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
The battle to battle ineffectively enough to end the season with the best draft odds will likely remain uncomfortable for fans of the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres, but at least those extra-awkward games between the two teams are over now.
Of course, it’s the clearest loss for those who enjoy the strange dissonance of it all. The Sabres ended up winning this round 4-1, which essentially means good news for the Coyotes.
It was a closer game than that score indicates, mind you, as Buffalo inflated the difference with two empty-net goals.
With this game out of the way, the Buffalo Sabres move to 50 standings points and six games remaining while the Coyotes stay at 54 points with five games left. The Edmonton Oilers are in third place, yet with 59 points and six games on the docket, they seem unlikely to sink any lower.
The Coyotes and Sabres are likely going toe-to-toe for the last spot, which made for a really odd week for observers. Now they can go back to a rather odd form of scoreboard watching, which seems a little more comfortable for most of us.
This serves as a decent confidence-booster for two embattled goalies in Mike Smith and Anders Lindback, even if the improvements may be merely incremental.
(One would be hard pressed to find a stranger month than what Smith has experienced in March, by the way. He’s put up more-or-less elite individual stats, yet he’s languished with a 3-9-0 record this month. Weird.)
It was a nice game for Andrej Meszaros (two goals) and Rasmus Ristolainen, who hit eight goals in 2014-15 with an empty-netter. Sabres fans might groan at this result, but the players seem happy with a victory, at least:
All the latest from the blue paint…
Hiller back in for Calgary
The Flames will start Jonas Hiller for the second time in as many nights on Monday when they take on the Stars in Dallas.
Hiller went nearly two weeks without a start before Flames head coach Bob Hartley gave him the nod yesterday in Nashville, and Hartley’s decision proved a wise one; Hiller stopped 27 of 29 shots in a crucial 5-2 victory, pushing Calgary past L.A. for third place in the Pacific Division.
Prior to Hiller taking the net, Karri Ramo was the Flames’ goalie of record in five straight games, going 2-1-2 over that stretch.
For the Stars, Kari Lehtonen is likely to be back in goal after stopping 33 of 36 shots in an OT win over Vancouver on Saturday.
Bolts at Habs: Ben Bishop vs. Carey Price
Canucks at Blues: Eddie Lack vs. Brian Elliott
Kings at ‘Hawks: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. (No Chicago starter yet)
Oilers at Avs: Richard Bachman vs. Semyon Varlamov
Sabres at Coyotes: (No Buffalo starter yet) vs. Mike Smith