Goalie nods: Budaj goes for Habs, Mason back in for Philly

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News and notes from around the crease on an unusually busy Friday…

Budaj gets rare start

Montreal will turn to Peter Budaj tonight in Columbus, his first game since allowing three goals on 30 shots in a loss to Colorado on Nov. 2.

Though the Canadiens don’t often start Budaj — Carey Price has been a workhorse this season — the Slovak netminder has established himself as a reliable backup and posted great numbers this year, with a 1.33 GAA and .953 save percentage.

It’s unclear who’ll go for the Blue Jackets on Friday. Sergei Bobrovsky was in goal for Thursday’s 3-2 OT loss to Boston.

Flyers go back to Mason

Philadelphia will give Steve Mason the start tonight in Winnipeg.

The Flyers find themselves with a “good problem to have” in terms of choosing a starter, as both Mason and Ray Emery are on top of their games. Emery was fantastic in a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday, stopping 30 of 31 shots — but Mason has been equally good of late, winning each of his last two starts (including a 5-0 shutout of the Sens in Ottawa on Tuesday).

The Jets will counter with Ondrej Pavelec in goal tonight. Like Mason and Emery, Pavelec has been on fire lately, winning back-to-back games while stopping 41 of 43 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory over Detroit on Tuesday.

Elsewhere…

Jonathan Bernier will get his second straight start for Toronto on Friday as the Leafs play in Buffalo. The Sabres will go with Ryan Miller in Ted Nolan’s coaching debut.

Cory Schneider is the Devils’ starter tonight against the Kings. Los Angeles hasn’t made a goalie announcement yet, but it’s expected Ben Scrivens will start his second straight in place of the injured Jonathan Quick (groin).

— It’s Marek Mazanec vs. Marc-Andre Fleury in the Nashville-Pittsburgh game, and Braden Holtby vs. Jimmy Howard in Washington-Detroit.

— Elsewhere, Tim Thomas will face off against Josh Harding as the Panthers visit the Wild, while Tuukka Rask will go up against Craig Anderson in Ottawa as the Sens host the Bruins.

— No confirmation yet, but Viktor Fasth could make his return from injury tonight for Anaheim. He’s been out since Oct. 16th with a lower-body injury. If Fasth does go, he’ll be up against Justin Peters, who will get the ‘Canes goal tonight in Carolina.

— The Oilers have confirmed that Devan Dubnyk will start tonight at home against the Sharks. San Jose, who beat Vancouver in overtime last night with Antti Niemi in goal, are likely to go to backup Alex Stalock against Edmonton, but that hasn’t been announced yet.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.