National Hockey League

 
      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                                Sunday, March 29
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 
 WASHINGTON CAPITALS (40-25-10) AT NEW YORK RANGERS (47-20-7), 3 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The return of Henrik Lundqvist to the New York Rangers'
 lineup didn't get off to the best of starts, but the playoff-bound club still
 has a sizeable lead atop the Metropolitan Division.
 
 The Rangers get a chance to rebound on Sunday afternoon with Cam Talbot in net
 as they look to deal the Washington Capitals a setback at Madison Square
 Garden.
 
 Lundqvist had missed New York's previous 25 games due to a vascular injury
 suffered when he was struck in the throat by a puck on Feb. 2. The former
 Vezina Trophy winner finally returned to action on Saturday afternoon, but
 yielded three first-period goals in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.
 
 Lundqvist ended with 26 saves as New York had a six-game road winning streak
 halted.
 
 "Obviously not the start I was looking for, or the team, this game," Lundqvist
 said. "The first period was just tough, timing-wise, and I felt better as the
 game went on."
 
 Rick Nash scored to hit the 40-goal mark for the third time in his career, and
 first since 2008-09 with Columbus, and is tied for second in the NHL in goals
 scored. He trails only Washington's Alex Ovechkin and his 47 markers.
 
 New York is eight points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York
 Islanders for first place in the division with 101 points, one back of the
 Montreal Canadiens for the most in the Eastern Conference.
 
 Talbot, meanwhile, figured to be in line to start today despite Lundqvist's
 performance versus the Bruins and has split two prior starts with the
 Capitals, posting a 2.03 goals against average and .937 save percentage.
 
 Washington also is in action for a second straight afternoon, having lost a
 4-3 decision to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. The Capitals had won four
 of five coming in, but sit three points behind the Pens and Isles in the
 division.
 
 The Caps still hold the first wild card spot in the East, three points ahead
 of the Bruins and just four up on the Ottawa Senators in the standings.
 
 Braden Holtby made his 65th start of the season on Saturday, but was pulled
 late in the first period after yielding three goals on 13 shots faced. Justin
 Peters made 13 saves in relief.
 
 Troy Brouwer scored two goals for the Capitals, Mike Green also lit the lamp
 and Marcus Johansson had two assists.
 
 "Everybody knows we have a group of guys who never give up, and it doesn't
 matter what the score is, we're still going to fight," said Ovechkin.
 
 Holtby may get a chance to rebound today given his limited action on Saturday
 and is 2-5-1 versus the Rangers with a 2.29 GAA and .929 save percentage in
 nine games (8 starts).
 
 The Rangers have won three in a row in this series and are 5-2-1 in the past
 eight meetings at home.
 
 
 CALGARY FLAMES (40-28-7) AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS (47-21-8), 5 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The playoff-hopeful Calgary Flames hope to avoid a third
 straight loss on Sunday evening as they wrap their season series with the
 Nashville Predators.
 
 The Flames followed up Wednesday's shootout loss to Dallas with a 4-2 setback
 at the Minnesota Wild on Friday in the opener of a five-game road trip. Josh
 Jooris and Markus Granlund had goals for Calgary, but Minnesota scored a trio
 of third-period goals.
 
 Karri Ramo allowed all four goals on 35 shots before being pulled in the final
 stanza for Jonas Hiller, who stopped the only shot he faced in relief.
 
 "Right from the drop of the puck, they dominated us," Calgary head coach Bob
 Hartley said. "Quite a performance for the Wild."
 
 Calgary, which visits Dallas on Monday, fell to 2-3-2 over its last seven
 games and trails the Los Angeles Kings by one point for third place in the
 Pacific Division. The Flames also sit three points back of the Winnipeg Jets
 for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with seven games to
 play. The Jets host the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
 
 The Flames have won their first two meetings with the Predators this season,
 snapping a five-game slide in Nashville with a 3-2 shootout win back on Oct.
 14.
 
 Hiller is in line to start this contest and is 5-9-0 with a 2.92 goals against
 average and .909 save percentage in 15 games versus the Preds. He has not
 started a game for the Flames since March 17.
 
 The Predators hit the ice one day after clinching a playoff spot with a 4-3
 victory over the Washington Capitals. Nashville will return to the postseason
 for the first time since 2012 and in Peter Laviolette's first season as the
 club's head coach.
 
