Pekka Rinne

Goalie nods: Ducks start Gibson for first time in three months

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Gibson back for Anaheim

John Gibson will make his first start since Oct. 30 when the Ducks take on the ‘Canes in Carolina tonight.

Gibson, who burst onto the scene last year and appeared in four playoff games, started this season with Anaheim but has spent much of the last three months in AHL Norfolk (though he was shelved for a while with injury.)

A recent injury to Frederik Andersen — he’ll miss the next three games while on IR with an upper-body injury — and Ilya Bryzgalov’s spotty play in relief paved the way for the 21-year-old Gibson to make his return; it’ll be interesting to see if he can improve on his numbers from limited work earlier in the season (Gibson is 2-2-0 on the year, with a 2.65 GAA and .915 save percentage.)

For the ‘Canes, Cam Ward gets the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

Leafs at Isles: Jonathan Bernier vs. Jaroslav Halak

Oilers at Habs: Viktor Fasth vs. Dustin Tokarski

Pens at Sens: Thomas Greiss vs. Robin Lehner

Blues at Bolts: Brian Elliott for St. Louis, Ben Bishop likely for Tampa Bay.

Jets at Preds: Pekka Rinne likely for Nashville, no word yet on a Winnipeg starter.

Panthers at Wild: Roberto Luongo vs. Devan Dubyk

Rangers at Avs: Cam Talbot for New York, no word yet on a Colorado starter.

Flames at Kings: Jonas Hiller for Calgary, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

The Stars’ poor goaltending is costing them valuable points

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In the category of “good team, too bad about the goaltending,” the Dallas Stars have replaced the Minnesota Wild atop the list.

Consider:

— Based on team save percentage, only the Oilers have had it worse between the pipes this season. Edmonton’s at .889; Dallas is at .896.

— Starter Kari Lehtonen ranks 25th in “quality starts,” with just 13. His quality-start percentage is a paltry .419. (In contrast, Pekka Rinne’s is .813.)

— Backup Anders Lindback has been even worse than Lehtonen.

True, the Stars’ defense is young and mistake-prone. It’s not all the goalies’ fault. But per Dave Lozo of Bleacher Report, this is a pretty damning quote from veteran Trevor Daley:

“I think most nights we’ve felt we had chances to win and we were the better team. That’s the frustrating part. We’ve got to not let that sneak in. We have to move on to the next win and keep being the better team because at the end of the day we’re going to get the right results.

“I think we can very easily pop off 10 in a row. We have that capability. You look at our last 10 or 12 games, we probably should have won all of them.”

The Stars have only won six of their last 12.

To be fair to Lehtonen, he did play well (save for one blunder that resulted in a goal) in Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Rangers. Perhaps he can build off that.

The Stars, five points back of a playoff spot, are in Boston to take on the Bruins tonight.

Related: The Wild’s poor goaltending is costing them valuable points

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.

Ducks sit atop NHL after spoiling Rinne’s return

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Pekka Rinne is a big part of the reason the Predators have been one of the NHL’s best teams this season, but he couldn’t save them in his return from a knee injury as Nashville suffered a 5-2 loss to Anaheim last night.

The Predators goaltender showed his rust early when he bungled a rebound attempt that led to Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg scoring a shorthanded goal just 3:08 minutes into the contest.

“It wasn’t a great start,” Rinne said, per the Predators’ website. “Obviously, right away I put us behind the eight ball. Originally, I probably felt a little rusty, but after that start, I felt all right. A few unlucky bounces and a couple of tips; not the way that you want to start.”

He finished with 21 saves on 25 shots. At the other end of the ice, Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen turned aside an incredible 44 of 46 shots.

With that, Anaheim has now claimed eight of its last 10 games to improve to 34-12-6. That gives the Ducks a two-point edge over Nashville and puts them atop the NHL’s standings. Outside of Nashville, Anaheim also has fierce competition for the Presidents’ Trophy in St. Louis and Tampa Bay. That being said, even if the Ducks are successful in finishing with the best record in the NHL, they will still be judged almost exclusively on their playoff performance.

After all, the Ducks have had some great regular seasons over the last couple of years. They just need to demonstrate that they’re ready to carry that into the playoffs.

Related:

Will Nashville ‘go for it’ at trade deadline?

Ducks scratch Getzlaf because of lower-body injury

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Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators has the makings of a great test for two top Western Conference teams, especially with Pekka Rinne returning, but it sounds like Ryan Getzlaf won’t play.

Multiple sources including Thomas Willis of the Predators’ website and the OC Register’s Eric Stephens report that Getzlaf is a late scratch for this contest.

Update: Stephens reports that the Ducks said Getzlaf had been dealing with a lower-body injury that he aggravated during warm-ups. He’s considered day-to-day at the moment.