Goalie nods: Elliott goes for Blues, Lehner for Sens, Harding for Wild

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Some news and notes from the blue paint…

Elliott starts for St. Louis

The Blues will give Brian Elliott just his second start of the season on Friday as they take on the Panthers in Florida.

Elliott, who had been in a timeshare with Jaroslav Halak over the last two seasons, has been demoted to No. 2 this season as Halak (7-1-1) has carried the load. Elliott’s lone start this season came in a 4-3 shootout loss to Winnipeg on Oct. 15 — his only other action this season came three days prior, in relief of Halak during a 6-2 loss to San Jose.

Ottawa rolls with Lehner

Robin Lenher will make his second start of the season as well on Friday when Ottawa takes on the Islanders.

Lehner, 22, hasn’t played since a 3-1 loss to Edmonton on Oct. 19, in which he stopped 18 of 20 shots. The Swedish netminder has watched from the bench a lot this season as the Sens have gone almost exclusively with Craig Anderson, though that might change given the latter’s mediocre efforts as of late.

Anderson is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and gave up 11 goals in his two most recent losses to Chicago and San Jose. On the year, he has a 4-4-2 record with a 3.16 GAA and .911 save percentage.

FYI, Evgeni Nabokov will start for the Islanders tonight in Ottawa.

Harding back for Minnesota

Josh Harding will see his first action in over 10 days as the Wild take on Montreal at Xcel Energy Center tonight.

Harding, 29, has put forth a tremendous campaign this far, going 5-2-1 with a 1.00 GAA and .953 save percentage, challenging Niklas Backstrom for the Wild’s No. 1 gig.

Speaking of Backstrom, it’s interesting to see him being sat after a rough outing against Chicago on Monday. The ‘Hawks burned the veteran netminder for five goals on 28 shots.

(For the Canadiens, Carey Price will get the start.)


Jacob Markstrom goes for Florida against St. Louis. Do note that the last time these two played, the Blues laid a 7-0 whipping on the Panthers.

— As we reported earlier, Semyon Varlamov will start for the Avs tonight in Dallas. Kari Lehtonen goes for the Stars.

— It’s Jimmy Howard vs. Joey MacDonald tonight in Calgary for the Red Wings-Flames game. Worth noting that Howard’s backup, Jonas Gustavsson, is dealing with a sore neck and might not be able to go tomorrow night against Edmonton. If that’s the case, AHL Grand Rapids call-up Peter Mrazek will get the start.

— Braden Holtby vs. Steve Mason in Philly for Caps-Flyers.

— Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh for Jackets-Pens.

— Ben Bishop vs. Justin Peters in Carolina for Bolts-‘Canes.

The Coyotes are in a tough spot

MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 20:  Goaltender Louis Domingue #35 of the Arizona Coyotes allows a goal while Alexander Radulov #47 of the Montreal Canadiens watches during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on October 20, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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The Arizona Coyotes started their season with a win at home, but two games into a six-game road trip and things have taken a decided turn for the worse.

Last night in Montreal, the ‘Yotes got thumped, 5-2, and outshot, 43-29. That came on the heels of a 7-4 loss in Ottawa, one that saw starting goalie Mike Smith leave with a lower-body injury.

Smith is no longer with the team. He’s been flown back to Phoenix to consult with doctors, leaving Louis Domingue and emergency call-up Justin Peters to take care of the Coyotes’ crease. Domingue was yanked halfway through the Montreal game, after surrendering four goals on just 19 shots.

“Change momentum for us and recognize we have to play tomorrow night again,” head coach Dave Tippett explained following the loss, per the Arizona Republic. “We’ll put Louis back in there tomorrow night and see if we can get a better start from him.”

The Coyotes play tonight in Brooklyn against the Islanders, with road games still remaining at the Rangers, Devils and Flyers before they get to return home.

Suffice to say, it’s going to be a challenge for this young team, with five rookies and a shaky goalie, to come together and survive the rest of the trip. The Islanders (1-3-0) will be hungry for a win tonight, and the Rangers (2-2-0) have been better than their record suggests. Get through those opponents and there’s still two games to go.