 "The guys played hard all year and put ourselves in a position to clinch at
 this point in the season," said Laviolette. "Sometimes you get in (to the
 playoffs) and you don't even play. Somebody loses and you get in. I always
 think it's a little bit more meaningful when you earn the win, you earn the
 two points and the right to get in."
 
 Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists for the Preds, while Mattias Ekholm,
 Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro also tallied. Pekka Rinne made 25 saves.
 
 Nashville's next goal will be locking up the Central Division, which it leads
 by three points over St. Louis. However, the Preds have played one more game
 than the Blues, who are not in action on Sunday.
 
 The Predators also trail the Anaheim Ducks by one point for the most in the
 NHL.
 
 Defenseman Shea Weber missed his first game of the season on Saturday as he
 was unable to play versus the Capitals due to a lower-body injury. He is day-
 to-day with the ailment.
 
 
 BOSTON BRUINS (37-25-13) AT CAROLINA HURRICANES (28-36-10), 5 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Having put an end to their longest losing streak of the
 season, the Boston Bruins shoot for a second straight victory on Sunday
 evening as they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.
 
 The Bruins were 0-3-3 over their past six games heading into Saturday's
 matinee with the mighty New York Rangers, but got to Blueshirts goaltender
 Henrik Lundqvist for three first-period goals in a 4-2 win.
 
 Milan Lucic scored twice in the first period on Lundqvist, who was making his
 first start since Feb. 2 because of a vascular injury, and Carl Soderberg also
 scored in the opening frame. Reilly Smith added a goal as well and Patrice
 Bergeron extended his point streak to five consecutive games with an assist.
 
 Boston overcame the loss of starting goaltender Tuukka Rask, who made 14 saves
 before departing 10 seconds into the second period due to dehydration. Niklas
 Svedberg made 16 saves in relief.
 
 "It speaks to the way the team plays. It doesn't matter what guys are
 playing," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug remarked. "If we play the same way then
 we're going to get results."
 
 Rask was expected to travel with the Bruins to Carolina and could start today
 as Boston tries to extend its lead for a wild card spot. Rask is 5-3-1 versus
 the Hurricanes with a 2.09 goals against average and .933 save percentage in
 10 games (9 starts).
 
 Boston moved a point ahead of Ottawa, which lost in overtime to Toronto on
 Saturday, for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins
 have seven games left on their schedule to the Senators' eight, and Ottawa
 hosts the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
 
 The Hurricanes are seeking a third win in a row tonight, having followed up an
 0-2-2 rut with wins over Pittsburgh and New Jersey. Carolina concludes a five-
 game homestand on Sunday after topping the Devils 3-1 on Saturday.
 
 Eric Staal and Justin Faulk scored third-period goals and Cam Ward made eight
 of his 21 saves in the finale frame. Chris Terry scored a game-tying goal late
 in the second period.
 
 "We got better as the game went on," said Staal.
 
 Faulk's goal was his 15th of the season, leaving him one shy of the single-
 season record by a defenseman for the Hurricanes franchise set by Anton
 Babchuk in 2008-09.
 
 Forward Alexander Semin did not play last night for the 'Canes due to a
 hamstring injury and is day-to-day.
 
 Ward made his second straight start on Saturday since returning from a bout
 with the flu and figures to get a rest this evening. Anton Khudobin would face
 the Bruins for the second time in his career, having defeated them 2-1 in a
 shootout at home on Jan. 4.
 
 That victory featured 19 saves from Khudobin and snapped his club's four-game
 slide to the Bruins. Staal scored the lone shootout tally off Rask.
 
 Carolina has won four of its past six at home versus Boston.
 
 
 DETROIT RED WINGS (40-22-12) AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS (44-27-5), 5 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders try to avoid an eighth straight
 loss at home on Sunday evening when they conclude a four-game residency
 against the Detroit Red Wings.
 
 The Isles are 0-6-1 at home since a win over visiting Calgary on Feb. 27. They
 went winless on a three-game homestand from March 10-14 and began this stay at
 Nassau Coliseum with a shootout loss to Minnesota prior to setbacks to Los
 Angeles and Anaheim.
 
 The Islanders lost their third straight and for the seventh time in eight
 games overall with a 3-2 loss to the Ducks. Lubomir Visnovsky returned from a
 five-game absence caused by a lower-body injury and scored, while Casey
 Cizikas lit the lamp as well and Michal Neuvirth yielded three goals on 24
 shots.
 
