Roberto Luongo

Video: Callahan intercepts Panthers’ pass, sets up Johnson’s rocket one-timer

The Florida Panthers have won back-to-back contests, but with the Ottawa Senators threatening to run away with the last Wild Card spot on the strength of their red hot play, the Panthers had a lot of pressure on them coming into tonight’s game against Tampa Bay.

The first period didn’t go their way though. Lightning forward Brenden Morrow took advantage of a rebound opportunity to make it 1-0 just 5:49 minutes into the contest. A little less than two minutes later, Ryan Callahan stole a pass intended for Florida’s Aleksander Barkov and then fed the puck to Tyler Johnson who fired a powerful one-timer past goaltender Roberto Luongo.

You can see that sequence below:

With nine games left in its schedule, Tampa Bay is two points behind the Montreal Canadiens in the battle for the Atlantic Division title. The Lightning also have a shot of taking the Presidents’ Trophy.

Goalie nods: Price versus Rinne in potential Vezina showdown

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Elite battle at Bridgestone

Two goalies most have penciled in as Vezina candidates will square off tonight in Nashville when Carey Price and the Habs take on Pekka Rinne and the Preds.

Price, widely considered to be the Vezina favorite, has been nothing short of brilliant all season long and heads into tonight’s action leading the NHL in wins (40), save percentage (.938), GAA (1.86) and shutouts (nine). The 27-year-old’s dominance has led to serious discussion about Hart Trophy consideration as league MVP.

Rinne, meanwhile, has been solid as well. He’s second to Price in both GAA (2.09) and wins (38), sitting fifth overall in save percentage (.927). What’s interesting about the two, however, is that Price has never been named a Vezina finalist over the course of his seven-year career; Rinne, who’s in his ninth NHL campaign, has been a finalist twice and fell just short of capturing the Vezina in 2011, when he finished a few votes shy of eventual winner Tim Thomas.

So with Price and Rinne likely to both be finalists this year, the conversation turns to who’ll be the third nominee. Right now, it seems like a three-horse race between New Jersey’s Cory Schneider, Washington’s Braden Holtby and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk.

Elsewhere…

Wild at Isles: Devan Dubnyk vs. Jaroslav Halak

Kings at Rangers: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Cam Talbot

Blues at Pens: Jake Allen vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Ducks at Jackets: John Gibson vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Coyotes at Wings: Mike Smith vs. Jimmy Howard

Panthers at Bolts: Roberto Luongo vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jets at Canucks: Michael Hutchinson vs. Eddie Lack

Bruins lose to Panthers in the shootout, Wild Card race tightens up

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The Boston Bruins should be feeling the pressure right about now.

They were unable to get two points against the Florida Panthers, losing 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday. And, just a few minutes before that result became a final, the Ottawa Senators beat the Toronto Maple Leafs to inch even closer to the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, currently held precariously by the Bruins.

Brandon Pirri scored the winner in the shootout, while Roberto Luongo stopped all three Boston attempts.

The Bruins now lead the Senators by a single point for the Wild Card but Ottawa has a game in hand. The Panthers are hanging in there, just four points back.

“Was a tight game like it was supposed to be, but we’re basing ourselves on results, and we got a point — we want to get two,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien, as per the club’s Twitter account.

Making matters worse for the Bruins is the fact defenseman Dougie Hamilton didn’t play the third period, leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.

Goalie Nods: The Hamburglar starts for the Sens

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Hammond looks to remain unbeaten in regulation

Andrew Hammond and the Ottawa Senators will look for a sixth straight win tonight when they play host to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs. Hammond enters the game with a 12-0-1 record to go along with a 1.55 goals-against average since getting called up from Binghamton.

The Sens enter tonight’s action two points back of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Since the last meeting between the Leafs and Senators (Jan. 21), Ottawa is 17-6-2 while Toronto has gone 5-17-3.

James Reimer gets the nod for the Leafs.

Elsewhere…

Blue Jackets at Flames: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Karri Ramo

Canucks at Kings: Eddie Lack vs. Jonathan Quick

Capitals at Jets: Braden Holtby vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Rangers at Hurricanes: Cam Talbot vs. Anton Khudobin

Islanders at Devils: Jaroslav Halak vs. Cory Schneider

Bruins at Panthers: Tuukka Rask vs. Roberto Luongo

Sharks at Canadiens: Antti Niemi vs. Carey Price

Sabres at Predators: Matt Hackett vs. Pekka Rinne

Blackhawks at Stars: Corey Crawford vs. Kari Lehtonen

Penguins at Coyotes: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Mike Smith

Flyers at Oilers: Steve Mason vs. Ben Scrivens

‘I don’t think he’s tired,’ says Canucks GM Benning of goalie Lack

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Brought back into the role of starting goalie since the injury to Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack has now appeared in 13 consecutive games for the Vancouver Canucks.

And it’s very likely he’ll continue to see the bulk of the work, as that team fights for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. On Thursday, the Canucks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets and then collapsed in a 6-2 loss on home ice. Lack was pulled in the third period. It was a bad night for him and a bad night for the team in front of him, too.

The Canucks play the L.A. Kings on Saturday in a huge divisional match-up. The Canucks lead the Kings by two points in the Pacific Division, and are 0-3 this season against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

If the above report turns out to be the case, it would mean 14 straight games for Lack.

The question of fatigue has come up again because Lack was played right into the ground by the end of last season, after the Canucks traded Roberto Luongo.

Behind Lack right now is Jacob Markstrom.

Speaking on TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver, Canucks general manager Jim Benning didn’t believe that fatigue was an issue for the 27-year-old Lack.

“You know, Eddie’s played well going into (Thursday’s) game. I thought he’s responded well to being the No. 1 goalie and … giving our team a chance to win games. Having said that, we need good goaltending,” said Benning.

“I don’t think he’s tired. But I think the plan is to try to get Jacob in maybe a game or two, but that depends on how we do, too, and the importance of the games.”

Meanwhile, Benning said Miller, out since Feb. 22 with a knee sprain, is on schedule in his recovery, despite a report earlier this week that Miller wouldn’t be back before playoffs, and that he skated Wednesday.

“He felt pretty good,” said Benning. “He’s working with our medical staff on a day-to-day basis and they’re working with him to get him healthy and up and going, so everyday he seems like he’s getting a little bit better. But we don’t have a timetable yet for him as to when he’s going to be back.”