Islanders’ Hamonic returning to lineup for Game 1

The New York Islanders are getting a key piece of their defense corps back in time for their playoff opener.

Travis Hamonic, who's been out since March 31 with a knee injury, will play Game 1 against the Florida Panthers, head coach Jack Capuano confirmed Thursday.

The 25-year-old logged almost 24 minutes a night through 72 games this season, complementing his solid defensive game with five goals and 16 assists.

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Seguin ruled out for Game 1 vs. Wild

Although he's almost ready to go, Tyler Seguin will be out of the lineup for Dallas' series opener versus Minnesota on Thursday night, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff confirmed.

Ruff said Seguin will likely be in the lineup for Game 2, and would probably play if it was a Game 7 situation.

Seguin is still recovering from an Achilles injury, and skated separately from the team on Thursday.

Although he's not ready for their playoff opener, it's huge for the Stars to have Seguin's return on the horizon. Not only is he the team's second-highest scorer, he boasts key playoff experience dating back to his Stanley Cup championship with the Boston Bruins in 2011.

The 24-year-old scored 33 goals and 40 assists this season, but hasn't played since March 17.

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Lundqvist to see eye specialist, injury not thought to be ‘too serious’

An air of uncertainty still surrounds the status of Henrik Lundqvist.

The New York Rangers goaltender, who was injured in Game 1 of the team's first-round series against Pittsburgh after taking an errant stick to the eye, is set to visit a specialist Thursday, with more information in terms of his availability coming later.

Head coach Alain Vigneault doesn't believe it's cause for too much concern.

Magnus Hellberg was recalled from the AHL with Game 2 of the series set for Saturday.

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Crosby climbs to 6th in playoff per-game scoring after stellar Game 1

With a goal and two assists in Game 1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins' first-round series against the New York Rangers, Sidney Crosby now sits sixth on the NHL's all-time playoff points per game list (minimum 50 games played):

Related - VIDEO: Crosby snipes Raanta on breakaway

With Henrik Lundqvist possibly out of action with an eye injury, Crosby could be in line to improve upon these numbers over the course of the next six games or less.

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Dave Cameron: ‘No regrets’ about time in Ottawa

Former Senators head coach Dave Cameron may have some hurt feelings after the team dismissed him Tuesday, but said he doesn't have any regrets from his tenure in Ottawa.

Cameron admitted in a press conference Thursday that he was disappointed to be leaving, but understands personnel decisions are out of his hands.

"I got fired because somebody didn't think I could do the job. ... No regrets," Cameron said, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

"The sun was up this morning and I'll be fine," he added.

Much was made of an alleged rift between Cameron and Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after Melnyk expressed his disappointment in the team's performance and some of Cameron's decisions down the stretch.

Cameron called Melnyk's comments "hurtful," and acknowledged he felt pressure from management to close out the season.

"I felt like I was fired for three weeks," Cameron said.

With Cameron officially out of the picture, the search is on for the Senators' fifth head coach since 2008, and Melnyk's already assured new general manager Pierre Dorion the club has the resources to hire the best available candidate.

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Rangers recall Magnus Hellberg from AHL

The New York Rangers have recalled goaltender Magnus Hellberg from AHL Hartford.

Related: Lundqvist forced from series opener after inadvertent high stick

The roster move comes the morning after Henrik Lundqvist was forced to make an early exit from Game 1 of the team's first-round series against Pittsburgh with an eye injury.

Lundqvist was labeled as day to day following the contest, and an update on his status is expected to be made later Thursday.

Hellberg, 25, posted a record of 30-20-3 at the AHL level this season, with a save percentage of .918.

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Kane leads theScore’s NHL Awards winners

With Carey Price injured, and thus not around to claim any and all plaudits he qualifies for, picking winners for the NHL's four major, most-contentious awards proved to be a difficult task.

No thanks to Carey (tongue planted firmly in cheek, Canadiens fans), here's who's worthy of hardware this season.

Hart Trophy

"Player judged most valuable to his team"

1. Patrick Kane
2. Sidney Crosby
3. Jamie Benn
4. Erik Karlsson
5. Joe Thornton

The NHL's most prolific scorer, Kane finished 17 points clear of the field and became the first American to win the Art Ross Trophy. His 106 points were the second-most for a single season over the last five full campaigns, trailing only Evgeni Malkin's 109-point Hart Trophy season in 2011-12.

After a woeful start, Crosby scored a league-best 66 points since Kane's historic 26-game scoring run ended in mid-December. That's obviously a self-serving point of reference, but it is just a few days after the Pens turned to Mike Sullivan, who uncaged his captain when he took control. Pittsburgh scored more goals than any other team from that point on.

Benn was an all-situations megastar for Dallas, but will come up short once again. He's worthy of recognition, of course, being the most proficient point producer over the last two years. Meanwhile, the argument for Thornton is quite compelling. The 36-year-old was a force in all situations, evidenced by an incredible 70.7 GF% at even strength, and a top-five finish in power-play points.

Norris Trophy

"Player who demonstrates ... the greatest all-round ability in the position"

1. Erik Karlsson
2. Drew Doughty
3. Kris Letang
4. Brent Burns
5. Roman Josi

With no hard and fast rules, and with votes cast largely on the basis of what the individual covets from varying functions at the position, the Norris is, and will remain, the most-contentious category.

