The month of March began with six National Hockey League games on Sunday. The day gave us a pair of shutouts, one with huge implications on the playoff races in both conferences. Plus, we will take a look back at the week that was in between the pipes.
Talbot, Schneider Pick Up Shutouts
Cam Talbot brought his A-Game to south Florida by making 38 saves in a 3-0 win over the Panthers. The shutout was Talbot’s second of the season and it put the Calgary Flames into third place in the Pacific Division.
“He’s been good for us all year,” Flames head coach Geoff Ward said of Talbot. “Anytime we need a big game out of him, he’s given it to us. He was awesome again tonight. Our guys have confidence in him. He’s earned the confidence of our players by the way that he’s played. His starts this year, he’s given us a chance to win every night that he’s been in there, and that’s all you can ask from your starting goaltender.”
While the Flames are moving up the standings, the Panthers are heading the other direction with their seventh straight loss on home ice. On Jan. 21, the Panthers headed into a ten-day break, which included their bye-week and the All-Star Weekend, in third place of the Atlantic Division. Since then, they have gone 5-10-2 and are now five points out of a playoff spot.
Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, veteran Cory Schneider made 34 saves in a 3-0 win at the Anaheim Ducks to extend the New Jersey Devils’ point streak to six games.
This was Schneider’s third game since returning from the American Hockey League on Feb. 20. He was placed on waivers and sent down to the Binghamton Devils on Nov. 18 after starting the season with a 4.59 goals-against average (GAA) and .852 save percentage (SV%). The shutout was the 26th of Schneider’s career and first since Feb. 21, 2019.
“My teammates did their job tonight,” Schneider said after his big game. “For me, it’s just about doing my job. The game felt good tonight in terms of my performance and how I felt.”
Week in Review
There were four different goaltenders to win at least three games last week, but the hottest goaltender was Pavel Francouz of the Colorado Avalanche. He won all three of his starts and gave up just six goals on 112 shots for a 2.00 GAA and .946 SV%.
All three of his starts ended in 3-2 victories for the Avalanche. Wednesday night, he made 31 saves against the Buffalo Sabres. He made a career-high 45 saves to beat the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday and came back the very night to make 30 saves in a win over the Nashville Predators.
This hot streak is coming at the perfect time as Philipp Grubauer has been out since Feb. 15 with a lower-body injury. The Avalanche are currently in second place in the Central Division, just three points behind the St. Louis Blues.
The Vancouver Canucks are without their top netminder, Jacob Markstrom, for at least the next two weeks as he is dealing with a lower-body injury. This gave 24-year-old Thatcher Demko a chance to be the number one goaltender, but he has not gotten off to a great start.
He started three games for the Canucks last week, losing two of them. He played well, making 37 saves, in 4-3 overtime win at the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. He gave up four goals on just 24 shots in a loss at the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. He finished his week losing 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Demko finished the week with 3.34 GAA and .892 SV%. The Canucks are in the first wild card spot in the Western Conference and are just one point behind the Flames for third place in the Pacific Division. However, they are just two points away from being out of a playoff spot altogether, so they will need Demko to pick it up.
Backup of the Week
Calvin Petersen spent most of this season as the workhorse for the Ontario Reign in the AHL. Once the Los Angeles Kings traded Jack Campbell to the Maple Leafs on Feb. 6, Petersen was called up to serve as Jonathan Quick’s backup.
With the way he has been playing lately, Petersen could see more starts than originally planned. He won both of his starts last week giving up just two goals on 79 shots for a .975 SV%.
He added to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ recent bout of misery on Wednesday by making 35 saves in a 2-1 Kings’ victory. On Sunday, he ended the Vegas Golden Knights’ eight-game winning streak by with a season-high 42 save performance in a 4-1 win.
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Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.