back-to-back nights. He is 3-0-1 with a 2.32 GAA in
 four career games against the Bruins.
 ( - A pair of struggling Metropolitan Division clubs will
 try to record a win before the Christmas break, as the New Jersey Devils host
 the Carolina Hurricanes in Tuesday's clash at Prudential Center.
 Carolina and the Devils enter this tilt as the bottom two teams in the
 division and they have combined for only a total of five victories in
 New Jersey has owned the Hurricanes in recent matchups, winning four straight
 and five of the last six encounters, including a 2-1 win in Raleigh on Dec. 8.
 The Devils have claimed seven of the past nine meetings in the Garden State.
 The Hurricanes, who are in the Eastern Conference cellar with 22 points, have
 lost eight of their last nine games and were recently swept by the New York
 Rangers in a home-and-home series.
 Carolina earned a point in the home portion when it dropped a shootout
 decision against the Rangers on Saturday, but the 'Canes then lost 1-0 in
 regulation the following night in New York City.
 The Hurricanes fired only 18 shots at Cam Talbot on Sunday and Rangers
 defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored the game's only goal just 4:10 into the first
 Anton Khudobin played well for Carolina in the loss, making 30 saves. He is
 0-8-2 this season and hasn't won since April 13.
 "We struggle to score, period. When you get a good goaltending performance,
 you'd like to get a point, if not two, out of it," head coach Bill Peters
 said. "Dobby (Khudobin) has done that for us a few times this year, but
 unfortunately we haven't scored enough for him. It's frustrating, for sure."
 Cam Ward expects to be back in net tonight for Carolina. He is 9-14-2 with a
 2.79 goals against average against New Jersey for his career.
 Sunday's loss was the fourth straight road setback for the 'Canes, who have a
 dismal 3-13-2 record as the guest this season. Carolina will complete a three-
 game road trip when it faces Tampa Bay on Saturday.
 The Devils lost for the sixth time in seven games on Saturday when they lost a
 4-0 home decision against Washington. New Jersey is 1-2-0 on a four-game
 homestand and just 4-6-4 as the host on the season.
 Nicklas Backstrom scored a pair of goals and Alex Ovechkin notched a
 highlight-reel tally to help the Capitals cruise to Saturday's win in Newark.
 Cory Schneider was back in the net for the Devils, who were coming off a 3-2
 shootout win over Tampa Bay behind rookie Keith Kinkaid's first NHL win on
 Friday night. Schneider, who has started 31 of 34 games for New Jersey this
 season, finished with 17 saves.
 "We'd all like to be more consistent, from me on out," said Schneider. "I
 think as a group we can all be better every night."
 Schneider is 4-1-0 with a 1.81 GAA in five career games against the
 New Jersey is hoping to get forward Mike Cammalleri back tonight after he sat
 out the last four games with a lower-body injury. Cammalleri, who leads the
 Devils with 11 goals, practiced on Monday and is questionable for tonight.
 Fellow forwards Patrik Elias and Martin Havlat sat out Monday's practice due
 to illness. Both players are being tested for them mumps, a disease that has
 touched many NHL teams this season, including New Jersey.
 ( - The New York Islanders hope to carry their winning
 streak into the Christmas break, as they shoot for a fifth straight victory in
 Tuesday's home battle against the Montreal Canadiens.
 The Islanders, who are sitting second in the Metropolitan Division, have won
 four straight overall and three in a row on home ice. New York can match its
 longest win streak of the season with another victory tonight before getting
 three days of rest for the upcoming holiday.
 After tonight, the Isles won't play again until visiting the Buffalo Sabres on
 New York is coming off Saturday's 3-1 win over visiting Tampa Bay. The victory
 was the Isles' 10th in 11 home games and pushed the club's record at Nassau
 Coliseum this season to 13-3-0.
 The Islanders scored a pair of goals in a 12-second span late in the third
 period to overtake the Lightning. John Tavares whistled a wrister from the
 slot past Andrei Vasilevskiy with 3:09 remaining to tie the game at 1-1.
