National Hockey League
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      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                              Thursday, October 23
                              (All times Eastern)
 ( - The Boston Bruins have picked up the pace after a slow
 start to the season. The New York Islanders, meanwhile, have lost two straight
 since beginning 2014-15 with a surprising 4-0 mark.
 New York will try to end its slide and prevent the Bruins from winning a third
 consecutive tilt when the clubs meet Thursday at Boston's TD Garden.
 The Islanders matched the best start in club history with four consecutive
 wins to open the season, but after suffering Saturday's 3-1 defeat in
 Pittsburgh, the Isles returned home and dropped a 5-2 decision against
 Toronto. New York held leads in both setbacks before letting the opposition
 turn the tables.
 The Isles led 2-1 after 20 minutes on Tuesday, but the Maple Leafs took
 control with a four-goal outburst in the second period
 John Tavares and Nick Leddy scored for the Islanders, who were handed their
 first loss in three home games this season. Jaroslav Halak gave up five goals
 in 23 shots and was replaced in the third period by Chad Johnson, who made
 five saves.
 "We'll point out some things we need to work on, but there were some good
 things tonight," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano.
 New York already has encountered injury problems, as the club is currently
 playing without key players like forwards Michael Grabner and Mikhail
 Grabovski and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. Grabovski, however, was back at
 practice Wednesday and could return from his concussion-like symptoms soon,
 although he isn't eligible to come off injured reserve until Friday.
 Isles defenseman Thomas Hickey also left Tuesday's game with a facial
 laceration after getting cut by the skate blade of Maple Leafs forward Mike
 Santorelli, Hickey was at practice Wednesday and expects to play tonight while
 wearing a face shield.
 "I've been playing hockey without a cage since I was 16, so in nine years it
 happens once," Hickey told the Islanders website. "That's a lot of games, so
 your odds are pretty good."
 Former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk will face his old club for the first
 time since getting dealt to the Islanders on Oct. 4. Boychuk has two goals and
 four assists in his first six games with New York.
 The Bruins started the season 1-3-0, but have won three of their last four
 games and enter Thursday on their first winning streak of 2014-15.
 Boston recorded a 4-0 win at Buffalo on Saturday and followed with Tuesday's
 5-3 comeback victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks. The Bruins trailed the
 Sharks 3-2 after 40 minutes, but responded with three unanswered goals in the
 third period.
 After Seth Griffith tied the game with his first career goal less than five
 minutes into the third, Gregory Campbell notched the deciding goal at the
 10:42 mark. David Krejci added a short-handed empty-net tally with 25 seconds
 left to seal the victory.
 Torey Krug also lit the lamp for Boston and Milan Lucic contributed three
 assists. Tuukka Rask made 31 saves to even his record at 3-3-0.
 Griffith, a 21-year-old rookie, has been playing on Boston's top line along
 with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and Bruins coach Claude Julien practiced
 them on the same unit at Wednesday's practice.
 "We're starting to gain a little chemistry going so that's good to see,"
 Griffith told on Tuesday. "But, you know, it's not too hard playing
 with two great players."
 Boston defenseman Kevan Miller will miss a second straight game after
 dislocating his right shoulder on Saturday. The Bruins announced Monday that
 Miller is out indefinitely.
 Rask expects to start tonight and the Finnish netminder is 6-3-0 with a 2.51
 goals against average in his career against the Islanders. Halak, meanwhile,
 boasts an 8-3-0 record and a 1.86 GAA in 11 lifetime tests versus the Bruins.
 The Isles had won three in a row against Boston before losing a 6-3 home tilt
 on Jan. 27. It was the 10th win for the Bruins in the last 15 overall
 meetings, but New York has claimed two in a row and three of the past four
 encounters in Boston.
 ( - Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins aim to bounce
 back from their second loss in three games when they visit the Detroit Red
 Wings in Thursday's encounter at Joe Louis Arena.
 The Penguins hosted rival Philadelphia on Wednesday and dropped a 5-3 decision
 as the Flyers used three third-period goals to skate away with the victory.
 The setback gave Pittsburgh a 1-2-0 mark on a three-game homestand, but the
 club hopes to stay unbeaten on the road tonight after posting a 5-2 decision
 in Toronto on Oct. 11.
 Nick Spaling picked up a goal and assist in Wednesday's setback. Marcel Goc
 and Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury took the
 loss after stopping 28-of-32 shots.
 "We're playing a team playing in back-to-back games and playing at home, we
 should take advantage of that opportunity," Crosby said.
