Sunday, January 10, 2010

NHL Recap 1-10-10: Few see finish; Hiller stones Chicago

If they finish a hockey game and no one is there to see it, is it official?
Not surprisingly, and even justifiably, not many people returned to Prudential Center to witness the final 29:12 of New Jersey's game against Tampa Bay, suspended from Friday after a partial light failure in the arena.

The people who did attend - estimated attendance was roughly 3,000 - wouldn't have missed much if they elected not to go. Travis Zajac gave the home side a little bit of life with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game, but Steven Stamkos scored his second of the game just over a minute later to seal Tampa Bay's 4-2 victory.

Zach Parise netted his 20th of the season with 34 seconds left for New Jersey. Zajac also had an assist and Jamie Langenbrunner assisted on both Devils goals.

Martin St. Louis had three assists and Kurtis Foster two for the Lightning. Mike Smith made 33 saves.

Domination doesn't equate to points
After blowing a four-goal lead and losing in the shootout, Chicago might have been pleased that it responded the next night with a 43-12 domination on the shot clock. But not when only one of those 43 shots was a goal, compared to three of the other 12.

Jonas Hiller made 42 saves, including 15 in the third period, and Anaheim squeaked out just enough offense to defeat the Blackhawks, 3-1.

Half of the Ducks shots came in the first period, and Corey Perry and Saku Koivu found paydirt to stake the visitors to a 2-0 lead. Anaheim would get just four shots in the second period and only two in the third, one of which was Teemu Selanne's empty net goal. The 12 shots tied a franchise-low for Anaheim and Chicago's franchise record for shots allowed. Koivu assisted on Selanne's goal for a two-point night.

Try though they might, the Blackhawks couldn't get anything past Hiller save for Duncan Keith's slapper on the power play with 4:53 to play in regulation. Marian Hossa missed the game with a lower-body injury.

The Blackhawks have lost two straight for the first time since Nov. 27-28. One of those losses was a 3-0 defeat to Anaheim.

In other action
--Cam Ward stopped 31 shots and Carolina is looking like a real NHL team after winning its second straight and third in four games, 4-1 over Ottawa, which is not looking like a real NHL team. In defense of the Senators, their entire top line of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek are out of action with injuries. Ray Whitney had two assists and Eric Staal scored in his first game after taking a leave of absence because of his sister-in-law's death.

--Mathieu Garon stopped all 26 shots he saw, Raffi Torres' goal stood up and Antoine Vermette's empty netter sealed a 2-0 victory for Columbus over Dallas. Marty Turco made 39 saves in the loss.

Stat of the night
90-26 - Chicago's shot advantage in its last two home losses, Sunday's game and a 3-2 setback by San Jose on Dec. 22, when the Blackhawks had a 47-14 shot advantage.

Quote of the night
"He was smothering a lot of pucks, whether that was a lack of traffic or him being really Velcro-ish."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, on Hiller

Notable games
Monday, Jan. 11 (4 games)
As ho-hum as Friday's and Sunday's action was, every game on Monday's slate has some point of interest. To wit:

-Pittsburgh (28-17-1) at Minnesota (22-20-3), 8 p.m. ET, Versus, to see what the Wild can do after their big comeback against Chicago.

-Colorado (25-16-6) at Calgary (26-14-5), 10 p.m., a key Northwest Division game.

-San Jose (28-10-7) at Los Angeles (25-17-3), 10:30 p.m., not entirely a key Pacific Division game, but it'll be interesting to see which Kings team shows up. They've been a bit inconsistent.

-Nashville (26-16-3) at Vancouver (27-16-2), 10:30 p.m., a matchup of two teams neck-and-neck in the Western Conference playoff picture. (Yeah yeah, there's still 30-some games left in the race, but those are valuable points.)

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