 "Adversity is a springboard for success, in my opinion," said Islanders coach
 Jack Capuano. "They're going to battle through this."
 
 New York's skid has dropped it into a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for
 second place in the Metropolitan Division -- eight points behind the first-
 place New York Rangers. The Islanders have played one more game than the Pens,
 who host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
 
 The Washington Capitals are within three points of the Islanders and Penguins
 as well in the division.
 
 Jaroslav Halak figures to draw the start today for New York and is 5-4-1 with
 a 3.22 goals against average and .890 save percentage in 11 games versus
 Detroit.
 
 The Red Wings, meanwhile, will turn to backup netminder Petr Mrazek for a
 second day in a row.
 
 With Jimmy Howard having allowed eight goals in his last two starts, getting
 lifted early on Thursday versus the Sharks, Mrazek got the call versus Tampa
 Bay on Saturday and posted a 23-save shutout in a 4-0 win over the Lightning.
 
 Mrazek's second shutout of the season and fourth of his career pulled the Red
 Wings within seven points of the second-place Lightning in the Atlantic
 Division with two games in hand. Detroit also is five games up on the fourth-
 place Boston Bruins.
 
 Detroit came into the game having lost six of eight, but earned a point for
 the third time in four contests (2-1-1).
 
 "We know we've got to get points here going down the stretch," said Red Wings
 captain Henrik Zetterberg. "Tonight was obviously a big game for us."
 
 Justin Abdelkader scored a goal for a fourth game in a row, his 23rd of the
 season, while Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Luke Glendening also
 tallied.
 
 Mrazek is 1-2-0 with a 1.89 GAA and .923 save percentage in three games (2
 starts) versus the Islanders. That includes a 4-1 victory at home on Jan. 31,
 when he stopped 22-of-23 sots faced.
 
 The Red Wings and Isles have split their first two meetings this season, both
 in Detroit, but New York has won seven of the past nine overall and three of
 the previous four played at home.
 
 
 FLORIDA PANTHERS (34-26-15) AT OTTAWA SENATORS (37-25-12), 5 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators hope to avoid what could be a
 critical third straight setback on Sunday evening as they host a Florida
 Panthers club also in search of two big points.
 
 The Senators have lost back-to-back games since winning seven in a row, with
 Saturday's overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs dropping them a point
 behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern
 Conference. The Bruins, who have played one more game than the Sens, grabbed
 the advantage by beating the New York Rangers on Saturday.
 
 The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off their own overtime setback, losing to
 the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, and are four
 points off Boston's pace.
 
 The Sens perhaps missed an opportunity versus the Leafs, failing to hold a
 pair of two-goal leads in losing 4-3. Curtis Lazar, Mike Stone and Kyle Turris
 scored for the Senators.
 
 Craig Anderson made his return to the lineup for the first time since March 10
 and posted 27 stops in defeat. He has been battling a bruised hand.
 
 "It's a 60-minute game and you have to play it out. You give teams time and
 space and it comes back to bite you," Anderson said.
 
 Anderson was backed up by Chris Driedger on Saturday. Andrew Hammond, who has
 gone 14-1-1 to begin his NHL career, was sidelined due to a lower-body injury
 sustained versus San Jose on Monday.
 
 The Panthers saw the Canadiens clinch a playoff spot with their 3-2 home win
 on Saturday, and a loss today could put a big dent in Florida's hopes for a
 postseason spot. The Panthers do get a chance to make up some ground as they
 conclude a five-game road trip on Tuesday versus Boston.
 
 First, Florida will try to rebound after giving up the overtime winner while
 shorthanded at the 2:59 mark. The goal came seven seconds after Vincent
 Trocheck's penalty for hi-sticking.
 
 Aleksander Barkov scored both goals and Jonathan Huberdeau picked up two
 assists for the Panthers, who had won three of four coming in. Roberto Luongo
 turned aside 22 shots in the loss, remaining at 399 career victories.
 
 "He's there to protect us and save us. He definitely gave us a chance,"
 Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said of Luongo.
 
 Saturday's loss came one day after leading goal-scorer Nick Bjugstad underwent
 season-ending back surgery. Bjugstad currently tops Florida with 24 goals
 through 72 games.
 
 The Senators have won two of three versus the Panthers this season, taking
 eight of the past nine played at home.
 
 
 ANAHEIM DUCKS (48-22-7) AT NEW JERSEY DEVILS (31-32-12), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - With a third straight playoff berth locked up, the
 Anaheim Ducks turn their sights to bigger goals on Sunday evening when they
 visit the New Jersey Devils.
 
