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Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, November 13th (early edition)

Let’s take a look at the nine “early” games for tonight. We’ll have a summary of the last two tomorrow.

Philadelphia 5, Florida 2

The Flyers moved themselves one point behind the East (and league) leading Washington Capitals after beating the Panthers 5-2. Both Mike Richards and contract-extended Claude Giroux poured two goals on this one, while Scott Hartnell continued his short-haired scoring streak with another goal.

Detroit 3, Colorado 1

Obviously this isn’t the rivalry it once was – although the Avalanche are starting to get things together by increments – but surely the Red Wings still feel good to beat their foes from Colorado. The other highlight for Detroit fans: Jiri Hudler scored his first regular season goal since the 2008-09 season since he missed last year for cap reasons.

Vancouver 5, Toronto 3

The Maple Leafs provided a valiant effort, but when you’re on what is now an eight-game losing streak, “almost” is basically a slap in the face too. Ryan Kesler posted his second two-goal game of the week in this one.

Montreal 7, Carolina 2

For a semi-decent team, the Hurricanes sure get blown out a lot. This time the Habs were handing out the beating on the strength of Tomas Plekanec’s four points and Carey Price’s 28 saves. Conversely, Cam Ward was pulled for the second straight game.

Ottawa 2, Boston 0

The Senators gained revenge on the Bruins for shutting them out at home by shutting them down at home. It’s the golden rule, hockey edition, as Brian Elliott continued his torrid play with a 31-save shutout.

Buffalo 3, Washington 2 (OT)

It was the Finally Game tonight: Ryan Miller (finally) came back from his injury, the Buffalo Sabres (finally) won a home game and someone (finally) beat the hotter-than-Brooklyn Decker Capitals. Expect Thomas Vanek’s goal to be on many highlight reels … and maybe our Goal of the Night/Week.

Pittsburgh 4, Atlanta 2

Two games doesn’t mean a lot in the grand scheme of things, but for Penguins fans, these two back-to-back wins must be a godsend. Marc-Andre Fleury now has (gasp) two consecutive wins while the notably struggling Evgeni Malkin was involved in every Pittsburgh goal, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist.

Phoenix 5, St. Louis 3

Speaking of huge nights for struggling players, how about Ray Whitney. “The Wizard” was involved in all of the Coyotes goals, with a hat trick and two goals. He almost matched his six point season total in one outstanding night.

Nashville 4, Chicago 3 (SO)

It might not heal the wounds from the Blackhawks’ hard-fought playoff series win, but my guess is that the Predators relish every little victory against their division rivals. Pekka Rinne slightly out-dueled Marty Turco in a game that went to the wire via the shootout.

Goalie nods: Budaj set to make Kings debut

during a preseason game at Staples Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
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Journeyman Peter Budaj looks as though he’ll make his first regular-season NHL appearance since April of 2014, when the Kings take on the Rangers at MSG.

Recalled from AHL Ontario due to an injury to Jonathan Quick, Budaj gets the nod tonight after Quick’s backup, Jhonas Enroth, was beat for four goals on 29 shots in last night’s loss to the Islanders.

Budaj, 33, has certainly earned another crack at the big leagues. After catching on with the Kings through a PTO in training camp, he’s been terrific in Ontario, going 26-9-3 with a 1.58 GAA and .935 save percentage. The Slovakian netminder also has eight shutouts this year.

For the Rangers, Antti Raanta gets the start in goal, giving Henrik Lundqvist a night off.

Elsewhere…

Ben Scrivens, who appears to be the new No. 1 in Montreal, will go for his fourth straight win when the Habs visit Buffalo. Chad Johnson is in goal for the Sabres, who’ve really struggled of late.

Marc-Andre Fleury goes for the Penguins, while it looks like Cam Ward is in for Carolina.

— Really good matchup in Detroit as Semyon Varlamov goes up against Petr Mrazek who, according to Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, has “crashed Braden Holtby’s Vezina party.”

— Battle of All-Star netminders in Tampa Bay, as Ben Bishop goes for the Bolts while Pekka Rinne starts for Nashville.

The red-hot Brian Elliott will continue to roll as St. Louis’ No. 1 in Florida. The Panthers will go with their old reliable, Roberto Luongo.

Now that Karri Ramo’s on IR, it’s Jonas Hiller time for the Flames. He’ll start tonight in Arizona, against Louis Domingue.

Therrien refutes report that Price is likely done for the season

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Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.

“We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”

That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.

The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.

Related: With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

With trade deadline approaching, Canucks announce Edler out 6 weeks, Sutter 6-8 weeks

Washington Capitals v Vancouver Canucks
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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they’ll be without defenseman Alex Edler (fractured fibula) for six weeks and center Brandon Sutter (broken jaw that required surgery) for six to eight weeks.

So basically those two are gone for the remainder of regular season, save for possibly a few games at the tail end of the schedule.

For a bubble team that doesn’t boast a ton of depth, the injuries are significant. Edler leads the Canucks in ice time, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. Sutter, arguably their best defensive center, already missed a big chunk of games earlier in the season following sports-hernia surgery.

But GM Jim Benning still isn’t giving up on the playoffs. Yesterday, he went on Vancouver radio and suggested the Canucks could actually be buyers at the trade deadline.

Benning only has a couple of weeks to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agents defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata. The trade deadline is Feb. 29.

The Canucks, currently just two points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot, have a pair of winnable games coming up. They host Toronto Saturday and Minnesota Monday.

Related: Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Jets activate Pavelec from IR, send Hellebuyck back to minors

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Winnipeg’s goalie of the future is off to continue his development in the AHL.

On Friday, the Jets activated veteran netminder Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve and, in a subsequent move, sent rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to their affiliate in Manitoba.

Hellebuyck, 22, arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare, having starred for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds while being named an AHL All-Star as well.

This was his first-ever stint with the Jets, and it went OK — Hellebuyck posted an 13-11-1 record, .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA — but he did struggle of late, getting hooked in two of his last three outings.

Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pavelec.

His numbers prior to getting hurt weren’t any better than Hellebuyck’s — .906 save percentage, 2.82 GAA — and there will be considerable rust to knock off, given he’s been out since late November with a knee issue.

There’s also the long-term implication.

Pavelec, a lightning rod for criticism over the last few seasons, has one year left on his five-year, $19.5 million extension, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July of ’17.

It could be his last season in Winnipeg (assuming he’s not bought out of the final year of his deal), which makes one wonder what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in store.

It’s also worth noting there’s a third goalie in this equation: Michael Hutchinson, who’s a pending RFA.