Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NHL Recap 1-25-10: Quick-strike Pens; Flames still sputtering

My first is better than your first
The Rangers offense has been woeful, horrid, abysmal, pick your adjective. Artem Anisimov's first career two-goal game wasn't enough to save it.

That's because Penguins forward Chris Conner, just called up from the AHL Monday, had his first two-goal game as well, and Pittsburgh scored twice in one minute to turn a 2-1 deficit into an eventual 4-2 victory.

Conner opened the scoring less than three minutes into the contest. Some fairly dull hockey followed, then Anisimov scored his first goal late in the second period, breaking a personal 17-game goalless drought and a team streak of 156:32 without scoring. Anisimov's second goal was a shot that Marc-Andre Fleury had squeezed against the post, only to have it slip onto the goal line then be pushed the rest of the way over by Fleury's skate. That came with 10:45 to play in the third period, several minutes after the Rangers failed to score on six minutes worth of power plays to start the period.

But after the 2-1 lead for the Rangers, Evgeni Malkin took over, driving to the net and drawing a penalty, then scoring on the power play 31 seconds after Anisimov's goal. One minute later, Sidney Crosby drove the net, got a good shot away and Conner pounced on the rebound and threw it past Henrik Lundqvist for a 3-2 score.

Crosby, Kris Letang and Sergei Gonchar each had two assists and Pascal Dupuis had an empty net goal and an assist. Fleury, in his first game back after suffering a broken finger on his glove hand, made 28 saves.

Disaster looming
Things are bad in Calgary right now. Really bad. Ty Conklin and the Blues took advantage of it.

Conklin stopped all 34 shots he faced and St. Louis handed Calgary its seventh consecutive loss (six in regulation), 2-0, behind goals by Patrik Berglund and David Perron.

During Calgary's losing streak, it has scored nine goals, with four coming in one game. High-priced defenseman Jay Bouwmeester hasn't scored a goal in 36 games and has only two on the season. Jarome Iginla has been held to two assists in his past 11 games. Olli Jokinen has one goal in his past nine and just 10 on the season. Dion Phaneuf? No goals in 17 straight. Three assists in that time.

The Blues, meanwhile, are now four points back out of a playoff spot.

Long-awaited trip to British Columbia not a joy
Buffalo hadn't traveled to Vancouver for a game in four years. The Sabres are hoping the next wait will be longer.

A disallowed goal, four points from Danrik Sedin and Bob Luongo's 30 saves all played a part in Vancouver's 3-2 victory over Buffalo, the fifth straight for the Canucks.

Yet the unlikely star was defenseman Brad Lukowich, who appeared in just his eighth game of the season. He'd spent much of the year in the AHL because of salary cap purposes. His first goal of the season five minutes into the third period quickly canceled out Thomas Vanek's tying goal and was the winner, set up by the Sedins.

Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin had the other goals for Vancouver.

Buffalo appeared to tie the game at 2-2 late in the second period but Paul Gaustad was called for cross checking on the play and waiving off the goal. The Sabres eventually got a power play, which Vanek converted. Adam Mair also scored and Tim Connolly extended his points streak to 16 games.

Stat of the night
172 - As bad as New York's scoreless drought of 156 minutes was, it wasn't even the Rangers' longest this season. That was a 172-minute stretch in mid-January.

Quote of the night
"When you give the Sedins a breakaway from your own blue line when your focus was not to give them anything, I don't think you deserve to win a game."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, discussing the game-winning goal

Notable games
Tuesday, Jan. 26 (8 games)
-Phoenix (29-18-5) at Detroit (25-18-8), 7 p.m. ET, Versus. The Coyotes are trying to return to the top four in the West. The Wings trying to create some separation between them and No. 9 Calgary.

-New Jersey (34-15-1) at Ottawa (28-21-4), 7:30 p.m. Now that they've got their stars back, the Senators are playing some pretty good hockey. The Devils are still really good on the road (17-7-1, tied for the league low for road losses with San Jose.)

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