Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NHL Recap 2-1-10: Sid tricks Sabres; Canada's long national nightmare ends

TV executives happy
Well, if anyone in the United States watched hockey, the schedule-makers couldn't have been much happier than with their two most recent choices. First, Sidney Crosby's goal-shootout goal performance helps decide a tightly-contested affair between the Stanley Cup finalists, then Crosby one-upped himself in a back-and-forth game with lots of goals.

Crosby's third hat trick of the season in the second period, tying him once again with Patrick Marleau for the most goals in the league (37), propelled Pittsburgh to its second straight win, 5-4 over Buffalo.

Pittsburgh's Mark Letestu got the party started with his first career goal just 47 seconds into the contest, beating Ryan Miller on a 2-on-1. Then the Sabres got the memo to make it an exciting game and scored the next three goals.

Derek Roy broke an eight-game goalless drought by converting a power play just before it ended, then Thomas Vanek slipped past the Pittsburgh defense and wristed a shot over Fleury's shoulder for a 2-1 lead less than a minute later.

Tim Kennedy buried a shot off a sweet passing play for a 3-1 Buffalo advantage in the second period. Three minutes later, Crosby converted a power play from a bad angle for his first of the game, followed shortly by Jordan Staal tying the game. Then Crosby struck twice in a 4-on-4 situation.

The first was gifted to him by Miller, who attempted a pass from behind his net that bounced off Tyler Myers' skate and to Crosby, who fired a one-timer that Miller knocked down with his stick as he dove back into the crease, but the shot had enough force to slip over the goal line. Crosby finished the hat trick 85 seconds later on a 2-on-1 and the Penguins led, 5-3. His hat trick took a span of 8:02 in the period.

Jason Pominville's power play goal with 3:00 to play made things interesting, and they were more so after the Sabres got another man advantage with 2:04 left. But Fleury (30 saves) held the fort, making some key saves.

Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang had two assists each for the Penguins. Vanek and Roy each had an assist for two-point nights.

They were doing so well...
I know they're still not good, but the Carolina Hurricanes were on a four-game winning streak that included a win over Chicago. So much for that.

Jeff Deslauriers made 33 saves and Edmonton's third line dominated for a 4-2 victory, the Oilers' first since Dec. 30, snapping a 13-game losing streak. The franchise record for a non-winning streak was 14.

Marc Pouliot scored his first goal in seven games this season late in the second period to break a 2-2 tie. Earlier in the game, Pouliot assisted on Jean-Francois Jacques' fourth goal of the season. Sam Gagner's goal gave the Oilers a 4-2 lead.

Gilbert Brule also scored and Patrick O'Sullivan had two assists for Edmonton. Andrew Alberts and Jussi Jokinen had the goals for the Hurricanes, who out-shot the hosts 15-3 in the third.

Worth the money
Jean-Sebastien Giguere is gone. A new $18 million contract is in. Life is good for Jonas Hiller.

It got even better after he made 33 saves and Anaheim blanked Florida, 3-0, creeping a little closer to playoff positioning. Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and assist and Teemu Selanne scored a power play goal in his first game back from a broken jaw.

The Ducks tried giving the game away, taking three penalties in rapid succession in the third period when up 2-0, but the penalty killers did their job, and Corey Perry's goal with 2:42 to play sealed the deal.

Apparently the best way to douse one's offense is to bring in new players.

Calgary mustered just 18 shots on goal in its first game after trading Dion Phaneuf for forwards Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman (and Ian White and Jamal Mayers) with the goal of improving the scoring, and Philadelphia shut out the Flames, 3-0.

Ray Emery's third shutout of the season was supported by a pair of goals from Mike Richards and one from Claude Giroux. Simon Gagne had two assists.

Pat Quinn-ism of the night
"After all this, Edmonton fans are really something. The reception that the players got after a month of frustration was just awesome. That is one of the good feelings."

Not that good a quote. Sigh. Those come after losses.

Stat of the night
8 - Goals allowed by Miller in 81 minutes of hockey against Pittsburgh this season. He carried a 2.03 goals against average entering Monday's game.

Quote of the night
"I don't think it's right to judge them on their performance tonight but the reality is we can't have players, new and old, take too long getting used to each other because we have no time for that, we have to win hockey games."
Calgary coach Brent Sutter

Notable games
Tuesday, Feb. 2 (9 games)
-Minnesota (27-24-4) at Dallas (24-20-11), 8 p.m. ET, Versus. Separated by a point in the standings and three back of No. 8.

-Detroit (26-19-10) at San Jose (36-10-9), 10:30 p.m. And here's No. 8, with a tough task to stay there.

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