Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NHL Recap 11-30-09

Crazy night in the NHL. Stars taking cheap shots again, defensemen taking out their own goalies, grinders getting hat tricks... let's get to it.

Stars of the night
--Nicklas Backstrom, two goals and an assist and Jose Theodore 38 saves as Washington hung on against Carolina, 3-2. The game was marred by Alex Ovechkin's knee-on-knee hit against Tim Gleason. Although Ovechkin appeared to have received the more serious damage - Gleason returned to the game - Ovechkin received a game misconduct, his second in three games.
--Mike Rupp, hat trick as Pittsburgh downed the Rangers for the second straight game, 5-2. More on this later.
--Jimmy Howard made 29 saves to lead Detroit over Dallas, 4-1.

Clean sheets
--Ryan Miller made 38 saves and Buffalo blanked Toronto, 3-0. Jason Pominville had two assists.
--Colorado's Craig Anderson got back on track with a 33-save shutout of Tampa Bay. Matt Duchene scored twice. Wonder if Avs fans still want to get rid of Duchene.
--Miikka Kiprusoff didn't have much to do but stopped all 22 shots he saw as Calgary routed Nashville, 5-0. Five different Flames scored, including Jarome Iginla, who finished November with 13 goals and seven assists in 14 games.

More birthdays please
On Saturday, the Penguins celebrated goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's birthday with an eight-goal outburst against the Rangers, including Sidney Crosby's second hat trick of the season. Mike Rupp's son Mason celebrated his fifth birthday Monday prior to dad netting his first career hat trick.

Sidney Crosby had two goals. With an empty net looming, Crosby elected to pass to Rupp so Rupp could complete his hat trick rather than Crosby try for his second trick in two games. Fleury made 29 saves. Rupp has already set a career-high with eight goals this season.

Marian Gaborik scored twice for New York, becoming the first player this season to reach 20 goals (he has 21.)

Bonehead play of the night
It's bad enough that so many players have been on the receiving end of dirty hits by opponents. But now they're not even safe from teammates. In a fit of childish rage, Florida defenseman Keith Ballard swung his stick at his own goal post after Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk scored. The problem was Ballard missed and struck his goaltender Tomas Vokoun, lacerating Vokoun's ear, causing a stretcher to be brought out and Vokoun needing a trip to the hospital. Well done, Mr. Ballard. Well done.

His Florida teammates should get to line up and swing their sticks at Ballard's head. Vokoun gets two cracks. Not like Ballard has any brains to injure.

Oh, the Thrashers won the game, 4-3, when Maxim Afinogenov scored with six seconds left in the third period. Nik Antropov had two assists.

Stonemasons or Freemasons?
Steve Mason played Chris Mason, and it was the much-maligned Steve's Blue Jackets coming through with a 5-2 victory over St. Louis. Chris Mason gave up two goals on the first four shots, Steve Mason clamped down with 27 saves, and Columbus struck three times in the third period. R.J. Umberger netted a hat trick and added an assist.

Non-3 Stars Selection of the night
Fleury. Hard to argue with the 3 Stars - Crosby was third, Gaborik second and Rupp first - but Fleury made some big stops in key situations. He was 3A.

Quote of the night
"I don't know what it is. Maybe his Team U.S. coach and GM are on our side, he wants to prove something?"
Toronto center Matt Stajan, talking about Miller, who has made 73 saves in two wins over the Maple Leafs, whose GM, Brian Burke, and coach, Ron Wilson, also run the United States' Olympic team.

Follow-up quote of the night
"I hope he plays like this in February."

Marquee matchup
Tuesday, Dec. 1 (4 games)
Columbus (13-9-4) at Chicago (16-6-3), 8 p.m. ET, Versus. The Blackhawks have struggled lately, but the Blue Jackets haven't had an easy time keeping the puck out of their net.

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