Today’s Starting Goalies – December 26th

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

Nashville @ St. Louis

Likely Nashville starter: Pekka Rinne – Looks like he’s back, and not a moment too soon, as the Predators are floundering. (Source.)

Likely St. Louis starter: Jaroslav Halak (Source.)

Washington @ Carolina

Likely Washington starter: Michal Neuvirth – If this game does take place (it most likely will), Neuvirth will play. (Source.)

Likely Carolina starter: Cam Ward (Source.)

Columbus @ Chicago

Likely Columbus starter: Mathieu Garon (Source.)

Likely Chicago starter: Marty Turco We discussed this one earlier today.

Montreal @ NY Islanders

Likely Montreal starter: Carey Price (Source.)

Likely NY Islanders starter: Dwayne Roloson (Source.)

Detroit @ Minnesota

Likely Detroit starter: Jimmy Howard (Source.)

Likely Minnesota starter: Niklas Backstrom (Source.)

Toronto @ New Jersey

Likely Toronto starter: Jonas Gustavsson (Source.)

Likely New Jersey starter: Martin Brodeur (Source.)

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta

Likely Tampa Bay starter: Dan Ellis (Source.)

Likely Atlanta starter: Ondrej Pavelec (Source.)

7:30 pm ET game

Pittsburgh @ Ottawa

Likely Pittsburgh starter: Marc-Andre Fleury (Source.)

Likely Ottawa starter: Brian Elliott (Source.)

8:00 pm ET game

Phoenix @ Dallas

Likely Phoenix starter: Jason LaBarbera – This one’s a coin toss, though.

Likely Dallas starter: Kari Lehtonen (Source.)

9:00 pm ET games

Edmonton @ Vancouver

Likely Edmonton starter: Nikolai Khabibulin (Source.)

Likely Vancouver starter: Roberto Luongo (Source.)

Anaheim @ Los Angeles

Likely Anaheim starter: Jonas Hiller – As usual, this isn’t a sure thing, but he typically gets the nod anyway.

Likely Los Angeles starter: Jonathan Bernier – The Kings have back-to-back games today and tomorrow, so it makes sense to give the “other” Jonathan a start. (Source.)

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.