THW’s Goalie News: Andersen Out, Three Streaks Extended

Tuesday night’s 10-game National Hockey League schedule brought us plenty of action and a lot of newsworthy achievements. While Alex Ovechkin and Joe Thornton are making history up front, a trio of goaltenders made some of their own between the pipes.

Andersen Out for Toronto

When the Toronto Maple Leafs hit the Madison Square Garden ice later on this evening, they will do so without their top goaltender. Frederik Andersen did not make the trip to New York City and is considered day-to-day with a neck injury.

“He’s at this point diagnosed with a neck injury. He’s not going to travel with us. I guess at this stage we’d say day-to-day, we don’t really know,” head coach Sheldon Keefe said after Tuesday’s practice. “With the nature of the injury, it’s something that is always kind of day-to-day and they just want to manage the symptoms and see how things go.”

The injury occurred, late in the first period of Monday’s loss to the Florida Panthers, when Jake Muzzin pushed Frank Vatrano into Andersen.

Andersen was slow to get up and he finished the last 1:36 of the period, but he did not return after the first intermission.

Michael Hutchinson, who relieved Andersen on Monday, will start against the New York Rangers tonight. He has given up just six goals in his last four starts. The Maple Leafs recalled Kasimir Kaskisuo from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League to back him up.

Merzlikins Keeps on Rolling

On Tuesday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ current goaltender outdueled their former goaltender in a 1-0 overtime victory over the Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky made 44 saves, but it wasn’t enough as his ex-teammate Zach Werenski scored at 1:54 of overtime to steal the victory.

Elvis Merzlikins made 32 saves to extend the Blue Jackets’ point streak to nine games. He improved to 7-0-0 on the season and became the second rookie goaltender to post a seven-game win streak this season, joining Ilya Samsonov of the Washington Capitals. This marks the second straight season where this has happened as both Carter Hart and Jordan Binnington had eight and nine-game win streaks, respectively, in 2018-19.

Merzlikins now has four shutouts on the season, which ties him with Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets for the NHL lead. He has a chance to become just the third rookie goaltender to lead the league in shutouts since in the expansion era. Tony Esposito had 15 shutouts for the Chicago Black Hawks in 1969-70 and Steve Mason had 10 for the Blue Jackets during the 2008-09 season.

Vasilevskiy Ties Franchise Record

The Tampa Bay Lightning rattled off another win last night by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves to extend his personal point streak to 16 games, tying the record set by Nikolai Khabibulin during the 2002-03 season.

“I don’t know him to be honest and never met him, but it’s pretty cool especially when it helps our team to be high in the standings,” Vasilevskiy said after the game. “The record, that’s good, but a better place in the standings, even better.”

Vasilevskiy’s best save of the night came when he stopped Alex Tuch’s partial breakaway in the first period.

He can try to break the team record when the Lightning host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Rask Remains King at Home

We have written a lot about the recent tear the Lightning have been, but the Boston Bruins still own a five-point lead for the top spot in the Atlantic Division by. A big reason for that has been the play of goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Rask made 25 saves on Tuesday night in a 4-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks for his third shutout of the season. The Bruins have now gone 8-2-1 over their last 11 games.

“That was one of the best checking games all over the ice I remember, I think,” Rask said of the team in front of him. “We took their time and space away and they didn’t have too many chances from the slot or anywhere else. So, I think everybody checked well and defended well, and that turned to offense, so that’s great to see. You know we win 4-0, it was a great checking game.”

Tuukka Rask Bruins
Good luck getting a regulation win in Boston! (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

If you are thinking about beating the Bruins in regulation at the TD Garden with Rask in goal, you better think again. Rask is now 11-0-6 to this season on home ice. He has a chance to step into some rare air if he can earn a point in his next home start.

Only nine goaltenders in the history of the NHL have had home point streaks of at least 17 games to start a season. The last goaltender to accomplish this feat was Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks, who went 17-0-1 at home to start the 2008-09 season.

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