Sunday, January 24, 2010

NHL Recap 1-24-10: Potent Pittsburgh power play?; Ward sets franchise record

Cocked and loaded
Believe me, I'm not one of those um, individuals who yells "SHOOOT" during power plays. In fact, one of the Facebook groups I'm a member of is called "Yelling SHOOOT during a power play is the most annoying thing in the world."

But it's amazing how much shooting the puck works. The Penguins often get too cute on the power play, always looking for the perfect setup. That's one big reason why Pittsburgh's power play is in the bottom five in the league. Well, two shots from the point by Sergei Gonchar, one with a little help, found their way through Ray Emery on the power play and Pittsburgh edged Philadelphia, 2-1.

Jeff Carter scored on the power play to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead when he smacked the puck off the back of the net then punched it past Brent Johnson. Philadelphia later had a goal by Mike Richards disallowed when Simon Gagne and Evgeni Malkin perpetrated each other's personal space and Gagne ended up with an extra minor.

Gonchar's shot on that man-advantage snuck through to tie the score. Then Matt Cooke deflected Gonchar's slapper with 1:47 left in regulation for Pittsburgh's second power play goal after Kimmo Timonen took a delay-of-game penalty. Johnson made 27 saves.

Ward takes advantage of slumping Bruins
Needing one win for a milestone, Cam Ward had to like seeing Boston on the schedule. A nice offensive outpouring from his teammates certainly helped too.

Jussi Jokinen had a goal and two assists and Ward stopped 27 shots for his franchise-best 131st career win as Carolina walloped Boston, 5-1. Ward passed Arturs Irbe on the Hartford/Carolina list. At the same time, the Hurricanes hurdled the Oilers to get out of the NHL basement (39 points to 38.)

Leading 1-0, Carolina struck for three goals in the second period in less than seven minutes. Ray Whitney, Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter scored in that stretch, and Chad LaRose made it 5-0 just 15 seconds into the third period. Tim Thomas was yanked after giving up the fourth goal.

David Krejci's power play goal with 11:04 remaining spoiled Ward's shutout bid. The Bruins, who have five goals in their last four games, have scored the fewest goals in the NHL and are on a five-game losing streak. Want to make another Phil Kessel-Milan Lucic crack but I won't.

Back to normal
How bad are things for Dallas on the road? This kind of thing happens: A potential icing on Colorado hits a linesman's skate, the Avalanche get a 3-on-2 as a result and score a backbreaking goal.

That goal, by Chris Stewart, was the third in Colorado's 4-0 win over the Stars and the Avalanche regained sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division. Craig Anderson made 27 saves for his fifth shutout of the season. The win was Colorado's sixth straight.

After earning a rare victory away from Texas on Friday, Dallas dropped its 11th road game in the last 12 outings (1-9-2).

Special teams staked Colorado to a 2-0 lead in the first period, getting a rare goal from Brett Clark on the power play then a great individual effort from T.J. Galiardi for a shorthanded goal. Paul Stastny scored a power play goal late in the third period to close out the scoring. Stastny and Stewart each had one assist.

Stat of the night
10 - Of the 52 PIMs in the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game, including 30 in the first period, only 10 came off fighting majors (Kris Letang vs. Darrell Powe). This is the same rivalry that boasted three fights in a span of 16 seconds in the second meeting of this season. My theory is that at this point in the season, getting points takes precedence over fisticuffs, though I have no evidence to support it. It's more of a question than a theory, actually. In fact, I've seen the Flyers having multiple fights in recent games against other opponents, so bang goes that. Let's move on.

Quote of the night
"We're making some real bad mistakes that end up in the bottom of our net, and we dig ourselves a hole, and we don't seem to be able to fight out of it."
Boston coach Claude Julien

Notable games
Monday, Jan. 25 (3 games)
Buffalo (30-13-7) at Vancouver (31-18-2), 10 p.m. The Sabres' trip out west is something of a litmus test and they're failing, posting just a 1-2-1 record. The Canucks are fresh off a nice 5-1 win over Chicago.

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