Pens’ Pouliot on IR, after getting hurt in season debut

Derrick Pouliot
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Pretty lousy start to the campaign for Derrick Pouliot.

Pouliot, a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh’s first four games of the year, made his season debut in Thursday’s 3-2 win over San Jose — but played just over 12 minutes before getting knocked out with an injury.

And on Friday, the Pens put Pouliot on IR.

David Warsofsky has been recalled from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as a replacement, and could suit up on Saturday when the Penguins visit Nashville.

The bigger story, of course, is Pouliot.

The eighth overall pick in 2012 — taken ahead of defensemen like Jacob Trouba, Olli Maatta, Michael Matheson and Brady Skjei — Pouliot has struggled to make his mark at the NHL level.

After appearing in 34 games as a rookie, he dressed just 22 times last year, and only twice during the playoffs as the Penguins captured the Stanley Cup.

This year, he was unable to crack a six-man defensive unit comprised of Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz. Letang missed the San Jose game with an upper-body ailment, which paved the way for Pouliot to draw in.



Dropped by Blues, Weber catches on with Wild’s AHL team

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 01: Mike Weber #6 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at Verizon Center on March 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Mike Weber, the veteran blueliner who was dropped from his PTO in St. Louis earlier this month, has signed on with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa, the club announced.

Weber, 28, has appeared in over 350 big league contests with Buffalo and Washington.

The move to the Minnesota organization is interesting. The club’s had some issues with its young defensemen lately — Mike Reilly has been up and down between the AHL and NHL, and head coach Bruce Boudreau nearly made Mathew Dumba a healthy scratch the other night, explaining that the 22-year-old is “trying to do too much.”

(Dumba was a late addition to the lineup after Marco Scandella went down with an illness.)

Jared Spurgeon, one of the club’s mainstays on defense, suffered an upper-body injury in Thursday’s win over Toronto on a big hit from Matt Martin. Spurgeon is currently listed as day-to-day.

Even with those developments in play, Weber still has to make some significant leaps to become a factor for the Wild. The team has eight d-men in its rotation.


A healthy Brandon Sutter has been a difference-maker for undefeated Vancouver

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 15: Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his game winning goal against the Calgary Flames during a shootout of their NHL game at Rogers Arena on October 15, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)
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Brandon Sutter only got to play 20 games last season, his first as a Canuck, and the 33 games he missed with a hernia, quickly followed by the 29 games he missed with a broken jaw, were held up by the head coach and management as a prime reason that Vancouver struggled so badly.

Not everyone bought that excuse, but after four straight Canucks wins to start the current season, nobody can deny that Sutter has been a major factor. He has one goal and three assists, and his line, with wingers Jannik Hansen and Markus Granlund, has been Vancouver’s best.

“You always want to get a good start to the year,” Sutter said after last night’s 2-1 win over the Sabres. “You just want to be playing well. You don’t really pay much attention to the points of it all this early. I think the biggest thing, when you miss this much time, is just getting your timing back, and just getting back into form, and just playing your game the way you want to.”

If there’s a concern for the undefeated Canucks, it’s the play of the Sedins with new winger Loui Eriksson. They’ve had flashes of greatness together, but not the consistency. The twins were even split up for a short time last night, and that rarely happens.

Granted, Eriksson did set up Daniel Sedin for the winning goal on the power play, so it hasn’t been all bad. But the Canucks would love to see those three spend more time in the attacking zone together. At five on five, they spent most of their night defending the Sabres’ top line of Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo, and Sam Reinhart.

“Some games are going to be like this,” said Daniel Sedin. “I mean, that’s a good team over there, you’re not going to create chances each and every shift.”

Next up for the Canucks is a two-game road road trip. In their first action away from Rogers Arena, they play the Kings Saturday and the Ducks Sunday.

“It’s never easy going down to California, so it’ll be a good test for us,” said Sutter. “We’ve played some good teams so far, but divisional games coming up here, so we’ll be ready.”

Related: Desjardins sticks up for Horvat, whose job has been tough with Sutter missing