ThomasLuongo

Goalie nods: Luongo vs. Thomas, Lehner in for Sens

News and notes from around the crease…

Tuesday Tire Pump

Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo will face each other for the first time since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final tonight when the Panthers take on the Canucks in Vancouver.

Thomas played extremely well in his last start, stopping 32 of 33 shots in a win over Colorado. Luongo, meanwhile, hasn’t been as good — he’s lost three straight and four of his last five, though could hardly be faulted for either of the two goals that beat him in a 2-1 loss to Dallas on Sunday night.

In case you’re wondering about Thomas’ mindset heading into tonight…

Lehner goes for Sens

Ottawa will turn to its young Swedish netminder on Tuesday, giving Robin Lehner the start against Philly over Craig Anderson.

Lehner has won three straight starts by boasting a 1.33 GAA and .958 save percentage, including a 26-save effort over the Panthers on Nov. 9. He’ll look to exact revenge for an Ottawa team that lost 5-0 last time out to Philly — in that game, Anderson was torched for five goals on 31 shots in one of his roughest outings of the season.

Lehner will square off with Steve Mason tonight. Mason stopped 36 of 38 shots in his last outing, a shootout loss to Winnipeg.

Elsewhere…

— Big goaltending matchup in Buffalo tonight as Ryan Miller will get the nod for the Sabres, putting him up against St. Louis No. 1 Jaroslav Halak. Halak will be looking for redemption after getting yanked (three goals on six shots) in a 4-1 loss to Washington on Sunday, while Miller will look to build on his 32-save effort in a win over Toronto on Friday.

— Kevin Poulin, the Islanders’ new No. 1, will go against the Maple Leafs tonight in Toronto. The Buds will counter with Jonathan Bernier, who hasn’t played since Friday’s loss to Buffalo.

— It’s Marek Mazanec vs. Jimmy Howard in the Nashville-Detroit game, and Corey Crawford vs. Semyon Varlamov in the Chicago-Colorado affair on NBCSN.

— Sergei Bobrovsky will face Devan Dubnyk in Columbus-Edmonton, and Ben Bishop will take on the white-hot Ben Scrivens in the Tampa Bay-L.A. game.

Josh Harding starts for the Wild tonight in Montreal, but there’s been no confirmation as to who’ll go for the Habs.

— Henrik Lundqvist is the man for the Rangers tonight at MSG, though it’s uncertain who’ll start for Boston. Chad Johnson seems probable, but it’s yet to be locked in.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.