It's shortsighted to subscribe to the notion that it's the leading point-getter's to lose, and the winner probably shouldn't be pulling more pucks out of their own net at even strength. But Karlsson's all-time great offensive year trumps these factors. He became the first defenseman to lead the league in assists in 42 years, the first to finish top five in scoring in 30 years, and his 82 points were the most at the position in 20 years. All this, with a team devoid of elite talent elsewhere.

Indisputably, Doughty makes sacrifices, performing to the letter in a scheme that wouldn't necessarily cater to the skills of Karlsson. And for that reason, the Senators captain illuminates brighter. But it also contributes to Ottawa being an inferior team, because the Senators can't seem to disengage from the style that only their uber-talented captain can employ efficiently.

What's interesting is that Letang - like Crosby, once the Penguins made a coaching change - became almost the perfect medium between Karlsson and Doughty, blending elite shot-suppression with volume scoring for the final four months of the season.

Lastly and again perhaps unfairly discounting the Sharks, Burns had a truly fantastic year, posting career highs in both goals and assists, and leaping into the upper echelon of defensemen. He was entrusted with the fourth-most ice time among blue liners and the Sharks scored more goals per timed measurement (also allowing fewer) than the Senators did when Karlsson was out.

Vezina Trophy

"Adjudged to be the best at his position"

1. Braden Holtby
2. Ben Bishop
3. Henrik Lundqvist
4. Corey Crawford
5. Cory Schneider

Washington's success will more than likely be the reason that sees Holtby win his first Vezina Trophy, not his raw statistics. His .922 save percentage, 2.20 goals-against average, and three shutouts are a far cry from Price's inimitable numbers of last year. But Holtby's 48 wins, which matched an NHL record, is a historical triumph that stands above individual feats elsewhere.

It's Bishop, though, that has the best case. Anchoring a team that clearly didn't measure up against the Capitals, Bishop had 10 losses in which he surrendered two goals or fewer. Holtby allowed three or more in 13 of the 17 games in which he appeared and Washington lost.

Lundqvist, too, deserves a nomination. He was under siege on a team that was dominated at even strength, forced into making more saves than any other goalie.

Calder Trophy

"Most proficient in his first year of competition"

1. Artemi Panarin
2. Shayne Gostisbehere
3. Connor McDavid
4. John Gibson
5. Jack Eichel

Panarin had a Jamie Benn-like Art Ross end to the most-productive rookie season in nine years, scoring 13 points over his final five games to seize a lucrative top ten finish in NHL scoring. That lasting image of him galloping in celebration of his incentivized 30th goal would make for good footage if his name is called in Las Vegas.

Gostisbehere would have a stronger case if the Calder was given to "most valuable," as his puck-moving proficiency truly turned the Flyers' fortunes. He ignited what was a stagnant power play, likely the difference in making the postseason, and scored four overtime winners.

There's little doubt that over the course of an 82-game season, McDavid, who finished third with 1.07 points per game, would be the runaway winner. Granted, this reasoning doesn't jive with the definition of "most proficient." But unlike Panarin and Gostisbehere, McDavid wasn't able to help his team accomplish something in his 45 games.

And yes, Gibson, the only All-Star here, is still technically a rookie despite seeing three different seasons of NHL competition. He turned in a .920 save rate, 2.07 goals-against average, and four clean sheets in 40 games, helping Anaheim open up the best goal differential since his recall in late November.

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Bruins coach Julien will ‘absolutely’ return next season

Claude Julien isn't going anywhere.

Despite missing the playoffs for the second straight season, the Boston Bruins have decided to retain the services of the winningest head coach in club history, general manager Don Sweeney announced Wednesday.

Assistant coach Doug Houda, however, will not be returning.

Sweeney said he and Julien met extensively over the past few days, both privately and with the players. The goal was always to work together to figure out what went wrong down the stretch and how to get back on track next season.

"I emphatically believe that Claude can take us through what has been a bumpy transition period," Sweeney said. "I have work to do."

"I want to be here," Julien added when asked if he considered moving on. "I want to bring this team back to where we had it."

The coach also believes the team was good enough to make the playoffs this season, but, as evidenced in a season-ending loss to Ottawa, the foot was taken off the gas too often.

"It’s pretty obvious we failed on numerous occasions with some big games (mentioned Winter Classic)," he said. "Our consistency wasn't there."

It's on the defensive end that the Bruins struggled the most. Despite boasting a fifth-ranked offense with 240 goals scored, the Bruins allowed 230 goals, slotting them 19th among all teams. The only team to boast a positive goal differential and miss the playoffs, the defensive lapses that caused the team to drop points along the way ultimately pushed them down the standings.

Sweeney added he will not contemplate a major overhaul of the roster, focusing instead on organizational depth and integrating young players into the everyday lineup.

GM and coach will spend the summer working together in hope of ending the two-year playoff drought. Team CEO Charlie Jacobs and president Cam Neely are scheduled to hold their annual season-end press conference April 20.

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Stepan: Rangers ‘didn’t get the job done’ against Penguins’ top line

A 5-2 loss in the playoffs simply isn't good enough for New York Rangers center Derek Stepan.

Despite scoring both goals for New York, Stepan was disappointed by his and his linemates' efforts to shut down Pittsburgh's top trio of Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, and Chris Kunitz.

"What stings is we talked about doing a job on their top line and we didn't get the job done against them," Stepan said, according to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. "We can't give up five goals and expect to win a playoff game."

Hornqvist netted a hat trick and an assist, while Crosby had three points of his own.

Stepan, along with wingers Chris Kreider and Rick Nash, will need to regroup in time for Game 2 to avoid a massive deficit before heading back to New York.

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