 The Ducks secured a trip to the postseason with Saturday's 3-2 win over the
 New York Islanders. They have a 12-point edge over the second-place Vancouver
 Canucks with five games left to play -- the Canucks have seven -- and their
 103 points lead both the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens for the
 most in the NHL.
 
 Anaheim got 29 saves from Frederik Andersen in Saturday's win, claiming
 victory for the sixth time in eight games while moving to 2-2-0 on a five-game
 road trip.
 
 Andrew Cogliano scored the deciding goal less than three minutes after Anaheim
 killed off a 5-on-3 New York power play, while Rickard Rakell and Kyle
 Palmieri also tallied.
 
 "I thought our penalty kill was probably the difference," said Cogliano.
 
 Anaheim extended its NHL record by winning its 31st one-goal game this season.
 
 John Gibson could start for the Ducks tonight and has never faced the Devils.
 
 New Jersey lost its fourth game in a row with Saturday's 3-1 loss to Carolina
 as the Hurricanes scored twice in the third period to pull away. The Devils
 got a first-period tally from Patrik Elias and backup Keith Kinkaid made 29
 saves.
 
 "We just couldn't dig our way out of it," said Devils co-coach Lou Lamoriello.
 
 Cory Schneider will draw back in net for the Devils tonight to make his 64th
 start of the season. He is 4-2-1 in 10 games (7 starts) lifetime versus the
 Ducks with a 2.55 goals against average, .904 save percentage in two shutouts.
 
 Anaheim won its first meeting with New Jersey this season 5-1 at home on Jan.
 16, its second victory in a row in this series. Jakob Silfverberg scored twice
 in the win.
 
 The Ducks are just 3-7-2 all-time in New Jersey.
 
 Martin Havlat scored the Devils' goal in that loss at Anaheim, while Kinkaid
 allowed four goals on 25 shots in relief of Schneider. New Jersey's No. 1
 goaltender made 14 saves through the first 20 minutes, but suffered an upper-
 body injury stopping a shot in the frame.
 
 
 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (44-24-6) AT WINNIPEG JETS (39-24-12), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Winnipeg Jets hope to move a bit closer to securing
 just their second playoff berth in franchise history on Sunday evening when
 they host the struggling Chicago Blackhawks.
 
 The Jets have 90 points on the campaign, the most for the club since it
 recorded 97 as the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006-07. That also is the only time
 the franchise has reached the postseason.
 
 Winnipeg is currently sitting in the second wild card spot in the Western
 Conference, three ahead of the Calgary Flames with seven games to go. The
 Flames are visiting the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
 
 The Jets also are in reach of third place in the Central Division, currently
 held by the Minnesota Wild and their 95 points. The Wild moved a point past
 the Blackhawks with a win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, knocking
 Chicago into the first wild card spot.
 
 Winnipeg has won six of its last seven games, picking up a big 5-2 win over
 the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Ondrej Pavelec posted 39 saves for his
 sixth victory in a row, while defenseman Dustin Byfuglien returned from a
 nine-game absence caused by an upper-body injury to score his club's first
 goal on the night.
 
 Mark Scheifele, Jim Slater, Blake Wheeler and Adam Lowry also lit the lamp for
 the Jets, who bounced back from Tuesday's loss in Vancouver and are 12-2-2 in
 their past 16 games at home.
 
 "We were just driving," said Slater. "That was a good team. They threw up a
 lot of shots, and (Pavelec) obviously gave us the confidence there that he was
 definitely in it tonight. We put some big goals on the board at the right
 time."
 
 The Jets play the second contest of a four-game homestand tonight and will
 ride Pavelec's hot hand again. However, he is 0-3-2 lifetime versus Chicago
 with a 4.61 goals against average and .867 save percentage.
 
 There is a chance that Winnipeg will have forward Mathieu Perreault back in
 the lineup for the first time since Feb. 16. He has been out due to a lower-
 body injury and the 27-year-old has 18 goals and 18 assists in 56 games this
 season.
 
 The Blackhawks look to get on track tonight after losing for the third time in
 four games with Friday's 5-2 setback to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brandon
 Saad and Jonathan Toews scored first-period goals, but Corey Crawford yielded
 four goals on 13 shots in less than 20 minutes of work.
 
