Sunday, January 3, 2010

NHL Recap 1-2-10: Isles win wild one; Blues keep losing

Order more red light bulbs
The wildest game of the night - apologies to the Wild - took place on Long Island, where New York hosted Atlanta.

The Islanders seemed to gain control of the game by scoring the first three goals in just over 10 minutes in the first period. They would hold a three-goal lead three times. That's because the teams combined for six goals in the second period, four by the Thrashers, and fittingly just one in the third, before New York escaped with a 6-5 shootout win.

Strangeness of strange, two of the game's three stars were from the visitors. The Islanders had a balanced attack, getting goals from five different players - Matt Moulson, Jon Sim, Richard Park, Trent Hunter and Josh Bailey - while Atlanta's was more concentrated.

Maxim Afinogenov and Ilya Kovalchuk each had four points for the Thrashers, with Afinogenov scoring twice and Kovalchuk tying the game at 5-5 in the third. But in the shootout, Kovalchuk's attempt proved unsuccessful, while Jeff Tambellini and Frans Nielsen each scored for the Islanders. Dwayne Roloson (22 saves) stopped Rich Peverley to seal the win.

So much for a spark from a firing
They say you can't fire 23 players, but you can fire a coach. St. Louis president John Davidson must be wishing you could fire 23 players.

Rather than show some heart and find a lift after having coach Andy Murray relieved of his duties earlier in the day, the Blues did not respond in a 6-3 thrashing by Chicago. Granted, Mike Weaver let loose a wicked hit on the Hawks Patrick Sharp, but Chicago controlled play and scored twice in each period as St. Louis' home misery continues.

Tomas Kopecky scored twice in the first period, Sharp had the two in the third, and Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg also scored for Chicago, which saw captain Jonathan Toews drop the gloves with David Backes.

Questions about the Blackhawks' offense are gone. Chicago has scored at least four goals in five consecutive games now.

Adding injury to insult, Keith Tkachuk took a puck off his face and into the net for a goal near the end of the game, but the injury was severe enough that he immediately went to the locker room, but the kicker is one of the linesmen helped escort Tkachuk all the way to the room. Something I've not seen before.

Stars of the night
--Bob Luongo made 31 saves and Ryan Kesler had a goal and assist to lead Vancouver past Dallas, 3-1.
--Jonathan Quick stopped 26 shots and Michael Handzus scored a shorthanded goal early in the third period to give Los Angeles a 2-1 win over Washington. The Capitals are 0-3-0 since trading captain Chris Clark to Columbus.
--T.J. Galiardi hustled to a loose puck and threw a shot past Steve Mason with just under a minute left in regulation and Colorado squeaked out a win over the Blue Jackets, 3-2. Craig Anderson made 26 saves.
--Curtis Glencross scored twice, once to snap a 1-1 tie and then into an empty net and Calgary outlasted Toronto, 3-1. Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists and Daymond Langkow earned three helpers.
--Tomas Holmstrom scored twice and Jimmy Howard made 35 saves to lead Detroit past Phoenix, 4-1.
--Jason Arnott had a goal, his first in 10 games, and two assists and Shea Weber had one of each as Nashville held off Anaheim, 3-1.
--Jamie Langenbrunner's first career hat trick, despite being an old guy, catapulted New Jersey past Minnesota, 5-3, and vindicated my decision below to put him on Team USA's first line. Patrik Elias had three assists.
--Patrick Marleau scored his 26th goal and also had an assist, Dany Heatley netted his 24th and Joe Thornton had two assists to lead San Jose past Edmonton, 4-1.

We got this now
Ray Whitney chipped a nifty backhander past Henrik Lundqvist late in overtime and Carolina earned its second consecutive road win, 2-1 over the Rangers. Cam Ward made 27 saves. Marian Gaborik scored his league-best 27th goal.

Pathetic effort of the night
When you give up goals to Zenon Konopka and Steve Downie, you deserve to lose, and that's what the Penguins did, dropping their fourth straight, 3-1, to Tampa Bay. Hey guys, start showing up once in a while. Fix the damn power play too.

Non-3 Stars selection
Howard. Pavel Datsyuk (one goal, one assist) was third, Phoenix's Robert Lang (one assist) was second and Holmstrom was No. 1.

Stat of the night
5 - Number of posts/crossbars the Rangers hit against Carolina

Quote of the night
"As much as six goals against hurts, they could have had a few more."
Blues forward David Backes

Notable games
Sunday, Jan. 3 (4 games)
-Philadelphia (19-18-3) at Ottawa (21-16-4), 1 p.m. ET. Can Scott Hartnell and Chris Neil fight each other to the death?

-Buffalo (25-11-4) at Montreal (21-19-3), 3 p.m. Can the Sabres fall behind 3-0 and win again?

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