 Travis Hamonic then put a wrister on net from the right point, which was re-
 directed by Anders Lee into the top left corner to put the Islanders in front.
 "We knew what we were doing with the control of the game," Lee said. "We were
 playing the way we wanted."
 Nikolay Kulemin added an empty-net goal for New York, which outshot Tampa Bay
 48-21. Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for the win.
 The Canadiens, who enter today tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the
 Atlantic Division, won four times on their recent five-game homestand and they
 hope to keep up the pace in Tuesday's road test.
 However, Montreal has done most of its damage this season at home, where it is
 13-4-1 compared to an 8-7-1 mark as the guest. The Canadiens enter tonight
 having lost three straight and five of their last six road tilts.
 After having a three-game win streak snapped on Thursday with a 2-1 loss to
 Anaheim, the Habs rebounded with Saturday's 4-1 triumph against Ottawa.
 Montreal scored four unanswered goals to beat the visiting Senators, who
 grabbed a 1-0 lead early in the first on a short-handed tally.
 Brandon Prust and Brendan Gallagher scored in the first and second periods,
 respectively, and Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk scored third-period
 markers to put the game away.
 "We may hit a few bumps along the way, but we're working hard and we try to go
 out there and have fun," Galchenyuk said of his line.
 Carey Price settled in to make 24 saves after allowing a goal to Erik Condra
 just 2:50 into the game.
 Tonight's test marks the start of a five-game road trip for the Habs, who will
 continue the swing Monday at Carolina.
 The Habs and Isles are meeting for the first of three scheduled encounters in
 2014-15. Montreal took two of three from New York last season, but the Isles
 are 4-2-1 in the last seven encounters.
 The Canadiens have won two straight and three of their last four at Nassau
 ( - The New York Rangers will try to extend their longest
 winning streak of the season to seven games when they host the surging
 Washington Capitals in Tuesday's tilt at Madison Square Garden.
 New York has won six in a row to post the club's longest win streak since a
 seven-game tear from Oct. 31-Nov. 15, 2011. The defending Eastern Conference
 champions posted their two most recent victories in a home-and-home sweep of
 the Carolina Hurricanes.
 The Rangers won a 3-2 shootout decision over Carolina on Saturday, completing
 a perfect four-game road trip with the victory at PNC Arena. New York then
 beat the Hurricanes 1-0 in regulation Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
 Cam Talbot earned the shutout with 18 saves in the home portion. The win came
 two days after Talbot signed an extension with the Rangers, and Henrik
 Lundqvist's backup is now 3-3-1 on the season with all three of his victories
 coming via shutouts.
 "It was a lot of fun, not a whole lot of work, so it's always a good thing,"
 Talbot said. "The guys played really well in front of me and they didn't give
 them a whole lot of quality opportunities which is always nice when you
 haven't played a game in a few weeks."
 Ryan McDonagh scored in the first period to give Talbot all the support he
 needed. New York's captain notched his second goal of the season just 4:10
 into the contest.
 Sunday's win pushed New York's record within the Metropolitan Division over
 the last 10 games to 9-0-1 and the Blueshirts will try to earn their 10th
 divisional win of the season tonight. The Rangers are two points behind the
 Capitals for the division's third automatic playoff berth.
 New York is 4-2-1 in its last seven meetings with the Capitals overall. The
 Blueshirts also own a 4-2-1 mark in the past seven encounters at MSG.
 Lundqvist is expected to start tonight for the Rangers. He is 16-8-3 with a
 2.55 goals against average in 27 career outings against Washington.
 Washington enters tonight's Metro showdown riding a three-game winning streak.
 The Capitals played Monday night against visiting Ottawa and posted a 2-1
 decision over the Senators. The victory also added to Washington's point
 streak, which is now at nine games (7-0-2).
 Braden Holtby's outstanding performance between the pipes kept the Capitals on
 a roll in the win over the Sens. Holtby recorded 38 saves in a game in which
 the Capitals were outshot by 39-23 count, with Nicklas Backstrom accounting
 for the deciding goal on a power play late in the second period.
