Roberto Luongo

Capitals goal disallowed due to (debatable) goalie interference by Backstrom

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Goalie interference calls can be … nebulous. That confusion is only compounded in the playoffs, when officials are under the microscope when every game and twist means that much more.

The NHL can be relieved that a decision to waive off a goal due to goalie interference likely won’t make a big impact in Game 4 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, but it could have been significant.

(Especially when Auston Matthews made Washington’s lead shrink to a mere goal; the Caps restored it soon after.)

You can watch the disallowed goal in the video above. Here’s the NHL Situation Room Blog explanation:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom interfered with Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen.

Sign that things aren’t as clear as they could be: Roberto Luongo joke.

Report: Panthers goalie Berra signs in Swiss League

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Reto Berra, Florida’s third-string netminder that’s been forced into action following injuries to Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss League.

The club announced the news on Monday, explaining that the contract would kick in next season and return Berra to a league he’s quite familiar with. Prior to debuting with Calgary during the ’13-14 campaign, the Swiss native played for Zurich, Davos, Langnau, Zug and Biel of the National League A.

Berra, 30, was acquired from Colorado via trade last June and has made six appearances for the Panthers this year (No. 7 will come tonight, against the Habs). He’s 0-4-0 with a 3.54 GAA and .870 save percentage, and most of his time was spent with Florida’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Berra’s in the last of a three-year, $4.35M deal, signed with the Avs back in 2014. His departure doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given Florida is pretty set in goal with Reimer (under contract through 2021) and Luongo (through ’22).

Diverted flight really triggered Tortorella’s fear of flying

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The way Columbus Blue Jackets executive John Davidson tells it, the Columbus Blue Jackets needing to divert their flight to Chicago was just a matter of following “protocol.”

He informed the Columbus Dispatch’s Tom Reed that no one was losing their cool.

“Not at all, honest to God,” Davidson said. “They said everything was fine. I wouldn’t (BS) you. It was actually quite normal. They would rather go back than have an issue.”

John Tortorella … well, he tells a different story to Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch:

Portzline notes that Tortorella has a fear of flying … so you can understand why he said that he (figuratively?) soiled himself.

On the bright side, such talk makes you think that Torts and his former goalie Roberto Luongo could find common ground.

Goalie nods: After blowout loss, ‘Hawks start Darling against desperate Bolts

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It wasn’t a good performance from Corey Crawford in Saturday’s 7-0 loss in Florida — the Chicago starter was hooked after allowing four goals on 25 shots.

Of course, it wasn’t a good night for the guy that replaced Crawford, either.

Scott Darling was torched for three goals on six shots against the Panthers, but now gets the first crack at redemption — Darling will start tonight when Chicago gets back into action in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning are hopeful they’ll have as much success against Darling — and maybe even Crawford — as the Panthers did on the weekend. Tampa Bay is desperate for points, and heads into tonight’s action sitting three points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are idle tonight, but the Isles — who have 82 points, to Tampa Bay’s 81 — are in action, hosting Nashville.

So it’s a big night for Tampa, to say the least. Appropriately, Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start, after stopping 29 of 30 shots in a big OT win over Detroit on Friday.

Elsewhere…

Eddie Lack is 5-1-1 in March with a .931 save percentage, so he gets the call as the ‘Canes host the Red Wings. Petr Mrazek goes for Detroit.

Roberto Luongo is still out, meaning James Reimer gets yet another start for the Panthers (he scored the shutout against Chicago over the weekend). Robin Lehner is in goal for Buffalo.

— We mentioned the Isles-Preds game above, and it’ll be Thomas Greiss in goal for the host team. It’s his second straight start, having played in Saturday’s loss to Boston, and it comes ahead of the recently recalled Jaroslav Halak. No word yet on a Preds starter.

Jake Allen‘s ridiculous month (7-1-1, .951 save percentage) continues with a start against the Coyotes. Mike Smith will be in goal for the visitors, looking to snap a five-game personal losing streak.

