Today’s Starting Goalies – October 18

Whether you’re interested for fantasy hockey reasons or just want to know which goalie your team is playing in a given day, we thought it might be helpful to share our best guesses (based on various previews from newspapers and Web sites plus our own instincts) on who might start each day.

Today’s schedule features a medium-sized five games, but they all start pretty early for once. For that reason, you need to make you goalie decisions pretty early today. Let’s get to it.

7:00 PM ET games

NY Islanders @ Toronto

Likely NY Islanders starter: Dwayne Roloson –As Katie Strang points out, Roloson put together a 58-save performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs last year. Couple that with some effective starts so far this season and it’s easy to see why the Isles are likely to start Rolo. (Source: Katie Strang.)

Likely Toronto starter: J.S. Giguere – Giguere’s been very strong so far in his contract year. He very well might earn himself another nice deal, though teams would be wise to keep it short-term with the up-and-down netminder. (Source: Pension Plan Puppets.)

Ottawa @ Pittsburgh

Likely Ottawa starter: Brian Elliott – With Pascal Leclaire out for the near future, expect Elliott to get most of the starts in net for Ottawa. (Source: Silver Seven Sens.)

Likely Pittsburgh starter: Brent Johnson – After Johnson went 3-0 while Marc-Andre Fleury is 0-3, I openly wondered if there might a goalie controversy in Pittsburgh. Fleury should have the job in the long run, but there’s nothing wrong with riding the hot hand right now. (Source: Empty Netters.)

Colorado @ NY Rangers

Likely Colorado starter: Craig Anderson (Source: Adrian Dater of the Denver Post.)

Likely NY Rangers starter: Henrik Lundqvist – He hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts, but the Rangers live and die by their Swedish star. (Source: Andrew Gross.)

7:30 PM ET game

Dallas @ Tampa Bay

Likely Dallas starter: Kari Lehtonen – He’s undefeated so far this season. Really, barring his perennial health problems, he should get a ton of starts for the Stars. He’ll get tested as the Lightning cannot be happy about their last performance. (Source: ESPN Dallas.)

Likely Tampa Bay starter: Mike Smith – Things didn’t go well for Dan Ellis in Tampa Bay’s last game, so it makes sense that Smith is the probable starter. It’s been more about the Lightning’s offense than their goaltending in their wins so far this season, so expect this goalie duo to rotate until somehow produces exemplary work. (Source: Raw Charge.)

8:30 PM ET game

Likely St. Louis starter: Jaroslav Halak – Ty Conklin played against Dallas, so chances are Halak will be back in net for the Blues tonight. (Source: Jeremy Rutherford.)

Likely Chicago starter: Marty Turco – Turco was strong in his first win of the season, so he deserves another shot at solidifying his top spot. (Source: Adam Jahns.)

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.