Thursday, December 10, 2009

NHL Recap 12-9-09

Revenge of the Goalies
Ten games were on the NHL schedule. Four were shutouts and two others were nearly so.

The list of goalless games:

--Ryan Miller, 35 saves as Buffalo shut the door on Washington's potent attack, 3-0. Nathan Gerbe had a goal (his first in the NHL) and an assist and Derek Roy had two helpers.
--The much-maligned Steve Mason, last year's league leader in shutouts, stopped 32 shots for his first clean sheet of the season to lead Columbus over Florida, 3-0. Jason Chimera and Derick Brassard led the offense with a goal each.
--Ty Conklin made 42 saves in Joe Louis Arena and the Blues beat Detroit, 1-0. Brad Boyes had the lone goal.
--Niklas Backstrom earned his first shutout and Antti Miettinen's goal was the difference for the Wild in their 1-0 win at Colorado.

Offensive stars of the night
--Ironically, the first offensive star is a defenseman, Andy Greene of New Jersey, who scored two goals to help the Devils beat Carolina, 4-2. Cam Ward returned for the Hurricanes and made 27 saves.
--John Tavares scored two power play goals for the Islanders, but Jason Blake's goal with 4:05 to play gave Toronto a 3-2 win. Vesa Toskala made 30 saves.
--Zack Stortini had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in Edmonton's 3-2 win over Tampa Bay. Stortini assisted on the Oilers' first goal and his goal proved to be the game-winner. He fought Zenon Konopka twice. Tampa played much of the game without its two leading goal scorers, Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos (33 combined goals, 17 by Stamkos), who left with injuries. Malone played less than five minutes and Stamkos played less than eight.

Too many chefs in the kitchen?
Maybe we were all a bit premature in crowning Chicago. Since Marian Hossa's return, the Blackhawks are 4-2-1 but have just nine goals in the last six games. They put two past Henrik Lundqvist and they were enough for a 2-1 overtime win over the Rangers, but that offensive explosion against San Jose is an aberration at this point.

Is there such a thing as too much talent? Are there enough pucks on the ice for everyone to shoot? Are the high-end players always looking to set each other up rather than take a shot themselves? Is it a chemistry issue, and the players just need time to learn each other's tendencies? Is it Hossa Karma? The Hawks have earned points in five of seven since Hossa's debut, but scoring one or two goals a night won't cut it.

Jonathan Toews scored on a power play with 5:55 to play to force overtime and Dustin Byfuglien made an outstanding end-to-end rush for the winner in the extra session. Lundqvist made 39 saves while Cristobal Huet was considerably less tested, making 17.

He's figured it out
After scoring just two goals in the first 19 games, Calgary's Olli Jokinen has five goals since Nov. 19, and his seventh of the season turned out to be the game-winner for the Flames in their 3-1 win over Atlanta.

Calgary held the Russians - Nik Antropov, Maxim Afinogenov and Ilya Kovalchuk - off the scoresheet, though Colby Armstrong's goal with 7:33 remaining made things interesting. Rene Bourque's empty net goal sealed the win, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 24 saves.

Two of the brightest Kings stars - Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar - hadn't scored goals since the eighth grade picnic. For Brown, his last goal came over a month ago, on Nov. 7 (14 straight games without a goal). For Kopitar, his streak was at 13 games.

They're both on one-game goal scoring streaks now.

Kopitar scored on a power play to give LA a 3-2 lead in the second period, Teddy Purcell broke a 26-game goalless drought and Brown scored just over a minute into overtime to give the Kings a 5-4 win at San Jose.

Drew Doughty had a goal and assist and Jack Johnson had two assists for LA.

Patrick Marleau netted his 20th of the season, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski scored, and Manny Malhotra's goal forced overtime for the Sharks.

Non-3 Stars Selection of the night
Edmonton goalie Jeff Deslauriers, 32 saves. Third star was Martin St. Louis (one goal, one assist for TB), second was Edmonton's Ryan Stone (lone assist on the GWG) and Stortini was first.

Quote of the night
"(Lundqvist) was the one who played. He was about the only one who played. My concern tonight is just a level of competing, which was horrid as far as I'm concerned. It was unacceptable. ... If guys thought they were trying tonight, they're in for a rude awakening."
Rangers coach John Tortorella

Marquee matchup
Thursday, Dec. 10 (6 games)
Phoenix (18-11-1) at Los Angeles (19-10-3), 10:30 p.m. ET.

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