 Crosby and linemate Patric Hornqvist both were held without a point by
 Philadelphia, marking the first time the duo was kept off the scoresheet this
 season. Pittsburgh's captain has four goals and five assists through five
 games, while Hornqvist has eight points on four goals and four helpers.
 Backup goaltender Thomas Greiss is expected to make his Penguins debut
 tonight, spelling Fleury, who has started every game for his club this season.
 Greiss, who spent last season with the Coyotes, signed a one-year deal with
 Pittsburgh over the summer. The German netminder has played in 69 NHL games,
 but has never faced the Red Wings.
 Detroit hopes to get back in the win column Thursday after getting
 dealt an overtime loss Tuesday in Montreal. Detroit had won two straight by
 posting a home-and-home sweep of Toronto before dropping the 2-1 decision
 against the Canadiens.
 Detroit scored the game's first goal with 6:19 left in the second period, but
 Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk sent the tilt to OT by scoring 3:09 before the end
 of regulation. David Desharnais then won it for the Habs by scoring 56 seconds
 into the extra session.
 Henrik Zetterberg netted Detroit's lone goal and Jimmy Howard turned aside 34-
 of-36 shots in the loss. Montreal outshot the Red Wings by a 15-5 margin in
 the third period and OT.
 "I thought they were better than us in the third period," Red Wings head coach
 Mike Babcock said. "Price helped them by playing the puck and it's harder to
 get to him."
 Pavel Datsyuk, who missed the first five games of the season with a separated
 right shoulder, tallied an assist in his season debut and appeared to put the
 Red Wings up 2-0 with just over eight minutes to play in the third.
 Datsyuk entered the zone up the right side, skated through the slot and sent a
 backhander over the shoulder of Carey Price, but the goal was waved off due to
 Justin Abdelkader's incidental contact with the Montreal netminder.
 Red Wings forward Johan Franzen could play Thursday after missing the last
 two games with a lower-body injury.
 Howard will get the start tonight and he boasts a 3-0-1 record and a 2.33 GAA
 in his career against Pittsburgh.
 The Pens have won two of three and four of the last six meetings with Detroit
 and have claimed three of the past five encounters at Joe Louis Arena.
 ( - Ryan Miller was not the answer to the St. Louis Blues'
 Stanley Cup dreams last spring, but he hopes to lead the Vancouver Canucks to
 a victory when they visit Scottrade Center on Thursday.
 The Blues attempted to solidify a deep playoff run last season by getting
 Miller from Buffalo at the trade deadline, but it didn't pay off and Miller
 left in the summer to sign a three-year, $18 million deal with Vancouver.
 Miller went 7-0-1 over his first eight games with the Blues last season, but
 wound up with a 10-8-1 mark in 19 regular-season tests with the club. The
 former Vezina Trophy winner then sported a 2.70 goals against average and .897
 save percentage in the playoffs, as St. Louis lost in six games to Chicago in
 the opening round.
 Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins is expected to go with Miller in net
 tonight. However, the former longtime Sabres netminder is 1-4-0 with a 3.22
 GAA in five career tests against the Blues.
 Miller and the Canucks were slammed in their most recent trip to the ice,
 losing 6-3 in Dallas on Tuesday at the start of a three-game road trip. The
 Stars scored the game's first five goals to chase Miller from the game early
 in the second period. Miller made eight saves on 13 shots and was replaced by
 Eddie Lack, who stopped 14-of-15 shots.
 "We got a couple of tough breaks early on that put us behind," said Miller.
 "It's just a tough night, just a couple of tough situations."
 Vancouver is hoping to end a two-game slide tonight before capping its road
 trip tomorrow at Colorado. The Canucks began the season 3-0 before losing to
 Tampa Bay and Dallas.
 The Blues also hope to rebound on Thursday after getting shut out in Sunday's
 game at Anaheim. The 3-0 setback dropped the Blues to 1-1-1 on their three-
 game road trip, but the club now gets to play two straight and four of its
 next five games on home ice.
 Brian Elliott made 22 saves for the Blues, who had netted six goals in
 Saturday's win against the Arizona Coyotes.
 "We took two-thirds of the game to get going and by then it is too late,"
 Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I wasn't happy with the way we played,
 Jake Allen will make only his second start of the season tonight. The 24-year-
 old goaltender won his season debut Saturday in Arizona after stopping 24-
 of-25 shots. Allen is 1-1-0 with a 2.90 GAA in two career games against the
 The Blues have several players battling flu-like symptoms, including forward
 Alexander Steen, who could miss tonight's tilt. However, centerman Jori
 Lehtera, who missed Sunday's game in Anaheim with the flu, skated Wednesday
 and could be ready to go tonight.
