Today’s Starting Goalies – November 24 (early edition)

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.

7:00 PM ET games

Pittsburgh @ Buffalo

Likely Pittsburgh starter: Marc-Andre Fleury – Word is that Brent Johnson was going to get the start, but came down with the flu and is likely to play in the Penguins’ next game instead. (Source: Inside Pittsburgh Sports.)

Likely Buffalo starter: Jhonas Enroth – No Ryan Miller tonight. There’s a slight chance the Sabres might start former Penguins goalie Patrick Lalime, though. (Source: another Inside Pittsburgh Sports Tweet.)

Columbus @ NY Islanders

Likely Columbus starter: Mathieu Garon – The Blue Jackets have enjoyed the work of both of their goalies in their improbable month of brilliance, so don’t expect much – if any – drop off from Steve Mason to Garon. (Source: Aaron Portzline.)

Likely NY Islanders starter: Rick DiPietro – He actually looked pretty good in his last start, so maybe he can help the Islanders end their ugly losing streak? It won’t be easy against the road rugged Blue Jackets (7-1-0 away record). (Source: NY Islanders.)

Washington @ Carolina

Likely Washington starter: Semyon Varlamov – No guarantee at all, but my guess is that this means Braden Holtby’s days are probably numbered. (Source: Katie Carrera.)

Likely Carolina starter: Justin Peters – The Hurricanes have been up-and-down lately, but one common thread is that they’ve only won with Cam Ward. Peters will try to earn his first win of the season the hard way tonight. (Source: Canes Country.)

Detroit @ Atlanta

Likely Detroit starter: Jimmy Howard – He’s been a little off his game lately, but Howard is still the clear starter in Detroit. (Source: Winging it in Motown.)

Likely Atlanta starter: Ondrej Pavelec – It seems like he’s starting to take hold of the “1a” job in Atlanta. (Source: Chris Vivlamore.)

7:30 PM ET games

Los Angeles @ Montreal

Likely Los Angeles starter: Jonathan Bernier – Much has been made of the fact that this is a homecoming for Bernier. Will that mean a high-end performance or a pressure-packed meltdown? (Source: Rich Hammond.)

Likely Montreal starter: Carey Price – I almost feel a bit bad for Alex Auld; he’s actually a pretty good backup. Yet Price has played so well, it’s hard to argue with the Habs starting him once again. (Source: Habs Inside/Out.)

Dallas @ Ottawa

Likely Dallas starter: Andrew Raycroft – Smart move by the Stars, as Kari Lehtonen might have been getting a little worn down and the team has back-to-back games coming up this weekend. (Source: Defending Big D.)

Likely Ottawa starter: Pascal Leclaire – Makes sense after he helped Ottawa get a surprise win over the Kings. (Source: Silver Seven Sens.)

Calgary @ New Jersey

Likely Calgary starter: Henrik Karlsson – A rare non-Kipper start for the Flames. (Source: Roger Millions.)

Likely New Jersey starter: Johan Hedberg – It appears that Martin Brodeur isn’t ready to come back yet. (Source: Tom Gulitti.)

NY Rangers @ Tampa Bay

Likely NY Rangers starter: Henrik Lundqvist – Dare I call it the return of the Kings? Sorry, I guess I did. Not sure if it’s a guarantee he’ll be back, but I’d say the chances are pretty good.

Likely Tampa Bay starter: Mike Smith – Just when it seemed like Dan Ellis had a loose grip on the top job, Smith is now the not-quite-proverbial hot hand. (Source: Mike Corcoran.)

Boston @ Florida

Likely Boston starter: Tim Thomas (Source: Joe Haggerty.)

Likely Florida starter: Tomas Vokoun (Source: George Richards.)

Ilya Kovalchuk aiming for NHL return after 5 years away

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MOSCOW (AP) Former NHL forward Ilya Kovalchuk says he wants to return to the league this summer and play there for “several more years.”

Kovalchuk tells Russian state sports channel Match TV that if he doesn’t try again to win a Stanley Cup, “I won’t forgive myself for it when I get older.”

Kovalchuk, who won the Olympic gold medal last month, says he’s focused on winning the Kontinental Hockey League with SKA St. Petersburg, “but in the summer I’m going to examine offers” from the NHL.

