Your Weekly Spartans in the NHL Report

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For a long time, Justin Abdelkader simply could not buy a goal. The Detroit left winger struggled to generate offense, experiencing little luck at the beginning of the season. But the tides have turned for the 26-year-old. Following his two-goal night on March 16, Abdelkader exploded for four points on Friday. His hat trick and an assist helped the Red Wings take down the Ducks, 5-1. The winger’s first goal came midway through the opening period. Left one-on-one with a defender, Abdelkader skated around the defenseman and pushed the puck through the five hole of Anaheim goaltender Viktor Fasth. The beautiful play knotted the contest at one. Abdelkader then added an insurance goal midway through the second. Teammate Brendan Smith fed him the puck inside the faceoff circle, and Abdelkader sent a snap shot top shelf past Fasth’s glove. Then, to ensure smooth sailing the rest of the way for the Wings, Abdelkader notched another tally. Linesmate Johan Franzen passed the puck to Abdelkader, who fired it past the blocker of Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller. The goal upped Abdelkader’s season total to six. But he was still not done. Late in the third period, Abdelkader nabbed his second assist of the year, sealing first star of the game honors. Check out the highlights from his big day here: http://www.nhl.com/ice/recap.htm?id=2012020455

Fellow Detroit winger Drew Miller also got on the score sheet this week. The former Spartan tallied a goal late in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Wild. Miller sent a wrist shot past the glove of Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom on a power play opportunity in the waning seconds of the contest, giving Miller his third of the year. The veteran also notched the game-winning goal of a 2-1 triumph over the Ducks on Sunday. The left winger poked the puck past the five hole of Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller to give Detroit a 2-0 lead in the second period, which would prove to be enough to defeat the Ducks.

Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith helped the Blackhawks claim a victory on Monday in one of only two games the team played this week. Keith set up a Patrick Kane insurance goal midway through the second period of Chicago’s 5-1 win over the Avalanche. The assist was the captain’s 14th of the year.

Ryan Miller reminded many this week why Buffalo values his services so much. The Sabres netminder helped his team snag two crucial wins to keep Buffalo in the playoff hunt. Though he did allow four goals to the Maple Leafs on Thursday, Miller stoned Toronto cold in the shootout period to help the Sabres snatch a 5-4 victory. The Buffalo goaltender then looked outstanding the next day against the Canadiens. He turned away 38 shots, allowing the Sabres to walk away with a 2-1 win. For his efforts, Miller received first star honors for the game.

Center Shawn Horcoff also claimed the distinction of being a first star this week. The Edmonton captain tapped in a one-timer attempt to hand the Oilers a 2-1 lead halfway through the second period. Edmonton would go on to lose, though, falling to the Sharks in a shootout, 4-3. Fellow Oiler Jeff Petry did not have any points this week, though he did post some stats. The defenseman dished out seven hits and blocked seven shots in a 3-0 loss to the Blues on Saturday.

Adam Hall’s first full week in a Hurricanes uniform did not go as planned. Though Hall performed well, Carolina lost each of its three games. The right winger recorded three shots and two hits in a 4-1 loss to the Panthers on Tuesday and racked up seven hits and a blocked shot on Thursday in a 4-1 loss to the Devils.

Toronto blueliner John-Michael Liles continues to benefit from increased playing time. The veteran defenseman was credited with an assist early in the opening period of a 3-2 triumph over the Bruins on Monday. The helper was Liles’ sixth of the season.

Injury / Scratch Report:

David Booth is done for the season. The Vancouver winger injured his left ankle on Saturday, March 15 and was placed on the team’s injured reserve on Monday. According to CBC.ca, Booth underwent surgery on Friday. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told one Vancouver radio station that there is a possibility Booth could return in time for the playoffs. “Hopefully [the surgery] will accelerate the process some measure and then he’ll have to wait and rehab like anyone else,” Gillis said. It has been a tough year for Booth, as he also missed the first 14 games of the season with a groin injury. For the full story on Booth’s situation, check out this article: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/story/2013/03/22/sp-nhl-vancouver-canucks-david-booth-surgery.html

Sharks center Tim Kennedy has not played since March 10. He is out with an undisclosed injury and has been placed on San Jose’s injured reserve. The team has not released further details of his injury, according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (csnbayarea.com).

Winnipeg center Jim Slater remains out with a hand injury suffered while blocking a shot on March 10. He is still on the team’s injured reserve.

Mike Weaver has not appeared in a Panthers uniform since February 28, as the defender remains on Florida’s injured reserve with a lower body injury.

Defenseman Corey Potter was a healthy scratch in both of Edmonton’s games this week.