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Goalie nods: Another start for Reimer, who’s turned his season around

James Reimer will start for the fourth time in seven games tonight, as the Panthers return to action with a home date against the Kings.

Reimer also started Florida’s last game — a 2-1 win over Anaheim last Friday — and played very well, making 22 saves. All told he’s now stopped 53 of his last 55 shots faced, good for a .964 save percentage, and in doing so has written a tale of two campaigns.

After signing a fairly lucrative five-year, $17 million deal with the Panthers last summer, Reimer had a tough start. He posted a .907 save percentage in October and a .890 in November, and had just one regulation win in his first nine appearances.

Since then, though, he’s been solid.

He posted a .941 in December and a .920 in January, playing a key role in keeping Florida’s playoff chances afloat. He’s also played quite a bit — tonight will be his 20th start of the year — which should help veteran starter Roberto Luongo, who showed signs of fatigue near the end of last season.

For the Kings, Peter Budaj starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Martin Jones, fresh off an ugly outing in Buffalo (five goals on 36 shots), gets right back in to face the Bruins. No word yet on a Boston starter, as it had no morning skate.

Jacob Markstrom started Tuesday in Nashville, so Ryan Miller returns to start for the Canucks, who are in Columbus. The Blue Jackets are going with Sergei Bobrovsky.

— The Caps will go back to Braden Holtby, after he shut out Carolina on Tuesday. The visiting Red Wings will stick with Petr Mrazek, who has stopped 98 of his last 105 shots faced (.933 save percentage).

— The streaking Thomas Greiss, who’s won four of his last five, goes once again for the Isles. The host Flyers will go with Steve Mason, who hasn’t started since Jan. 31.

Pekka Rinne gets the night off, as Juuse Saros will start for Nashville in New York. Henrik Lundqvist, fresh off a 43-save win over Anaheim on Tuesday, goes for the Blueshirts.

— It’s John Gibson versus Robin Lehner as the Ducks take on the Sabres in Buffalo.

Frederik Andersen‘s play has come under scrutiny lately (more on that here), but he’ll go tonight when the Blues visit Toronto. Jake Allen, who’s on a roll and shut out Ottawa on Tuesday, goes for St. Louis.

— After Andrew Hammond got spanked by the Blues the other night, Ottawa goes back to Mike Condon. He’ll be up against Kari Lehtonen, who draws back in after Antti Niemi played last game.

— Two of the NHL’s youngest netminders do battle in Colorado, as Matt Murray and the Penguins take on Calvin Pickard and the Avs.

Carey Price will look to rebound from an ugly January when he and the Habs take on the Coyotes. Arizona will go with Mike Smith, who posted 38 saves in a win over San Jose his last time out.

Report: Sabres interested in Pens director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton

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New Sabres GM Jason Botterill has been on the job for less than a month, but with the draft around the corner, he’s got to start filling some holes in his front office.

Botterill, who came over from Pittsburgh, is allowed to bring former Pens colleagues of his over to Buffalo, but only if they’re given promotions by the Sabres (no lateral moves).

According to a report by Chuck Gormley, one person who could move from Pittsburgh to Buffalo is Randy Sexton, who currently serves as the Penguins’ directer of amateur scouting.

Sexton would bring plenty of experience to the Sabres’ front office, as he’s been a general manager with both the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers.

Having someone with that kind of experience could be beneficial for a rookie GM like Botterill, so the move would make a lot of sense from that point of view.

Related:

Botterill has “no problem” with Lehner as No. 1

Botterill to use Pens’ NHL-AHL relationship as model for Sabres

PHT Morning Skate: How good has Subban been during Nashville’s run?

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–Prior to last night’s game between Ottawa and Pittsburgh, the Senators held a moment of silence for those affected by the attacks in Manchester. A very touching moment. (The Score)

–Speaking of that game, the Senators managed to win it 2-1 thanks to some incredible goaltending from Craig Anderson. You can check out the highlights from the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Sportsnet’s Andrew Berkshire takes a deeper look at P.K. Subban‘s contribution to Nashville’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. Despite dealing with a herniated disc, Subban has really been a key part of the Predators’ success both offensively and defensively. (Sportsnet)

–Many hockey fans thought Pekka Rinne‘s better days were behind him after he struggled during the regular season, but his playoff numbers have been incredible. From the start of his career, Rinne has always been underrated, so being underestimated is nothing new to him. (Yahoo)

–The Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs made a couple of trades last offseason. First, the Leafs got Frederik Andersen from the Ducks. Then, it was Toronto that shipped Jonathan Bernier to Anaheim. Could the two clubs make another huge deal this summer? The Leafs need a right-handed defenseman, and with the expansion draft coming up, the Ducks may have some blue liners to move. (The Hockey News)

–Former NHLer Manny Maholtra held a part time role with the Canucks last season, and he’s hoping for a larger one next year. “We’ve started discussions and it’s something I would definitely like to do. Obviously, a lot has to do with how (Travis) Green feels and how he wants to build his staff.” (Vancouver Province)

–We know that Brendan Smith wants to re-sign with the New York Rangers, but what will it take to get him under contract? According to the New York Post, Smith will likely fetch a four or five-year deal worth north of $4 million. (New York Post)

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

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If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

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Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.