Scott Clemmensen goes in for knee surgery, Florida backup job up for grabs

When you’re the backup goalie heading into the season, preparing for the year to either split time with the starter or potentially prove you can carry the bulk of the load is part of the job. Going down with an injury helps open the door for the young guys to show they can take over. Such is the case in Florida as backup goalie Scott Clemmensen will be out of action for up to a month after having a procedure done on his wonky knee.

With Clemmensen down and Jose Theodore slotted in as the starting goalie for the Panthers, it’s up to the Florida youth to help step up and provide support.

The two leading candidates to take Clemmensen’s spot are Tyler Plante and highly-touted prospect Jacob Markstrom. Plante was a second round pick of the Panthers back in 2005 while Markstrom was a second round pick in 2008. Plante is three years older while Markstrom comes with higher hopes for the organization. So who has the edge to fill the position? George Richards of On Frozen Pond thinks he’s got a bead on the competition.

Clemmensen was supposed to start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars but now it looks like Tyler Plante will get that look.

So, with the Panthers going into the season with Clemmensen out, don’t be surprised if it is Plante who stays and Jacob Markstrom who heads down to the AHL.

Regarding playing time at both levels, keeping Markstrom in the AHL would make sense as he’d be San Antonio’s starter and play every game for the Rampage. Plante being a bit more experienced and perhaps not as much in need of consistent starts or appearances would be an apt fill in for Clemmensen in the NHL in the meantime. Plante has yet to make an appearance in the NHL, but should he get the call over Markstrom, he’d be able to get at least one start in before Clemmensen returns.

If Markstrom is the Panthers’ choice, it’d make for a curious one as he’s just 21 years-old and still in need of seeing a lot of game time. Markstrom did make one appearance for the Panthers last season late in the year giving up two goals to the Lightning in a loss. Markstrom is the guy the organization has high hopes of being their eventual number one goalie, but that’s not likely to start to happen this year with both Theodore and Clemmensen (when healthy) around.

How coach Kevin Dineen sees things play out the rest of the preseason will be a curious one to see how the Panthers opt to go with their backup situation. Plante seems to make more sense, but Markstrom’s future with the franchise could force the organization to want to see him at the next level and how he stacks up now.

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.