Today’s Starting Goalies – December 8th

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

San Jose @ Philadelphia

Likely San Jose starter: Antero Niittymaki – It seems like the Sharks are going back to Antti Niemi, as this will be Niittymaki’s first start in December. Could be interesting since the Finnish goalie once played in net for the Flyers. (Source.)

Likely Philadelphia starter: Sergei Bobrovsky (Source.)

Toronto @ Pittsburgh

Likely Toronto starter: Jonas Gustavsson – Again, he should get most of the starts for a while, especially with J.S. Giguere on the shelf. (Source.)

Likely Pittsburgh starter: Marc-Andre Fleury – Click here for a few reasons why it’s a no-brainer to start Fleury. (Source.)

7:30 PM ET game

Nashville @ Detroit

Likely Nashville starter: Anders Lindback – He’s been doing well with Pekka Rinne injured. (Source.)

Likely Detroit starter: Jimmy Howard – Only Carey Price has more wins this season than Howard. (Source.)

8:30 PM ET game

Dallas @ Chicago

Likely Dallas starter: Andrew Raycroft – The Kari Lehtonen injury watch might pick up a bit, as he apparently is dealing with a slight lower body issue. Raycroft has been solid-to-great this season, though, so the Stars are in decent hands. (Source.)

Likely Chicago starter: Corey Crawford – Well, at least Marty Turco is sitting out the contest between these two teams in Chicago … (Source.)

10:00 PM ET game

Anaheim @ Vancouver

Likely Anaheim starter: Curtis McElhinney – I’m going out on a limb with this one, since Jonas Hiller worked late into the evening on Tuesday.

Likely Vancouver starter: Roberto Luongo – No bold predictions necessary when it comes to predicting that Luongo will play for Vancouver, though. (Source.)

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.