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Goalie Nods: Matt Murray makes sixth straight start for Penguins

It appears that the starting net in Pittsburgh belongs to Matt Murray.

He will be in the lineup once again on Thursday night when the Penguins visit the Boston Bruins, making his sixth consecutive start (and seventh in the past eight games) since returning to the lineup from a lower body injury.

The distribution of playing time between Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh has been a big focus for much of this season, and at times it seemed to be a matter of each goalie simply getting the starts until they lost a game or had a clunker of a performance. That does not seem to be the case lately, especially with Murray getting the start on Thursday following a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues earlier this week and getting a start in Montreal a week ago after giving up seven goals in a wild 8-7 overtime win over the Washington Capitals.

In 25 appearances this season Murray has a .922 save percentage (Fleury is currently at .905) this season. Since making his NHL debut a year ago his .925 career save percentage in the regular season (minimum 35 games played) is the third best mark in the league, behind only Thomas Greiss and Braden Holtby.

No official word yet from the Bruins on their starter, but it would be a surprise if it was not Tuukka Rask.

The Penguins enter the game having won four of their past five games, while the Bruins, whose 4-3 overtime win against Detroit on Tuesday snapped what had been a four-game losing streak, enter the evening on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Murray and the Penguins beat the Bruins on Sunday, 5-1, with Murray making 44 saves on 45 shots.

Elsewhere…

— Braden Holtby looks to get the Washington Capitals back into the win column after their 3-0 loss in Ottawa on Tuesday. He will be opposed by New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid.

— Thomas Greiss has allowed just five goals in his past four games (a stretch that has seen the Islanders collect seven out of eight points) and will look to continue his recent strong play against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens. With 30 saves on 31 shots in his most recent start Price is looking to break out of his recent slump.

Frederik Andersen gets the night off for Toronto after his shutout against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. It will be Curtis McElhinney going for the Maple Leafs when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have not announced their starter but Steve Mason started on Wednesday, shutting out the New  York Rangers. It could be a Michal Neuvirth night with this being their second game in 24 hours.

Cam Ward has been mired in a pretty significant slump in recent weeks but he gets another start for the Hurricanes on Thursday when they host the Los Angeles Kings. Ward has allowed 21 goals in his past four starts. Look for Peter Budaj to go again for the Kings.

— After stopping 36 shots against Chicago on Tuesday, Andrei Vasilevskiy goes again for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night when they take on the Florida Panthers in a game where both teams should be desperate for two points. Roberto Luongo goes for the Panthers.

Brian Elliott gets a chance to snap a personal four-game losing streak on Thursday when he gets the call for the Calgary Flames when they visit the Ottawa Senators. The Senators have not announced their starter.

Sergei Bobrovsky gets a chance to rebound from a rough start earlier this week against the New York Islanders when he goes for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the surging Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne is the man in net for a Nashville team that has earned a point in seven of its past eight games (6-1-1).

— After shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, Carter Hutton gets another start for the St. Louis Blues when they take on the first place Minnesota Wild. As expected, Devan Dubnyk gets another start for the Wild.

— As Corey Crawford continues to struggle a bit Scott Darling gets another chance for the Chicago Blackhawks when they take on the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. The Jets go with Connor Hellebuyck.

— It will be Anders Nilsson for Antti Niemi when the Dallas Stars host the Buffalo Sabres.

— After Jacob Markstrom went for the Canucks in their win over Colorado on Wednesday, Ryan Miller is back in the crease on Thursday against another of the NHL’s worst teams when they take on the Arizona Coyotes. Mike Smith gets the call at the other end of the ice.

— The Oilers and Sharks have yet to announce their starters for the late game, but it is a good bet that it will be Cam Talbot vs. Martin Jones.

The Buzzer: McDavid dominates; Fleury’s unlucky return

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Player Of The Night: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have at least started to show some signs of life in recent games. They were shutout on Sunday night in Toronto, but sandwiched around that game were a convincing 6-2 win in Montreal and then a thoroughly dominating 7-2 win in Columbus on Tuesday night that left Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella completely speechless.

Leading the way for the Oilers was captain Connor McDavid as he went off with a four-point night.

The four points are a season high for him and the fifth time this season he has recorded at least three points.