 "Holts bailed us out and gave us the chance to win," said Capitals forward Jay
 Beagle, who scored Washington's other goal.
 Mike Green assisted on both of the Capitals' markers.
 Justin Peters could save Holtby from playing on back-to-back nights tonight.
 The backup goalie is 0-1-0 with a 3.82 GAA in two career games -- one start --
 against the Rangers. Holtby is 2-3-1 with a 1.89 GAA in his career versus New
 Washington is beginning a three-game road trip tonight and will continue the
 swing after the Christmas break with Saturday's away game versus Pittsburgh.
 The Caps are 5-0-1 in their last six road tests and boast a 10-5-2 record away
 from D.C. this season.
 The Rangers are 10-5-3 as the host and will complete a three-game homestand
 when it welcomes the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
 ( - The Philadelphia Flyers hope to enter the Christmas
 break on a positive note when they aim for a third straight win in Tuesday's
 road battle against the Minnesota Wild.
 The Flyers have gained a point in eight of their last nine games, posting a
 5-1-3 record during that stretch. Philadelphia also has kicked off a season-
 long eight-game road trip with two straight wins despite entering the swing
 with a 3-9-3 away record. The Flyers haven't won three in a row since Nov.
 Philadelphia ambushed the Toronto Maple Leafs to begin the trek on Saturday,
 posting a 7-4 win at Air Canada Centre. The Flyers were able to save some
 offense for Sunday's game in Winnipeg, as they rallied for a 4-3 overtime
 victory against the Jets.
 The Flyers trailed 3-1 heading into the third period on Sunday, but finished
 the contest with three unanswered goals. Vincent Lecavalier notched two goals
 in the third period, tying the contest at 3-3 with 3:14 left in regulation
 before Jakub Voracek won the game just 10 seconds into overtime.
 Just seconds after the opening faceoff of OT, Claude Giroux pressured Dustin
 Byfuglien on the forecheck and Voracek was there to take the loose puck and
 emerge from behind the net to beat Ondrej Pavelec with a quick wrister.
 It was the second goal of the night for Voracek, who is leading the NHL
 with 44 points on 14 goals and 30 assists. The 25-year-old Czech has three
 goals and four assists over the last three games and on Monday was named the
 NHL's Second Star for the week ending Dec. 21.
 The Flyers' comeback made a winner of Rob Zepp, who at 33 years of age became
 the oldest NHL netminder to win his first career start since 41-year-old Hugh
 Lehman in 1926. Zepp stopped 25-of-28 shots in his NHL debut.
 "I thought in the third we really dug in and started to compete," Flyers head
 coach Craig Berube said. "I thought (Zepp) really handled himself well."
 With No. 1 netminder Steve Mason out with a back injury, either Ray Emery or
 Zepp could start tonight for the Flyers. Emery is 4-2-1 with a 2.39 goals
 against average in seven career games against the Wild.
 While the Flyers hope to match their longest winning streak of the season
 tonight, Minnesota is aiming to avoid equaling its longest skid of 2014-15.
 The Wild lost four straight in regulation from Nov. 4-11, but they have earned
 points twice on their current 0-1-2 slide.
 Mike Yeo's club has dropped two straight in overtime and the Wild had to rally
 for Saturday's 6-5 home loss against Nashville.
 Minnesota trailed 5-3 after Roman Josi scored on the man advantage for
 Nashville at 9:05 of the third period, but Zach Parise answered just 1:41
 later with a power-play tally of his own. The score stayed at 5-4 until Thomas
 Vanek tallied with the goalie pulled in favor of the extra attacker with 47.8
 seconds left.
 However, Mattias Ekholm scored the game-winning goal for Nashville at 1:45 of
 OT, beating Niklas Backstrom with a wrister from the right circle.
 The point gained was little consolation for Yeo, who was disappointed in his
 club's defensive effort.
