Winnipeg Jets v Florida Panthers

Revenge, reunion and review: Jets edge Panthers in shootout

Surely there are some people out there who legitimately felt like the Florida Panthers and Atlanta Thrashers had some sort of rivalry. For the rest of us, it was like watching a battle between cats and dogs, though. In their own minds it was a ferocious fight, but everyone else just giggled at how adorable their bickering ended up being.

Things might be at least a little bit different starting this season, though. The Panthers’ renovation is looking pretty promising so far while their opponents are now the Winnipeg Jets, a team followed as frantically as the Thrashers were largely ignored.

That’s not the only thing that makes this an interesting budding rivalry, though. One could consider each squad Chicago Blackhawks off-shoot A and B; the Jets employ former Hawks like Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd while the Panthers spent big money to add from Windy City players such as Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky.

Add some hard feelings for (in my opinion unfairly) fired former Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay and it shouldn’t be surprising that the two squads’ Halloween match featured an almost scary level of competition. The Jets nabbed a 4-3 shootout win, but it wasn’t without its nastiness and a little controversy.

Revenge: Instead of Ramsay’s revenge, the big vengeance storyline developed in-game. Scottie Upshall landed a hit on Evander Kane that might gain some attention from the NHL, but Kane shook it off and scored two big goals.

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Reunion: That wasn’t the only moment when blood started boiling, though. Former Blackhawk Jack Skille clobbered Tobias Enstrom with a hit that might have been legal, but looked rather painful. Byfuglien quickly fought a player he once skated alongside in Chicago and the results weren’t pretty for Skille.

Review: The Jets were on the ropes at 3-2 with less than a minute remaining, but Kane scored with 50 seconds left on a shot that was originally ruled down with a high-stick. The ruling was overturned and the game was sent into overtime, which eventually made way for a shootout ‘W’ for the Jets.


If Monday’s game is any indication, these games will be a lot more interesting than recent years. Here are highlights from that contest.

Crosby on track to make season debut tonight

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 30: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for a face-off against the 
New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center on January 30, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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Yesterday, Sidney Crosby participated in a full-contact practice.

Today, it appears he’ll make his season debut when the Penguins host the Panthers tonight in Pittsburgh.

“He had a strong practice this morning,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the club. “Everything is pointing in the right direction. If he’s comfortable, he could play.”

Crosby has missed just six games due to the concussion he sustained during practice on Oct. 7. Given his history with concussions, if he plays tonight, it has to be considered a best-case scenario. Certainly, there had been fear he could be out much longer.

For the record, Crosby told reporters he’ll be a game-time decision.

Vasilevskiy to get ‘more games’ as Bolts look to future

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 08:  Ben Bishop #30 celebrates with Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game Three of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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On July 1, when the Tampa Bay Lightning gave Andrei Vasilevskiy a contract extension through 2019-20, they essentially committed to a changing of the guard in goal.

Though Ben Bishop remains with the team today, he’s a pending unrestricted free agent who’s not expected to re-sign, and may even be traded prior to the March 1 deadline.

The situation leaves head coach Jon Cooper with a challenge. Vasilevskiy only started 21 games last season, in large part because Bishop was so good. But if Vasilevskiy is the goalie of the future, he needs to play.

“The one thing is, you got to get Vasilevskiy more games. It’s what’s best for our team and what’s best for him,” Cooper told on Monday. “But you have to keep Bish engaged too, because he’s a two-time Vezina finalist the last three years and he’s a big reason we are where we are today. So there’s a balance. But if you really think about it, you start getting into the crux of the season, you’re playing 3-4 games a week, guys are getting in. I just want to find a way to have both guys play every week. It’s my job to find a way to get them in, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

So far this season, Bishop has started three games and Vasilevskiy two. The youngster, just 22 years old, has been excellent, going 2-0-0 with a .952 save percentage. Bishop, on the other hand, has allowed 11 goals in his three starts, for a save percentage of just .861.

It’s still early, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how this shakes out. If Vasilevskiy is still playing well by the trade deadline, GM Steve Yzerman may be tempted to deal Bishop. But then again, it’s always nice to have two capable netminders heading into the playoffs, as the Lightning know better than anyone that goalies can get hurt.

The Bolts are currently on a six-game road trip. They started with a win Saturday in Ottawa, with Vasilevskiy between the pipes. They play tonight in Toronto and Thursday in Montreal, before hitting the New York area for games against the Devils, Rangers, and Islanders.

