Miller, Hiller top list of pending UFA goalies

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Henrik Lundqvist is no longer a pending unrestricted free agent, and he won’t be until 2020-21. But there are many, many other goalies that still have the option to freely explore the market this summer.

Ryan Miller: By far the highest-profile UFA of the bunch. Miller, 33, hasn’t registered a save percentage below .915 since 2007-08, and general managers will pay for that sort of consistency and reliability. Rumor has it Miller wants to end up in California, but of the three teams in The Golden State, only Anaheim’s starting goaltending situation is up in the air for next season, and that’s due to too many options, not too few.

Jonas Hiller: The 31-year-old has been up and down for the Ducks this season, but it’s his .917 career save percentage in 276 starts that stands out. That number is right up there with the best in the business. On Tuesday, he stopped 49 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Kings. “He was the reason we got a point tonight,” said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau.

Other veteran UFAs include Jaroslav Halak (good goalie and only 28 years old, but comes with an injury history), Tim Thomas (turns 40 in April), and Martin Brodeur (turns 42 in May).

Ben Scrivens: The 27-year-old former Leaf has been brilliant for the Kings, registering a .943 save percentage in 15 appearances and making the injury to Jonathan Quick a non-factor for L.A.. Well, actually, that’s not true. Because Scrivens has actually played much better than Quick was playing before he got hurt. Not a negative factor, is what we should have said. The obvious caveat: Scrivens remains unproven, with just 40 NHL starts on his resume.

Anton Khudobin: Also 27, and also playing for a new team this season after coming to Carolina via Boston. In 24 NHL games, Khudobin has a career save percentage of .932. Pretty good, but like Scrivens, not a particularly big body of work from which to predict his future. We also mention Khudobin because the ‘Canes are reportedly fielding trade inquiries on both him and their other 27-year-old pending UFA goalie, Justin Peters.

Still more: Ilya Bryzgalov, Devan Dubnyk, Ray Emery, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Thomas Greiss, Curtis McElhinney, Chad Johnson, Jonas Gustavsson, and Brian Elliott. Are we forgetting anyone? Probably.

Anyway, lots of names to consider. As we touched on in the Chip ‘n’ Chase, the goalie market isn’t like the market for skaters. It should be interesting to see which GMs go for the reliability that a veteran can provide and which ones roll the dice on a less proven commodity.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too.¬†They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.