 "It's clearly not good enough," Yeo said. "You score five goals it should be
 Parise finished with two goals and an assist for the Wild, who were outshot
 44-27 in the game. Vanek and Marco Scandella each tallied a goal and a helper
 and Jason Zucker also scored for the Wild.
 Backstrom gave up three goals on 30 shots in relief of Darcy Kuemper, who
 stopped 11-of-14 shots during the first period.
 Minnesota fell to 9-3-3 as the home team on Saturday and is playing the third
 part of a four-game homestand tonight. The Wild will complete the residency
 Saturday when it opens a home-and-home set against Winnipeg.
 The Wild earned a 3-2 regulation win in Philadelphia on Nov. 20 and Tuesday's
 test will complete the season series. Minnesota has taken two of three from
 the Flyers overall and owns a 3-2-0 mark with a tie in the six all-time
 encounters in St. Paul.
 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (19-12-3) AT DALLAS STARS (14-13-5), 7 P.M.
 ( - The suddenly-sliding Toronto Maple Leafs will try to
 enter the Christmas break on a positive note when they visit the Dallas Stars
 for Tuesday's encounter at American Airlines Center.
 The Maple Leafs are in the midst of a three-game skid that comes directly on
 the heels of a six-game winning streak. Toronto also boasted a 10-1-1 record
 in the 12 games prior to its current 0-3 stretch.
 Toronto has been outscored by a combined 15-5 margin during the losing streak,
 and the Leafs have surrendered 11 goals over the last two outings.
 After getting slammed 7-4 by visiting Philadelphia on Saturday, the Maple
 Leafs began a seven-game road trip the following night in Chicago and were
 handed a 4-0 loss. Antti Raanta stopped 31 shots to pick up the shutout for
 the Blackhawks.
 James Reimer allowed all four goals on 34 shots for the Maple Leafs, who have
 matched their longest skid of the season, tying an 0-3 stretch from Nov.
 14-18. Toronto hasn't dropped four straight since losing the last four games
 of the 2013-14 season in regulation.
 "The record we have in the last three games we have to figure out a way to
 turn it around," Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf said.
 Toronto is just 5-4-3 as the guest this season. The Leafs will try to pick up
 their first win of the current swing tonight before the road trip resumes
 Sunday at Florida.
 The Leafs recorded a 5-3 home win over Dallas on Dec. 2 and are hoping to
 sweep the season series tonight. However, the Stars are 3-0-1 in their last
 four home meetings against Toronto and they posted a 7-1 rout of the Leafs
 when they last visited Big D on Jan. 23 of last season.
 While Toronto aims for a return to the win column on Tuesday, the Stars will
 try to enter the Christmas hiatus with a fifth consecutive victory.
 Dallas stretched its winning streak to a season-high four games thanks to
 Sunday's remarkable comeback victory in Edmonton. The Stars trailed the Oilers
 5-2 in the second period before rallying for a 6-5 shootout win.
 Taylor Hall's goal with 6:43 left put the Oilers ahead by a 5-2 score, but
 Jamie Benn began the comeback for the Stars with a power-play tally in the
 final minute of the second period.
 Tyler Seguin would even the score for Dallas in the third. The NHL's leading
 goal-scorer tallied 52 seconds into the third to cut the deficit to 5-4, then
 tied it up with his 25th goal of the season at the 9:13 mark.
 Shawn Horcoff then scored in the eighth round of the shootout to give the
 Stars the win.
 Seguin, who is two points behind Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek for the scoring
 lead, also posted an assist. Benn also added an assist, while Horcoff and Erik
 Cole notched the other regulation goals.
 "I thought the leaders of the team took the bulls by the horns," Stars coach
 Lindy Ruff said.
 Anders Lindback stopped 9-of-10 shots to get the win in relief of Kari
 Lehtonen, who allowed four goals on 19 shots before getting pulled halfway
 through the second period.
 The Stars are 6-6-5 as the home team this season. Dallas will emerge from the
 NHL's Christmas break on Saturday, when it visits the St. Louis Blues.