B’s goalie drama continues — McIntyre the second emergency recall in as many days

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Zane McIntyre #50 of the Boston Bruins makes a save against the Washington Capitals during the second period at TD Garden on September 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Tough, tough times in goal for Boston.

Yesterday, we passed along word that Malcolm Subban had been recalled from AHL Providence — on an emergency basis — after Tuukka Rask missed practice with an injury, and Anton Khudobin was hurt during that same practice.

Today, another recall.

Zane McIntyre has also been brought up on an emergency basis, the B’s announced. They also announced that Khudobin would miss the next three weeks with an upper-body ailment, meaning that — for tonight’s home date at Minnesota — it will be Subban and McIntyre as the club’s goalies.

Subban will get the start, and McIntyre will back up.

Subban, the club’s first-round pick in 2012, has had a nightmare start to the year in Providence, going 0-3-1 with a 4.50 GAA and .846 save percentage.

“I don’t know if he’s where he wants to be or where we want him to be,” head coach Kevin Dean said, per the Journal.

McIntyre, the 24 year old taken in the sixth round in 2010, has fared much better, going 1-0-0 with a .977 save percentage and 0.44 GAA. To be fair, he’s only faced 43 shots in Providence this year.

McIntyre had already been called up earlier this season — over the weekend, when Rask was initially lost to injury. Boston’s No. 1 netminder isn’t believed to be out long term (head coach Claude Julien said he’s not worried about Rask’s health situation), but that won’t make tonight’s scenario any less worrisome.


NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27:  Michael Raffl #12 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks to pass as Josh Gorges #4 of the Buffalo Sabres defends in the second period on October 27, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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NBCSN has a doubleheader tonight and it begins at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres. Following that game, the Anaheim Ducks will take on the Sharks in San Jose at 10:00 p.m. ET. To watch the early game online, click here. To watch the late game online, click here.

The Flyers will be playing their second game in two nights, as they dropped a 3-1 decision in Montreal last night.

Philadelphia had some good scoring opportunities, but they were held to one goal mainly because Canadiens goalie Carey Price put together a strong performance.

“We definitely wanted to come in here and get two points and it’s disappointing with the loss,” Steve Mason said, per CSN Philly. “Nice thing is, we can get right back at it tomorrow [against Buffalo].

“It was a close game overall and both teams had chances to go ahead. They capitalized on a couple bounces there and that’s the ebbs and flows of the game. They found a way to win and we didn’t.”

After opening the season with three straight losses, the Flyers managed to string together back-to-back wins before Monday’s loss.

The Sabres will be playing their fourth and final game of a road trip that saw them win big in Edmonton, lose in overtime to Calgary and lose a close one to Vancouver.

Expect them to make some small changes ahead of tonight’s tilt in Philly.

In an attempt to get Sam Reinhart going, the Sabres will move him back to center where he’ll play with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons.

With Jack Eichel and Evander Kane still out, Matt Moulson will jump onto the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

“We’ve got six goals in one game,” head coach Bylsma said, per the Buffalo News. “You subtract that, we’ve got four in the other three games. We need to get more goals. We need to get more goals throughout.”

In the late game…

After winning their first two games of the season, the Sharks have been slumping of late. It’s still too early to say that they’re suffering from a Stanley Cup  Final “hangover” though.

San Jose enters tonight’s contest having lost three of their last four contests.

This will be their first game back home after their five-game road trip that saw them travel to play the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Red Wings.

The team’s power play has been a big problem so far this season. They’ve converted on just 3 of 20 attempts on the man-advantage and as CSN Bay Area points out, just one of those goals came on a five-on-four power play.

“We’re not shooting the puck enough, that’s the big thing,” Logan Couture said, per CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to shoot the puck, get traffic. We always have a guy in front of the net and we’ve been getting away from that.”

When San Jose hit the ice on Monday, they had completely different lines (the top power play unit stayed the same).

Mikkel Boedker was on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, while Couture practiced between Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward. Tomas Hertl was with Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto on the third line.

Only one point separates the Sharks (3-3-0) and Ducks (2-3-1) through six games, but things are a little more positive in Anaheim right now.

They’re coming off back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Vancouver, and they believe that they’ve turned the corner.

“I think we’re at a point where we’ve built our game enough where we should feel confident playing a team like San Jose,” forward Andrew Cogilano said, per the OC Register. “They’re good. They’re going to make it very hard on us and I think it’s going to show how prepared we are. How far we’ve come from maybe the first couple of games of the season. And if our game is here to stay.”