BishopLindback

Tampa timeshare: Bishop, Lindback will both start as No. 1s

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The Lightning will begin the year with two starting goalies: Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback.

And, according to head coach Jon Cooper, they might just stick with it.

“People are going to say whoever gets the opening-game start must be their starting goalie. Well, he’s starting that night,” Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times, adding that he’s perfectly fine with a season-long timeshare.

“If that’s our winning formula,” Cooped explained, “then that’s how we do it.”

Lindback, 25, was supposed to have taken the starting job last season. Bolts GM Steve Yzerman acquired the lanky Swede from Nashville and didn’t provide him with much competition, save veteran journeyman Mathieu Garon.

Despite that, Lindback faltered and finished with pedestrian numbers: 10-10-1, 2.90 GAA and a .902 save percentage.

That played a part in Yzerman dealing Cory Conacher to Ottawa at the deadline in exchange for Bishop.

The 6-foot-7 netminder came boasting talent and was outstanding in relief of Sens starter Craig Anderson, but he too struggled in Tampa, finishing with a decent 9-3-4 record but a bloated GAA (2.99).

What’s more, Bishop played poorly for Team USA at the World Hockey Championships and lost his starting gig to 19-year-old John Gibson, who has yet to make his NHL debut.

As such, the Bolts are going to employ a “whoever plays best” strategy in deciding a starter for this season, and are encouraging competition in the crease.

“Their physical ability and their overall skill is at … an NHL level, there’s no doubt about it. What’s important is to gain experience,” said Tampa Bay goalie coach Frantz Jean. “You can’t teach experience, you have to live it, so it’s going to be to go through our season and manage the situation properly.”

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.