San Jose Sharks v Washington Capitals

Sharks give Niemi night off but lose to Coyotes

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The San Jose Sharks are still playing for home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but head coach Todd McLellan chose to start back-up Thomas Greiss in net against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Sharks lost 2-1 on a night when Antti Niemi’s streak of 24 consecutive starts came to an end, as per the San Jose Mercury News.

“I don’t think Nemo needs the rest. Thomas needs the work,” McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News prior to the game.

“If something – knock on wood – happens to Nemo, we’re going to kick ourselves in the butt for not having played Thomas. So Thomas is going to play.”

The Coyotes jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, then hung on for the win. For Greiss, it was his first start since March 6.

“[Greiss] really did well for not having played for so long. He had a very strong game,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told “We just let each other down in that first period.”

The Sharks are fifth in the Western Conference standings with 57 points. They’re tied in points with the L.A. Kings and both teams have played 47 games, however the defending Stanley Cup champions hold the tiebreaker right now with more regulation-overtime wins.

Behind them with the sixth seed in the conference is St. Louis. The Blues have 56 points and two games remaining.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.