 St. Louis centerman Paul Stastny also is week-to-week with an upper-body
 injury suffered against the Coyotes.
 Vancouver won all three meetings against the Blues last season and has won
 four of five and six of eight in the series overall. The Canucks also have won
 two of their last three tests in St. Louis.
 ( - A pair of Central Division foes will battle for first
 place on Thursday when the Nashville Predators host the Chicago Blackhawks at
 Bridgestone Arena.
 Neither Nashville nor Chicago has suffered a regulation loss this season, but
 Peter Laviolette's Predators hold the early lead in the division with 10
 points off a 4-0-2 record. The Blackhawks are one point behind with a 4-0-1
 The Blackhawks already have a leg up in this season series, posting a 2-1
 overtime win against the visiting Predators on Saturday. Chicago captain
 Jonathan Toews scored the decisive goal on a short-handed tally at 3:26 of the
 extra session.
 The victory snapped a three-game skid in the series for Chicago. Nashville has
 won four of six overall against the Blackhawks and two of the past three
 encounters in Music City.
 Chicago recorded a second straight win on Tuesday, ending a four-game
 homestand with an easy 4-0 win over Philadelphia. Patrick Kane scored a pair
 of power-play goals and Antti Raanta stopped all 32 shots to post a shutout in
 his first start of the season.
 The Blackhawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period by scoring three
 times in the span of 2 minutes, 6 seconds late in the stanza. The score stayed
 that way until Kane notched his third marker of the season in the third
 "I thought the power play was pretty good tonight," Kane said. "It was good to
 get a couple."
 Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell also lit the lamp for the Blackhawks. Patrick
 Sharp added two assists for the hosts.
 Raanta notched his second career shutout and improved his overall record to
 14-5-4 in 26 lifetime appearances. He expects to get the start again tonight
 as regular No. 1 Corey Crawford will not join the team for its two-game road
 trip to Nashville and St. Louis due to an upper-body injury.
 The Blackhawks recalled Scott Darling from their AHL affiliate in Rockford to
 back up Raanta while Crawford is sidelined.
 Nashville is playing the middle test of a three-game homestand tonight after
 beginning the residency with Tuesday's 4-3 shootout victory over Arizona. Ryan
 Ellis had a goal and two assists in regulation for the Preds and scored the
 winner in a shootout.
 Mike Ribeiro and James Neal also scored for the Predators, with Neal's goal in
 the third period tying the game at 3-3. Neal tallied a mere 21 seconds after
 former Predator Martin Erat's power-play goal gave the Coyotes a brief 3-2
 "We're going to need those points at the end of the year," Neal said. "It was
 a big two points for us."
 Pekka Rinne made 33 saves and stopped Erat in the fourth round of the shootout
 to seal the win.
 The Predators are without a regulation loss through six games for the first
 time since going eight straight with a point to begin the 2010-11 campaign.
 Nashville will complete its homestand on Saturday when Neal's former team, the
 Pittsburgh Penguins, visit Bridgestone Arena.
 ( - The Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Wild will both be
 aiming to avoid a third straight loss on Thursday night when the two clubs
 clash at Xcel Energy Center.
 The Coyotes split a four-game homestand to begin the season, losing the finale
 by a 6-1 score to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. They then hit the road for
 Tuesday's meeting with Nashville and fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Predators.
 Martin Erat's power-play goal at 7:42 of the third period put Arizona in
 front, but Nashville tied the game just 21 seconds later and won it on Ryan
 Ellis' fourth-round shootout tally.
 Keith Yandle also scored on the power play, Rob Klinkhammer tallied at even
 strength and Devan Dubnyk made 23 saves in his second start of the season.
 "Our whole team competed," said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. "We had
 opportunities to get a win but unfortunately we didn't."
 Tippett will go back to the struggling Mike Smith in net tonight. Smith is
 1-2-0 with a 5.34 goals against average and .822 save percentage in three
 starts this season, and 4-6-1 lifetime versus the Wild with a 2.13 GAA, .912
 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 meetings with nine starts.
 Arizona center Martin Hanzal did not play on Tuesday due to a lower-body
 injury and will sit out tonight as well.
 Though the Coyotes have lost four of their last five to the Wild overall, they
 are 6-0-2 in their last eight trips to Minnesota.