— The Flames will stick with Brian Elliott when they host the Avs tonight. No word yet on a Colorado starter.

Survival of the lucky? Stanley Cup playoff hopes can rise and fall with significant injuries

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There’s plenty of knocking on wood this time of year around the NHL as teams hope to avoid injuries that could damage their playoff hopes.

For some, it’s already too late.

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Steven Stamkos for four months — and counting — and now Tyler Johnson. The Florida Panthers went without Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov for much of the year. The Los Angeles Kings tried to stay afloat without goaltender Jonathan Quick until late February but will likely miss the playoffs.

While the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have withstood a barrage of injuries and the league-leading Washington Capitals have largely avoided them, they’re keenly aware of how quickly even one injury can make a difference.

“There’s other teams that are good teams that have just had some bad luck,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. “Tampa Bay just couldn’t overcome the injuries. If Tampa Bay has Stamkos all the way through the season, they’d certainly be in a different place.”

Read more: Injuries keep adding up for Lightning

Considered Cup contenders at the start of the season, the Lightning had to make a run just to get within three points of a playoff spot with nine games remaining.

The Panthers got Barkov and Huberdeau back and dug out of an early hole, but a lower-body injury to goaltender Roberto Luongo contributed to a 3-7-1 tailspin that might ultimately cost them the chance to make the postseason for a second consecutive year.

“Sometimes just your body breaks up because of the games and stuff like that,” said Barkov, who missed 15 games with a back injury. “Some teams just get more injuries, and some teams just get lucky not to get injuries.”

Injuries have again been the story of the year for the Penguins, who are currently without half their regular defense in Kris Letang, Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta, and also lost trade acquisition Ron Hainsey. But they haven’t missed a beat.

“The guys that have come in just understanding whatever role that they get, they have to be accepting of it,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “They have a lot of responsibility in most cases, too, because they’re filling in for some guys who play a lot of key minutes.”

Injuries were a severe blow to the Dallas Stars, with 292 man games lost, and 265 man games lost has put the Detroit Red Wings’ 25-season playoff streak in serious jeopardy. The Edmonton Oilers have around 300 man games lost, but unlike last year’s stumble when Connor McDavid broke his collarbone they are poised to end a 10-year playoff drought.

“This organization seems to have a way of getting beat up and having injuries and needing others to support the group, and this year I think we’ve done a better job,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We haven’t lost those key forwards, knock on wood, like we did last year.”

Tampa Bay did when Stamkos tore the meniscus in his right knee Nov. 15 after putting up 20 points in his first 17 games. Friday night marked his 57th consecutive game out of the lineup.

Yet in Washington, the Capitals have a grand total of 42 man games lost all season and have only dealt with a hand injury that sidelined forward Andre Burakovsky 15 games and upper-body ailments that cost T.J. Oshie 13. Defenseman Brooks Orpik believes the Capitals’ fortunes are a combination of off-ice injury prevention techniques and luck, while the team’s brass thinks it’s also about taxing players less each game.

“The team philosophy of going four lines and spreading the ice time out and spreading the ice time out on defense and spreading the ice time out among your goalies, I think it puts less stress on your lineup,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “Having a deep team, I think, results in less injuries.”

Depth up front helped the Chicago Blackhawks withstand captain Jonathan Toews‘ nine-game absence with back problems, and having backup Antti Raanta kept the New York Rangers on track when goaltender Henrik Lundqvist went out for two weeks this month with a lower-body injury. Lundqvist is expected back this weekend.

The Columbus Blue Jackets feel fortunate not to need to test their depth again this season after injuries ravaged them to the count of 510 man games lost two years ago. They’ve overcome defenseman Seth Jones‘ broken foot and Ryan Murray‘s broken hand to make the playoffs for the third time in franchise history, so it doesn’t feel at all like 2014-15 in Columbus.

“It’s just too good of a league to be able to survive that type of season,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “This year we’ve been lucky and hopefully done some things right as well where we haven’t been injured as much and knock on wood hopefully stay healthy for the rest of the year.”