Capitals goal disallowed due to (debatable) goalie interference by Backstrom

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Goalie interference calls can be … nebulous. That confusion is only compounded in the playoffs, when officials are under the microscope when every game and twist means that much more.

The NHL can be relieved that a decision to waive off a goal due to goalie interference likely won’t make a big impact in Game 4 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, but it could have been significant.

(Especially when Auston Matthews made Washington’s lead shrink to a mere goal; the Caps restored it soon after.)

You can watch the disallowed goal in the video above. Here’s the NHL Situation Room Blog explanation:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom interfered with Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen.

Sign that things aren’t as clear as they could be: Roberto Luongo joke.

Video: Riley Sheahan (finally) scores first goal of the season to avoid historic goalless drought

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On the final day of the NHL’s regular season, and the final game at Joe Louis Arena, Riley Sheahan finally scored his first goal — in the 80th game of his campaign.

Just over seven minutes into Sunday’s game versus the New Jersey Devils, Sheahan accepted a pass, made a move to the front of the net and beat Cory Schneider top corner with his shot.

He celebrated with a fist pump before he was mobbed by his teammates.

Sheahan has gone an entire year without scoring. His last goal? April 9, 2016, versus the New York Rangers.

A former first-round pick, Sheahan scored 14 goals last season and 13 the year before. But this has been an incredible drought for the 25-year-old forward, as outlined at PHT earlier today:

In the history of the league (at least as long as shot on goal data has been tracked) there have only ever been 11 players that have played at least 70 games in a season, recorded more than 100 shots on goal, and not scored a goal.

It has never happened to a forward.

Not only has it never happened to a forward, there have only been two forwards that have reached the 70-game, 100-shot markers and only scored one goal — Shawn Thornton in 2009-10, and Tim Jackman in 2011-12. And neither one of them had anywhere near the skill or offensive pedigree that Sheahan has.

“You hope the adversity turns out to be a positive,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told USA Today. “Maybe it will give him a different perspective on summer training.”

Goalie Nods: McElhinney gets the start for Leafs

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With Frederik Andersen unavailable for tonight’s regular season finale for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Curtis McElhinney will get the start against his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He made quite an impact on Saturday night, coming on in relief of Andersen and making a couple of huge saves late in the third period.

As we mentioned this morning this is still a relatively big game for the Maple Leafs. Even though their playoff spot is already clinched, they can still move up in the standings and avoid a first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals. But to do that they have to knock off the Blue Jackets.

McElhinney and the Maple Leafs are going to get a bit of a break on Sunday, not only because Columbus is riding a six-game losing streak, but also because the Blue Jackets have nothing (quite literally) to play for. Their playoff spot has already been locked in place for a week now, and they not only are still without defenseman Zach Werenski, but it also appears that Alex Wennberg, Seth Jones and Scott Hartnell will also be held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons.

The Blue Jackets are preparing for their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sergei Bobrovsky, perhaps the Vezina Trophy front-runner at this point, will also get the night off.

Joonas Korpisalo will start in net for the Blue Jackets.

Elsewhere on Sunday…

— In the final game at Joe Louis Arena it will be Cory Schneider for the New Jersey Devils going up against Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will be in net for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Buffalo Sabres. No word yet from the Sabres on their starter.

Mike Condon gives Craig Anderson a break for the Ottawa Senators in their regular season finale in New York against the Islanders. The Islanders are starting Thomas Greiss.

— It will be Calvin Pickard vs. Jake Allen when the Colorado Avalanche visit the St. Louis Blues.

James Reimer helps the Florida Panthers close out their season when they visit the Washington Capitals. Braden Holtby gets one more tune-up start before the playoffs begin after getting the day off on Saturday.

Eddie Lack will play for the Carolina Hurricanes when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers will start Anthony Stolarz.

— Magnus Hellberg goes for the New York Rangers when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins. No word yet from the Penguins on their starter.

— The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have not announced their starters.

Cam Talbot will get a much-needed break for the Edmonton Oilers as Laurent Brossoit gets the start as they have a chance to maybe win the Pacific Division. Talbot will finish with a league-leading 73 starts, seven more than any other goalie in the NHL. The Vancouver Canucks have not announced their starter.

Riley Sheahan needs a goal tonight to avoid making some history

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The Detroit Red Wings are saying goodbye to Joe Louis Arena on Sunday night, and Riley Sheahan is hoping to say goodbye to a rather unbelievable goal-scoring drought.

It has been exactly one calendar year (April 9, 2016) since Sheahan last scored a goal in an NHL game.

It was the Red Wings’ regular season finale last season, and Sheahan’s goal (his 14th of the season) came in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

He has not scored a goal since, a stretch that has included five playoff games and all 79 games he has appeared in this season.

When you look at Sheahan’s pedigree as a first-round pick, and a player that had scored at close to a 15-goal pace (per 82 games) over his first three years in the league it is an absolutely stunning stat line. This is not a bad player. He has the ability to score goals and has shown it at the NHL level.

But when it really becomes is stunning is when you look at it from an historical context.

This is something that just simply does not happen.

In the history of the league (at least as long as shot on goal data has been tracked) there have only ever been 11 players that have played at least 70 games in a season, recorded more than 100 shots on goal, and not scored a goal.

It has never happened to a forward.

Not only has it never happened to a forward, there have only been two forwards that have reached the 70-game, 100-shot markers and only scored one goal — Shawn Thornton in 2009-10, and Tim Jackman in 2011-12. And neither one of them had anywhere near the skill or offensive pedigree that Sheahan has.

Goal scoring droughts in the NHL are common things, even for the very best players (this is a point I drive home every chance I can get — it is not uncommon for players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, or any other superstar to go eight, nine, or even more than 10 games in a row without scoring a goal). Putting the puck in the net is the hardest thing to do in the sport, and it only seems to get more and more difficult every single season.

Those lengthy droughts are often times the result of just some bad luck and not getting a bounce to go your way.  That is almost certainly a huge part of Sheahan’s season. He may not have had the season he wanted for the Red Wings, but it also takes an unbelievable amount of bad luck to get this far into a season and put that many pucks on net without having one of them find their way in.

He has one more chance to do it tonight.

Video: Minnesota was the perfect place to grow up playing hockey, says Nick Bjugstad

Well before he was a first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, Nick Bjugstad developed his skills growing up in Blaine, a suburb of Minneapolis, in Minnesota.

It was the perfect place to grow up playing hockey.

“It’s the State of Hockey for a reason. Everyone loves it there,” he said in an interview for Kraft Hockeyville.

“My family had me in skates when I was like three years old. Lots of people had rinks, always playing street hockey. Lot of little fights that the neighbors got to witness.”

The state of Minnesota is well represented among the West Finalists and in the Top 10 for Kraft Hockeyville.

Bjugstad played his high school hockey for Blaine, before moving to the University of Minnesota for three years. Taken 19th overall in the 2010 draft, Bjugstad has played 278 games for the Panthers, with 62 goals and 128 points.

“I think it made us better hockey players being able to play a lot of street hockey,” he said. “I just love everything about Minnesota. I think eventually one day I’ll end up trying to coach a high school team there.”