That performance gives him 39 points in 31 games on the season and currently has him third in the NHL scoring race, three points behind Tampa Bay Lightning teammates Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

Marc-Andre Fleury Probably Deserved Better In His Return To The Lineup

Marc-Andre Fleury made is return to the Vegas Golden Knights net and looked great, stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced. Unfortunately that was not enough to get Vegas a win as they fell in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2.

One of those two shots in regulation that beat him? It was this.

That is unfortunate.

Still, that is another point for Vegas as they continue their push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference during their inaugural season in the NHL.

Highlight Of The Night

The Philadelphia Flyers were 4-2 winners over the Toronto Maple Leafs and have now, suddenly, won four games in a row following a 10-game losing streak.

They picked up the winner on Tuesday thanks to this goal that featured a crazy between-the-legs pass.

Highlight Of The Night Part Two

Now let us take a look at Johnny Gaudreau from the Calgary Flames. This came in a losing effort in the shootout but this is still a slick move. Maybe illegal? Either way, it counted.

Factoid(s) Of The Night

— By stopping all 32 shots he faced against the St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 20th win of the season. He is just the sixth goalie in NHL history to win at least 20 games within his first 25 starts of a season. [NHL Public Relations]

Matt Cullen scored his 250th career goal in the Minnesota Wild’s 2-1 shootout win over the Calgary Flames, making him the 29th American-born player in NHL history to reach that mark. [Minnesota Wild PR]

— Carolina Hurricanes goalies Cam Ward recorded his 300th career win on Tuesday night in their 3-2 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights. He is the fifth active goaltender to reach that mark. [NHL Public Relations]

Scores

Buffalo Sabres 3, Ottawa Senators 2

New Jersey Devils 5, Los Angeles Kings 1

Philadelphia Flyers 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2

Washington Capitals 5, Colorado Avalanche 2

Edmonton Oilers 7, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 3, St. Louis Blues 0

Minnesota Wild 2, Calgary Flames 1

Chicago Blackhawks 3, Florida Panthers 2

Carolina Hurricanes 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Vasilevskiy shines again as Lightning take top spot in NHL

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Tuesday’s game in St. Louis was a showdown featuring the top two teams in the NHL.

In the end it was the Lightning picking up the 3-0 win to extend their current winning streak to five games and to reclaim sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NHL.

Their win improves them to 22-6-2 on the season and puts them two points ahead of the Blues despite having played two fewer games.

It was another impressive showing for Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been one of the underrated stars of this year’s Lightning team. Most of the attention has been directed to forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov (and deservedly so!) but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Vasilevskiy, in his first full season as the Lighting’s full-time starter, has been one of the best goalies in the league so far.

Tuesday’s game was his third shutout of the season, and after his 32-save performance against the Blues his .933 save percentage is among the best in the NHL, while his 20 wins (in only 25 starts) are tops in the league. Nobody else in the league has more than 17.

While Vasilevskiy was shining in net again, Kucherov scored his 21st goal of the season to move back into a tie with Alex Ovechkin for the top spot in the league. It was also his 42nd point which moved him into a tie with Stamkos for the league lead.

Brayden Point also continued his breakout season by opening the scoring with his 13th goal of the season. He also added an assist on Tyler Johnson‘s third period goal.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

John Tortorella had no time for questions after blowout loss (Video)

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Since being hired by the Columbus Blue Jackets John Tortorella has seemed to be a kinder, gentler coach.

The blow ups and battles with the media don’t seem to happen as much. We don’t get as many rants.

He just does not seem as angry all the time.

Losing 7-2 at home to the Edmonton Oilers, however, might change a few things.

That it was happened to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night and Tortorella was in no mood to answer question about the game.

His press conference consisted of him stepping to the podium, saying there is no point in answering questions about the game, then leaving.

Here it is in all of its glory.

The only question we have: Is this shorter than the night he said the New York Rangers “sucked from head to toe?”

(Oddly enough, that game was also against the Edmonton Oilers).

That press conference lasted, roughly, 14 seconds from the time he started talking until the time he walked away (and also included the line “I know you have a job to do”).

Tonight’s comes in at just around 12 seconds. So we might have a record for the shortest John Tortorella press conference of all time.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.

Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and Philadelphia from 1987 to 2000.

He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.

“We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family,” Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.

“This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family.”

Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League’s Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.

He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.