Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NHL Recap 2-2-10: Welcome to town, boys; Wings bounce back

Anticipating success
I would've said plan the parade, but Down Goes Brown threatened to gouge out the eyes of whoever said that first. I'm willing to bet a number of other people have said that already though, so I'm probably safe. Best not to chance these things. I like my eyes.

Anyway. Unlike Calgary, Toronto's newcomers all played valuable roles as the Maple Leafs blanked the Devils, 3-0. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 30 saves, Dion Phaneuf had six hits, three blocked shots and an early fight, and Fredrik Sjostrom assisted on the first goal of the game by Nikolai Kulemin.

Brian Burke is a frickin' genius.

Phil Kessel and Francois Beauchemin also scored for Toronto. Martin Brodeur got a rare and complete night off for New Jersey.

Early hole no problem for Detroit
The Red Wings had conceded 48 and 47 shots in its previous two games. Before 10 minutes were gone, they trailed San Jose 2-0 and on their way to giving up another 40. Then they flipped a switch and all was right in Motown.

Detroit fixed its defense, clamping down on the Sharks the rest of the game, and four unanswered goals turned that early deficit into a 4-2 Red Wings victory, their third in three games over San Jose this season.

Joe Thornton scored both Sharks goals before late first-period goals by Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg equalized the score. In the third period, Derek Meech banked a shot in off Evgeni Nabokov and Patrick Eaves tipped Brian Rafalski's slap-pass to give Detroit a 4-2 lead.

Valtteri Filppula and Tomas Holmstrom had two assists for Detroit, as did Dany Heatley for San Jose. Jimmy Howard made 32 saves.

When domination doesn't equal wins, or even points
--Boston held Washington's potent offense in check for so much of the game and held a nifty 42-26 shot advantage. But Jose Theodore made 41 saves and the Capitals got third-period goals from Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon to come away a 4-1 winner for a franchise-record 11th straight victory. Alex Ovechkin padded his stats with an unassisted empty netter with 32 seconds to play for his 36th goal.

--North of the border, Vancouver out-shot Montreal 47-28. Only two shots slipped past Jaroslav Halak, who made 45 saves, and the Canadiens earned a 3-2 win. Tomas Plekanec had the game-winner, Sergei Kostitsyn had a goal and assist and Benoit Pouliot had two helpers.

--South of the Mason-Dixon Line, Marty Turco's 40 saves and two quick strikes after Minnesota goals allowed Dallas to double up the Wild, 4-2. Jamie Benn and Mike Modano had the backbreaker goals and also had an assist each.

In other action
--Antero Niittymaki made 26 saves and Tampa Bay edged Atlanta, 2-1. One wonders if the contract/trade talks are getting to Ilya Kovalchuk, who has just two points in his last six games. And I typed that before reading that he broke his stick in anger at the end of the game. Prior to his current slump, he had five goals and nine points in five games.
--Ilya Bryzgalov and Pekka Rinne had dueling shutouts, but Bryzgalov was better in the shootout and Phoenix won, 1-0. Adrian Aucoin scored in the 10th round, just the second Coyote to beat Rinne, who made 26 saves. Bryzgalov had 25.
--T.J. Galiardi's four assists, two goals by Brandon Yip and two shorthanded tallies by Ryan O'Reilly fueled Colorado's 5-1 rout of Columbus.
--Jonathan Quick made 20 saves, including one from point-blank range right before the final horn sounded, and Los Angeles held off the Rangers, 2-1, for its seventh straight win.

Stat of the night
0-6-1 - Boston's record in its seven home games since winning the Winter Classic in Fenway Park. The Bruins have lost eight straight (0-6-2) overall.

Quote of the night
"That was as mucky as it gets. A break was going to win it. We didn't get the break in either regulation or overtime, and so it went to a shootout and anything can happen there."
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett

Notable games
Wednesday, Feb. 3 (5 games)
-Ottawa (31-21-4) at Buffalo (32-15-7), 7 p.m. ET. If the Sabres aren't careful, the red-hot Senators could soon leap them in the Northeast Division.

-Detroit (27-19-10) at Anaheim (26-23-7), 10 p.m., NHL Network. Playoff rematch and a game between playoff-fringe teams.

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