Sunday, January 3, 2010

NHL Recap 1-3-10: Kovy explodes; Pens still pathetic

He's alive
Ottawa replaced Dany Heatley with Alex Kovalev, who entered Sunday with a whopping seven goals. Well, now he has 11.

Kovalev lit up Philadelphia for his first career four-goal performance and the Senators finished on the good side of a crazy back-and-forth game, 7-4.

Ottawa conceded the first goal just two minutes in to Ian Laperriere but proceeded to light the lamp the next four times, all in the first period. Kovalev's first two began and capped off the scoring in the opening 20 minutes.

Rather than go away though, the Flyers responded by netting the next three goals, all in the second period, to tie the game. Ottawa regained control in the third period. Kovalev's hat trick goal restored the Senators lead and his fourth marker concluded the scoring. In between, Chris Kelly netted a pair and had an assist and Jarkko Ruutu also scored. Kovalev also had an assist for a five-point game.

Mike Richards, Aaron Asham and Darrell Powe also scored for the Flyers.

Both starting goalies, Michael Leighton and Pascal Leclaire, were pulled. Brian Elliott made 10 saves in relief for the win.

Florida solves Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh launched 50 shots on Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun, who turned aside 48 of them, and Radek Dvorak's hat trick helped the Panthers knock off the Penguins and avoid a season sweep, 6-2. It's Pittsburgh's fifth straight loss and sixth in seven games, all in regulation.

The Penguins dominated the first period, out-shooting Florida 19-8 and got goals from Tyler Kennedy and Sidney Crosby, but failed again on their putrid power play with a chance to go up 3-0. Then Marc-Andre Fleury gave up a Charmin-soft goal to Jordan Leopold with 1:02 left in the period that was an indication to the Penguins that they should stop playing, which they did.

Dvorak continued the comeback, followed by goals by Rostislav Olesz and Steven Reinprecht. Dvorak's second and third (into an empty net) sealed the game that had been sealed as soon as the second period started.

The first three games of the series had all been 3-2 wins by Pittsburgh, one in a shootout and two in overtime.

Miller time
Ryan Miller stopped all 30 shots he saw for his fifth shutout, tying Ilya Bryzgalov for the league lead, and Buffalo's Tim Connolly got the only goal as the Sabres held off Montreal, 1-0.

Hossa time
Chicago's Marian Hossa had his first two-goal game since his debut, and his first goal overall since Dec. 22, and the Blackhawks routed Anaheim, 5-2. Antti Niemi (22 saves) lost his shutout bid when Petteri Nokelainen scored twice in the final four minutes. Kris Versteeg, Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer also scored for Chicago.

Non-3 Stars selection
Kelly. Anton Volchenkov and Ryan Shannon (third and second) each had three assists for the Sens and Kovalev was No. 1. Honorable mention though to Vokoun. He doesn't get the nod though because he didn't have to do much besides stand there.

Stat of the night
-6 - I know plus/minus isn't a very useful stat, but Claude Giroux was a minus-6 for Philadelphia in Sunday's loss. A reminder, Ottawa won, 7-4. Giroux was on the ice for almost every Ottawa goal and none for his own team's. That has to be a record, doesn't it? It makes one overlook Mike Richards' minus-4 and Simon Gagne's minus-5. A little at least.

Quote of the night
"To all you who said to me, 'Your team doesn't have the Stanley Cup hangover,' I say to you, go to hell."

Notable games
Monday, Jan. 4 (2 games)
-Boston (21-12-7) at N.Y. Rangers (19-17-5), 7 p.m. ET, Versus.

-Los Angeles (24-15-3) at San Jose (27-8-7), 10:30 p.m.

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