Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday's slate: Wild Night

So, that's a double pun. It wasn't meant that way though. There was a lot of crazy action in the NHL last night. That was the intended message. Coincidentally, the Wild was part of it. So it was like a double Wild night. Or something. I must be a writer for a living. Anyway.

BJs blow out Chicago
See what I mean? BJs, blow? Get it? Anyway.

Here's another question: What does $22.5 million get you? Two words: Cristobal Huet. To put it another way, you might as well just light that $22.5 million on fire.

Last week we saw a shocking 5-1 Edmonton victory over San Jose, and Thursday we got an 8-3 beatdown (it was 8-1 at one point) by Columbus over Chicago in a comparably stunning result. Huet gave up seven of those eight goals. He was pulled after giving up five, Antti Niemi gave up the sixth, then Joel Quenneville tossed Huet back into the fire for some reason and he gave up two more.

The best part was Rick Nash didn't do much of anything. He had a solitary assist. The damage was done by (deep breath) Antoine Vermette (two goals, one assist), Jakub Voracek (penalty shot goal, two assists), two goals by Kristian Huselius and one each by a murderer's row of goal scorers like Mike Commodore (his first), Andrew Murray (his third) and someone named Michael Blunden (his first; congrats, Rookie.)

Chicago's stars were mostly invisible. Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and Andrew Ladd had the goals. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp combined for two assists. The Blackhawks clinched a playoff spot despite their result.

Steve Mason made 38 saves. Huet had 20.

Other wackiness
--Chris Drury scored the equalizer with 16.5 seconds remaining and the Rangers came back to stun New Jersey, 4-3 in a shootout. Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves.
--It took Minnesota a while, but eventually the Wild figured out they were playing Brian Boucher. Two goals in the third period forced overtime and Minnesota beat Philadelphia, 4-3, on Kyle Brodziak's shot that went straight up then bounced off Boucher's skate and into the net. Martin Havlat had a goal and assist.
--Fresh off a shutout, Boston goalie Tuukka Rask decided to try the other end of the spectrum, giving up five goals on just 18 shots as Tampa Bay downed the Bruins, 5-3. Steven Stamkos joined Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin atop the NHL goals leaderboard by scoring a pair, his 44th and 45th of the season. Antero Niittymaki made 47 saves.
--Supposed playoff-contender Calgary decided to see what it was like to blow a lead. Er, again. The Islanders scored twice in the third period and dealt the Flames a horrid regulation loss, 3-2. Mark Streit posted two assists for New York.
--David Booth got laid out again. Sigh. Jaroslav Spacek drilled Booth, sending him to the hospital for the second time this season. In the game, Brian Gionta scored twice and Montreal defeated Florida, 4-1.
--Chris Mason's 30 saves allowed the Blues to play spoiler, 3-1 over Los Angeles. Big win for St. Louis but they still have a big mountain to climb.
--Evgeni Nabokov remembered how to be a goalie, stopping all 27 shots in San Jose's 3-0 victory over Dallas to clinch a playoff spot and become the second team to reach 100 points.

Other non-regulation games
--Mikhail Grabovski tipped Dion Phaneuf's point shot/pass in overtime and Toronto handed Atlanta a crucial loss, 2-1.
--Ray Whitney scored in the bottom of the third inning of the shootout to force extra rounds, Chad LaRose scored in the fifth and Mike Green didn't, and Carolina knocked off Washington, 3-2. Manny Legace made 41 saves for the Hurricanes.
--Phoenix mounted a late third-period comeback but Nashville recovered to earn a 4-3 shootout victory. Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist had a goal and assist each and Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for the Predators. Props to Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle for his goal and two assists.

Stat of the night
2 - Team meetings held by losing teams after their fall-from-ahead losses: Calgary and Philadelphia.

Quote of the night
"At home, 3-1 going into the third period against a non-playoff team in the West, it's got to be money in the bank."
Flyers forward Scott Hartnell

Marquee matchup
Friday, March 26 (3 games)
Busy, busy night. The game to watch is Ottawa (39-30-5) at Buffalo (40-22-10), 7:30 p.m. ET. If the Senators have any hope of winning the Northeast Division, this is a must-win game. Even with two points though, the outlook is a little bleak with the Sabres holding two games in hand.

The Wild also travel to Detroit. A Red Wings regulation victory will officially eliminate Columbus and will essentially rule out a handful of other teams, including Minnesota.

No comments: