Ryan Dadoun

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby stops a shot on the goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014, in New York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Goalie nods: Holtby gets another shot at wins record

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Some of Saturday’s contests are already well underway, but with every team set to play today, there will be a lot of action tonight as well.

Even with almost every team set to play in its season finale, it’s goaltender Braden Holtby that might have the night that will be remembered the longest. He’ll start for the Capitals and while Washington has already secured the Presidents’ Trophy, Holtby is fighting to tie Martin Brodeur’s single season wins record, which stands at 48.

This is Holtby’s third attempt to make history and while Washington will also play on Sunday, this could very well be his last start of the regular season. It’s appropriate then that the Capitals are in St. Louis where Brodeur now serves as an assistant general manager. St. Louis will counter with netminder Brian Elliott.

Elsewhere…

Andrei Vasilevskiy will play against Mike Condon as the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Montreal Canadiens.

— Carolina will start Eddie Lack tonight while Florida will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Garret Sparks will play between the pipes for the Maple Leafs against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

— Chicago’s Corey Crawford (upper body) will get his first start in nearly a month. Columbus’ goaltender hasn’t been confirmed, but it will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky.

— The Flames will give Niklas Backstrom the opportunity to finish the season with a start against his former team, the Wild. Minnesota will use Devan Dubnyk.

— Christopher Gibson will get the nod for the Islanders. We don’t know who Buffalo will use, but after Jason Kasdorf made his NHL debut on Friday, a reasonable guess is Chad Johnson.

— Nashville will send out Carter Hutton tonight. Dallas will likely start Antti Niemi.

Cam Talbot and Jacob Markstrom will start for Edmonton and Vancouver respectively.

Jonathan Quick is expected to get the nod for Los Angeles, but we don’t know who Winnipeg will start.

— Arizona’s starting goaltender also hasn’t been revealed yet, but Martin Jones will play between the pipes for the Sharks.

Flyers catch a break: Penguins scratch Crosby, Letang

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates his goal in the first period with Kris Letang (58) during an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been red hot lately, but they might be more manageable for the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon.

Pittsburgh has announced that Sidney Crosby is out with “bumps and bruises” while Kris Letang will be a healthy scratch. That’s in addition to the players that the Penguins were already missing, including Beau Bennett, Olli Maatta, Evgeni Malkin, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

In response to the loss of Crosby on top of all those other injuries, Pittsburgh has called up forward Kael Mouillierat, per the team’s website. The 28-year-old has appeared in six career NHL games.

Pittsburgh is still riding an eight-game win streak, but the Flyers are certainly being handed a golden opportunity. Philadelphia is one-point shy of Boston and Detroit in the battle for the second Wild Card spot, but the Flyers have two games left whereas the team’s they are chasing are currently playing out their final contest of the season.

If Detroit and/or Boston lose in regulation, then Philadelphia can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Penguins. If Detroit and Boston both win though, then the Flyers will need a win against Pittsburgh just to stay alive in the race ahead of Sunday’s game between Philadelphia and the New York Islanders.

Related: NHL on NBC: Penguins look to crush Flyers’ playoff dreams

Pastrnak opens scoring with impressive but controversial goal

Pastrnak
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With their season hanging in the balance and goaltender Tuukka Rask out with an illness, the Boston Bruins arguably caught a break early in the first period of today’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

In the Senators zone, David Pastrnak snatched the sailing puck out of midair and quickly put himself in a position to beat goalie Andrew Hammond one-on-one.

The question is if Pastrnak was offside. Ottawa challenged the call, but it ultimately stood as the league believed the video was inconclusive. The NHL referred to Rule 78.7 which states, “If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the On-Ice Official(s) will be instructed to confirm their original call.”

The Senators lost their timeout as a result of the failed challenge.

It is worth noting that it does look like offside:

As AP’s Stephen Whyno noted, the NHL is putting cameras on the blue lines for the playoffs, so we’re not likely to get inconclusive reviews in these scenarios in the near future.

With season on the line, Rask can’t play in finale

Boston Bruins goalie Jonas Gustavsson (50) of Sweden catches the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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This is the worst of times to lose your starting goaltender.

Boston is facing the Ottawa Senators this afternoon without Tuukka Rask due to an illness, per the team’s Twitter feed. As a result, the Bruins announced that they have summoned goaltender Jeremy Smith on an emergency basis and Jonas Gustavsson will play between the pipes.

Rask did join the Bruins for their warmup, but he barely participated and left it early.

Boston has leaned heavily on Rask this season, asking him to start in 62 games. In fact this is Jonas Gustavsson’s first start since March 18, although he has appeared twice since then in games that Rask didn’t complete.

Going into this game, Boston controls the second Wild Card seed, but it has just a one-point edge over Philadelphia and the Flyers have two contests left on their schedule. In other words, if the Bruins lose in regulation, then Philadelphia would need to get just two points over two games to boot Boston from the Wild Card race.

A Boston loss in regulation would also guarantee the Red Wings a playoff spot regardless of the outcome of Detroit’s game against the New York Rangers this afternoon. The Red Wings and Bruins are currently tied in terms of points, but Detroit controls the tiebreaker and thus holds the third Atlantic Division seed for now.

‘We’ve never once said this was going to be easy or fast,’ Benning says as Canucks close losing season

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Making the playoffs may have been the ideal for Vancouver, but with the team about to finish their worst campaign since 1998-99, Canucks GM Jim Benning emphasized that this season has been one step in a longer process.

“We’ve never once said this was going to be easy or fast,” Benning said, per the Vancouver Sun. “What we said is our goal every year is try to be competitive and make the playoffs. But we’ve never once mentioned the Stanley Cup or had any illusions about where we are as a team. If you don’t have the goal to be a playoff team, what’s the sense of even playing the games?”

The Canucks have put an emphasis on getting younger, but they’ve also resisted doing a complete overhaul. Back in April 2015, they made it clear that they didn’t want to go the same route as other rebuilding teams that are stuck at or near the NHL basement for years while they rebuild through the draft. Instead, they felt it was important to develop prospects within a “winning environment.”

If you wanted to draw a parallel to what they were going for, perhaps the Detroit Red Wings would be a fair comparison of a team that attempted to rebuild on the fly. Despite that, Vancouver will sit in the 28th spot in the NHL with just one game left on its schedule.

So in that sense, this season could be seen of as a failure, but at the same time it’s not a deviation from their long-term goals. After all, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Ben Hutton, and goalie Jacob Markstrom all played significant roles this season and could be important pieces of this franchise for years to come. Meanwhile rookies Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen were given a chance to grow within the NHL.

Benning still wants to be competitive next season, but he thinks realistically it will be a few years before Vancouver can stack up against the league’s top squads.

Related: The outcome of the trade deadline frustrated Benning