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Ride on the Zamboni – Friday, November 5th

Note: We’ll have a rundown of the two latest games (Detroit-Edmonton and Pittsburgh-Anaheim) tomorrow morning/afternoon. Enjoy summaries of the night’s first six games.

NY Rangers 3, New Jersey 0

To quote the great prophet Scooby Doo, “Ruh roh.” The Devils are in big, King Kong-sized trouble right now.

Brandon Dubinsky might be on the least-reported hot streak in the NHL at the moment, scoring the Rangers’ first and third goals of the night to bring his total to a staggering 10 goals on the season. His career high is 20 goals, so don’t blame the hockey world for being a little surprised.

Anyway, Henrik Lunqvist continued his strong play with a 33-save shutout to beat Johan Hedberg in this rivalry match.

Washington 5, Boston 3

Well, so much for Tim Thomas being unbeatable. His superhuman streak of incredible games was halted by the reborn Capitals attack to the point that the Bruins decided to let Tuukka Rask play in the third period.

Then again, Michal Neuvirth got yanked from the game after Boston stormed back to make it 3-3, but a John Carlson game-winner and Alex Ovechkin empty-netter cliched it for the Caps.

Montreal 3, Buffalo 2

Much like the Devils, the agony continues for the once-proud Sabres. Benoit Pouliot scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in the second period as the Canadiens continue to play solid hockey. Patrick Lalime is now 0-3 in the Buffalo net, although like injured starter Ryan Miller, it’s certainly not all his fault.

Florida 7, Carolina 4

The Southeast Division might not be the complete joke it once was, but it’s still a little wacky. Normally I’d attribute most Panthers wins to Tomas Vokoun, but he was pulled midway through the first period after allowing two goals on seven shots. The Panthers put together another 50-shot performance … and this time, they received the two-point payoff they deserved.

Minnesota 2, Calgary 1

The Minnesota Wild are building momentum but shouldn’t get too cocky. They’re now 5-3-1 at home – including a 3-1-1 record during a five-game homestand – while playing only three games (1-1-1) on the road so far this season. Niklas Backstrom bested his countryman Miikka Kiprusoff with a 33-save performance, with Martin Havlat earning the game-winner.

Dallas 6, Phoenix 3

After losing the first three games of a six-game homestand, the Stars are absolutely on fire, winning three-straight in dominating fashion. In three games against the Sabres, Penguins and Coyotes, the Stars outscored their opponents 15-5 (and, honestly, most of the goals they allowed were in garbage time). Loui Eriksson has two consecutive two-goal games to his credit.

Foley is ‘9.5’ out of 10 confident that NHL will expand to Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 10:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (L) and Fidelity National Financial Inc. Chairman and President of Hockey Vision Las Vegas Bill Foley pose during a news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino announcing the launch of a season ticket drive to try to gauge if there is enough interest in Las Vegas to support an NHL team on February 10, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Las Vegas franchise would play in a USD 375 million, 20,000-seat arena being built on the Strip by MGM Resorts International and AEG that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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On a scale of 1 to 10, Bill Foley is “9.5” confident that the NHL will grant him an expansion team for Las Vegas.

That was the main takeaway from an interview Foley did with KSNV NBC in Las Vegas.

At the same time, despite his high level of confidence, Foley would appreciate an answer sooner rather than later — especially if the team is to start playing in 2017-18.

” I don’t want to give the league too much time,” he said, smiling. “They’re doing their job, they’re doing their process and so on. We would really like to have the word by June.”

Foley was asked what he believed to be the biggest “concern” the NHL had about expansion. He replied that it was a matter of whether the league expanded by one team or two (Quebec City has also applied for a franchise), but also the expansion draft.

“Who’s available in the draft? Are players with no-trade clauses…are they going to be part of the draft or not part of the draft?” Foley wondered. “So the owners and the league have a lot of things to do and to figure out.”

Full video of the interview can be found here.

Related: Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

Goalie nods: Backup extraordinaire Montoya gets the call versus Wings

Florida Panthers goalie Al Montoya watches game action against the New Jersey Devils' during the second period of a NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.

Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.

The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).

“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”

Beyond Montoya, other NHL backups with particularly good numbers include the Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth (.933), the Kings’ Jhonas Enroth (.931), the Blues’ Brian Elliott (.930), the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.929), and the Wild’s Darcy Kuemper (.928).

Petr Mrazek will start for the Red Wings. He used to be Detroit’s backup, but he’s since surpassed Jimmy Howard for the starting job.

Elsewhere…

Cory Schneider for the Devils at MSG, versus Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.

John Gibson for the Ducks in Pittsburgh, versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.

— Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning in Ottawa, versus Craig Anderson for the Sens.

Blues put Pietrangelo on IR with knee injury

Pietrangelo-Coyle
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Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.

Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.

Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.

The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.

The first day of the playoffs is April 13.

Update:

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

“I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.

This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.

“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”

Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.

Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.

Vigneault felt the hit was late.

“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.

Beleskey was not suspended.