Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kings set record; Struggling stars wake up

Los Angeles batters road-weary Islanders
We got it. The "Lost 10" streak in the NHL standings is officially in the books.

With a thoroughly dominating performance, Los Angeles set two team records with a 5-1 victory over the Islanders, sending New York to its 10th straight loss. The Kings won their first eight home games to start a season for the first time in team history and the 24 points they've earned through 15 games is also a record.

New York, playing its league-high 12th road game (out of 17 total; 10 of its last 12 games were away from Long Island), ran out of gas, registering just three shots in the third period and only 19 for the game, leaving Jonathan Quick with a quiet, 18-save performance.

Anze Kopitar scored twice in the first five minutes before Robbie Schremp scored to cut the gap to 2-1, but goals by Justin Williams, Dustin Brown (on a penalty shot) and Drew Doughty's first of the season, on the power play, pushed the margin too high for the Islanders. Doughty, Kopitar and Brown each added an assist.

The Islanders have scored two goals or fewer in eight straight games, and scored two just once. On the bright side, they've been shut out only once.

Struggling stars ready to break through?
--Thomas Vanek scored twice, including a spectacular effort in overtime that made me go all caps lock on Twitter and Rick Jeanneret to go all Gus Johnson on us, to lead Buffalo over Washington, 3-2. Vanek, who has just six goals on the season now, made a dazzling display that frankly reminded me just a little of 1991 Mario Lemieux (sorry, Minnesota.) Ryan Miller returned from injury to make 23 saves.

--Evgeni Malkin nearly doubled his goal total for the season in one night when he capped off his hat trick with an empty net goal to seal Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over Atlanta. Malkin had a four-point night, Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists and Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves.

--Ray Whitney's third goal of the game - and third of the season; yes, he was goalless entering Saturday - also was into an empty net and he registered points on all of Phoenix's goals in a 5-3 win over St. Louis. Radim Vrbata had a goal and two assists, Martin Hanzal also scored and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 35 shots.

These guys were also good
--The worst of the Kipa Bad Calls of the night was sitting Brian Elliott, who made 31 saves to blank Boston, 2-0. Erik Karlsson and Daniel Alfredsson scored for Ottawa.
--Not far behind that decision was starting Tim Thomas over Jimmy Howard, who led Detroit to a 3-1 win over Colorado. Howard only had to make 21 saves. Todd Bertuzzi had a goal and assist.
--Tomas Plekanec registered four points and seven different players scored for Montreal as the offense finally broke out big time, walloping Carolina, 7-2. Carey Price made 28 saves.
--The Kipa Good Call of the night was correctly predicting Philadelphia's 5-2 win over Florida, which was powered by two goals each from Claude Giroux and Mike Richards. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots.
--On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad did I fleece my friend when I traded him Guillaume Latendresse for Ryan Kesler about three weeks ago? Kesler scored twice in Vancouver's 5-3 win over Toronto. Roberto Luongo made 29 saves.
--Pekka Rinne made 29 saves as Nashville overcame a 3-2 third-period deficit to knock off Chicago, 4-3 in a shootout.
--The trynamic trio (get it? It's like dynamic duo except with three instead of two) of Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe each scored once with two assists as San Jose defeated Calgary, 4-3. Antti Niemi doesn't really deserve being mentioned but he stopped 28 shots.

--The Islanders kinda sorta were almost in the conversation for playoff contention last year. Now they're basically neck-and-neck with the Oilers for worst team in the league, and this coming after a respectable start to the season. They've surpassed the Devils for futility. Sad times. Still.

--That defensive effort from the Penguins lasted one night, but that's OK I guess. Fleury came up with a number of big-time saves, though my moron friends will probably just bitch about the soft goal he gave up in the third period. Is it wrong that I want to block them from Facebook so they don't annoy me with their negativity? And those who know me know how negative I get about anything, and these two put me to shame, at least on the subject of Fleury. It's annoying as hell.

--Philadelphia and Detroit are playing scary good these days. So is LA.

--Calgary and Chicago? Not so much. They both have a minus-3 goal differential.

--Ty Conklin (in goal tonight for St. Louis) isn't going to get another start for two months.

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