NHL News and Notes April 14

NHL News and Notes April 14

Hockey Today - April 14
Sat, Apr 14, 2007
By Associated Press

N.Y. Islanders at Buffalo (7:30 p.m. EDT). Rick DiPietro could be back in goal for the Islanders as they try to even the quarterfinal series against the Sabres.

STARS Friday

-Marty Turco, Stars, stopped all 35 shots in Dallas' 2-0 win at Vancouver.

-J.P. Dumont, Predators, scored an unassisted short-handed goal, then added a power-play goal 2 1/2 minutes later in the second period to help Nashville defeat San Jose 5-2.

-Francois Beauchemin, Ducks, scored two power-play goals and Anaheim held off Minnesota 3-2.

ANOTHER INJURY

San Jose forward Steve Bernier had to be helped off the ice after being checked from behind into the boards Friday night in Game 2 against Nashville. Nashville's Alexander Radulov skated up and elbowed Bernier into the boards at 4:44 of the second period, snapping Bernier's head back before the Sharks forward fell face-first onto the ice. A gurney was called for before teammates helped him off. Bernier is the second Sharks player knocked from a game with an injury in this short series. Forward Jonathan Cheechoo sprained his right knee in a knee-on-knee collision with Scott Hartnell in the second period of Game 1, but returned for Game 2.

STRONG STARTERS

Nashville's J.P. Dumont has four goals in the first two games of the quarterfinal series against San Jose after getting two in Friday night's 5-2 win. Rookie Alexander Radulov scored his third goal of the series before being ejected in the second period after a checking-from-behind penalty. ... Dallas scored in the opening minute of each of the first two periods en route to a 2-0 win at Vancouver. The quarterfinal series is now tied at 1.

COMING BACK?

New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro took part in a full practice for the first time in three weeks since sustaining two concussions during a 12-day span. DiPietro will be evaluated overnight to determine whether he'll play in Game 2 of the quarterfinal series at Buffalo on Saturday.

BENCHED

Atlanta will turn to veteran goalie Johan Hedberg and hope for more production from their top scorers when they try to even their first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers on Saturday. Lehtonen probably will be back as the starter in Game 3 in New York on Tuesday, coach Bob Hartley said.

THREE MORE YEARS

Left wing Ray Whitney, Carolina's leading scorer, signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract Friday. Whitney led the Hurricanes and tied for 21st in the NHL with a career-high 83 points. He tied his career high with 32 goals.

SPEAKING

''We came here to play hockey tonight. We knew it was an important game, and they turn it into a street brawl.'' - Nashville coach Barry Trotz after Friday night's incident-filled playoff game, which was won by the Predators 5-2 over San Jose. The series is now even at a game apiece. After 32 combined penalties for 141 minutes and six game misconducts in the final minute, the NHL issued a statement not to expect any disciplinary decisions until Saturday.

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Re: NHL News and Notes April 14

Thrashers bench Lehtonen for Game 2 against Rangers
Fri, Apr 13, 2007
By Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Thrashers will turn to veteran goalie Johan Hedberg and hope for more production from their top scorers when they try to even their first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Kari Lehtonen shut out the Rangers in the third period of Thursday night's 4-3 loss, but still the young goalie will be benched in Saturday's Game 2.

Lehtonen's low point of the game was allowing the critical fourth goal in the second period on a rebound off his glove.

Coach Bob Hartley told Lehtonen, 23, Friday that he will give Hedberg the start after the Thrashers lost home-ice advantage by losing Game 1.

Lehtonen probably will be back as the starter in Game 3 in New York on Tuesday. Hartley said Lehtonen should be more relaxed after his first playoff game.

''I could feel that Kari wasn't as comfortable as he would like, but that's called experience,'' Hartley said. ''You need to go through this at some point in your career.''

Lehtonen already was looking forward to another chance immediately after Thursday night's game.

''For a guy like me, who has never experienced this before, it will help me,'' Lehtonen said.

