Ilya Bryzgalov will naturally gain a big chunk of tonight’s spotlight among red-hot goalies, but Dallas Stars workhorse Kari Lehtonen isn’t far behind. The Finnish netminder earned his second shutout in a row as the Stars outlasted the Minnesota Wild by the paper-thin margin of 1-0 on Tuesday.
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If you take a longer view on things, the “hottest goalie” argument likely extends to Lehtonen vs. Ryan Miller. Mark Stepneski points out that Lehtonen is 8-0-1 with a 1.29 GAA and ridiculous .955 save percentage in his last nine starts.
All those debates aside, the bottom line is that the Stars continue to strengthen their hold on the top spot in the Pacific Division. Dallas is currently at 83 points with 12 games left, leaving them four points ahead of second place Phoenix. (The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings are currently in action, but at best, the Sharks will reach 79 points and the Kings can finish with no more than 78.)
The Stars have won six games in a row and are 10-0-1 in their last 11 contests. It remains to be seen if they can hang on to the division lead and the third seed that comes with it, but the odds are easily in favor of them advancing to the postseason.
To outside observers, that would be a big enough accomplishment, yet Lehtonen’s play might generate some bolder dreams.
No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.
Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.
They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.
On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.
Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.
Perhaps some of that has to do with health?
Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.
“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”
He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.
You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.
Here are the handy links for the two contests.
First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.
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After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.
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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.
Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.
“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”
Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.
Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.
Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.
Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer