Tampa Bay waives goalie Mike Smith; Do Isles clear up Nabokov mess with him?

Things are going so well in Tampa Bay with Dwayne Roloson that they feel comfortable enough to put one of their other goalies on waivers. No Internet fans, it’s not Dan Ellis. The often injured Mike Smith was placed on waivers today by the Lightning meaning that they feel comfortable enough with Roloson and Ellis to go with them the rest of the way.

To be more accurate, you’d have to say they feel more comfortable with Roloson carrying the Lightning the rest of this season and into the playoffs. For Smith, this pretty much ends his time in Tampa Bay, a time that started with a lot of promise after coming over from Dallas. Instead, Smith was constantly beset by injuries keeping him out of the lineup and unreliable as a starter.

Of course, with him on waivers the questions now arise as to who might be interested and if there’s ever been a team that’s had an affinity for oft-injured goaltenders it’s the New York Islanders. All right, cheap shot to Rick DiPietro aside the Islanders have their own headaches in goal in not having an NHL-experienced backup for DiPietro. They tried to rectify that by claiming Evgeni Nabokov on waivers, but Nabokov refuses to report to the team and the Islanders have suspended him for that.

The Isles could end that whole fiasco themselves by claiming Smith from Tampa Bay and plugging him in to split time with DiPietro for the rest of the season. Smith is in the final year of a deal that’s paying him $2.2 million this season against the cap. The pro rated cost of that for the rest of this season would be of minimal impact to the Isles.

It would also ensure that injury concerns would surround the Isles crease the rest of the season as well as put an end to wondering if they’ll see Nabokov come in at all this season. While the Isles would lose leverage in the situation with the Russian netminder, they could also then figure out a way to part ways with him and be rid of the whole side show.

The Isles might be wise to do that unless they’re looking to toll Nabokov’s deal until next season then forcing him into a one-year deal on the cheap with them next year. Then again, if the Isles were serious about getting an experienced goalie in there so Kevin Poulin could go back to the AHL and get his time in there it’s a virtual no-brainer to grab Smith and stop wondering about Nabokov.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.