Nashville Predators goalie Rinne blocks shot from Vancouver Canucks Sedin during their NHL hockey game in Vancouver

Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, March 12

Detroit 5, St. Louis 3

The Blues were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the 3rd period—but it wasn’t enough. It looked like the Blues were going to come back and win their 4th straight until the Wings exploded for two goals in 1:20 to salt away the victory. Pavel Datsyuk scored the goal of the night on what ended up being the game-winner and Justin Abdelkader scored the insurance goal to eliminate any doubt. Datsyuk’s goal was his fifth game-winner on the year including the second in as many nights.

Nashville 4, Colorado 2

People will see the score and just chalk it up to another loss by the struggling Avalanche. The defeat was the Avs 18th loss in their last 19 games since January 25th. But in a time for moral victories, Colorado showed a lot of fight to get back into a game that easily could have gotten out of control. They pulled to within a single goal, pulled their goaltender and peppered Pekka Rinne as they tried to pull even. Only an empty net goal by Martin Erat made the score look worse than it was. But at the end of the day, a loss is a loss.

On the flipside, a win is a win for the Nashville Predators. The Preds jumped all over the Avs early and coasted for their second straight victory at home to start an important 5-game homestand. Joel Ward continued his recent great play scoring a goal in his 3rd straight game. If the Preds can get some secondary scoring to go with the stellar goaltending Rinne gives them every night, it will go a long way towards making the all important March playoff push.

Vancouver 4, Calgary 3

Going into the night, this might have been the most intriguing game. Both teams have been extremely strong over the last 2 months and it was a great measuring stick to see just how far the Flames had come from the beginning of the year.

After the game, we had a reminder of where both teams stand: it’s the first time Calgary lost back-to-back games in regulation since January; and the Canucks finished up their 5 game road trip against Western Conference playoff contenders with a perfect 5-0 record. Daniel Sedin had 2 goals and an assist and Ryan Kesler returned to the scoresheet for the first time in 11 games. The good thing for the Flames is that even after the loss they’re still tied for 5th in the West. The bad thing is they are also tied for 8th and everyone in the conference has games in hand. At least they only have to play the Canucks one more time this season.

NY Rangers 3, San Jose 2 (SO)

In a game that featured far more hate and rough stuff than you’d expect for an inter-conference matchup, the Rangers survived an exciting shootout and escaped with the win after 6 rounds. They only mustered 22 shots against the Sharks, but that proved to be enough. You won’t hear anyone complaining as the win vaulted them past the Buffalo Sabres for 7th in the East.

The Sharks finished a successful 6-game homestand with a 3-1-2 record. Even though they lost a point in the race for the 2nd seed, they’re still 3 points ahead of the Dallas Stars for the Pacific Division lead. In more silver lining news, Dan Boyle returned to the lineup and immediately looked like the all-star defensemen the Sharks have grown accustomed to.

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    Foley is ‘9.5’ out of 10 confident that NHL will expand to Vegas

    LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 10:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (L) and Fidelity National Financial Inc. Chairman and President of Hockey Vision Las Vegas Bill Foley pose during a news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino announcing the launch of a season ticket drive to try to gauge if there is enough interest in Las Vegas to support an NHL team on February 10, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Las Vegas franchise would play in a USD 375 million, 20,000-seat arena being built on the Strip by MGM Resorts International and AEG that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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    On a scale of 1 to 10, Bill Foley is “9.5” confident that the NHL will grant him an expansion team for Las Vegas.

    That was the main takeaway from an interview Foley did with KSNV NBC in Las Vegas.

    At the same time, despite his high level of confidence, Foley would appreciate an answer sooner rather than later — especially if the team is to start playing in 2017-18.

    ” I don’t want to give the league too much time,” he said, smiling. “They’re doing their job, they’re doing their process and so on. We would really like to have the word by June.”

    Foley was asked what he believed to be the biggest “concern” the NHL had about expansion. He replied that it was a matter of whether the league expanded by one team or two (Quebec City has also applied for a franchise), but also the expansion draft.

    “Who’s available in the draft? Are players with no-trade clauses…are they going to be part of the draft or not part of the draft?” Foley wondered. “So the owners and the league have a lot of things to do and to figure out.”

    Full video of the interview can be found here.

    Related: Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

    Goalie nods: Backup extraordinaire Montoya gets the call versus Wings

    Florida Panthers goalie Al Montoya watches game action against the New Jersey Devils' during the second period of a NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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    The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.

    Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.

    The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).

    “They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”

    Beyond Montoya, other NHL backups with particularly good numbers include the Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth (.933), the Kings’ Jhonas Enroth (.931), the Blues’ Brian Elliott (.930), the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.929), and the Wild’s Darcy Kuemper (.928).

    Petr Mrazek will start for the Red Wings. He used to be Detroit’s backup, but he’s since surpassed Jimmy Howard for the starting job.

    Elsewhere…

    Cory Schneider for the Devils at MSG, versus Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.

    John Gibson for the Ducks in Pittsburgh, versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.

    — Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning in Ottawa, versus Craig Anderson for the Sens.

    Blues put Pietrangelo on IR with knee injury

    Pietrangelo-Coyle
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    Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.

    Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.

    Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.

    The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.

    The first day of the playoffs is April 13.

    Update:

    Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

    “I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

    Alain Vigneault
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    Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.

    This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.

    “An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”

    Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.

    Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.

    Vigneault felt the hit was late.

    “I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.

    Beleskey was not suspended.