 The Wild look to reverse that trend tonight in just their second home game of
 the season and fifth contest overall. They have been out of action since
 wrapping a three-game swing with Sunday's 2-1 setback to the Los Angeles
 Making his first start since January, Niklas Backstrom made 14 saves on 16
 shots faced, while Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick came up with 40 saves.
 "We played well, but (Quick) just had one of those games again where he kind
 of shut it down," said Wild forward Zach Parise.
 Matt Cooke recorded the lone goal for the Wild, who suffered their second
 straight 2-1 loss after outscoring Colorado 8-0 over a pair of shutout wins to
 begin the campaign. That included a 5-0 victory at home on Oct. 9 in the
 season opener.
 Darcy Kuemper expects to start tonight for the Wild and has never before faced
 the Coyotes, but comes in with a lifetime record of 9-3-2 at Xcel Energy
 Center with a 1.80 GAA and .933 save percentage.
 Wild center Charlie Coyle hits the ice tonight for the first time since inking
 a five-year contract extension on Wednesday. The 22-year-old had 12 goals and
 30 points in 70 games last season and has posted a pair of points over four
 games this campaign.
 ( - Calgary doesn't seem the ideal place for the Carolina
 Hurricanes to pick up their first win of the season.
 Nonetheless, the 'Canes look to beat the Flames as the visiting team for the
 first time in nearly 12 years on Thursday night as the clubs clash at the
 Carolina has gone winless through its first five games of the season for the
 first time since going 0-5-0 in 1987-88 when the franchise was known as the
 Hartford Whalers. The Hurricanes are 0-3-2, following up a pair of shootout
 losses with a 3-1 setback to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
 Jiri Tlusty scored on the power play in the first period, but that came after
 the Hurricanes allowed two goals in the game's first three minutes.
 "The start obviously wasn't what we were looking for at all," said Carolina
 first-year head coach Bill Peters after his club dipped to 0-3-2 on the year.
 Anton Khudobin stopped 23 shots in his second straight start.
 Carolina did see the return of forward Jeff Skinner to the lineup after he
 missed the first four games with a concussion. However, both Jordan and Eric
 Staal remain out with injury, though Eric Staal could return from his upper-
 body injury next week.
 The Hurricanes play the third contest of a five-game road trip tonight and
 will visit Edmonton on Friday.
 First, they'll try to earn their first victory in Calgary since Dec. 12, 2002.
 They have lost five straight trips since while losing three straight and seven
 of the last nine meetings overall.
 With Carolina also in action Friday night, it seems likely that both Khudobin
 and Cam Ward will get starts. It is unknown which of the two will get the call
 tonight as Ward is 2-2-0 with a 3.87 goals against average and .869 save
 percentage in five previous meetings.
 Khudobin has lost his only career start versus Calgary, but gave up just two
 goals on 29 shots.
 The Flames come in having lost the opener of a five-game homestand on Tuesday,
 2-1 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That setback came on the heels of
 a 4-2-0 road trip.
 Karri Ramo made 20 saves, but gave up the game-tying goal with 2:16 to go in
 regulation and the winner three minutes into overtime.
 Defenseman Dennis Wideman scored his third goal in four games off a nice setup
 from Johnny Gaudreau, who knifed through the middle of the ice before dishing
 to the defender while on the power play.
 "Johnny basically drew everyone in the rink to him," Wideman said.
 Ramo is 3-2-0 with a 2.20 GAA and .933 save percentage in five previous
 meetings with the Hurricanes, including four starts. Fellow Flames netminder
 Jonas Hiller is 3-1-0 with a 1.97 GAA and .940 save percentage in four prior
 BUFFALO SABRES (1-6-0) AT LOS ANGELES KINGS (4-1-1), 10:30 P.M.
 ( - The Los Angeles Kings will try to shake off some recent
 off-the-ice issues involving one of their players and remain unbeaten on their
 homestand as they take on the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
 After beginning the season with consecutive losses -- one in a shootout -- the
 Kings have won the first four of a six-game stay at Staples Center. They won
 their fourth in a row on Sunday, topping the Minnesota Wild 2-1.
 Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist, while Tanner Pearson also lit the lamp
 for the Kings to keep their line hot. The trio of Toffoli, Pearson and Jeff
 Carter have accounted for 11 of Los Angeles' 14 goals this season.
 Jonathan Quick stood tall in net with 40 saves just a few days after stopping
 43 shots in a 1-0 shootout win over St. Louis last Thursday.
 "I think our special teams won us the game," said Kings head coach Darryl
 Sutter. "The two penalty kills were big."
