Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shutout Saturday: Revenge of the Goalie

If you were a goalie in the NHL Saturday, chances are you had a stellar evening. Just a load of excellent performances.

Jack knows best
No less a worthy authority than unbiased, straight-shooting Jack Edwards of NESN fame says Tim Thomas absolutely has to be the NHL's player of the month for October. It's hard to argue. Thomas posted his third shutout of the season in six starts, dropping his GAA to 0.50 and raising his save percentage to .984 after 29 saves in Boston's 4-0 victory over Ottawa. David Krejci had a goal and assist and Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Jordan Caron also scored.

Thomas has given up three goals all season and as Edwards pointed out, one was when Thomas effed up and pretty much handed the puck to Washington's Jason Chimera for an open net goal.

No, seriously, there's no controversy here
I still believe Marc-Andre Fleury is Pittsburgh's franchise, long-term goalie. But damn, at some point, Dan Bylsma has to keep putting Brent Johnson in the cage. Johnson made 33 saves, singlehandedly keeping Carolina off the scoreboard in Pittsburgh's 3-0 victory. Pascal Dupuis scored twice and Max Talbot also had a goal. Sidney Crosby posted two assists. The shutout was Johnson's first since April 1, 2006.

Bouncing back
One night after allowing four goals, Henrik Lundqvist was back between the pipes for New York. He fared a little better. Lundqvist stopped all 36 shots he saw and goals by Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan (on a penalty shot) gave New York a 2-0 win over Toronto, which has lost five of its last six games.

Buffalo hunting
The poor start by the Sabres I'm sure will come to a surprise to many but not to me, to be honest. Buffalo's season continues to get worse after Dallas backup Andrew Raycroft blanked the Sabres, 4-0, making 34 saves. James Neal, Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott and Trevor Daley scored and Brad Richards had two assists.

Seriously, another shutout
Dan Ellis wasn't busy but stopped all 23 shots he saw in Tampa Bay's 3-0 victory over Phoenix. Mattias Ritola, Adam Hall and Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning.

Two and counting
What seemed like a near-certainty in September 2009 has now become a long, laborious task, worse than anything Hercules went through. Chris Osgood moved two wins shy of 400 for his career by stopping 23 shots in Detroit's 5-2 win over Nashville. Pavel Datsyuk scored twice and added an assist. Patrick Eaves, Tomas Holmstrom and Brad Stuart had goals and Nicklas Lidstrom and Ruslan Salei each had two assists. Osgood entered last season with 389 career victories but has just nine over last season and this one.

More good goaltending
--Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31 shots and Jeff Carter tallied three points (two goals) for Philadelphia in a 6-1 rout of the Islanders. The Flyers are finding their game. Chris Pronger had a pair of power play goals and Kimmo Timonen had three points (one goal). Frans Nielsen scored on a penalty shot for New York.
--Florida's Tomas Vokoun fended off 40 shots and David Booth scored on yet another penalty shot as the Panthers downed Montreal, 3-1. Shawn Matthias had a goal and an assist.
--Marty Turco's 25 saves and two-point efforts from Duncan Keith, Troy Brouwer and Patrick Kane led Chicago to a 3-1 win over Minnesota. Keith and Brouwer each had a goal and assist and Kane notched two assists.
--Peter Budaj backstopped Colorado to a 5-1 victory over Columbus, making 33 saves as the bad version of Steve Mason showed up for the Blue Jackets. David Jones, Chris Stewart, David Liffiton and Paul Stastny scored to chase Mason and Cody McLeod scored later against Mathieu Garon.
--Jonathan Quick was spectacular in making 39 saves, including 20 in the third period, and Los Angeles edged New Jersey, 3-1. Jarret Stoll had three points including a goal. Justin Williams had a goal and assist and Michal Handzus also scored. Things get worse for the Devils, who played the third period without Zach Parise.

Feeling good...almost
Ondrej Pavelec made his return to Atlanta's lineup, but allowed a 3-1 lead slip away and St. Louis defeated Atlanta, 4-3 in a shootout. Jay McClement had a hat trick, including two in the third period, for the Blues. Jaroslav Halak saw his shutout streak end, having blanked his previous two opponents, but made 25 saves and two in the shootout. Pavelec finished with 32 saves.

You knew it was coming eventually. Washington's power play hadn't scored in an astounding five straight games. Problem fixed. The Capitals scored three power play goals on their first four chances, Alex Ovechkin snapped out of his slump with two of them in 12 seconds, and the Flames scored an own-goal in Washington's 7-2 demolition of Calgary, which scored the first two goals of the game. The Capitals trumped that with six second-period goals.

Ovechkin finished with three points, Nicklas Backstrom had four (one goal), Mike Green and Alexander Semin had three each (both one goal) and Dave Steckel scored on the night's fourth penalty shot. Michal Neuvirth made 27 saves.

Getting into a rhythm
San Jose's top line is rounding into form. Dany Heatley scored twice and added an assist, Joe Thornton notched three helpers and Patrick Marleau scored for San Jose in a 5-2 romp over Anaheim. Logan Couture and Niclas Wallin also scored and Antero Niittymaki made 22 saves. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne each had two points for the Ducks, with Getzlaf and Perry scoring.

Lastly, no hockey on Sunday. Thank god. I need a break.

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