West update: Stars blow lead yet still improve hold on wild card spot


Let’s take a look at a night in which a lot of West teams lost, which softens the blow for the Dallas Stars, who would probably regret a 4-3 shootout loss in which they held a 3-1 lead a lot more otherwise.

  • OK, already kind of summarized it, but Dallas saw a 3-1 margin disintegrate into a shootout loss. Tim Thomas lost his first game as a Stars goalie; he might not be the go-to guy much longer with Kari Lehtonen nearing a return.
  • The Winnipeg Jets found themselves beat up and beaten as the New York Rangers topped them 4-2. The Jets’ outlook seems increasingly glum with a 2-4-4 record in their last 10 games.
  • The Nashville Predators are one point behind the Jets, yet things seems more positive with them, as Pekka Rinne has looked strong in his return from injury and they’ve won three in a row … including a 3-2 against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.
  • The Vancouver Canucks rank ahead of both the Jets and Predators. Even so, their situation seems the darkest of the three, with the reasons seemingly fairly straightforward. Washington beat them 4-3 tonight.
  • Above the wild card races, the San Jose Sharks won their fifth game in a row by beating the New York Islanders 4-3, yet the Anaheim Ducks moved above them in the Pacific Division via a wild 6-4 win against the Colorado Avalanche.
  • In the Central Division, both the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks lost in regulation, so the Avs remain one point ahead for second in the Central.

Need to see things in standings terms? Here’s the updated picture via NHL.com:


Goalie nods: Nabokov faces Sharks, Halak starts fourth straight


News and notes from around the crease…

Nabokov faces ex-mates

Evgeni Nabokov will face San Jose for the first time in his career tonight, when the Sharks take on the Isles at Nassau.

Nabokov spent the first 10 years of his NHL career in San Jose, winning 293 games while backstopping the Sharks to a pair of Western Conference finals. Friday’s start will mark the second straight for the Russian netminder, as he was in goal for Monday’s 7-4 over the Canucks on Monday.

For the Sharks, Antti Niemi will get the nod in goal.

Halak starts for Washington

Jaroslav Halak will get his fourth start for the Caps since coming over from Buffalo at the trade deadline, as he’ll be in goal tonight versus the Canucks.

Halak is 1-2-0 with a 2.37 GAA and .920 save percentage since joining the Caps and played very well in his last game, stopping 32 of 34 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Penguins. It’s worth noting that Washington head coach Adam Oates is going right back to Halak for tonight’s game, rather than giving Braden Holtby a shot — all told, it’ll be four straight appearances for Halak as Holtby has been backing up since Mar. 6.

No word yet on who Vancouver will start, though Eddie Lack looks probable.


Oilers at Red Wings: Jimmy Howard for Detroit, Viktor Fasth likely for Edmonton

Devils at Panthers: Cory Schneider vs. Roberto Luongo (read more here)

Predators at Blackhawks: Pekka Rinne vs. Corey Crawford

Rangers at Jets: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Flames at Stars: Joey MacDonald vs. Tim Thomas

Ducks at Avs: Jonas Hiller vs. Semyon Varlamov

Stars limp into tonight’s game vs. Calgary


Tonight’s Dallas-Calgary game is a big one in terms of Western Conference playoff seeding, and one the Stars will go into decidedly shorthanded.

Already without the services of Rich Peverley and Kari Lehtonen, Dallas is likely to also be without Cody Eakin and Shawn Horcoff, according to Stars Inside Edge.

Eakin was injured after taking a puck off the foot in Tuesday’s win over St. Louis; Horcoff was hurt at yesterday’s practice and didn’t take today’s morning skate. With those two and Peverley out of the picture, Dallas will now be forced to play a trio of AHLers at forward (Colton Sceviour, Travis Morin, Chris Mueller) and will elevate veteran Vern Fiddler to a second-line center role.

As for Lehtonen, he did resume skating today after suffering a concussion over the weekend. The Finnish netminder isn’t expected to return tonight, though, meaning it’s likely Tim Thomas’ start in goal.

Dallas heads into tonight’s action one point up on Phoenix for the final wild card spot in the West, and four up on 10th place Vancouver. Only one of those two is in action this evening — Vancouver takes on the ‘Caps in Washington — while the Coyotes take on the Flames on Saturday at Jobing.com.

Stars win one night after Peverley collapse, give Miller first Blues loss


The Dallas Stars are in a situation where every game really counts, so they didn’t get much time to shake off Rich Peverley’s scary collapse, even with Monday’s game postponed. Remarkably, they hopped on a plane and beat the Blues in St. Louis one day after that frightening moment, giving Ryan Miller his first loss with the team via a Jamie Benn 3-2 overtime game-winner.

Despite that success, there’s no doubt that the Stars and their fans had the 31-year-old forward in their hearts and minds tonight.

Along with giving Miller his first defeat with his new team, this also ends a five-game winning streak for the Blues. The Stars now have a tenuous hold on the second Western Conference wild card spot with this win.

It’s also worth noting that Tim Thomas seems to be fitting in well early on, as he stopped 28 out of 30 shots for (strangely) his first full start for Dallas. He earned his first win as a Stars goalie in relief of Kari Lehtonen and then saw a game ended early on Monday after being traded from the Florida Panthers … so it’s been a tumultuous week for him, too.

Update: Here is how the West playoff outlook shakes out after Tuesday’s games:


Goalie nods: Brodeur, Halak go back-to-back


News and notes from around the crease…

Marty goes again for Devils

Martin Brodeur will make consecutive starts for the first time since early January, as he’ll be in goal tonight to face the Flyers. The veteran netminder was in goal for Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes — stopping 33 shots in the process — and will get a chance to carry that momentum tonight, looking for his fourth straight win.

For the Flyers, Steve Mason gets the nod in goal. Mason is coming off a 36-save OT loss to the Leafs on Saturday, which snapped his three-game winning streak.

Halak back in, too

The Washington Capitals are giving Jaroslav Halak a serious audition for their No. 1 gig.

Halak will start his third straight game for the Caps on Tuesday against Pittsburgh — the second time he’ll face the Pens in as many nights. Halak gave up three goals on 20 shots in Monday’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh, this after stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 3-2 win over Phoenix in his Caps debut on Saturday.

No word yet on who the Penguins will start in goal.


Predators at Sabres: Carter Hutton vs. Jhonas Enroth

Rangers at Hurricanes: Henrik Lundqvist for New York, Cam Ward probable for Carolina.

Red Wings at Blue Jackets: Jimmy Howard vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Coyotes at Panthers: Mike Smith vs. Roberto Luongo

Stars at Blues: Ryan Miller for St. Louis, Tim Thomas likely for Dallas.

Oilers at Wild: Viktor Fasth vs. Darcy Kuemper

Leafs at Sharks: James Reimer vs. Antti Niemi