 Defenseman Slava Voynov was part of the units that held the Wild scoreless on
 five power-play chances. He logged just over five minutes of ice time on the
 penalty kill and added an assist in the game.
 However, Voynov will not be available to the Kings for at least the near
 future as he was suspended indefinitely on Monday following an arrest on
 charges of domestic violence. He will continue to be paid during his absence.
 "These developments are of great concern to our organization," the Kings said
 in a statement. "We support the NHL's decision to suspend Slava Voynov
 indefinitely during this process, and we will continue to take appropriate
 action as the legal proceedings and the investigation by the NHL take their
 On the ice, the Kings will welcome back defenseman Jake Muzzin at just the
 right time. Muzzin, who signed a five-year contract extension earlier this
 month, has yet to play this regular season due to an upper-body injury.
 However, forward Marian Gaborik has missed the past three with his own upper-
 body ailment.
 Buffalo comes to town having lost three straight and six of seven to begin the
 season. They opened a four-game road trip on Wednesday night in Anaheim and
 lost 4-1 as the Ducks' Corey Perry notched his second hat trick of the young
 Perry's efforts in one game by far surpassed the Sabres' efforts over their
 three-game slide. They came into the contest having been shut out in back-to-
 back games by Florida and Boston and did not get on the board versus the Ducks
 until Tyler Ennis' tally with 5:06 to play in the third.
 Ennis, though, saw some positives in the loss.
 "We came out hard and matched them physically," Ennis said. "We played hard,
 we played well."
 Michal Neuvirth made 30 saves on 33 shots for the Sabres, who went scoreless
 on two chances on the power play and are 0-for-24 on the man advantage this
 With Neuvirth having gotten the start last night, Jhonas Enroth figures to be
 in net for the Sabres against the Kings, who has had faced just once before
 while giving up two goals on 28 shots in a loss.
 Quick is unbeaten versus the Sabres, going 3-0-0 with a 1.81 goals against
 average and .911 save percentage in five games with four starts.
 The Sabres have won three of four and seven of their last 10 encounters with
 the Kings, splitting the two meetings last season. A 2-0 setback on the road
 was Buffalo's third straight defeat in Los Angeles however.
 Tonight's game will mark the first time that Kings forward Jordan Nolan will
 play against a team coached by his father, Ted Nolan. The elder Nolan took
 over bench duties for the Sabres on an interim basis on Nov. 13 of last
 season, one day after Buffalo beat a visiting L.A. team.
 Ted Nolan took over head coaching duties full time in March.
 ( - The Columbus Blue Jackets hope to avoid a third loss in
 four games on Thursday evening as they head out west to take on the San Jose
 Columbus won three of four to begin the season, but opened up a four-game
 swing on Saturday with a 3-2 setback in Ottawa. The Blue Jackets will visit
 Anaheim on Friday and Los Angeles on Sunday to finish off the trip.
 The Blue Jackets got 40 shots on net in Saturday's loss, but Senators
 goaltender Robin Lehner stopped 38 of them. Only Nick Foligno and David Savard
 managed to beat the netminder, with Foligno also having an assist.
 "That's the way we have to play, but Robin Lehner was really good tonight,"
 Foligno said. "They made a lot of nice plays to get the lead. We probably
 could have had a little bit better of a start."
 Curtis McElhinney turned aside 16-of-18 shots before leaving with an upper-
 body injury. Sergei Bobrovsky served up the deciding tally, making 17 saves in
 McElhinney was placed on injured reserve on Sunday, with Anton Forsberg
 recalled to back up Bobrovsky, who could make the start both tonight and on
 Friday. The former Vezina Trophy winner is 2-1-2 lifetime versus the Sharks
 with a 2.53 goals against average and .924 save percentage.
 The Sharks are coming home following a 2-2-1 road trip that concluded with a
 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins. Antti Niemi made 28 saves, while Logan Couture
 tallied twice and Joe Thornton once. Patrick Marleau added a pair of assists.
 "I thought Logan had his best game of the season. He had eight or 10 shots on
 goal and was dangerous," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said.
 Couture has three goals and six points through seven games, while Thornton has
 logged two goals and five assists.
 Niemi is 5-2-0 in his career versus the Blue Jackets with a stingy 1.70 GAA
 and .930 save percentage.
 The Sharks lost all three of their meetings with the Blue Jackets in 2012-13,
 but swept the two-game series last season.
 San Jose's 3-2 victory at home over Columbus in February marked the 14th time
 in the last 16 meetings it has bested the club as the hosting team.
 10/23 11:06:53 ET