 BUFFALO SABRES (13-18-3) AT DETROIT RED WINGS (17-8-9), 7:30 P.M.
 ( - It may just be the right place and the right opponent
 for the Detroit Red Wings to snap their longest losing streak of the season.
 Losers of six straight, the Red Wings look to beat the Buffalo Sabres for the
 sixth time in a row at home as the clubs clash on Tuesday night at Joe Louis
 The Red Wings have gone stone cold on the offensive side of things during an
 0-2-4 rut. They have just six goals in that span and have lost four times in a
 shootout, including Sunday's 2-1 setback to the Colorado Avalanche.
 Pavel Datsyuk got Detroit on the board with a power-play tally in the third
 period, and Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar scored in the shootout to answer
 two Colorado goals in the Avalanche's first two chances in the tiebreaker.
 Detroit's Petr Mrazek and Colorado's Calvin Pickard then matched one another
 save for save until Jarome Iginla's goal to begin the ninth round. Pickard
 then made a right pad save on Brendan Smith to secure the victory.
 That dropped the Red Wings to 1-7 in shootouts this season despite 22 saves
 through overtime from Mrazek.
 "I thought Mrazek gave us a great chance," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock
 said. "Anytime your goalie makes as many saves as he did, you have to find a
 way to score some goals."
 The rookie was starting in place of an injured Jimmy Howard (groin), but was
 unable to prevent the Red Wings from losing six in a row for the first time
 since an 0-4-2 losing streak from Dec. 7-17 of last year.
 Detroit last lost seven in a row earlier that season, going 0-2-5 from Nov.
 The Red Wings hope to salvage the finale of a four-game homestand tonight and
 could opt to give Mrazek his first career appearance versus the Sabres despite
 Howard's injury not believed to be serious. However, he is day-to-day and the
 NHL begins a three-day break on Wednesday, so Howard would get additional
 Also a factor is that Detroit has not lost to Buffalo at home since Oct. 13,
 2006, winning five straight meetings at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings also
 have won 14 of their past 16 at home in this series.
 The Sabres did snap an eight-game slide to the Red Wings with a 3-2 shootout
 win at home on Nov. 2 in the first of four meetings this season.
 Detroit forward Stephen Weiss is also possible for tonight's lineup, having
 not played since Dec. 12 due to a shoulder injury. He practiced without issue
 on Monday.
 Buffalo has followed up a four-game win streak with three straight losses,
 falling 4-3 to Boston in overtime on Sunday. The Bruins got the game-tying
 goal with 1:31 left in regulation, then potted the game-winner 2:14 into
 That denied the short-handed Sabres from getting the extra point as they went
 into the game minus Cody McCormick, Mike Weber, Torrey Mitchell and Tyson
 Strachan and Tyler Myers due to injury as well as Matt Moulson and Patrick
 Kaleta because of illness.
 The Sabres then lost two more forwards during the game as Brian Gionta exited
 late in the first period after taking a high and hard hit from Boston's Matt
 Bartkowski. Gionta appeared to get hit in the head by Bartkowski's shoulder
 and stayed on the ice for a few moments before skating off.
 Marcus Foligno then engaged in a fight with Bartkowski and suffered what is
 believed to be a significant upper-body injury, most likely to his hand.
 "Yeah, I mean going down to three lines early and losing a couple more guys,
 just the way that the game ended you're disappointed, but the effort ... we
 couldn't have asked for more," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "They gave us
 everything they had."
 Tim Schaller scored his first NHL goal, while Andrej Meszaros and Rasmus
 Ristolainen also lit the lamp for the Sabres. Schaller was recalled from the
 American Hockey League prior to the game and scored in his third career game.
 "I used to go to games here growing up. I didn't even know how to celebrate,"
 said the New Hampshire-born Schaller. "I'm excited to get the puck to my
 parents. That'll be special for them."
