Early Ride on the Zamboni – Tuesday, March 8th

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Tonight is a busy one in the NHL, with nine games and 18 teams in action. To try to keep you up to date, we have summaries of the earlier games in this post. We’ll keep you informed of the two latest games later on.

Philadelphia 4, Edmonton 1

After being embarrassed by the Rangers during the NBC Game of the Week, the Flyers took their rage out on the lowly Oilers in this one. Philly raced to a 3-0 lead by the second period, as Jeff Carter scored two goals and Daniel Briere had a goal and an assist. This win maintains their two-point lead against the Penguins for the Atlantic Division title.

NY Islanders 4, Toronto 3 (OT)

Earlier this season, this would have been a game between two irrelevant teams. Now it’s a match between two semi-relevant squads who almost certainly won’t cross the finish line in the East’s top eight. Either way, the Isles like winning for a change, as Blake Comeau won it for the Long Island bunch in OT.

Ottawa 2, New Jersey 1

Speaking of teams who might regret their winning ways, the Senators are riding the increased net competence provided by Craig Anderson (no shock) to a nice run. Erik Condra (no, not the super sweet video game Contra) scored two goals to give the Devils a rare regulation loss. Anderson set aside 31 out of 32 shots for the win.

Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 1

After going 92 games without a goal, Zbynek Michalek finally found the net for the Penguins. (To be fair, some of those games came with Phoenix.) James Neal and Mark Letestu also found the twine for the hard-working Pens, who remain two points behind Philly while the Sabres are now only one point ahead of the ninth-place Hurricanes with zero games in hand.

Montreal 4, Boston 1

The Canadiens earned their scoreboard-based revenge on the Bruins in a game that will be overshadowed by Zdeno Chara’s controversial hit on Max Pacioretty. Lars Eller scored the game’s first two goals while Carey Price made 30 saves to lead the Habs to their fifth straight win. They remain three points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast.

Florida 3, Chicago 2

Somewhere (probably in a luxury suite/box), Dale Tallon must have been smiling. His new team beat his former team as Tomas Vokoun stopped 37 shots to help the Panthers best the Blackhawks. The Panthers charged out to a 3-0 lead and then held on to win.

Minnesota 5, Colorado 2

The Wild pulled themselves to within one point of the West’s top eight with this win. After moving into a 2-2 tie heading into the third period, John Madden scored the game winner while Jared Spurgeon added an insurance tally. Kyle Brodziak also notched an empty-netter as the team came up big in the final frame of a game they needed to win.

Lundqvist will start four of five remaining games

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Henrik Lundqvist has had two tough starts since returning from injury.

The 35-year-old allowed five goals in his first game back, a 6-3 loss to Anaheim Sunday, and five more in his second game, a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose Tuesday.

But Lundqvist is still the No. 1 in New York, and for that reason he’s scheduled to start four of the Rangers’ five remaining regular-season games, with the hope he’ll be able to play his way back into form in time for the postseason.

Lundqvist was not happy after Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, even though the point the Rangers gained earned them a playoff berth.

“I’m extremely disappointed right now,” he told reporters. “I’m glad we’re in, but I want to get the job done. I want the win. We found a way to lose this one at the end.”

With the loss, Lundqvist’s save percentage fell to .911 on the season. If it finishes at that number, it would be the lowest save percentage of his NHL career.

Antti Raanta‘s save percentage, meanwhile, sits at .922. In his last start, he shut out the Kings in Los Angeles.

The Rangers host Pittsburgh tomorrow and Philadelphia Sunday. Next week, they’re in Washington Wednesday, Ottawa Saturday, and then they close out their schedule at home to Pittsburgh Sunday.

Raanta will start one of the final two games.

The Rangers are likely to face Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.

Reinhart suggests benching him for an entire game might’ve been a stretch

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Two days after Sam Reinhart was bolted to the pine for the entirety of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus — his punishment for showing up late to a team stretch — Reinhart discussed the incident, and didn’t sound overly thrilled about how it played out.

“It’s a coach’s decision. It’s a management decision,” Reinhart said, per the Buffalo News. “From my perspective, I would have rather battled it out with my teammates.

“I don’t think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should have been there on time.”

Reinhart also had this to say:

Discipline of this nature is pretty common, though the way Reinhart’s played out was a bit more dramatic. Rather than park him in the press box as a healthy scratch, the Sabres — who didn’t have an extra forward, as Kyle Okposo was out sick — dressed the 21-year-old, then sat him for the entire 60 minutes.

The Buffalo News said the move “would seem to send a deeper message than merely being scratch,” adding that “there has been friction between players and [Sabres head coach Dan] Bylsma throughout the season.”

In the club’s defense, Reinhart is hardly the first young player to be punished for lateness. Nikita Zadorov had repeated issues with punctuality and, after being suspended, was eventually traded to Colorado. Evander Kane was parked for a game last season after sleeping in and missing a practice.

Of course, each situation is unique and some will argue showing up five minutes late for a stretch isn’t on par with what Zadorov and Kane did. Which is fair. That could be why Bylsma said the club might consider a policy change.

And that could by why Reinhart’s teammate, Jack Eichel, tried to put things in perspective.

“We’re obviously not going to hold it over his head here,” Eichel said, per the News. “He didn’t really do too much wrong.”

North Dakota’s Poolman turns pro, signs with Jets

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Another day, another North Dakota departure.

Having already lost freshman Tyson Jost (signed with Colorado) and sophomore Brock Boeser (signed with Vancouver), the school has now learned that junior blueliner Tucker Poolman has signed an entry-level deal with the Jets.

Poolman, 23, was taken by Winnipeg in the fifth round (127th overall) at the ’13 draft. From the Free Press:

UND’s top defenceman was playing between 25 and 30 minutes per game and was the fourth-highest scoring blue-liner in the NCHC. He finished the season with seven goals, 30 points, 14 penalty minutes and a plus-18 rating in 38 games.

Poolman’s final campaign ended on a sour note. He suffered a shoulder injury during the NCHC championship game and was unable to play in North Dakota’s season-ending loss to Boston University in the NCAA championships.

Coming to America: Jackets assign Carlsson to Cleveland

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His Swedish season over, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson is coming to North America to play some hockey.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that Carlsson, the 29th overall pick in the 2015 draft, has been assigned to AHL Cleveland.

From the press release:

Carlsson, 20, recently completed his second full season with Linköping HC in the Swedish Hockey League where he collected two goals and two assists for four points with six penalty minutes and a +8 plus/minus rating in 40 games.

Linköping was eliminated from the SHL playoffs on Tuesday.

Carlsson is listed at 6-4 and 191 pounds.