James Reimer, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa

Early ride on the Zamboni – Saturday, March 5th

For a recap of the Islanders win against the Blues and Sabres-Flyers game, click here. This post details the Canucks’ win against the Kings. Finally, here are recaps of the five early evening games. We’ll summarize the final two of the night later on.

Chicago 5, Toronto 3

The Blackhawks won their eight game in a row, but hopefully it didn’t come at the cost of Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, who took a controversial elbow from Leafs plugger Mike Brown. Jonathan Toews scored a goal, extending his personal points streak to nine games. Chicago is now in fourth place in the West thanks to another impressive win; is it time to take them seriously as a Cup contender again?

Pittsburgh 3, Boston 2 (OT)

While the Blackhawks kept their winning streak going and the Sharks are playing the Stars tonight, at least one hot run is done. Despite getting a dramatic David Krejci goal in the waning seconds with Boston’s net empty, the Bruins weren’t able to grind out a win against the scrappy Penguins. Dustin Jeffrey left Dennis “The Pain Sponge” Seidenberg in the dust on the deciding goal in OT, befuddling Tim Thomas to give the Penguins a much-needed win.

Atlanta 4, Florida 3 (OT)

Considering how rare wins have been for the Thrashers lately, this game must have been a breath of fresh air, especially since Atlanta’s most important players came up big. Captain Andrew Ladd scored two goals and one assist, including the overtime winner. Dustin Byfuglien produced a four assist night. Even recently traded forward Blake Wheeler came up big, scoring the two other Thrashers goals. Sergei Samsonov notched a goal and an assist in one of his first contests as a Panther.

Montreal 4, Tampa Bay 2

The Canadiens beat the Lightning in front of a crowd with more than its fair share of Montreal fans in Tampa Bay tonight, as Carey Price stopped 43 out of 45 shots to help his team take the game. Max Pacioretty scored twice, including a game-winner on the power play, but perhaps the most surprising development was that Hal Gill also had a goal in the game.

Phoenix 5, Detroit 4 (SO)

If the City of Glendale was anywhere near as resilient as the team it hosts, the Phoenix Coyotes’ ownership situation would have been settled a long time ago. The Red Wings carried a 4-1 lead into the third period as it looked like Phoenix’s playoff hopes were dimming, but the team scored three unanswered goals to get it to OT. The game went to a shootout, with Radim Vrbata scoring the only skills competition goal while Detroit hit two posts against Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Coyotes broke a five-game losing streak with this win, moving themselves up to fifth place in the West with 78 points.

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”

Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

Robin Lehner
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Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

(So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”

Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

Ryan Johansen

Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

More (transcribed from video):

“That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

“What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.