Goalie nods: After replacing Lundqvist last game, Talbot gets big test vs. B’s

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All the latest from the crease…

Talbot starts in Boston

Bit of a curious one from the Rangers as they’ll start Cam Talbot ahead of Henrik Lundqvist tonight against the Bruins at TD Garden.

Talbot, who replaced Lundqvist during Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Islanders, has been very good of late, stopping 58 of his last 61 shots faced for a .951 save percentage. That said, it will be odd to see him ahead of Lundqvist in a big game; Boston is streaking lately, with just one regulation loss in its last 11 games

Some reactions:

For the Bruins, Tuukka Rask is the likely starter in goal.

Elsewhere…

Wild at Sabres: Devan Dubnyk vs. Jhonas Enroth (read more here)

Canucks at Flyers: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, Ray Emery likely for Philly.

Avs at Panthers: Semyon Varlamov vs. Roberto Luongo

Oilers at Bolts: Ben Scrivens vs. Ben Bishop

Habs at Sens: Craig Anderson for Ottawa, no word yet on a Montreal starter.

Wings at Blues: Petr Mrazek vs. Brian Elliott

Jets at Stars: Ondrej Pavelec likely for Winnipeg, Anders Lindback likely for Dallas (read more here)

Flames at Coyotes: Joni Ortio vs. Mike Smith

Leafs at Sharks: Antti Niemi likely for San Jose, no word yet on a Toronto starter.

In praise of Braden Holtby

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I mentioned this the other day on the tweeter machine, but with the Capitals on NBCSN tonight, it bears repeating:

Among active goalies with at least 100 NHL appearances, only Tuukka Rask (.926) and Cory Schneider (.924) have a higher career save percentage than Washington’s Braden Holtby (.920).

Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist, considered by many to be the world’s best goalie, also has a .920 career save percentage.

Granted, Lundqvist has played 606 games and Holtby only 142. But still, that’s pretty darn good. And his career playoff save percentage is even better, at .931.

This season, Holtby is 21-8-7 with a .923 save percentage.

“His play has been stellar and so has our play,” said coach Barry Trotz, per NHL.com.

Discuss amongst yourselves how much Holtby should thank his teammates and new, structure-oriented coach for those gaudy numbers. To me, it just doesn’t seem like he gets the recognition his stats suggest he deserves. Five-on-five, Holtby’s right up there will all the current Vezina Trophy candidates. Even last season, during which he absorbed a fair bit of criticism as the Caps went on to miss the playoffs, his stats were actually quite good.

Pastrnak scores twice to lead Bruins over Lightning

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Rookie David Pastrnak scored twice, including the game winner, as the Boston Bruins edged the Tampa Bay lightning 4-3 Tuesday night.

The 18-year-old now has four goals in three games since returning from the world junior hockey championship.

Boston has now won four straight while the Lightning have dropped back to back games.

Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic had the other Bruins goals while David Krejci and Torey Krug each had two assists in the win.

Tempers boiled over early in the third period.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was initially called for boarding on Lightning defenseman Matt Carle.

Then Cedric Paquette stepped in to have a few words with the defenseman and Chara sucker punched the Tampa forward. Paquette was assessed a minor penalty for roughing while Chara got two for boarding and a double-minor for roughing.

Here’s the sequence:

Steven Stamkos scored twice and Ryan Callahan had the other Lightning goals. Ben Bishop made 30 saves in the loss.

Tuukka Rask improved to 18-10-6 with a 16 save performance.

Goalie nods: All-Czech matchup for Hasek night in Buffalo

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Czech affair

A fitting goaltending duel in Buffalo tonight as the Sabres retire Dominik Hasek’s No. 39: Michal Neuvirth will go up against Petr Mrazek as two of the NHL’s three active Czech goalies battle it out.

Mrazek, back with the Red Wings after injuries to Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson, has posted a 5-3-1 record with a 2.29 GAA and .916 save percentage this year. He did allow two goals on just 12 shots in relief of Howard on Saturday against Washington, though.

Neuvirth, meanwhile, will look to build on one of the finest performances of his career. He was brilliant in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay, making 45 saves on 47 shots for a .957 save percentage. While the 26-year-old’s numbers on the year aren’t great — 3-11-1, .909 save percentage, 3.36 GAA — Neuvirth has had a couple good outings lately, which included stops on 31 of 33 shots in a loss to Florida on Jan. 2.

Elsewhere…

Bolts at Bruins: Tuukka Rask likely for Boston, no word yet on a Tampa Bay starter.

Isles at Rangers: Jaroslav Halak vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Wild at Pens: Niklas Backstrom vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Avs at ‘Canes: Calvin Pickard vs. Anton Khudobin

Panthers at Jets: Roberto Luongo vs. Michael Hutchinson

Canucks vs. Preds: Eddie Lack for Vancouver, Pekka Rinne likely for Nashville.

Oilers at Blues: Ben Scrivens vs. Jake Allen

Sens at Stars: Robin Lehner for Ottawa, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Sharks at Coyotes: Devan Dubnyk for Arizona, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.

Gagne won’t return to Bruins this season due to personal reasons

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Simon Gagne’s brief tenure with the Boston Bruins has come to an unfortunate end.

From the club:

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that forward Simon Gagne has decided not to return to the team this season due to personal reasons. Given his decision, the Bruins have changed Gagne’s status to “suspended player”.

“At this time Simon feels that he has to be home with his family and he has the complete support of the Boston Bruins organization with this decision,” said Chiarelli. “Given Simon’s decision not to return to the team, we have to change his status to maintain a full roster. I spoke to Simon about this, and he assured me that we have his full support with this status change.”

“The last month has been extremely difficult for me with my father being sick and his passing,” said Gagne. “To play in the NHL you have to be 100% mentally, emotionally and physically committed to the game. At this time I know that I cannot be close to those levels. The Bruins organization and my teammates have been great to my family and I during this time.”

Gagne, 34, signed with the Bruins in mid-October after playing with the team through training camp and the preseason. The move marked his return to the NHL after taking a one-year hiatus; he scored three goals and four points in 23 games for Boston, averaging 11:18 TOI per night.

Gagne first left the B’s on Dec. 10 to be with his father, who passed away later that month following a battle with liver cancer.