 Jhonas Enroth stopped 33-of-37 shots in defeat. He also played the previous
 night and got the call again with Michal Neuvirth ill.
 It is unknown if Enroth will start again this game or if Nolan will give
 Neuvirth just his third start of the month.
 Enroth is 0-1-0 with a 1.89 goals against average and .936 save percentage in
 two games (1 start) versus the Red Wings while Neuvirth is 2-1-1 against them
 with a 3.10 GAA and .912 save percentage in four starts.
 ( - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to snap a lengthy
 losing streak to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night when the clubs meet
 for the second time this season.
 The Lightning visited the Penguins last Monday as part of a five-game road
 trip and lost a 4-2 decision despite Pittsburgh playing without captain Sidney
 Crosby due to the mumps.
 But the Pens got goals from four different skaters and Marc-Andre Fleury
 posted 28 saves as Pittsburgh defeated Tampa Bay for the 10th time in a row.
 The Lightning have not beaten the Penguins since Nov. 17, 2011 and have lost
 the past four at home in this series.
 Bolts goaltender Ben Bishop suffered a lower-body injury and exited that game
 versus the Penguins early. He has missed all three games Tampa Bay has played
 since, but is nearing a return.
 Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, though, listed his goaltender as "doubtful to
 questionable" for tonight even tough Bishop wants to play after practicing
 "He's just getting back," Cooper told his team's website. "He, by his own
 account, is not 100 percent, so if that's going to leave a little bit of
 doubt, then we'll see where he's at (Tuesday)."
 Rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy has started twice in the three games Bishop has
 missed and could start again tonight. He made 23 saves on 24 shots faced to
 win his NHL debut last Tuesday versus Philadelphia, then turned aside 45 shots
 in a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
 Vasilevskiy was in position to secure his first career shutout, but instead
 allowed a pair of goals just 12 seconds apart late in the third period, and
 the Islanders tacked on an empty-net goal.
 Brett Connolly had the lone goal for the Lightning, who went 1-3-1 on their
 road trip and have lost six of their past eight overall.
 "We know we haven't played our best on this road trip," Connolly said. "There
 are no excuses."
 Defenseman Jason Garrison suffered an undisclosed injury versus the Islanders
 and is doubtful for tonight.
 The Penguins look to rebound tonight after having a three-game winning streak
 snapped with last night's shootout loss to Florida. The Pens beat a visiting
 Panthers team on Saturday to begin a home-and-home set, but Florida's
 Aleksander Barkov had the deciding tally in a seven-round shootout on Monday.
 After Simon Despres had his chance deflected away by Roberto Luongo to open
 the final round, Barkov faked a move from forehand-to-backhand up the middle
 and casually flipped a shot past Fleury.
 Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling and Evgeni Malkin lit the lamp for the
 Penguins, and Fleury stopped 34 shots.
 "We didn't get a lot of shots through," Crosby said.
 Pittsburgh continues to be short-handed due to injury and illness. Forwards
 Beau Bennett, Pascal Dupuis, Zach Sill and Scott Wilson, and defensemen Robert
 Bortuzzo, Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin and Olli Maatta are all out with
 injury. Forward Blake Comeau, meanwhile, left last night's game in the third
 period due to injury.
 Also, the Penguins sent forwards Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie along with
 backup goaltender Thomas Greiss back to Pittsburgh to be tested for the mumps.
 Pittsburgh recalled goaltender Jeff Zatkoff from the American Hockey League,
 but with the club off until Saturday following this contest due to the
 Christmas break, Fleury could start again tonight.
 Fleury is 16-10-3 lifetime versus Tampa Bay with a 2.38 goals against average
 and .912 save percentage.
 ( - The Arizona Coyotes have won just twice in their last 12
 The good news for the Coyotes is that both have come against the Edmonton
 Oilers, who they are set to visit on Tuesday night in the hopes of breaking
 out of their current slump.
