Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NHL Recap 1-18-10: Seriously, welcome back; Isles surging

The NHL decided to mimic the NFL playoffs. Lot of blowouts. Five of 10 games decided by at least four goals.

Think Ottawa missed its captain?
So, welcome back Alfie. Not to mention a slumping star.

Daniel Alfredsson scored a natural hat trick in his second game back from a shoulder injury, following up his three-point (one goal) performance from Saturday, to lead Ottawa to a 5-1 rout at Boston. Under the new math, that's six points in two games.

The Senators have won three straight games now and scored nine goals in the two Alfredsson appeared in. Additionally, Mike Fisher's engagement slump might be over, as his three helpers in Monday's game give him six points in his last three games. Prior to that, it took Fisher 16 games to record six points.

Alexei Kovalev opened the game's scoring for the Senators followed by the next three from Alfredsson, the last being on the power play and coming against Tuukka Rask, who replaced Tim Thomas after the latter allowed three goals. Daniel Paille gave Boston a small glimmer with his sixth goal before Jonathan Cheechoo's fifth goal, thanks to a snafu by Dennis Wideman and referee Dan O'Rourke, ended the comeback hope.

Filip Kuba had two assists and Brian Elliott made 22 saves for the Senators.

Don't look now, but...
The New York Islanders would be in the playoffs if they started today. They have their own welcome back party and a nice surge to thank for that.

Rick DiPietro stopped 20 shots to earn his first shutout of the season, 15th of his career and first since Feb. 21, 2008 (1-0 over Tampa Bay), and Matt Moulson potted two goals to lead New York to a surprisingly easy upset of New Jersey, 4-0.

It is New York's fourth straight win, sixth in the last seven and ninth in the last 12.

Moulson and Mark Streit scored in the first 3:44 of the game for a quick 2-0 lead, and Josh Bailey and Moulson netted goals 2:23 apart late in the second period. The Islanders had a whopping 46-20 shot advantage, and the New Jersey telecast estimates the Devils really had only about four scoring chances.

I once labeled Bailey a role player in a recap and I don't think that was right. He's been a big part of the Islanders good run of play, with five goals and 13 points in his last nine games, and is part of New York's future.

The Devils, meanwhile, have lost three straight games and four of their last six, all in regulation. Martin Brodeur was pulled after two periods. He made 28 saves and was replaced by Yann Danis.

DiPietro failed to get an assist again though. Come on, Ricky. Help out the team.

Stars of the night
--Steve Downie is rapidly becoming a hockey player and not just a goon. His 11th goal broke a 2-2 tie and Tampa Bay defeated Carolina, 3-2.
--Jason Pominville scored twice and added an assist, Thomas Vanek registered three points including a goal the day after I called him out, and Buffalo annihilated Phoenix, 7-2. Ilya Bryzgalov was chased after giving up three goals, two fairly soft ones, on 13 shots. The Sabres are 8-0-3 in their last 11 and now tied for first in the East.
--Raffi Torres scored a pair of goals and Columbus doubled up St. Louis, 4-2.
--Tomas Vokoun got into the shutout act again, stopping 27 shots, and Gregory Campbell scored the only goal in Florida's 1-0 win over Atlanta.
--Alexei Ponikarovsky had a goal and assist and Toronto overcame blowing a 3-0 lead to knock off Nashville, 4-3, on Phil Kessel's goal with 5:48 left in regulation.
--Brad Richards had three assists, Loui Eriksson scored his 20th goal and Dallas held off another third-period charge from Minnesota, 4-3. Antti Miettinen had two goals and an assist.
--Matt Duchene had two goals and an assist, John-Michael Liles had three points (one goal), Wojtek Wolski had three assists and Kyle Cumiskey scored twice in support of Craig Anderson, who stopped 24 shots for Colorado in a 6-0 rout of Edmonton. The Oilers have lost, get this, eight straight games and 15 of their last 16, and all but one of those losses were in regulation. Edmonton has earned three points in its last 16 games. Holy monkeys.
--Joe Pavelski had a goal and three assists and Dany Heatley scored twice as San Jose ripped Calgary a new one, 9-1. The funny thing is Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau combined for a whopping two assists (one each).

Pat Quinn-ism of the night
"I won't be flashing my teeth, because I think they just got kicked in."

Stat of the night
33 - Consecutive appearances by Martin Brodeur. Guy needs a rest, doesn't he?

Quote of the night
"Good effort? Yeah, but without goals, you get no points. So what's the difference?"
Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk, talking about Atlanta registering 14 shots on goal in the third period after getting just 13 in the first two periods

Bonus quote
"It's very humbling to see what happened. When you get beat this bad you better realize it's a wakeup call."
Calgary coach Brent Sutter

Notable games
Tuesday, Jan. 19 (8 games)
-Detroit (24-16-8) at Washington (30-12-6), 7 p.m. ET. Can anyone stop the Capitals? Especially in Washington, where they're 16-3-3?

-Chicago (34-11-4) at Ottawa (25-21-4), 7:30. Can anyone stop the Blackhawks, especially on the road, where they're 13-6-3?

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