It looks like defenseman Chris Tanev‘s foot injury won’t keep him out of the lineup for long, which is great for the Vancouver Canucks at a time when they need all the help they can get.
Tanev has missed the Canucks’ last two games, but was able to participate in Thursday’s practice. The hope now is that he’ll be available for Friday’s contest against Anaheim, per the Vancouver Province.
The Canucks will be entering the new year with a 14-15-9 record that would put them significantly behind in the playoff race if not for the fact that they’re in the dreary Pacific Division. As it is that record puts them just outside of the third seed as they’re tied with Arizona in terms of points, but behind in the standings because Vancouver has played in two more contests.
So circumstances have provided the Canucks with a reason to stay hopeful, but it will be tough for them to make the playoffs unless they improve at home, where they’re currently 6-7-3. That’s what makes their current seven-game homestand so critical.
Tanev has been providing the Canucks with 21:33 minutes per game so far this season and losing him for any significant length of time might have been a costly blow to the team. It seems they’ll be able to avoid that one though.
Facing the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets, Lehtonen surrendered three goals on 14 shots in the first period and was consequently replaced by Antti Niemi for the second frame.
Lehtonen’s outing got off to a bad start as Boone Jenner scored just 35 seconds into the contest. It’s hard to blame that one on the goalie though as his teammates didn’t do enough to take the pressure off him:
That being said, you could argue that defenseman Kevin Connauton‘s first goal of the season is one Lehtonen would like to have back and the netminder didn’t look great on Matt Calvert‘s marker either:
Going into tonight’s game, Lehtonen had a 2.48 GAA and .915 save percentage in 17 contests this season.
Video: Marchand might face discipline for clipping Borowiecki
Of course that remains to be seen, but Marchand did engage in a controversial low hit on Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki during tonight’s game, as you can see below:
Marchand wasn’t assessed a penalty for the hit, but the department of player safety will review it, per the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
If Marchand does get receive supplemental discipline, it wouldn’t be the first time that the NHL has taken issue with him clipping. He was suspended for five games for clipping Sami Salo in 2012. Marchand later defended the hit by saying “it technically wasn’t a clip.”
Borowiecki is back on the ice although stretching that left leg
Tonight the Predators will get a chance at redemption after dropping their first two meetings with the Blues on Nov. 7 and Dec. 17. You can watch the contest on NBCSN or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
Every game is critical for the Central Division adversaries given how stiff the competition is in that division. St. Louis holds the second seed with a 22-12-4 record, but just 10 points separate them and the sixth place Colorado Avalanche. In reality the gap is actually a little smaller given that the Blues have played in one more game than the Avalanche.
But while the Blues need to stay sharp to avoid slipping from their desirable spot near the top of the Central standings, Nashville’s position is more tenuous. The Predators’ 18-12-6 record would be good enough for the second spot in the Pacific Division, but it places them fifth in their division. Their record is still good enough to possess the second Wild Card seed, but with Colorado on the rise, Nashville needs all the points it can get.
Nashville: Won 5-3 over the New York Rangers. James Neal scored his 14th and 15th goals of the season.
St. Louis: Lost 3-0 to the Dallas Stars. Brian Elliott, who lost the starting job, was the tough luck loser as he turned aside 35 of 37 shots.
PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury returned to practice on Tuesday for the first time since being sidelined by a concussion earlier this month.
Fleury has missed Pittsburgh’s past six games since reporting concussion-like symptoms following a loss to Washington on Dec. 14.
He was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and facing shots for the first time since the diagnosis. Fleury said he was a little rusty, but said otherwise he felt pretty good. Coach Mike Sullivan called Fleury’s presence at practice “progress”, but declined to issue a timetable for Fleury’s return.
The Penguins are 2-4 without their top goaltender.
Defenseman Kris Letang also practiced on Tuesday. Letang was held out of a loss to Winnipeg on Sunday as a precaution after taking a shot to the head in a win over Minnesota last Saturday.