 Arizona has gone 2-8-2 over its last 12 games, with the victories coming on
 Dec. 1 in Edmonton and then last Tuesday at home versus the Oilers. Following
 the most recent win, the Coyotes hit the road for three straight, a span that
 concludes tonight on the heels of losses in Los Angeles and Vancouver.
 The Coyotes were blasted 7-1 by the hosting Canucks last night, with Mike
 Smith lasting just over a period and giving up four goals on 11 shots before
 getting pulled. Devan Dubnyk, who had started each of the previous three
 games, made 26 saves on 29 shots in relief.
 Oliver Ekman-Larsson accounted for the Coyotes' lone goal off assists from Sam
 Gagner and Keith Yandle.
 "It's kind of a microcosm of our team this year," Arizona head coach Dave
 Tippett said of the game.
 Arizona has scored more than two goals only once in its past eight games while
 allowing at least four goal in all but one of those games.
 The Coyotes, though, have won all four meetings with the Oilers this season
 and are 14-0-3 in the last 17 encounters. They also have won five straight in
 The Oilers will try to cap their season series against the Coyotes with a
 victory, one that would snap the club's current seven-game slide.
 Edmonton fell to 1-12-6 over its last 19 games with a 6-5 shootout loss to the
 Dallas Stars on Sunday. The Oilers led 5-2 in the game, but the Stars got a
 goal with 21 seconds to play in the second period and then scored twice in the
 third frame before prevailing in the eight-round shootout.
 "When you're up you have to keep on board checking hard, getting pucks in deep
 and managing the puck, but those things weren't happening," Edmonton interim
 coach Todd Nelson said.
 Taylor Hall and Mark Arcobello scored two goals each, with Hall adding an
 assist while lighting the lamp for the first time in 12 games. Teddy Purcell
 added a goal and two assists.
 Ben Scrivens made 40 saves in the loss.
 ( - The Colorado Avalanche hope that the expected return of
 goaltender Semyon Varlamov can help them win three games in a row for the
 first time this season on Tuesday night when they host the St. Louis Blues.
 Varlamov has not played since Dec. 5 because of a nagging groin injury that
 has limited him to just 15 games this season, but head coach Patrick Roy said
 on Sunday that there is a very good chance his goaltender can return to action
 Varlamov was a solid 41-14-6 in 63 games last season with a 2.41 goals against
 average and .928 save percentage, and has posted a mark of 4-6-5 with a 3.22
 GAA and .909 save percentage this season.
 The Russian netminder is 5-4-2 in his career versus the Blues with a 1.92 GAA,
 .942 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 meetings (10 starts).
 With Varlamov missing so much time, rookie Calvin Pickard has emerged for the
 Avalanche in net, earning a significant chunk of playing time over backup Reto
 Berra. The 22-year-old is 6-5-2 in 13 games this season (10 starts) with a
 2.06 GAA and .939 save percentage and could finally stick with the team even
 when Varlamov is fully healthy.
 "It's not easy (sitting Pickard)," Roy said, "but at the same time let's not
 forget what Varly did for us last year. Varly played so well for us. He was
 the reason we had 112 points and won our division."
 Pickard made 34 saves in Sunday's 2-1 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings
 with another seven stops in the tiebreaker.
 Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene scored on Colorado's first two chances in
 the shootout, but the Red Wings stayed alive with goals from Gustav Nyquist
 and Tomas Tatar in rounds two and three.
 Detroit's Petr Mrazek and Pickard then matched one another save for save until
 Jarome Iginla's goal to begin the ninth round. Pickard then made a right pad
 save on Brendan Smith to secure the victory.
 Erik Johnson scored a power-play goal in the third period for the Avs, who
 went 2-0-1 on their road trip and have won back-to-back games for the first
 time since Nov. 22-25.
 "It was a pretty defensive match for awhile," Pickard said. "It was an
 exciting shootout too, but it's definitely nice to be on the winning end of
 The Blues were on the wrong end of their most recent outing, a 3-2 overtime
 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. The Sharks got the game-tying goal
 with 20.6 seconds left in regulation, then saw defenseman Brent Burns rip home
 the game-winner with 38 ticks to go in overtime.
