Video: Callahan intercepts Panthers’ pass, sets up Johnson’s rocket one-timer

The Florida Panthers have won back-to-back contests, but with the Ottawa Senators threatening to run away with the last Wild Card spot on the strength of their red hot play, the Panthers had a lot of pressure on them coming into tonight’s game against Tampa Bay.

The first period didn’t go their way though. Lightning forward Brenden Morrow took advantage of a rebound opportunity to make it 1-0 just 5:49 minutes into the contest. A little less than two minutes later, Ryan Callahan stole a pass intended for Florida’s Aleksander Barkov and then fed the puck to Tyler Johnson who fired a powerful one-timer past goaltender Roberto Luongo.

You can see that sequence below:

With nine games left in its schedule, Tampa Bay is two points behind the Montreal Canadiens in the battle for the Atlantic Division title. The Lightning also have a shot of taking the Presidents’ Trophy.

Goalie nods: Price versus Rinne in potential Vezina showdown


All the latest from the blue paint…

Elite battle at Bridgestone

Two goalies most have penciled in as Vezina candidates will square off tonight in Nashville when Carey Price and the Habs take on Pekka Rinne and the Preds.

Price, widely considered to be the Vezina favorite, has been nothing short of brilliant all season long and heads into tonight’s action leading the NHL in wins (40), save percentage (.938), GAA (1.86) and shutouts (nine). The 27-year-old’s dominance has led to serious discussion about Hart Trophy consideration as league MVP.

Rinne, meanwhile, has been solid as well. He’s second to Price in both GAA (2.09) and wins (38), sitting fifth overall in save percentage (.927). What’s interesting about the two, however, is that Price has never been named a Vezina finalist over the course of his seven-year career; Rinne, who’s in his ninth NHL campaign, has been a finalist twice and fell just short of capturing the Vezina in 2011, when he finished a few votes shy of eventual winner Tim Thomas.

So with Price and Rinne likely to both be finalists this year, the conversation turns to who’ll be the third nominee. Right now, it seems like a three-horse race between New Jersey’s Cory Schneider, Washington’s Braden Holtby and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk.


Wild at Isles: Devan Dubnyk vs. Jaroslav Halak

Kings at Rangers: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Cam Talbot

Blues at Pens: Jake Allen vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Ducks at Jackets: John Gibson vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Coyotes at Wings: Mike Smith vs. Jimmy Howard

Panthers at Bolts: Roberto Luongo vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jets at Canucks: Michael Hutchinson vs. Eddie Lack

‘Hawks talking contract, facing deadline with NCAA standout Paliotta


Contract negotiations are underway between Chicago and Vermont d-man Mike Paliotta, the ‘Hawks third-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

“We’ve had conversations,” Paliotta’s agent, Jordan Neumann, told ESPN. “I think everything is progressing. We’re listening to everything the Blackhawks say, and Michael and his family are giving signing with the Blackhawks a tremendous amount of thought.”

Paliotta, 21, just wrapped a four-year career at Vermont in style, posting a career-high 36 points while being named to the Hockey East second-team. He’s got good size — 6-foot-4, 205 pounds — and ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman is high on his ability, saying he’d like Paliotta to turn pro right now.

Just one catch, though.

Paliotta hasn’t signed yet and is getting closer and closer to Aug. 15, which is the deadline for Chicago to sign him to an entry-level deal. If this situation sounds familiar, well, it is — Chicago underwent a similar scenario with 2010 first-rounder Kevin Hayes, who played out his four full years at Boston College before passing on signing his ELC with the ‘Hawks. That allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent, at which time Hayes signed with the New York Rangers.

Like Hayes, Paliotta is aware of the depth within the Chicago organization, something that could play a factor in whether or not he signs. Earlier this season, the ‘Hawks jettisoned Adam Clendening to Vancouver — who was taken in the same draft year as Paliotta — because of their logjam of right-handed defensemen prospects (Paliotta is a righty.)

“The Blackhawks are obviously a great organization,” Paliotta said in January, per ESPN. “They have a lot of depth. That’s what makes them successful. They’ve obviously developed a ton of great players.

“Anywhere you go, it’s going to be challenging. You’re going to have to beat out guys.”

Playoff-hungry Panthers lose leading scorer Bjugstad (lower body)


Florida center and leading scorer Nick Bjugstad will miss tonight’s crucial tilt against in-state rival Tampa Bay with a lower-body injury, the Panthers announced.

Bjugstad, who has 24 goals and 43 points this season, has been dealing with ailment for a while, per head coach Gerard Gallant, and was only able to play 11:27 in Saturday’s 2-1 shootout win over Boston.

With Bjugstad out, it looks as though Vincent Trocheck will draw into the Florida lineup for the first time since Mar. 19, when he played 13:29 in a 3-1 win over Detroit.

The Panthers really need a win tonight to keep their playoff hopes alive. They go into Tuesday’s action five points back of Ottawa for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and are four back of ninth-place Boston. Florida has been good of late, however, winning five of its last seven, and is 1-0-1 against the Lightning this season.

Bruins lose to Panthers in the shootout, Wild Card race tightens up


The Boston Bruins should be feeling the pressure right about now.

They were unable to get two points against the Florida Panthers, losing 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday. And, just a few minutes before that result became a final, the Ottawa Senators beat the Toronto Maple Leafs to inch even closer to the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, currently held precariously by the Bruins.

Brandon Pirri scored the winner in the shootout, while Roberto Luongo stopped all three Boston attempts.

The Bruins now lead the Senators by a single point for the Wild Card but Ottawa has a game in hand. The Panthers are hanging in there, just four points back.

“Was a tight game like it was supposed to be, but we’re basing ourselves on results, and we got a point — we want to get two,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien, as per the club’s Twitter account.

Making matters worse for the Bruins is the fact defenseman Dougie Hamilton didn’t play the third period, leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.