Lehtonen's lack of experience didn't show early. The Rangers outshot the Thrashers 10-5 in the first 10 minutes, but Lehtonen stopped each shot before Jaromir Jagr's one-timer at the 12:50 mark broke the scoreless tie.

The 33-year-old Hedberg set a season high with 38 saves in Atlanta's 2-1 overtime victory over the Rangers on March 16.

Hedberg is 10-10 in 20 career playoff games with Pittsburgh and Vancouver. He helped Pittsburgh advance to the 2001 Eastern Conference finals.

Hedberg was 9-4-2 in 21 games as Lehtonen's backup this season, allowing 2.89 goals per game.

Hedberg will be challenged by the Rangers' Jagr, Michael Nylander and Martin Straka, who combined for two goals and four assists Thursday night.

Atlanta's top three scorers in the regular season - Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Kozlov - were held without a point.

Hossa and Kozlov each attempted only one shot. Kovalchuk also was relatively quiet with only three shots, including none in the third period, in his first playoff game.

The Rangers outshot the Thrashers 38-24.

New York built leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2, keeping Atlanta in a constant comeback mode.

The Rangers, swept by New Jersey in the first round last year, grabbed their first playoff win since 1997 and continued the momentum built by their 17-6-6 regular-season finish after acquiring Sean Avery.

The Rangers may take little notice of Atlanta's change in the net.

''You don't look at who's in the net,'' Jagr said. ''You just have to play your game.''

New York's defense provided better support for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who led the NHL with his 1.89 goals-against average following the All-Star break.

Lundqvist was at his best in the final 1:11 Thursday night, when he held off a Thrashers' power play. Atlanta pulled Lehtonen for a 6-on-4 advantage in a final attempt to reach overtime, but Lundqvist held off the challenge for his first playoff win as Kozlov's last-second shot was wide of the net.

''We had our chances at the end, but he did a good job blocking our shots,'' said Atlanta's Keith Tkachuk.

Tkachuk said the Thrashers would be better prepared for Game 2.

''It's a long series,'' he said. ''We are going to get our chance again and be ready to go from the start. One game is not going to be the difference.''

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Re: NHL News and Notes April 14

Briere questionable for Sabres
Fri, Apr 13, 2007
By Covers.com staff

The Buffalo Sabres may not have their leading scorer and co-captain, Daniel Briere, for Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders.

According to the Globe and Mail, Briere did not practice Friday and was seen “hobbling painfully down the hall” at the Sabres practice facility.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff told reporters Briere was sore after being hit by a shot during Thursday’s game. Ruff downplayed the injury and suggested the sniper could still play Saturday night.

Briere registered 32 goals and 63 assists during the regular season and tallied one assist in Buffalo's win in the series opener.

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Re: NHL News and Notes April 14

Red Wings' Bertuzzi practices, hopes to play in Game 2
Fri, Apr 13, 2007
By Associated Press

DETROIT -- Todd Bertuzzi skated in practice with the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and hopes to play in Game 2 of their first-round series against Calgary.

Bertuzzi didn't play in Thursday's Game 1, which Detroit won 4-1, or in the regular season finale because of a concussion and a neck injury.

''He's been cleared medically,'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. ''Now, he has to get cleared by our therapy people as far as being ready to play.

''If he's ready to go, he'll be in.''

Both teams will have another day to practice before playing Sunday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.

Bertuzzi skated briefly on his own Thursday and took part in an optional practice Friday.

''It felt pretty good,'' he said. ''We'll see how it feels tomorrow after another hard skate.''

Detroit acquired the 6-foot-3, 242-pound forward from Florida on Feb. 27 - just before the NHL's trading deadline - and he missed 10 games recovering from back surgery, then played in eight.

He played just 15 regular-season games for the Panthers and Red Wings, but said he's in good enough shape to contribute in the playoffs.

''I'm fit enough. I don't think that's an issue,'' said Bertuzzi, who has 554 points in the regular season and playoffs over his 11-season career. ''It's been an up-and-down year for sure.

''But I'm happy that my health is better, and it was nice to see the guys get a huge win.''

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