 Patrik Berglund and Steve Ott each lit the lamp for the Blues, who have
 dropped two in a row on the heels of a five-game winning streak. Alex
 Pietrangelo extended his point streak to seven games, with a goal and six
 assists over the run.
 "We played extremely well, but we didn't get the job done," Ott said. "We made
 some mistakes and those mistakes unfortunately were in the last minute of the
 game and in overtime as well."
 Jake Allen made 27 saves in defeat and is likely to start tonight when the
 Blues try to salvage the finale of a three-game road trip. He won his first
 and only career start versus the Avs on Dec. 13, making 23 saves on 25 shots
 That 3-2 overtime victory in Colorado was St. Louis' third straight in Denver.
 T.J. Oshie netted the winner, while Johnson had two goals in defeat and
 Pickard made 39 saves.
 St. Louis has won the first two of five meetings with Colorado this season --
 both past regulation -- and six of the last seven encounters overall.
 WINNIPEG JETS (17-10-7) AT CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (23-9-2), 8:30 P.M.
 ( - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to record a point for
 the 13th time in their last 14 games on Tuesday night when they take on the
 visiting Winnipeg Jets.
 Chicago won for the third time in its past four games on Sunday despite
 hitting the ice with heavy hearts. Having returned from a shootout loss in
 Columbus the previous night, the Blackhawks learned that 34-year-old assistant
 equipment manager Clint Reif had passed away sometime Sunday morning.
 The 'Hawks held a moment of silence for Reif prior to the game and then
 managed a 4-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
 Antti Raanta made 31 saves for his third career shutout, while Patrick Kane
 had a goal and two assists. David Rundblad, Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg
 lit the lamp as well, improving the Blackhawks to 11-1-1 in their past 13
 "It's really tough to describe, something that still hasn't really sunk in for
 most of us, but we were definitely playing with heavy hearts out there," said
 Added Patrick Sharp, who had three assists, "Normally when the game starts,
 you can kind of turn off whatever issues you have going on in your personal
 life, but tonight, I don't think anybody was able to do that. It was very
 quiet on the bench, very quiet in the locker room and we wanted to make sure
 we had a good game for Clint and his family."
 The Blackhawks are likely to start Corey Crawford for the second time since he
 returned from an eight-game absence caused by a lower-body injury. He made 17
 saves on 19 shots in the loss to the Blue Jackets, his first action since Nov.
 29, and is 3-2-0 in his career versus the Jets with a 1.61 goals against
 average and .936 save percentage.
 Center Brad Richards is questionable after missing Sunday's game with an
 upper-body injury.
 The Jets come to the United Center off the heels of a 2-1-1 homestand, capping
 the residency with a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia
 Flyers. Winnipeg led 3-1 at one point, but the Flyers scored twice in the
 third frame and then netted the winning goal 10 seconds into overtime.
 Dustin Byfuglien was one of three goal-scorers for the Jets, but he also lost
 the puck behind his own net early in OT that led to Philadelphia's goal.
 Matt Halischuk ended a 27-game span without a goal and Mathieu Perreault also
 lit the lamp to give him three goals and four assists over a seven-game point
 Ondrej Pavelec made 19 saves in the loss, one that dropped the Jets to 7-1-4
 in their last 12.
 "We stopped making simple plays. It's not that we couldn't make simple plays,
 we stopped trying to make simple plays and opted for a safe option," Jets
 coach Paul Maurice said.
 Maurice may continue his goaltender rotation tonight and give Michael
 Hutchinson the start. He has won three of his past four games and is 7-2-2 on
 the season with a 1.73 GAA and .940 save percentage in 12 games (10 starts).
 That includes a 33-save shutout in his only career start versus the
 Blackhawks, which came on Nov. 2 in Chicago.
 The Jets have won two straight over the 'Hawks, both in Chicago, and
 November's victory came in the first of five meetings this season.
 12/23 14:01:21 ET