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.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the hook after very rare Jurco goal

Getty
Leave a comment

By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Coach Q thinks Anisimov will be back by playoffs for Blackhawks

Getty
Leave a comment

The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.

The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:

The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.

Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.

Ducks demote Enroth, so Gibson’s close to a return

Getty
1 Comment

The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.

(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)

While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.

Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?

Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.

He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.

(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

Getty
Leave a comment

The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.

While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.

With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.