The Lightning are going to have to do their best to hang in the race in the Southeast Division without Mike Smith for a little while. Smith has a sprained MCL in his left knee after getting accidentally clipped by teammate Simon Gagne during practice. Smith will be out 2-3 weeks to recover.
The timing of the injury is unfortunate for the Lightning as Smith was showing signs of shaking off a slump that had his stats ranked out as some of the poorest amongst regular goaltenders. Over his last two games though he was 2-0-0 with a goals against average under 1.00 and a save percentage of .961.
Goaltending has been the Lightning’s biggest issue this season and with Smith seemingly having turned it around, losing him so soon after that is bad timing. The pressure shifts to Dan Ellis to carry the burden for Tampa Bay in goal and his stats haven’t been much better than Smith’s over the course of the year. If Ellis falters, youngster Cedrick Desjardins slots in as the backup option. Desjardins was acquired from Montreal in the off-season for Karri Ramo.
Desjardins played well last year for the Canadiens farm team in Hamilton and the chances of him seeing an opportunity to find out what he can do at the NHL level are going to come, especially if Ellis stays inconsistent. It’s not an optimal situation for a team that appeared ready to turn things around, but it shapes up to be another test for coach Guy Boucher’s squad.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to push the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night.
Hartnell scored in the first period and got the tiebreaker in the third, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a terrible second period to beat the Hurricanes for the second time this week. Carolina has lost three straight.
Markus Hannikainen also scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky had 35 saves for Columbus.
Sebastian Aho and Justin Faulk scored in the second period for Carolina. Michael Leighton, recalled from Charlotte of the AHL on Thursday, started in place of Cam Ward and stopped 17 shots.
Hannikainen poked in the first goal for Columbus 4:49 into the game off a rebound in front of Carolina’s net. The shot through traffic resulted in the first goal and point of the 23-year-old rookie’s NHL career.
About 10 minutes later, Hartnell got a breakaway and slammed a slap shot past Leighton’s glove from just inside the blue line to put Columbus up 2-0 at the first break.
“I just tried to bury my head and shoot as hard as I could,” Hartnell said.
The second period belonged to the Hurricanes.
Carolina got the first one back on a power play 9:05 in when Aho picked up the loose puck off Jaccob Slavin‘s blocked slap shot and found the net from eight feet out.
Justin Faulk tied it at 2 when he carried the puck through the neutral zone and snapped off a shot from the right circle that rattled off the bar and in with 4:33 left. Carolina outshot Columbus 9-2 in the period, and Blue Jackets players went to the penalty box four times.
Hartnell got the winner when he took a pass from Sam Gagner and knocked it in from 13 feet with 9:35 left.
Carolina pulled the goalie with 2:32 left but couldn’t tie it.
Alexei Emelin has once again drawn the ire of opposing players.
This time, it was the Buffalo Sabres responding to a hit thrown by Emelin, who caught Matt Moulson with a dangerous hit from behind into the boards during the second period of their game on Saturday.
A massive scrum ensued right over top of Emelin and Moulson along the boards.
Emelin, who has a history of massive and questionable hits throughout his career (See here, here and here for examples) was given a minor penalty for boarding on the play.
Wayne Simmonds is not only a productive power forward, but he’s one tough customer.
He showed that again Saturday, dropping the gloves with Miles Wood of the New Jersey Devils during the first period.
The fight occurred right after Wood drove Radko Gudas hard into the boards on the forecheck. The scrap didn’t last long, however, with Simmonds landing a few shots and then taking the Devils forward to the ice.
Simmonds was assessed an extra roughing minor.
The Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings have made a minor league trade on Saturday.
The Blackhawks acquired forward Michael Latta, who has 113 games of NHL experience with the Washington Capitals, in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.
Latta will report to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, according to the Blackhawks. In 29 games this season with the Ontario Reign, Latta has two goals and six points.
Schilling, 28, is expected to be assigned to the Reign, the team said in a release.
In 40 games this season with the IceHogs, Schilling has seven goals and 17 points.