After a three-year drought, Roberto Luongo is back for a third try at winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.
The Vancouver Canucks goalie, fresh off back-to-back shellings by the Chicago Blackhawks, is a Vezina finalist for the third time. He finished third in the voting in 2004 and second in 2007.
Nashville's Pekka Rinne and Boston's Tim Thomas are the other two finalists for the Vezina, the NHL announced Friday.
Luongo helped lead the Canucks to their best season in franchise history, as they won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time and posted the lowest team goals-against average at 2.20.
Luongo and backup Cory Schneider won the Jennings Trophy after combining for the lowest GAA during the regular season.
Luongo had a record of 38-15-7 with a career-best 2.11 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
Rinne, a first-time Vezina finalist, was 33-22-9 with a 2.12 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
Thomas, the 2009 Vezina winner, was 35-11-9 with a league-leading 2.00 GAA and a .938 save percentage
The winner will be announced at the NHL awards June 22 in Las Vegas.
Of the 33 post-season games played entering Friday night, only 14 -- 42.4% -- have been won by the home team.
That's a continuation of last season's trend, NHL.com says, when the home team took only 22 of 49 first-round games (44.9%).
During the regular season, home teams won 638 of 1,230 games (51.9%) the lowest since the arrival of the shootout in 2005).
Meanwhile, scoring first is becoming more and more important.
Teams that scored the first goal during the season won 68.8% of the games.
That has jumped to 81.8% during the playoffs, with the team scoring first winning 27 of the 33 games.
Big Z ready to go
Looks like the Detroit Red Wings will have forward Henrik Zetterberg back in the lineup when they start the second round of the playoffs.
Zetterberg, the Wings' leading scorer during the regular season, showed no lingering effects from the injured left knee that forced him to miss the first-round win over Phoenix during Friday's workout. After the practice, Zetterberg said "I'm excited to be back."
Zetterberg had 24 goals and 56 assists in 80 games but got hurt late in the regular season and didn't play against the Coyotes.
Forward Johan Franzen should be good to go, too. He didn't skate Friday, instead opting to rest his injured ankle, but should be ready by the time the Wings open their conference semifinal, which won't happen before Tuesday.
Jumping the Shark?
Some things just don't go together in the same sentence. Like Sharks and pom-poms.
But that will be the case Saturday night when the San Jose Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Saturday.
In giveaway that borders on the ridiculous, the Sharks will be handing out pom-poms, the staple of football cheerleaders everywhere but a rarely-seen accessory at hockey games, to every fan who goes through the turnstiles at HP Pavilion.
No word on whether those fans will be asked to wear sweaters with S-H-A-R-K-S sewn on or show their 'Glee' membership cards to get the pom-poms, though.
Kings get help
The Los Angeles Kings could have forward Scott Parse back in the lineup for Game 5 of their series with the San Jose Sharks.
Parse was activated off injured reserve Friday after missing most of the regular season with groin and hip issues. He sat out the first month with a groin injury then midway through November had surgery on his hip.
In five games this season, Parse had one goal and four assists. He had 11 goals and 13 assists as a rookie in 2009-10.
The Kings trail the best-of-seven series 3-1. Game 5 is set for Saturday in San Jose.
Isles hang on to Nabby
Evgeny Nabokov won't get out of playing for the New York Islanders that easily.
The Islanders have decided to toll Nabokov's contract and hang on to the Russian goalie for the 2011-12 season, according to a report by New York's Newsday. Nabokov was claimed by the Islanders on re-entry waivers, foiling his attempt to join the Detroit Red Wings.
Because he refused to report to the Isles, he violated the terms of his one year, $570,000 contract. That allowed the Isles to toll the deal, effectively rolling it over for another season.
The Islanders will be able to trade Nabokov's rights during the off-season, though, something they couldn't do after claiming him on waivers.