By shutting out the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings end the night back in the West’s final wild card spot.
They had to grind this one out as Jonathan Quick made all 25 saves while Andy Andreoff scored the only goal on an increasingly spry Mike Smith (beaten just once on 35 shots). Los Angeles carried much of the play, but much like Washington out East, it wasn’t an easy night despite facing a “tanking” opponent.
Here is a quick look at the West wild card race after this one:
Minnesota (first wild card spot): 83 points, 35 regulation/overtime wins in 69 games played Los Angeles (second wild card spot): 81 points, 32 ROW in 69 GP
Winnipeg: 80 points, 28 ROW in 69 GP San Jose: 76 points, 31 ROW in 69 GP Colorado: 75 points, 23 ROW in 69 GP Dallas: 74 points, 29 ROW in 70 GP
It’s important to mention that the Kings could conceivably catch thee Calgary Flames (who have 81 points but two more ROW) and Vancouver Canucks (82 points, one game in hand on Los Angeles, plus three more ROW than the Kings) in the Pacific Division, too.
At this point, almost every win and loss could be framed as crucial. Regardless, the Kings would likely have some serious regrets if they dropped this one, but they managed to grit this one out. The West’s top teams probably aren’t happy, either.
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
Hammond — aka “The Hamburglar” — returns to the net after a two-game hiatus, looking to build on his eye-popping numbers: 7-0-1 record, .954 save percentage, 1.43 GAA and two shutouts in nine appearances. His return also comes at a crucial time for Ottawa, as the Sens blew a golden opportunity on Tuesday to close the gap on Boston’s lead in the Eastern Conference playoff chase; they head into tonight’s action seven points back of the B’s, albeit with a game in hand.
For Montreal, Carey Price will get the start in goal.
Bolts at Bruins: Ben Bishop vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)
Oilers at Pens: Ben Scrivens vs. Marc-Andre Fleury
Stars at ‘Canes: Kari Lehtonen vs. Anton Khudobin
Jets at Panthers: Michael Hutchinson vs. Dan Ellis
Jackets at Wings: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Jimmy Howard
Flyers at Blues: Steve Mason vs. Brian Elliott
Devils at Avs: Cory Schneider vs. Semyon Varlamov (probable)
Kings at Canucks: No confirmed starters for either team.
Blackhawks at Coyotes: Corey Crawford vs. Mike Smith
Preds at Sharks: (No starter for Nashville yet) vs. Antti Niemi
Goalie Nods: Hutchinson gets a sixth straight start
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
PHT Morning Skate: Mike Smith pays tribute to Alice Cooper on retro night in Arizona
The Arizona Coyotes wore throw back jerseys in Thursday night’s shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks. Additionally, goaltender Mike Smith wore a mask designed specifically for the night. Smith had rock icon Alice Cooper painted on its back plate. (NHL.com)
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Friday at 7:00pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith helped toddler Cammy, who was born unable to walk or speak, reach her dream. Her goal was to score a goal with the help of her favorite player, Keith. The 31-year-old recently made Cammy’s dream come true. Have a look:
One of the highlights of Monday’s trade deadline was the Minnesota Wild’s acquisition of defenseman Jordan Leopold. Leopold’s daughter, Jordyn Leopold, wrote a letter to the Wild asking them bring her dad home to Minnesota. Jordyn discussed her letter with the Wild’s website recently:
The Hockey News ranks the Top 10 falling prospects. These players were ranked among the top 75 prospects in the game last season, but have since dropped off. (THN)
Peterborough Petes’ rookie Jonathan Ang scored a highlight-reel goal Thursday night during an Ontario Hockey League game against Max Domi and the London Knights. Have a look: