Avs’ Jonathan Bernier forced out of Game 4 loss

Bad news hit the Colorado Avalanche’s playoff hopes on Wednesday.

The Avs’ woes in the crease suffered another blow when the team announced that Jonathan Bernier would not return for the third period because of a lower-body injury.

It’s not known when Bernier got hurt. Andrew Hammond, the team’s No. 3, replaced the Avs’ starter for the final frame.

Colorado is already without Semyon Varlamov, who was ruled out the playoffs after a late-season injury after a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Tomas Jurco.

The Predators lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 after taking Game 4 with a 3-2 win.

Nashville had a scare of their own during the second period when Avs forward Gabriel Landeskog went to hit forward Ryan Johansen with an open-ice hit. As Landeskog approached, Johansen looked up and tried to duck out of the way but took what appeared to be Landeskog’s knee to his head.

Johansen had a tough time getting back to his feet and headed down the tunnel and out of the game once he did.

Johansen was not on the bench to start the third but eventually returned around the mid-way point of the period and played five shifts.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues

Getty Images
1 Comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

St. Louis Blues
Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennVladimir Tarasenko
Patrik BerglundKyle BrodziakAlex Steen
Dmitrij JaskinVladimir SobotkaTage Thompson
Ivan BarbashevOskar SundqvistChris Thorburn

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo
Vince DunnColton Parayko
Chris Butler – Roberto Bortuzzo

Starting goalie: Jake Allen

[NHL on NBCSN: Blues need to pick up valuable points against Blackhawks]

[WATCH LIVE – 8 P.M. ET]

Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon SaadNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane
Dylan SikuraVictor EjdsellAlex DeBrincat
Tomas JurcoArtem AnisimovAndreas Martinsen
Patrick SharpDavid KampfVincent Hinostroza

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook
Erik GustafssonConnor Murphy
Jordan Oesterle – Blake Hillman

Starting goalie: J.F. Berube

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Playoff Push: Avalanche meet Ducks in massive game Sunday

Getty Images
4 Comments

Sunday is a fun day in the NHL as far as the race for playoff spots and finishing positions goes, with two teams battling it out for the Atlantic Division lead and a colossal matchup in the Western Conference in the race for a wildcard spot.

Eastern Conference

There are two marquee matchups in the Atlantic Division on Sunday, with the Boston Bruins visiting the Philadelphia Flyers (live on NHL on NBC) and the Tampa Bay Lightning hosting the Nashville Predators.

Boston retook first place in the division on Saturday with a 5-1 thumping of the Florida Panthers after Tampa regained their top spot in the night before. Boston holds a game in-hand between the two. A win today would see them retain their top spot, no matter what Tampa does. If Tampa wins in regulation or overtime and Boston manages just a point, Tampa would retake the top spot on ROWs.

The Boston game is particularly noteworthy given they’re facing the Flyers, who could move into a tie for third place in the Metropolitan Division with the idle Columbus Blue Jackets. Philly also has to look in the rearview mirror, with the New Jersey Devils just a point back and playing against the Montreal Canadiens later in the day.

Speaking of the Devils, they can distance themselves further from the idle Florida Panthers, who have taken a nosedive recently and sit five points back of New Jersey with a game in-hand. Florida can achieve a maximum of 10 points in five remaining games. A win by the Devils would put them seven points ahead and Florida’s playoff hopes would be hanging by a thread.

In other games, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins meet in a game that will either see a one-point gap at the top of the Metropolitan or the Capitals securing first place for good.

A regulation loss for Pittsburgh would ensure the Capitals win their third consecutive divisional crown as Pittsburgh will only have two remaining games while Washington would have a five-point cushion between them.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Western Conference

 

I said colossal in the lede, and I wasn’t lying.

The Colorado Avalanche and the Anaheim Ducks will lock horns in a massive game on Sunday night.

The Avs sit in ninth place, just outside the playoff line with 92 points — tied with the St. Louis Blues. The Ducks are sitting in the first wildcard spot with 93 points. So a regulation win by Colorado on Sunday would see both teams exchange positions in what’s become an intense four-way battle for three playoff spots.

A point by the Avs in any fashion would also see them take over the final wildcard. As an added bonus for winning, the Avs would move just two points back of the Minnesota Wild for third place in the Central Division.

Colorado will have to do all of this without their No. 1 goalie and top-pairing defenseman.

Semyon Varlamov was ruled out for the rest of the regular season on Saturday after getting barrelled into by Chicago Blackhawks forward Tomas Jurco in a game on Friday. Erik Johnson, meanwhile, will be sidelined for the next six weeks due to a fractured patella.

The weight on Nathan MacKinnon‘s shoulders just got a lot heavier.

A win for the ducks, meanwhile, would lift them past the Los Angeles Kings into third place in the Pacific Division.

It’s worth repeating: this game is pretty damn huge.

If The Playoffs Started Today

Boston Bruins vs. New Jersey Devils
Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Anaheim Ducks
Winnipeg Jets vs. Minnesota Wild
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings

Sunday’s Key Games

Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers @ 12:30 p.m ET
Nashville Predators vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 6 p.m. ET
New Jersey Devils vs. Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET
Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:30 p.m. ET
Colorado Avalanche vs. Anaheim Ducks, 9 p.m. ET


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Avalanche lose Semyon Varlamov for season, Erik Johnson for 6 weeks

Getty
7 Comments

The Colorado Avalanche picked up a huge win on Friday night in their quest for a playoff spot, but it came with a pretty significant price.

The team announced on Saturday afternoon that starting goalie Semyon Varlamov will be sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a lower body injury. Varlmov was injured in the third period of the Avalanche’s 5-0 win over the the Chicago Blackhawks during a collision with Tomas Jurco.

Here is the play that took him out of the game and has now ended his season.

For as much attention as Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have received for Colorado’s turnaround this season, improved goaltending thanks to a healthy Varlamov and a great backup in Jonathan Bernier have been just as responsible (if not more so) for their improvement. In 51 games this season Varlamov has a .920 save percentage for the Avalanche, his highest mark since the 2014-15 season.

With him done for the season that means the workload will fall on Bernier to try and get the team into a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Bernier has appeared in 33 games this season and has a .914 save percentage on the season. Together they have given the Avalanche a top-10 goaltending duo (based on save percentage), a massive improvement over what the team received a year ago when they were near the bottom of the league and ended with one of the worst records the NHL has seen in decades.

The Varlamov announcement is not the only bad injury news from the Avalanche on Saturday.

The team also announced that veteran defenseman Erik Johnson is going to be sidelined for six weeks (basically the rest of the regular season plus at least the first couple rounds of the playoffs, should Colorado make it and advance that far) due to a fractured patella.

Johnson did not play in Friday’s win.

He is Colorado’s ice-time leader this season, logging more than 25 minutes per game. He has nine goals and 15 assists in 62 games.

The Avalanche enter Saturday tied with the St. Louis Blues for 92 points in the standings, but the Blues currently hold the second wild card spot due to a tiebreaker. The Blues, after dropping an overtime decision in Vegas on Friday night, play in Arizona on Saturday. The two teams have one more head-to-head meeting remaining this season (the regular season finale for both teams) but Colorado’s path certainly gets a little bit tougher with this news.

Related: Semyon Varlamov helped off ice after collision

————

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Lightning back in first, Varlamov hurt, Ducks gain ground

AP Photo
1 Comment

Players of the Night:

Cedric Paquette, Tampa Bay Lightning: Paquette scored twice and added an assist as the Lightning thumped the New York Rangers 7-3 on Friday. Paquette had five shots on goal and the Lightning threw 50 at Ondrej Pavelec to regain first place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa matched its regular-season record for points with 108.

Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier, Colorado Avalanche: The duo (but mostly Varlamov) combined for the first combined shutout in Avs history on Friday. Varlamov made 30 saves in 53:31 before he was injured in a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Tomas Jurco. Bernier finished the game, making three more saves to complete the blanking.

Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks: Double R scored the OT winner to give the Ducks a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings, putting the Ducks into the first wildcard in the Western Conference, one point back of L.A. The Ducks have a game in-hand on their California counterparts.

Highlights of the Night:

Domingue’d

Hello, Andrighetto:

MacKinnon saves:

Juke and jive:

Rakell’s OT winner was special:

Factoids of the Night:

Scores:

Hurricanes 4, Capitals 1

Maple Leafs 5, Islanders 4

Lightning 7, Rangers 3

Avalanche 5, Blackhawks 0

Ducks 3, King 2 (OT)

Golden Knights 4, Blues 3 (OT)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck