With an astounding .967 save percentage in his last six starts, Rangers goalie Cam Talbot will be back between the pipes tonight when the Blueshirts, still without starter Henrik Lundqvist, host the Chicago Blackhawks (on NBCSN).
Talbot’s latest triumph came Sunday when he stopped 38 of 39 Florida shots in a 2-1 victory.
Call his play surprising if you want, but the Rangers aren’t shocked.
“It didn’t surprise anybody in here,” d-man Marc Staal said after the Panthers game. “We’re excited for him to get an opportunity to show what he’s got on a consistent basis. He’s been very good for us as a backup. It’s his time to shine.”
No word yet who will start for the ‘Hawks. Corey Crawford made 38 saves last night in beating the Islanders at the United Center, so it could mean Scott Darling’s first appearance since Feb. 27.
Ben Scrivens for the Oilers at home to the Blue Jackets, who are likely to go with Curtis McElhinney.
John Gibson for the Ducks at home to the Kings, who are likely to go with Jonathan Quick.
Related: Andersen or Gibson — who starts for Anaheim in the playoffs?
Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in Nashville
Michael Hutchinson will look to right the ship tonight in Nashville. The Jets’ goaltender allowed three goals on 17 shots in a loss to the Senators on Wednesday. Hutchinson has lost three of his last five games while posting a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage. The Jets have not won in Nashville this season and will look to avoid a third straight loss to the Preds.
Pekka Rinne, who has lost four in a row, gets the nod for Nashville.
Blues at Leafs: Brian Elliott vs. Jonathan Bernier
Stars at Lightning: Jhonas Enroth vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Islanders at Panthers: Michal Neuvirth vs. Dan Ellis
Sabres at Capitals: Anders Lindback (unconfirmed) vs. Braden Holtby
Avalanche at Blue Jackets: Semyon Varlamov vs. Curtis McElhinney
Canadiens at Coyotes: Carey Price vs. Mike Smith
Penguins at Kings: Marc-Andre Fleury (unconfirmed) vs. Jonathan Quick (unconfirmed).
Canucks at Sharks: Eddie Lack vs. Antti Niemi
Evgeni Malkin scored twice and added an assist for his third consecutive three-point game as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 Sunday night.
David Perron, Derrick Pouliot and Steve Downie had the other Penguins goals.
Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang each had two assists in the win.
With the win, the Penguins have now won four straight games. Pittsburgh also avoided a third straight loss against Columbus this season.
Crosby and Malkin are now tied with 64 points one back of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, New York Islanders captain John Tavares and Flyers’ forward Jakub Voracek for the league-lead.
“I thought there was a time two weeks ago when [Malkin] had a little bit of a lapse in his game,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said per NHL.com. “Other than that, I have not seen it all year. I’ve seen a lot of intensity in his game, and the more emotion and intensity he has in the game, the better his game is. You saw it right away. You can see it early in the game with him. He gets out there, he’s skating.
“He’s hard on the loose pucks, he’s lifting sticks, and when he’s engaged like that in the game as he has been, he can be a dominant player like he was tonight.”
Marc-Andre Fleury improved to 29-13-6 with a 22-save performance.
Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist in the loss. James Wisniewski and Nick Foligno had the others for the Jackets.
Curtis McElhinney made 36 saves in the loss.
All the latest from the crease …
Giving Gibson the ball
Could we see at least a mild goalie battle for the Anaheim Ducks, albeit a few months later than expected?
Going into the season, it seemed like John Gibson and Frederik Andersen would trade starts on a playoff-caliber team. Anaheim’s remained a playoff team, but Andersen ran with the top job when Gibson got hurt. Now Gibson seems like he’s taking advantage of the opportunity he received when Andersen was injured.
The interesting wrinkle is that Andersen seems ready to play again, yet as the OC Register’s Eric Stephens notes, head coach Bruce Boudreau is going with the “winning hand” in Gibson.
While Andersen’s record (29-8-5) towers over that of Gibson (7-5-0), his .916 save percentage is only slightly shinier than Gibson’s .914 mark. Perhaps Boudreau will merely ride the hot/winning hand for the rest of 2014-15, then?
Sunday serves as a good opportunity for another win for Gibson – at least on paper – as the Ducks face the struggling Dallas Stars with Jhonas Enroth in net.
Kings at Jets: Likely Jonathan Quick, while Michael Hutchinson is a safe bet.
Blue Jackets at Penguins: Curtis McElhinney vs. Marc-Andre Fleury.
Lightning at Panthers: A good chance of Ben Bishop, while Al Montoya is confirmed.
Leafs at Capitals: Leaning toward James Reimer vs. Braden Holtby, but neither team has confirmed those choices.
Blues at Canucks: Jake Allen vs. Eddie Lack.
Mason looks for his first win vs. Rangers
Steve Mason will make his first start since Feb. 8 tonight when the Flyers play host to the New York Rangers. Mason allowed one goal on nine shots in relief of Rob Zepp on Thursday night. Mason is 0-2-0 with a 2.59 G.A.A. and .914 save percentage in two starts against New York.
Cam Talbot, who has shutout the Flyers twice this season, gets the nod for the Rangers.
Hurricanes at Islanders: Cam Ward vs. Chad Johnson
Devils at Blue Jackets: Cory Schneider vs. Curtis McElhinney
Coyotes at Bruins: Mike Smith vs. Tuukka Rask
Maple Leafs at Canadiens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Carey Price
Wild at Avalanche: Devan Dubnyk vs. Semyon Varlamov (unconfirmed)
Blues at Oilers: Brian Elliott vs. Ben Scrivens (likely)
Senators at Sharks: Andrew Hammond vs. Antti Niemi