Cory Schneider #35 of the New Jersey Devils skates to the net during the first period against the New York Rangers in a preseason game at the Prudential Center on September 16, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.
(September 15, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Goalie nods: Schneider goes for Devils, backups battle in Florida

News and notes from around the crease…

Schneider starts

Cory Schneider will be in goal for the Devils tonight as they take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

Schneider hasn’t played in a full week, with his last action coming in a 3-1 loss to Detroit on Friday. Schneider stopped 18 of 21 in that game, then watched as Martin Brodeur played on Saturday versus New York and Tuesday in Columbus.

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for Pittsburgh. He’s red hot, having won four of his last five while posting a 1.38 GAA and .951 save percentage.

Grubauer vs. Clemmensen in Florida — get tickets while you still can!

Not exactly a marquee matchup tonight, but still an interesting one…

Phillip Grubauer will make his second start of the week on Friday for the Caps, this after stopping 32 of 34 shots in a win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The German goalie was called up to Washington in the wake of an injury to Michal Neuvirth and has taken full advantage of the opportunity, winning each of his first two starts.

Florida will counter with Scott Clemmensen tonight, replacing injured starter Tim Thomas. Clemmensen allowed six goals on 32 shots against Chicago on Sunday and, quite frankly, has been brutal all year. Probably worth mentioning that Alex Ovechkin has five goals in his last three games. Panthers might wanna put a man on him.

Elsewhere…

— It’ll be Roberto Luongo vs. Devan Dubnyk tonight when the Canucks host the Oilers in Vancouver. No real surprises here, though it’s interesting Luongo starts tonight with tomorrow’s huge clash vs. Boston on the horizon.

You’d expect Luongo would also get the nod against the Bruins but, lest we forget, the last time these two teams met it was Schneider that got the nod, not Luongo.

On that note, here is a picture of Canucks backup goalie Eddie Lack.

http://wpmedia.blogs.theprovince.com/2012/11/eddie.jpg

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.