Thursday, January 7, 2010

NHL Recap 1-6-10: Avery bests Dallas; Wild smother Flames

Rangers enjoy Dallas' sloppy seconds
It's bad enough that Dallas owner Tom Hicks is paying Sean Avery half his contract for another two and a half years. He's literally paying someone else to take Avery off his hands. And Avery haunted the Stars in another way.

The league's biggest pest, who has been very quiet this season, had a four-point night, matching his career-high, and the Rangers defeated Dallas, 5-2. Avery had a goal and three assists, having entered Wednesday's game with just four goals and 10 assists for the season.

Naturally, he scored New York's first goal, 3:22 after Brad Richards staked the Stars to a 1-0 lead. Avery then helped set up Marian Gaborik's 28th goal and also Ales Kotalik and Chris Drury. Ryan Callhan's empty net goal sealed the victory. Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for the win.

Minnesota overcomes early goal to take down Calgary
Be honest. How many people depressingly said or thought, "Here we go again" when Olli Jokinen scored just 1:34 into the game to give Calgary a 1-0 lead?

Well, Eric Belanger said, "Not tonight." His two goals in his 600th game and Kyle Brodziak's howitzer of a goal, along with a solid defensive effort, gave Minnesota a 4-1 win over Calgary to snap a four-game losing streak.

Jokinen's quick tally was canceled out four minutes later by Belanger's nifty deflection of Marek Zidlicky's pass. Brodziak ended a long goalless drought by getting just enough to push a puck past Miikka Kiprusoff and Belanger's second gave the Wild a two-goal lead. Cal Clutterbuck scored midway through the third to essentially seal the win.

Backstrom made 25 saves.

Stars of the night
--Tim Connolly, Toni Lydman and Craig Rivet each had two assists and Buffalo got goals from five different players to defeat Tampa Bay, 5-3.
--Danny Briere scored twice and Chris Pronger picked up three helpers in Philadelphia's 6-2 rout of Toronto.
--Dwayne Roloson made 30 saves to lead the Islanders past Colorado, 3-2, on Kyle Okposo's late game-winner.
--Dany Heatley's near end-to-end rush after a blocked shot resulted in the overtime winner, and San Jose came back to defeat St. Louis, 2-1. Patrick Marleau's 28th goal, tying Gaborik for the league lead, tied the game for the Sharks with 7:09 left in regulation. Chris Mason made 42 saves in the loss.

Non-3 Stars selection
How about Brodziak? Wasn't the prettiest of goals but it counts, and a nice setup for Clutterbuck. Zidlicky, Nick Schultz (two assists each) were 3 and 2 and Belanger was No. 1.

Stat of the night
2:11 - Time it took Buffalo from the start of the game to score three goals. It was the fastest three-goal start in franchise history and fourth quickest in the league since 1979-80. Tyler Myers (:23), Jochen Hecht (1:11) and Clarke MacArthur (2:11) had the goals.

Quotes of the night
"I would have loved to have seen that delinquent do that for us last year."
Dallas goalie Marty Turco, talking about Gaborik Avery.

"He had no impact on our guys' lack of execution. That would be giving him far too much credit. Give him credit on fashion."
Stars coach Marc Crawford, talking about Gaborik Avery.

"It was the way that Sean Avery needs to play."
Avery, whipping out the third-person

Notable games
Thursday, Jan. 7 (10 games)
-Chicago (30-10-3) at Boston (22-13-7), 7 p.m. ET. Two teams tough defensively, but only one has a good offense.

-Philadelphia (20-19-3) at Pittsburgh (27-16-1), 7:30 p.m. The next chapter in the intra-state war.

-Phoenix (26-14-4) at Vancouver (26-16-1), 10 p.m. ET. Fourth-best offense against one of the top goalies.

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