 Scott Darling turned away all 13 shots he faced in relief, though Chicago's
 offense failed on all five of its power-play opportunities.
 
 "We had a lot of chances," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We did a
 lot of good things, but at the end of the day we think we can play better."
 
 Crawford is 4-4-0 versus the Jets with a 2.07 GAA and .922 save percentage,
 while Darling has never faced them.
 
 The Blackhawks host the Kings on Monday.
 
 Chicago had lost four straight to Winnipeg before picking up a 2-1 overtime
 victory on Feb. 6 on the road. Saad scored with 1:59 left in OT and Crawford
 made 20 saves, while Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson halted 20 shots in
 defeat.
 
 The Blackhawks have won six in a row as the guest in this series, including
 all three meetings in Winnipeg.
 
 
 SAN JOSE SHARKS (37-30-8) AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (41-23-11), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins look to win consecutive games
 for only the second time this month on Sunday night as they play host to the
 San Jose Sharks.
 
 The Penguins had lost six of seven before beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on
 Saturday. It marked Pittsburgh's sixth victory of the month and put it in
 position to win two in a row for the first time since March 6-7.
 
 The Pens hope to repeat that success of back-to-back days tonight as they
 scored three goals in the third period versus the visiting Coyotes. Sidney
 Crosby had the deciding tally and assisted on goals by Daniel Winnik and Steve
 Downie.
 
 Thomas Greiss was perfect through two periods and ended with 22 saves to get
 the win.
 
 "We just have to build off of this," said Crosby, who leads the NHL with 78
 points. "There's some good signs we had here today, especially all of the
 shots we had. We just need to improve on things here down the stretch and get
 ready for the playoffs."
 
 The Penguins moved into a tie with the New York Islanders for second place in
 the Metropolitan Division after the Isles lost to the Anaheim Ducks on
 Saturday. Pittsburgh has a game in hand and New York hosts the Detroit Red
 Wings on Sunday evening.
 
 Pittsburgh saw forwards Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist both return to the
 lineup in Saturday's win. Malkin had missed six games with a lower-body
 injury, and Hornqvist was out for five games with an undisclosed injury.
 
 However, forward David Perron missed the game due to illness and defenseman
 Kris Letang is unlikely to play tonight due to an upper-body injury sustained
 versus the Sharks. Letang was hurt when he was sent awkwardly into the boards
 by Arizona's Shane Doan. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
 
 Letang is third on the Penguins with 54 points through 69 games.
 
 Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start tonight for the Pens and is 2-2-3
 lifetime versus the Sharks with a 2.25 goals against average and .936 save
 percentage in seven meetings.
 
 While the Penguins are battling for playoff position, the Sharks are fighting
 just to have a chance at the postseason. They are six points behind the Los
 Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division and eight behind the
 second wild card spot with seven games to play.
 
 San Jose gave itself some hope with Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over the
 Philadelphia Flyers. It was the Sharks' second win in a row and improved the
 club to 3-3-0 on a seven-game road trip.
 
 Matt Irwin and Joe Pavelski lit the lamp for the Sharks in regulation, while
 defenseman Brent Burns notched the shootout winner in the fifth round. Alex
 Stalock only needed to make 16 saves through overtime and halted four of
 five Philadelphia chances in the tiebreaker.
 
 "You look at the numbers and that's pretty much how the game felt for us,"
 said Pavelski. "The pucks were laying there. We had some looks. We had some
 chances to score more than two. The chances in overtime and getting that power
 play is fun to play, we had the looks. We should have ended it there but it
 was good."
 
 Burns capped a gutsy effort by San Jose's blue line as the club lost
 defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic late in the first period due to a lower-body
 injury. Blueliner Scott Hannan then lost Scott Hannan for the final 7:23 of
 the third period and overtime after he sustained a cut under his eye after
 getting hit into the boards.
 
 Vlasic is next expected to play tonight, while Hannan is questionable.
 
 Antti Niemi may start tonight for the Sharks and has gone 4-1-1 with a 2.66
 GAA and .913 save percentage in seven games (6 starts) versus the Penguins.
 
 The Sharks topped the visiting Penguins 2-1 in a shootout on March 9 and have
 gone 16-2-1 with a tie in the past 20 meetings overall. Tommy Wingels had the
 winner in the eighth round and Niemi posted 39 saves.
 
 Crosby scored for the Pens and Fleury finished with 29 saves.
 
 
 
 
 03/29 10:29:44 ET