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Preview: Wild at Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche nearly went from worst to first in the Western Conference and one of the league's biggest surprises hopes to continue their stellar season when they open a first-round playoff series against the visiting Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. A year after posting the fewest points in the West, the Avalanche rode a late-season 8-0-1 spurt to overtake St. Louis for the Central Division title. Colorado dominated the season series with a 4-0-1 mark versus Minnesota.

Preview: Kings at Sharks

The San Jose Sharks will have revenge on their minds when they host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Thursday. San Jose met Los Angeles in the second round last postseason, dropping a tight matchup that went seven games and had five decided by one goal. The home team won each contest, with four ending with 2-1 decisions - including each of the Sharks' three victories.

Preview: Flyers at Rangers

A pair of Metropolitan Division rivals meet in the postseason for the first time in 17 years when the Philadelphia Flyers visit the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Thursday. Both clubs enter the seven-game set with plenty of injuries - notably goaltender Steve Mason (upper body), who will miss Thursday's tilt after he was on the wrong end of a collision during Philadelphia's victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Preview: Blackhawks at Blues

Once the trendy pick for the Presidents' Trophy, the St. Louis Blues quickly fell out of favor as the season entered its final leg. After ending the campaign on a six-game losing streak, the Blues look to put the brakes on their skid when they host Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

Ducks jump out early, hold on late vs. Stars

Ducks jump out early, hold on late vs. Stars ANAHEIM -- It all started so well for the Anaheim Ducks. In the end, though, they scrambled to dodge disaster. The Ducks narrowly avoided blowing a four-goal lead, hanging on for a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars in the opener of their Western Conference playoff series before a sellout crowd of 17,294 at Honda Center on Wednesday night.

Tippett to coach Canada at world championship

(Reuters) - Dave Tippett, coach of the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes, will coach Canada's men's ice hockey team at next month's world championship, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday. Tippett, who represented Canada at two Olympics as a player, serving as captain in 1984 and winning a silver medal 1992, will be assisted by fellow NHL head coaches Paul Maurice (Winnipeg Jets) and Peter DeBoer (New Jersey Devils).

Preview: Canadiens at Lightning

The Montreal Canadiens attempt to erase the stinging memory of last season's Eastern Conference first-round playoff ouster when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night in the opener of a best-of-seven series. Unlike a year ago when Montreal was a prohibitive favorite over Ottawa, the Canadiens and Tampa Bay finished one point apart in the standings. Montreal needs to find a way to generate some offense against the Lightning after scoring once in each of their four meetings.

Preview: Canadiens at Lightning

The Montreal Canadiens attempt to erase the stinging memory of last season's Eastern Conference first-round playoff ouster when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night in the opener of a best-of-seven series. Unlike a year ago when Montreal was a prohibitive favorite over Ottawa, the Canadiens and Tampa Bay finished one point apart in the standings. Montreal needs to find a way to generate some offense against the Lightning after scoring once in each of their four meetings.

Preview: Stars at Ducks

The Dallas Stars had considerable success against the Anaheim Ducks during the regular season. They hope to continue the trend Wednesday as they visit the Pacific Division champions for Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series. Dallas won two of the three meetings this season, dropping a 6-3 decision at Anaheim in October before turning the tables at home a month later and posting a 2-0 shutout on the road on Feb. 1.

NHL: Leafs welcome Shanahan as new president

The Toronto Maple Leafs introduced Brendan Shanahan as the new team president Monday, saying the three-time Stanley Cup winner has what it takes to turn the club around. "I look at his track record, his accountability and his career," said chairman Tim Leiweke. "In 21 years he made the playoffs 18 times. He knows the game. I like his passion, I like his work ethic. He wants to come home and do something very special for this city."
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