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Panthers will have odd goalie out after Thomas signing

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Signing Tim Thomas gives the Florida Panthers something of a three-headed monster in net, although one wouldn’t confuse this with the St. Louis Blues’ situation, which seems like an embarrassment of riches by comparison.

Regardless, the Panthers organization will need to decide if they’d rather pair Scott Clemmensen or Jacob Markstrom with their new 39-year-old goalie. (Thomas is likely to be the starter, barring a meltdown.)

The answer, for at least a little while, could be “a little of both.”

Markstrom, 23, can be sent to the minors without being placed on waivers in 2013-14 thanks to the first year of his deal being two-way.

Clemmensen, 36, might still be rehabbing from surgery by the time the regular season starts, so that could give Markstrom extra time to show that he deserves to stay at the NHL level full-time.

Clemmensen is on a one-way deal so another team can claim him if he’s sent long-term. Considering his $1.3 million salary (and $1.2 million cap hit), the Panthers might not be so sad about someone scooping him up, really.

Neither of the two goalies put up dynamite numbers in 2013, although it’s obvious the Panthers expect big things from Markstrom … eventually.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon discussed both netminders following the Thomas announcement. He told the Miami Herald’s George Richards that:

1. He hasn’t “thought about” sending Clemmensen down to the AHL. It’s worth noting that they could do so for a short time on a rehab stint, anyway.

2. Tallon told Richards that he knows Markstrom is talented but still believes the Thomas addition is “good for the organization.”

One could point to warts for all three of these goalies, yet the Panthers were wise to give themselves more options for this coming season. It will probably force Tallon & Co. to make a tough choice or two, though.

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.