Jimmy Howard, Carl Soderberg

PHT Morning Skate: Bruins aim to bounce back vs. Red Wings

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We had two more overtime games yesterday with the St. Louis Blues once again edging Chicago to put the defending champions just two losses away from elimination. Meanwhile, Columbus rallied back from a 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh to earn a 4-3 overtime win. That victory was the first in the history of the Blue Jackets’ franchise and evened their series at 1-1.

Game 2: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers [New York leads series 1-0] (12:00 p.m. ET, NBC)

The Rangers are on a nine game winning streak over Philadelphia in games played at Madison Square Garden. That’s obviously a trend the Flyers need to end if they are to win this series.

Philadelphia’s Andrew MacDonald scored early in the first period of Game 1, but the 1-0 lead lasted just 3:25 minutes before Mats Zuccarello evened the score. The Flyers held their own in the second before falling apart in the third frame. They were out shot 13-1 in the final 20 minutes, which allowed the Rangers to come away with a 4-1 victory.

Flyers backup goaltender Ray Emery started in that contest and he’ll be back in between the pipes today as Steve Mason is still dealing with an upper-body injury.

Game 2: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins [Detroit leads series 1-0] (3:00 p.m. ET, NBC)

The first game of this series was a goaltending duel between Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Boston’s Tuukka Rask. Both netminders managed some impressive saves along the way and it took a sleek move by Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk to break the scoreless tie with 3:01 remaining in the third period.

Boston went into Game 1 as the heavy favorites after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, but the Red Wings are a far better team than their record implies. They have already robbed the Bruins of their home-ice advantage and can really put them against the ropes by taking a 2-0 series lead before this heads back to Detroit.

That being said, the Bruins can’t be dismissed just because they narrowly lost one game. They got this far with a deep squad led by the likes of David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Jarome Iginla, and Zdeno Chara. They are more than capable of bouncing back from a 1-0 deficit.

Game 3: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens [Montreal leads series 2-0] (7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Starting goaltender Ben Bishop is one of the main reasons the Lightning made the playoffs and with him injured, the team seems to be falling apart. Netminder Anders Lindback isn’t solely responsible for the position Tampa Bay is in, but in a sign of how desperate things have gotten, Tampa Bay asked Kristers Gudlevskis to play between the pipes late in the third period of Game 2.

Gudlevskis stood out in the Olympics while playing for Latvia, but the 21-year-old netminder had participated in just one NHL contest prior to this playoff run. In fact, he has only been in 45 minor league games — 11 of them in the ECHL — since being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper insisted that there is no goaltending controversy, but it remains to be seen who will start tonight. Either way, at this point Tampa Bay is facing long odds against the Carey Price-led team. Which, actually, is something that Gudlevskis does have some experience with.

Game 2: Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks [San Jose leads series 1-0] (10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

The first 40 minutes of this series couldn’t have gone much worse for the Kings. They were “sloppy” and goaltender Jonathan Quick left plenty to be desired.

San Jose, showing off its scoring depth, had goals from five different players going into the third period, but the Kings battled back from the 5-0 deficit. The Sharks still ended up with a commanding 6-3 victory, but Los Angeles will try to carry some of the momentum from its late surge into this contest.

Quick will be the guy to watch in this one. Kings coach Darryl Sutter clearly wasn’t happy with his netminder’s performance, but Quick is typically a very effective playoff goaltender. Will he shake off his rough start or have the Sharks finally figured him out?

Goalie nods: Corey Crawford gets a chance to snap out of slump for Blackhawks

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With starting goaltender Corey Crawford stuck in his worst slump of the season, and Scott Darling coming off of a 30-save shutout on Friday night, it seemed possible that the Chicago Blackhawks would stick with the same goalie arrangement on Sunday evening against the Vancouver Canucks.

If nothing else Darling has at least made an argument that he probably deserves a little more playing time than he is getting, and that is still true today.

He just will not get that opportunity against the Canucks.

Coach Joel Quenneville is going back to his starter, Crawford, for Sunday’s game.

After a great start to the season, Crawford has struggled mightily since returning to the lineup following an appendectomy in December and enters Sunday’s game with only a .902 save percentage in his past 10 appearances. He has allowed at least three goals in seven of those games. Before this most recent he was sitting at .927 on the season and looked like one of the top contenders for the Vezina Trophy.

