Pekka Rinne

Goalie Nods: Rangers’ Skapski gets second NHL start


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

Preds descent continues as Sharks’ Niemi earns 35-save shutout


After being one of the league’s top teams for most of the season, the Nashville Predators seem to be falling apart in the 11th hour. Their latest setback came in the form of a 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi stopped all 35 Predators shots to earn his fifth shutout of the season. San Jose has gone 4-1 this month and Niemi has played a significant part in that with a 1.48 GAA and .956 save percentage in March.

Pekka Rinne was solid between the Predators’ pipes, but Tomas Hertl found the back of the net with the man advantage late in the second period to break the scoreless tie.

Tommy Wingels scored an empty-net goal to make it 2-0 with less than a minute left in regulation.

Between Winnipeg losing and Los Angeles winning tonight, the Sharks are now three points behind in the battle for the second Wild Card spot. Their journey to the playoffs is about to get even more challenging though as they’ll face Chicago on Saturday before beginning a seven-game road trip.

Nashville has now lost seven of its last eight games and the one exception was an overtime victory against the lowly Arizona Coyotes. Thanks to St. Louis’ victory tonight, Nashville is no longer in control of the Central Division’s top seed. Instead, if the playoffs were to start today, the slumping Predators would be up against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.

As is the case with San Jose, the Predators schedule isn’t going to get any easier in the near future. They’ll complete their road trip with games against Los Angeles and Anaheim on Saturday and Sunday respectively before hosting the red hot Minnesota Wild Tuesday night.

Goalie Nods: Hutchinson gets a sixth straight start


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

Goalie nods: Blues go with Elliott after odd incident in Vancouver


All the latest from the blue paint…

Elliott, not Allen, starts in Philly

Worth keeping an eye on the Blues tonight as they take on the Flyers at Wells Fargo — Brian Elliott will get the nod in goal, just four days after a wild Sunday night in Vancouver.

Jake Allen started the eventual 6-5 shootout loss to the Canucks, but was hooked after allowing four goals on 21 shots. Elliott replaced Allen to start the third, but was then yanked after allowing one goal early in the frame, giving way for Allen to re-enter the game.

Following the contest, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock explained his reason for the move and noted the decision didn’t sit well with Elliott.

From the Post-Dispatch:

“When (Elliott) came out, it was 5-2,” Hitchcock said. “I was thinking, ‘Now all I need to do is get him hurt.’ I put him in because I thought we had great spirit going into the third and had a chance to win the hockey game. That was me. That’s my call.”

Elliott had a brief exchange with Hitchcock, then disappeared.

“He was mad he was coming out,” Hitchcock said. “I told him just relax. He’s fine.”

Elliott was not available for comment after the game.

Not much has been said about the incident since, but it was clear both Elliott and Allen were rattled by the series of events. Afteward, Allen said he was “mentally drained” by the situation.

As for the Flyers, Steve Mason will get the start in goal this evening.


Flames at Bruins: Karri Ramo vs. (no Boston starter yet)

Wild at Caps: Devan Dubnyk vs. Braden Holtby

Leafs at Bolts: Jonathan Bernier vs. Ben Bishop (probable)

Stars at Panthers: Kari Lehtonen (probable) vs. Dan Ellis

Isles at Preds: Jaroslav Halak vs. Pekka Rinne

Canucks at Coyotes: Eddie Lack vs. Mike Smith (probable)

Habs at Kings: (no Montreal starter yet) vs. Jonathan Quick (probable)

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Predators on NBCSN


The mainstream hockey public might not be fully aware of how impressive the Nashville Predators have been this season, but Thursday is a chance to see Pekka Rinne & Co. in action.

The Minnesota Wild hope to spoil that impression and improve their playoff odds in the process. You can see this game – which is especially significant for Minnesota – on NBCSN but also by streaming via NBC Sports Live Extra.


Want more on this game? Read this preview from earlier today.