If you look at Saturday’s Montreal Canadiens – New York Islanders game as a showcase between two potential Hart Trophy candidates (rather than two East contenders), then Carey Price got the best of John Tavares tonight.
Price was brilliant once again for Montreal, stopping 35 out of 36 shots as the Habs beat the Islanders 3-1. Tavares created some great chances – as usual – yet Price was game for all of his six shots on net.
Price’s stop on Matt Martin was probably the sexiest highlight of them all, though:
In reality, this wasn’t just about two stars, especially since there were plenty of other standout talents on the ice like P.K. Subban. It was a great night for Max Pacioretty (a goal on a gaffe by Michal Neuvirth) and a not-so-great evening for Kyle Okposo and Johnny Boychuk, who both suffered with -3 ratings.
The out-of-town scoreboard was also friendly to the Canadiens and unfriendly to the Islanders. While the Tampa Bay Lightning muffed their chance to keep pace with Montreal, the New York Rangers took care of business against the Buffalo Sabres. That leaves the Habs strongly in first place in the Atlantic Division while the Isles face an uphill battle to catch the Rangers in the Metro.
Both teams seem like they’re on the upswing overall, but it was Montreal that took a step forward tonight.
Max Pacioretty continues to rise among the NHL’s best snipers in 2014-15, but as much as unleashing a big shot matters, sometimes it’s about timing and luck.
He won’t score many goals that are easier than his 34th of the season, as a highly regrettable Michal Neuvirth flub opened the door for this one:
Yep, Neuvirth probably wants that one back.
It doesn’t help that he had Carey Price doing things like this on the other side of the ice, either:
Skapski starts vs. Sabres
Mackenzie Skapski will make his second career NHL start tonight as the New York Rangers visit the Buffalo Sabres. The 20-year-old got his first NHL win with a 24 save performance defeating the Sabres 3-1 on Feb. 20. Skapski was 12-7-3 to go along with a .914 save percentage and a 2.38 in 24 AHL games prior to being recalled.
Anders Lindback gets the nod for Buffalo.
Blackhawks at Sharks: Corey Crawford vs. Antti Niemi
Leafs at Canucks: Jonathan Bernier vs. Eddie Lack
Panthers at Hurricanes: Dan Ellis vs. Cam Ward
Canadiens at Islanders: Carey Price vs. Michal Neuvirth
Jets at Lightning: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Wild at Blues: Devan Dubnyk vs. Brian Elliott
Devils at Coyotes:Cory Schneider vs. Mike Smith
Flames at Avalanche: Karri Ramo vs. Semyon Varlamov
Predators at Kings: Pekka Rinne vs. Jonathan Quick
All the latest from the blue paint…
Don’t call it a controversy
The Islanders will start Michal Neuvirth for the second straight game tonight against the Leafs — but it isn’t a sign of potential goalie drama.
Tonight is the first of the Isles’ back-to-back set, which culminates tomorrow with a crucial tilt against the Rangers. Jaroslav Halak will face the Blueshirts, a team he’s fared well against this season, going 3-1-0 with a 2.51 GAA and .935 save percentage. Tomorrow’s game also represents the fifth and final meeting of the season between the two New York-based clubs, and a chance for the Isles (and Halak) to beat the Rangers in four of the five meetings.
As for Neuvirth, tonight’s game gives him a chance to make up for his debut — a shootout loss to the Panthers on Saturday, in which he allowed three goals on just 18 shots.
For Toronto, Jonathan Bernier will be in goal.
Oilers at Red Wings: Ben Scrivens vs. (no Detroit starter yet)
Ducks at Canucks: (no Anaheim starter yet) vs. Eddie Lack
Preds at Coyotes: (no Nashville starter yet) vs. Louis Domingue
Pens at Sharks: (no Pittsburgh starter yet) vs. Antti Niemi
Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in Nashville
Michael Hutchinson will look to right the ship tonight in Nashville. The Jets’ goaltender allowed three goals on 17 shots in a loss to the Senators on Wednesday. Hutchinson has lost three of his last five games while posting a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage. The Jets have not won in Nashville this season and will look to avoid a third straight loss to the Preds.
Pekka Rinne, who has lost four in a row, gets the nod for Nashville.
Blues at Leafs: Brian Elliott vs. Jonathan Bernier
Stars at Lightning: Jhonas Enroth vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Islanders at Panthers: Michal Neuvirth vs. Dan Ellis
Sabres at Capitals: Anders Lindback (unconfirmed) vs. Braden Holtby
Avalanche at Blue Jackets: Semyon Varlamov vs. Curtis McElhinney
Canadiens at Coyotes: Carey Price vs. Mike Smith
Penguins at Kings: Marc-Andre Fleury (unconfirmed) vs. Jonathan Quick (unconfirmed).
Canucks at Sharks: Eddie Lack vs. Antti Niemi