Mike Smith

Rangers overwhelm Coyotes in third, give Vigneault his 500th win

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Saturday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes was an even contest through 40 minutes, but the New York Rangers found another level in the third period to storm to a 5-1 victory.

That late game rally handed Rangers coach Alain Vigneault his 500th career win. He’s the 21st bench boss to ever reach that mark and is tied with Toe Blake. He also needs just one more victory to reach Pat Burns. Vigneault, 53, is playing in his second season with New York after previously serving with Montreal and Vancouver.

Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Marc Staal, and Lee Stempniak each found the back of the net for the Rangers, although Hayes’ shorthanded goal is particularly noteworthy given the angle he fired that at:

Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith stopped just 27 of 32 shots and he now has a 3.27 GAA and .896 save percentage in 41 contests this season.

The Rangers have won nine of their last 13 contests to thrust themselves into contention for the Metropolitan Division title. They’re still trailing the New York Isalnders (who also won tonight) by four points though.

Goalie Nods: Howard returns for Detroit

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Howard returns from groin injury

Jimmy Howard will make his first start since Jan. 10 tonight when the Detroit Red Wings play host to the Winnipeg Jets. Howard missed 10 games with a groin injury. He made four saves in relief of Petr Mrazec on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Howard is 16-7-7 with a 2.09 G.A.A. and a .920 save percentage this season.

Michael Hutchinson is expected to start for the Jets.

Elsewhere…

Maple Leafs at Canadiens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Carey Price

Blue Jackets at Islanders: Anton Forsberg vs. Jaroslav Halak

Rangers at Coyotes: Cam Talbot vs. Mike Smith

Hurricanes at Wild: Anton Khudobin vs. Devan Dubnyk

Devils at Predators: Cory Schneider vs. Pekka Rinne

Stars at Avalanche: Jhonas Enroth vs. Semyon Varlamov

Canucks at Flames: Ryan Miller vs. Karri Ramo

Capitals at Kings: Braden Holtby vs. Jonathan Quick

Goalie nods: Stars go with Lehtonen versus Florida, Enroth ‘likely’ to play tomorrow

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News and notes from around the crease…

His name is Jhonas

Kari Lehtonen will begin life on a short leash tonight against Florida — he’ll start against the Panthers, but will have newly acquired backup Jhonas Enroth on the bench for the first time since GM Jim Nill acquired him from Buffalo on Wednesday.

Lehtonen, who has been criticized this year for his uneven play, is 4-2-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .916 save percentage since the All-Star break — decent numbers, but hardly the type Dallas needs as it looks to get back into a playoff position.

Per Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, Enroth will “likely” play at some point this weekend. Based on that, he’ll probably be in goal tomorrow when Dallas takes on the Avs in Colorado.

For Florida, sounds like Al Montoya is likely for tonight’s affair.

Elsewhere…

Flyers at Jackets: Ray Emery vs. Curtis McElhinney

Devils at ‘Hawks: Cory Schneider vs. Corey Crawford

Sharks at Coyotes: Antti Niemi vs. Mike Smith

Bruins at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, no word yet on a Bruins starter.

Hitchcock gets win No. 692, tying him for fourth on all-time list

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The St. Louis Blues held on to beat the Arizona Coyotes by a final score of 2-1, and Ken Hitchcock picked up another milestone victory in his coaching career, moving right alongside Dick Irvin Sr for fourth on the all-time list.

Dmitrij Jaskin scored the winning goal, and the seventh of this season, just past the midway point of the second period. He also had five hits. His backhand off the rush somehow found room and got by Mike Smith, just trickling over the goal line.

“I didn’t see it (go in) until I went behind the net. It was a good surprise to me,” said Jaskin, as per Lou Korac of NHL.com.

 

Goalie nods: Mason out 2-3 weeks, Howard backs up tomorrow

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All the latest from the crease…

Flyers lose Mason, again

Steve Mason will be out 2-3 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, per the Courier-Post. News of the timetable comes just two days after Mason exited Sunday’s win over Washington following a setback with his knee, which has caused the 26-year-old problems all season long.

With Mason out, Ray Emery will assume starting duties with 21-year-old Anthony Stolarz backs up. Stolarz is with the team because Rob Zepp, who’s appeared in six games for the Flyers this season, is currently hurt with AHL Lehigh Valley.

Jimmy’s back

On the other end of the injured goalie spectrum, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard will dress for the first time in over a month when the Wings take on the Penguins tomorrow.

Howard, who hurt his groin on Jan. 10 against Washington, will serve as Petr Mrazek’s backup and could return to the crease in Detroit’s following game on Saturday against Winnipeg.

The 30-year-old’s return will be a welcome one. Howard was playing extremely well at the time of his injury, going 16-7-7 with a 2.11 GAA and .920 save percentage, with two shutouts.

Elsewhere…

Stars at Bruins: Niklas Svedberg for Boston, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Ottawa at Buffalo: Robin Lehner vs. Jhonas Enroth

Oilers at Isles: Viktor Fasth vs. Jaroslav Halak

Flyers at Habs: Ray Emery vs. Carey Price

Ducks at Panthers: Ilya Bryzgalov vs. Roberto Luongo

Coyotes at Blues: Mike Smith vs. Jake Allen

Bolts at Preds: Andrei Vasilevskiy vs. Pekka Rinne

Wild at Jets: Michael Hutchinson for Winnipeg, no word on a Minnesota starter.