Halak gets the nod for the Isles
Jaroslav Halak will look to get back on track against the lowly Buffalo Sabres Saturday night. Halak has lost two of three starts while allowing 10 goals on 101 shots. He gave up three goals on 39 shots in the Islanders 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus on Thursday. New York has lost four of five, but can clinch a playoff berth with a regulation win tonight.
Andrey Makarov gets the start for Buffalo.
Penguins at Blue Jackets: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Sergei Bobrovsky
Canucks at Jets: Eddie Lack vs. Ondrej Pavelec
Red Wings at Wild: Jimmy Howard vs. Devan Dubnyk
Devils at Rangers: Cory Schneider vs. Henrik Lundqvist
Lightning at Panthers: Ben Bishop vs. Roberto Luongo
Capitals at Senators: Braden Holtby vs. Andrew Hammond
Leafs at Bruins: James Reimer vs. Tuukka Rask
Stars at Predators: Jhonas Enroth vs. Pekka Rinne
Sharks at Coyotes: Antti Niemi (unconfirmed) vs. Mike Smith
Flames at Oilers: Karri Ramo vs. Ben Scrivens
Avalanche at Kings: Semyon Varlamov vs. Jonathan Quick
Maybe it was a sign of things to come.
Dallas Stars veteran forward Travis Moen, who hadn’t played since Feb. 17 and entered Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues with one goal on the season, scored on a penalty shot in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. The two teams suddenly erupted for seven goals in the second period, including three in the first 38 seconds, for a combined nine goals on just 38 shots through the opening 40 minutes.
For the 32-year-old Moen, that was his first career penalty shot attempt. It came with 11 seconds remaining in the opening period.
The Stars jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the second period, but coughed that up in a 7-5 loss to the Blues on what was a record-setting night.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice addressed the media Friday, one day after the NHL levied a four-game suspension against Dustin Byfuglien for his nasty cross-check on Rangers forward J.T. Miller.
Maurice, it seems, took issue with two things. One, what he perceived as inconsistency between the Byfuglien ruling and other cross-check suspensions and two, how Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault portrayed Big Buff in the aftermath.
“Vigneault wanted the electric chair, and I’ve got a lot more time for Dustin than that,” Maurice said, per the Winnipeg Sun. “So we will always be a little agitated by what we feel is the unfairness of it.
“From my point of view, though, you can hand out heavier suspensions on all these events. The players will make the adjustment.”
Maurice mentioned a few incidents from this season for comparison purposes, including the cross-check Dallas’ Antoine Roussel landed on Boston’s Adam McQuaid in early February, which resulted in a two-game suspension for Roussel:
As for the Vigneault quote, Maurice appeared to be referring to what the New York bench boss said immediately following Tuesday’s tilt.
“[It was] violent, deliberate, could have broken his neck,” said Vigneault. “It was one of the most vicious cross-checks I’ve seen this year.”
John Gibson will get another chance to show he should be the Anaheim Ducks’ playoff starter when he goes up against Colorado tonight at Honda Center.
Gibson’s last start was a good one; the 21-year-old stopped all but one of the Devils’ 27 shots last Sunday in a 2-1 victory, after which he was named the game’s first star.
Still, neither Gibson nor Andersen has made it an easy decision for coach Bruce Boudreau. Both young goalies have had excellent performances, and both have had their hiccups.
“I think they both want the starting role,” Boudreau said recently, per NHL.com “We had a tough game in New York and Columbus [last month] and when [Andersen] played two really good games, it was like [Gibson] said, ‘Oh, yeah? OK,’ and he came in and played great. I think they both would like to have it.
“If we go far they’re both going to play, and if we don’t go far, they’re both going to play, because if we’re losing, we’re going to make switches. That’s the way I think of it right now. We’re not married to thinking one is better than the other. When they’re on top of their game, they’re as good as there is.”
Reto Berra will start for Colorado.
Scott Darling likely for Chicago versus Anders Lindback for Buffalo.
Dustin Tokarski for Montreal versus Keith Kinkaid for New Jersey.
Brian Elliott for St. Louis versus Kari Lehtonen (likely) for Dallas.
Louis Domingue for Arizona versus Antti Niemi for San Jose.
Valeri Nichushkin, who was recalled from his conditioning assignment on Thursday, is expected to return to the Stars’ lineup tonight when Dallas plays host to the St. Louis Blues.
Nichushkin has missed nearly five months after undergoing hip surgery in November.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff would not confirm Nichushkin’s return to the lineup, but Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News reports that it’s a safe bet the 20-year-old will appear in his first game since Nov. 6.
“He’s real excited to be back playing, to be back here and have the opportunity to play,” Ruff said.
Nichushkin had 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games during his rookie campaign last season while playing alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
He played in just four games registering a minus-3 rating this season prior to the surgery.
Ruff admits the club has missed the presence of the 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward.
“We’ve missed his size,” Ruff said. “For the most part, Seguin, Benn and Val were a good line. He was a guy who could hang onto the puck down low, physically dominate some teams, and even come off the wall in the offensive zone and make plays. And I really felt by the end of [last] year he was one of our best defenders coming back defending.”
Tonight concludes the five-game season series between the two clubs. Each team has won twice.