He adds that he wants to match Russian teammate Pavel Datsyuk as a member of the so-called triple gold club of players who have won the Olympic gold medal, world championship, and Stanley Cup.

Kovalchuk walked out on the New Jersey Devils in 2013 to return to Russia, where he has since won two KHL titles.

The Buzzer: Kane nets four; Preds first to clinch

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Players of the Night:

Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks: It took him 565 NHL games and three teams, but Kane now has his first NHL hat trick. Then he made sure to grab his first four-goal NHL game for the hell of it. Kane has five goals and 10 points in eight games since the trade deadline, the most of any player dealt this year on deadline day.

Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators: Hoffman had an assist in regulation and then one-timed his fifth game-winning goal of the season in overtime to help the Senators past the Dallas Stars.

Nashville Predators: For no other reason than they claimed first blood in a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche, becoming the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot.

Highlights of the Night:

Bravo, Johnny:

Kane’s hat trick goal:



Factoids of the Night:


Senators 3, Stars 2 (OT)

Capitals 6, Islanders 3

Predators 4, Avalanche 2

Sharks 7, Flames 4

Ducks 4, Red Wings 2

Wild 4, Golden Knights 2

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Rangers getting a good look at the future, despite playoff disappointment

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Silver linings for teams far off the playoff line are few and far between at this time of the year.

But if there is one that can be taken for any team looking at re-tooling or rebuilding for next season, it’s the ability to take a look at the future crop against NHL adversaries.

The New York Rangers are one of these teams. They declared themselves open for business prior to the trade deadline and dealt away some big names, including Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, for some younger talent.

They’re also facing a challenge with aging goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who, as great as he is, won’t win the battle with Father Time.

Needing to fill holes at several positions, the Rangers have been able to take a good look at a couple of promising prospects, including what may well be their future between the pipes.

New York has played rookie Alexandar Georgiev six times and owns a 3-2-0 record since he played his first NHL game on Feb. 22. Despite picking up the loss, Georgiev allowed just two goals on 40 shots for a .950 save percentage.

He’d give up four in his next start the following night, but since then has amassed three straight wins, including a 37-save performance on Wednesday against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll be called upon again on Saturday, another test and another chance for evaluation.

The inital analysis is promising. Georgiev is sitting on a very respectable .929 save percentage in his brief time in the NHL and he’s already turning heads around the league.’s Kevin Woodley’s wrote that Georgiev is taking after the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky — some pretty good company.

Blueshirt Banter’s Tom Urtz Jr. took a really deep dive in Georgiev, concluding by calling him a “pleasant surprise.”

There’s a lot to like about him, his potential is visible, and the circumstances are set up in his favor for him to be able to prove himself more in an extended setting next season,” Urtz Jr. wrote.

Shifting to the men in the rearguard, Neal Pionk is making the most the big minutes he’s been getting over the past 17 games, and he’s starting to produce.

Pionk is on a three-game point streak with five assists during that span.

Also 22 and also undrafted, Pionk, like Georgiev, is showing real promise on defense.

“He competes hard and he’s got a good skill set,” Vigneault told on Friday. “He can make that good pass and there’s no doubt that in his college and prior to that, he was considered an offensive defenseman. He’d join the rush and was good on the power play, so there is some upside there with him. We need to continue to work at his game and continue to improve it.”

The Rangers appear to have some budding young talent and an array of players to build around with the likes Pavel Buchnevich, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jimmy Vesey — assuming they sign the latter two who are set to become RFAs at the end of this season.

And perhaps most importantly, the Rangers, who have long held the distinction as a team where old players go to get older, seem to finally be favoring youth over past-their-prime talent.

That’s good news for Rangers fans.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Ducks lose Bieksa for 2-5 weeks


ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa will be out for two to five weeks after surgery to remove scar tissue from his left hand.

Bieksa is having surgery Friday, the Ducks announced.

The 36-year-old Bieksa has eight assists in 59 games this season for Anaheim, which is fighting to get into playoff position with three weeks left in the regular season.

Anaheim recalled defenseman Korbinian Holzer from its AHL affiliate in San Diego before facing the Detroit Red Wings at Honda Center on Friday night.

The Ducks have won five consecutive Pacific Division titles and made five straight postseason appearances, reaching the Western Conference finals last season. But Anaheim (35-24-12) began this weekend out of playoff position and in fourth place in the Pacific.

More AP NHL: