Saturday, January 9, 2010

NHL Recap 1-8-10: Lightning put out the lights; DiPietro makes first start

Where was Tony Soprano?
So New Jersey falls behind by three goals and suddenly the lights go out in the Prudential Center for nearly two hours? Coincidence?

For those who missed it, the Devils were out-playing Tampa Bay, out-shooting the visitors 20-7, but trailed 3-0 after Steven Stamkos scored his 22nd goal. Shortly after the goal, a set of lights failed, leading to an interminable delay of nearly two hours and eventually a suspension with 9:12 to play in the second period.

Steve Downie and Brandon Bochenski scored power play goals for Tampa to stake the Lightning to a 2-0 lead before Stamkos' tally.

According to Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, a circuit breaker failed and arena officials determined it could not be fixed Friday night. Scoreboard lights were turned up in an effort to provide more light but there were too many shadows still in play.

Prudential Center is three years old. No date has been announced to resume the game, which will take up from where play was suspended.

Both teams play Saturday, New Jersey in Montreal and Tampa Bay in Philadelphia.

Baby steps for the franchise player
It's been a long road back for Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro. Wins are what matter, but he might just be happy to be playing again in the NHL. Especially after his first start in a year didn't go too well.

DiPietro gave up a goal less than five minutes into New York's game at Dallas and four total in a 4-3 loss to the Stars.

New York twice held the lead, when Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo answered Toby Petersen's game-opening goal. Loui Eriksson tied the score at 2-2 for Dallas before Frans Nielsen capitalized on a poor decision by Marty Turco (19 saves) to restore the Islanders' advantage.

The lead didn't last long, as Brenden Morrow scored 24 seconds after Nielsen's goal, and Brad Richards struck late in the second for the eventual winner.

DiPietro, who finished with 24 saves, did have an assist though. So he's got that going for him, which, you know, is nice.

Stars of the night
--Ray Whitney scored both Carolina goals and Cam Ward was 15.5 seconds away from a shutout before conceding Brandon Yip's goal off a carom, but the Hurricanes hung on to defeat Colorado, 2-1. Ward finished with 29 saves.
--Ryan Miller stopped a career-high 48 shots and 19-year-old defenseman Tyler Myers had two goals and an assist - all on the power play - to lead Buffalo past Toronto, 3-2. Miller absolutely owns Toronto.
--Antoine Vermette had a goal and two assists and Columbus hung on to defeat Calgary, 3-2. It was Blue Jackets "backup" Mathieu Garon's 100th career win. (I use quotes on backup because it's essentially an open competition for the starting job given how poor Steve Mason has been.)

Stats of the night
1.58, .960 - Goals against average and save percentage for Miller in five games, all wins, against the Maple Leafs this season.

Quote of the night
"I really don't like them. They're a rival and they're in our division. They constantly talk about how they're going to rough me up every night. I love nothing more than to get a win against them and send them an hour-and-a-half on their way."

Miller, on the Leafs. How awesome is that? Buffalo has won 10 straight against Toronto, and Miller's been in goal for each one. That ties a Sabres record for most consecutive wins against one opponent (Washington, from 1981-1984.)

Notable games
Saturday, Jan. 9 (13 games)
-Colorado (24-15-6) at Buffalo (28-11-4), 7 p.m. ET. Both teams have been surprise division leaders (the Avs have dropped to third in the Northwest), both teams played Friday, and both teams have gotten stellar American goaltending, though we'll see if the Sabres give Miller a night off after Friday's outing.

-Calgary (25-14-5) at Vancouver (27-16-1), 10 p.m. Here's why Colorado is in third place. Both the Flames and Canucks have surpassed the Avs and the winner takes sole possession of first. They are tied with 55 points currently.

-Detroit (22-15-6) at San Jose (28-9-7), 10:30 p.m. What does Jimmy Howard do for an encore?

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