News and notes from around the crease…
Bob gets a break
Having already clinched the second playoff berth in franchise history, Columbus will give No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky a rest tonight and start backup Curtis McElhinney against Tampa Bay.
McElhinney hasn’t played much lately — his last start was on Mar. 29, when stopped 25 of 27 shots in a win over the Hurricanes — but there is some pressure tonight, as the Jackets could move ahead of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division by earning at least one point. The Bolts also have something to play for, as they can overtake first-round opponent Montreal for second in the Atlantic Division, and get a leg up in the battle for home ice advantage.
Tampa Bay will start Anders Lindback in goal.
Lehtonen looks to clinch
Dallas can get into the playoffs for the first time in five years with any sort of victory — regulation, overtime or shootout — against the Blues, and the Stars will try to get there with Kari Lehtonen in goal. The Finnish netminder last played in a win over Nashville on Tuesday (stopping 27 of 29 shots) and was given Wednesday night off as a result (Tim Thomas was in for a loss to Columbus).
Tonight, Lehtonen is back and looking to fare better against the Blues than he has in the past — he’s 1-1-1 vs. St. Louis this season, with a 3.52 GAA and .867 save percentage.
For the Blues, Ryan Miller will be in net.
‘Hawks at Caps: Corey Crawford for Chicago, no word yet on a Washington starter.
Isles at Devils: No word from either team.
Jets at Flames: Karri Ramo likely for Calgary, no word on Winnipeg’s starter.
Avalanche at Sharks: Reto Berra vs. Alex Stalock
The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.
Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.
The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.
Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.
But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.
“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.
Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.
Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.
It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.
It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.
For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.
Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.
Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.
Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.
Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:
In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.
Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.
Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.