Capitals chase Halak in third en route to taking Game 5

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The New York Islanders went into Thursday’s game with a chip on their shoulders over Tom Wilson’s big hit that sidelined defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. Anders Lee settled that dispute early in the contest with a sparring match, but the Islanders now have more immediate problems after suffering a 5-1 loss to Washington tonight.

New York was able to strike first as Josh Bailey found the back of the net shortly after Lee’s fight. However, Evgeny Kuznetsov managed to even the score midway through the first period and Karl Alzner put the Capitals’ up 2-1 in the second frame.

Then the floodgates open in the third as the Capitals netted three goals in the span of just over six minutes to drive Jaroslav Halak out of the contest. Despite only lasting 49 minutes and surrendering five markers, Halak still finished with 30 saves.

Kuznetsov, who was held off the scoresheet in his first four playoff contests, led the charge with two goals and an assist. Jason Chimera and Karl Alzner each chipped in a goal and an assist for Washington.

Islanders goaltender Michal Neuvirth held his own in relief of Halak, but the damage was already done. The Islanders will how head back to Nassau Coliseum. Their home since 1972, they will be saying goodbye to it on Saturday if they lose in Game 6.

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Goalie Nods: Miller returns, Pavelec gets break after three straight shutouts

News and notes from around the crease…

Ryan Miller will start for the first time since Feb. 22

Miller suffered a knee injury that has cost him more than a month of ice time and potentially his opportunity to lead the Canucks in the playoffs. That’s because Eddie Lack was great in Miller’s absence and has been solid for the bulk of the campaign. Lack did admittedly get off to a rocky start, but he quickly put that behind him and now has a 2.45 GAA and .921 save percentage in 41 contests.

Those numbers are superior to Miller’s 2014-15 statistics, but Vancouver still might need him during the playoffs. With that in mind, he’ll have an opportunity to shake off the rust in tonight’s game against Edmonton.

Ondrej Pavelec will be a healthy scratch despite three straight shutouts

At any other point in the season, Pavelec being benched, let alone scratched, after posting three consecutive shutouts would be a big controversy, but with the Winnipeg Jets’ playoff position secure, this isn’t a shocking development. By starting Michael Hutchinson against the Calgary Flames this afternoon, it gives him a chance to stay sharp ahead of the postseason while also allowing Pavelec to get a breather after playing in three games over four days.

Connor Hellebuyck, 21, is projected to serve as the backup goaltender for Winnipeg today.

Elsewhere…

Sharks at Kings: Alex Stalock will play between the pipes for San Jose. It’s not known who will play for Los Angeles, but Jonathan Quick is typically a good bet.

Wild at Blues: Devan Dubnyk vs. Brian Elliott

Pens at Sabres: Marc-Andre Fleury will start for Pittsburgh. There’s a fair chance Anders Lindback will play for the Sabres, but that isn’t confirmed.

Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier

Devils at Panthers: Cory Schneider vs. Al Montoya

Blue Jackets at Islanders: No confirmed starters yet for this one, but Islanders goaltender Michal Neuvirth has an undisclosed injury and Kevin Poulin was recalled as a result.

Red Wings at Canes: Petr Mrazek vs. Cam Ward

Bruins at Lightning: Tuukka Rask will probably start for Boston; Ben Bishop will get the nod for Tampa Bay.

Preds at Stars: Carter Hutton vs. Jhonas Enroth

Hawks at Avs: Scott Darling vs. Semyon Varlamov

Ducks at Coyotes: Neither team has revealed its starter.

Video: Blackhawks’ Shaw fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment

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Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw has been fined $2,000 by the NHL for diving/embellishment.

From the league:

Shaw was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 228 against Tampa Bay on Nov. 11. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 1138 against Los Angeles on March 30. Shaw drew a delayed penalty to Los Angeles forward Mike Richards on the play, at 5:24 of the first period. The penalty to Richards was nullified when Chicago scored seven seconds later.

Shaw becomes the ninth player to be fined for diving/embellishment this season, joining Washington’s Tom Wilson, Toronto’s Richard Panik, Islanders goalie Michal Neuvirth (fine occurred while with Buffalo), the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck, Nashville’s James Neal and Montreal’s P.K. Subban, who has been fined twice.

Goalie nods: Lundqvist won’t get to ease back in

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Long live the King?

As already noted earlier today, it appears as though Henrik Lundqvist will make his return to the New York Rangers’ net as they face the Boston Bruins (who most likely will roll with Tuukka Rask).

Normally, this would be a cause for outright glee, and it’s true that “King Henrik” will be gladly welcomed back into the fold. Still, the Rangers have been on a tear thanks in a large part to Cam Talbot’s wonderful play in Hank’s absence, so it remains to be seen if New York sees a little fall-off.

Let there be no doubt that the Bruins will send their best at Lundqvist, so this isn’t exactly an example of easing a player back into the mix.

This is just one of several games during an unusually busy Saturday afternoon, so hopefully hockey fans already got their errands (and napping) done today.

Elsewhere:

Predators at Capitals: Pekka Rinne vs. Braden Holtby

Ducks at Islanders: Probably Frederik Andersen vs. Michal Neuvirth

Sharks at Flyers: Alex Stalock vs. (likely) Steve Mason

Coyotes at Penguins: Mike Smith vs. Thomas Greiss

Lightning at Red Wings: Likely Ben Bishop s. Petr Mrazek

Senators at Maple Leafs: Craig Anderson vs. James Reimer

Panthers at Canadiens: Roberto Luongo vs. Carey Price

Devils at Hurricanes: Keith Kinkaid vs. Cam Ward

Blue Jackets at Blues: Likely Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Brian Elliott

Kings at Wild: Likely Jonathan Quick vs. Devan Dubnyk

Sabres at Avalanche: ANders Lindback vs. Semyon Varlamov

Stars at Canucks: Maybe Kari Lehtonen vs. Eddie Lack

Caps’ Wilson the latest to be fined for diving

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Washington forward Tom Wilson has been fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment, the NHL announced on Friday.

From the league:

Wilson was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 936 against Toronto on March 1. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 1057 at Minnesota on March 19.

Wilson received a minor penalty for embellishment on the play, at 14:45 of the second period.

Video of the incident:

With that, Wilson becomes the eighth player to be fined for diving this season, joining Toronto’s Richard Panik, Islanders goalie Michal Neuvirth (fine occurred while with Buffalo), the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and Nashville’s James Neal and Montreal’s P.K. Subban, who has been fined twice.