Mike Halford

Mike Smith

Goalie nods: With Smith hurt, Coyotes start Lindback and recall Domingue

Probably not the news Arizona wanted to hear in advance of trying to snap its five-game losing streak — starting netminder Mike Smith is out with a lower-body injury, which will force Anders Lindback into action tonight as the Coyotes take on the Wild.

In a corresponding move, Arizona recalled Louis Domingue from AHL Springfield.

In 10 games this year, Lindback is 3-5-0 with a 2.90 GAA and .900 save percentage. He started the season well, posting a .935 save percentage in October, but has fallen on hard times of late — in his last outing, he allowed five goals on 18 shots in a loss to Carolina.

Lindback will be facing another backup this evening, as Darcy Kuemper gets the call for Minnesota ahead of the injured Devan Dubnyk.


— Good matchup in New Jersey as Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings take on Cory Schneider and the Devils. Howard gets the start after Petr Mrazek made 23 saves in a win over Montreal last night.

Jonathan Quick appears primed to start for the Kings in Pittsburgh, while the Penguins will, as per usual, go with Marc-Andre Fleury.

— After Scott Darling was shelled for five goals in last night’s loss to Nashville, Corey Crawford starts for the Blackhawks. No word yet on who’ll be in net for the visiting Jets, but Connor Hellebuyck did play in last night’s 6-4 win over Columbus.

— Like the Jets, the Flyers haven’t named a starter yet. Michal Neuvirth stopped 37 shots in last night’s win over St. Louis, so it could very well be Steve Mason. Antti Niemi is probable for Dallas.

Henrik Lundqvist won’t get to face his old backup in Edmonton this evening, as it’ll be Anders Nilsson — not Cam Talbot — that starts when the Oilers host the Rangers.

John Gibson makes his seventh straight start as the Ducks host the ‘Canes. No word yet on a Carolina starter, as head coach Bill Peters could go with either of his struggling netminders: Eddie Lack or Cam Ward.

Talbot calls first (and possibly only) season in Edmonton ‘extremely frustrating’

Jason Zucker, Cam Talbot

It looks like Anders Nilsson will start for the 15th time in 18 games tonight when the Oilers host the Rangers at Rexall.

Which means that — for the 15th time in 18 games — Cam Talbot will be on the bench.

This time, thought, it’s fair to suggest Talbot’s benching will sting more than usual, as it comes against the same Rangers club he starred for a year ago.

Prior to Friday’s game, Rangers beat writer Andrew Gross caught up Talbot.

But there weren’t many good things to get caught up on.

The 28-year-old has struggled mightily this season, going 3-8-1 with a .889 save percentage and 3.17 GAA. He’s given up at least four goals in each of his last four starts — a far, far cry from last year, when he went 21-9-4 with a .926  and 2.21, finishing seventh in Vezina voting.

Part of the problem, it would seem, is that this has been a season of pressure. There were heightened expectations given what the Oilers paid to acquire Talbot (three picks at the ’15 draft) and the fact he came into this season as the club’s No. 1.

There was also the added pressure of being in a contract year. A UFA at season’s end, Talbot wasn’t just out to prove he was a legit NHL starter — he was playing for a new deal, too.

And now everything’s gone pear-shaped.

“It’s extremely frustrating when you know you’re going to be a free agent and you haven’t been able to perform as well as I know I can and, I think, these guys know I can,” Talbot explained. “It’s hard to describe. It’s not the way I wanted the season to go. I wanted to come in and make my mark.”

As for when Talbot might get to make his mark?

Who knows.

The Oilers have won five straight with Nilsson in goal, and find themselves just three points out of a playoff spot.

For a team that hasn’t tasted the postseason in nearly 10 years, wins are at a premium. Which means it’s more likely the club will opt ride Nilsson’s hot hand for as long as possible, rather than give Talbot a chance to break out of his funk.

Panthers want to acquire goalscorer by deadline, says Tallon

2014 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7

Florida’s right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but sitting 21st in the league in goals per game.

So it’s no surprise to learn that GM Dale Tallon wants to add a sniper.

“That would be a priority, obviously — somebody that can score goals,” Tallon told Fox Sports Florida on Thursday night. “Our defensive play has been very solid, and we just have to score a few more goals in situations in the right time of a game.

“That’s what we’re lacking a little bit, and that’ll come. But we’re looking for that.”

It’s easy to see why Tallon would like another scorer.

Florida’s 72 goals this year have largely come by committee — the team doesn’t have any double-digit marksmen, but eight players at with least six goals: Jaromir Jagr, Vincent Trocheck, Reilly Smith, Nick Bjugstad, Jussi Jokinen, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Pirri.

So, who to add?

One name to keep an eye on could be Vancouver forward Radim Vrbata. The two-time 30-goal scorer is a pending UFA and has ties to Tallon, as the two spent time together in Chicago.

Tallon, then the ‘Hawks GM, first traded to get Vrbata out of Carolina, then signed him to a two-year extension.

As for Tallon’s ability to make a move — well, there doesn’t appear to be many impediments.

He has the full backing of ownership and a history of bold moves on his resume. Two years ago, he made the blockbuster deal to get Roberto Luongo from Vancouver and, at last year’s deadline, acquired Jagr from New Jersey.

Now, he sure sounds like a guy that’s prepared to make another acquisition.

“We’re always looking to better ourselves, and we’re getting more and more assets — and they’re not all going to play for us, because there’s not enough room,” Tallon explained. “If we can maybe package a couple of those to get the right piece that, long term, will help us and really help us in the playoff run and get us deep into the playoffs, then we’ll look at it.”

Doan (lower body) ‘shocked’ injury has kept him out eight games

Shane Doan
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There’s no doubt Coyotes captain Shane Doan wants to help his club snap its current five-game losing streak.

Just one problem — his lingering lower-body injury hasn’t allowed him to.

“It hasn’t gotten worse,” Doan said on Thursday, per the Coyotes website. “I am shocked right now that it’s been this long and really disappointed.

“At the beginning we said ‘day to day.’ That’s probably the most frustrating part.”

Doan hasn’t played since Nov. 21, missing the last eight games as a result. The club has gone 3-5-0 over that stretch, and there’s no definitive answer as to when he’ll be back in the lineup.

The 39-year-old could suit up for tonight’s game against Minnesota, or tomorrow’s against Carolina. Arizona head coach Dave Tippett did say the club would re-evaluate Doan following Friday’s morning skate.

There’s no doubt the Coyotes would like Doan back in the lineup as soon as possible.

They kick off a big six-game homestand tonight, and could use the captain’s services — Doan has six goals and 10 points in 20 games this year, while averaging 16:20 TOI per night.

After blowout loss to Preds, ‘Hawks send Dano back to AHL

Jonas Brodin, Marko Dano

Marko Dano is on his way back to Rockford.

On Friday, Chicago announced that Dano — one of the key pieces acquired in the Brandon Saad-to-Columbus trade — has been demoted to its AHL affiliate, one day after he sat as a healthy scratch for an ugly 5-1 loss in Nashville.

Dano, originally recalled from Rockford in early November, appeared in 13 games for the parent club while registering a goal and an assist.

He has not, however, played since getting just 8:25 of ice time in a 4-3 loss to Ottawa on Dec. 3 — meaning he’s been a healthy scratch in each of the last three games.

The ‘Hawks are back in action tonight when they host the Jets at the United Center. At the time of writing, there’s been no corresponding move to replace Dano on the active roster.