The Blackhawks are not used to seeing Crawford struggle like this, especially in recent years as he has become one of the league’s top goaltenders, finishing with a save percentage of .924 or better in three of the past four full seasons. He is too good to continue playing the way he has recently. Perhaps Sunday is the day he starts to get back on track against a team that he has a pretty strong track record against.

The Canucks, entering the game one game out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, have yet to announce their starter.

Elsewhere…

— Jared Coureau and Henrik Lundqvist went for the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers in their afternoon tilt on NBC, while Matt Murray and Tuukka Rask faced off in Pittsburgh for the Penguins and Boston Bruins.

— After starting 12 consecutive games Mike Condon goes again for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets are expected to go with Joonas Korpisalo.

Thomas Greiss returns to the net for the New York Islanders on Sunday after getting Saturday night off and looks for his third consecutive shutout. He has stopped all 55 shots he has faced in his past two games against the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars. The Philadelphia Flyers will go with Steve Mason after Michal Neuvirth took the loss against New Jersey on Saturday.

Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the start for the Minnesota Wild when they take on the Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne goes for the Predators.

Red Wings lose Thomas Vanek against Rangers

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 13:  Thomas Vanek #62 of the Detroit Red Wings gets ready for a face-off against Tampa Bay Lightning during a game at the Amalie Arena on October 13, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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This is not the news the Detroit Red Wings needed on Sunday afternoon.

Forward Thomas Vanek left their game against the New York Rangers following the first period for undisclosed reasons. The team announced that he will not return to the game.

Vanek has been a steal for the Red Wings this season after signing him to a one-year, $2.6 million contract in free agency. When healthy he has been arguably their best, most impactful forward this season and entered play on Sunday tied for the team lead in goals (12) and total points (31) even though he had already missed nine games this season.

He played 6:58 in the first period before exiting the game after being shaken up near the Rangers’ net.

He already missed time this season due to a hip injury.

Given his success this season with the team, as well as the Red Wings’ current spot in the Eastern Conference standings that has them several points out of a playoff spot, he has been a popular name mentioned in trade speculation in advance of the trade deadline, something that he seems well aware of.

WATCH LIVE: New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to block a shot by Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers during the third period at Madison Square Garden on October 19, 2016 in New York City. The Red Wings defeated the Rangers 2-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Detroit Red Wings are trying to play their way back into playoff contention and have gained points in four consecutive games, including wins in each of their past three home games.

On Sunday they trying to extend that home winning streak against a New York Rangers team that is one of the highest scoring teams in the league, but has had a heck of a time stopping teams in recent weeks giving up 50 goals in their past 12 games.

All of the action starts on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET and you can watch all of it there, or online via our live stream.

It is also a Star Sunday that will focus on Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

Click here for the live stream

Preview: Red Wings look to take advantage of Rangers’ struggling defense

Who can challenge Dylan Larkin as the league’s fastest skater?

 

Wayne Simmonds takes blame for penalty that resulted in game changing goal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 05:  Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers waits for the face off against the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center on January 5, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Philadelphia Flyers had a tough second period on Saturday night on their way to a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

It all started when Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas was penalized for clipping Devils forward Miles Wood on a play that the Flyers felt was a legal hip check. Following that call, forward Wayne Simmonds had a brief discussion with referee Dan O’Halloran — the referee that made the call — resulting in Simmonds picking up a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. It wasn’t even a particularly heated discussion (watch it here) and seemed to be similar to ones you see happen in most games across the league on any given night without further incident.

That gave the Devils an extended 5-on-3 power play that resulted in a Kyle Palmieri power play goal to break what had been a 1-1 tie.

Just three minutes later Wood scored his first of two goals on the night to begin putting the game out of reach.

This was the entire sequence that led to the Palmieri goal.

“I’ll take blame for that,” Simmonds said after the game, via CSN Philadelphia when asked about what happened. “I didn’t agree with the penalty, I got an extra two that’s my fault. They score a goal, make it 2-1, that’s a momentum changer, I take all of the blame for that.”

Simmonds would not say what was said between the two, only adding “The referee was talking to me; I was talking to him. I am not commenting on calls; it is what it is. It happened, it’s over with now. I am not going to say anything about that.”

Simmonds has been arguably the Flyers’ best player this season with a team-leading 18 goals entering play on Sunday.

Whether that was what sent the game in the wrong direction for the Flyers or not, the most concerning thing is that was another big loss that continued their recent slump that has seen them win just three of their past 15 games. They remain one point back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference but have already played three more games than them.