Monday, November 22, 2010

Slaughter in Jersey, as expected; Mason holds serve

Hedberg, Devils wallop Capitals
As I correctly predicted earlier today, it was like leading a lamb to a slaughter in New Jersey. OK, so I had Washington doing the whipping, not the Devils. Who could blame me?

Johan Hedberg made 30 saves and the Devils jumped on top of Washington for three first-period goals in a 5-0 rout for New Jersey's second home win of the season. Mattias Tedenby scored on a penalty shot and assisted on Patrik Elias' power play goal.

Those two goals, plus one by Jason Arnott, put New Jersey up 3-0 after one period. Arnott tallied his second of the night early in the second, followed five minutes later by Dainius Zubrus netting his third of the season.

Back to you, Mr. Garon
Mathieu Garon, similar to Brent Johnson for Pittsburgh earlier this season, has been singlehandedly earning his team points and putting pressure on Steve Mason to perform better and more consistently.

Mason's paying attention.

Mason stopped all 27 shots he saw and goals by Mike Commodore and Rick Nash led Columbus past Nashville, 2-0. The Blue Jackets have won four straight games.

Tied, sort of, at the top
--Sidney Crosby had a power play goal and assist as Pittsburgh edged Florida, 3-2. Chris Conner broke a 2-2 tie late in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves. Pittsburgh is 5-0-1 in its last six.
--Steven Stamkos became the first player to reach 20 goals in Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over Boston. Stamkos and Crosby both have a league-high 35 points but Stamkos gets the edge both by having more goals and one fewer game played. Mike Smith made 26 saves.

By a gnat's eyelash
Ryan Smyth appeared to score the tying goal with 3.8 seconds remaining but it was ruled to be a high stick and Ottawa squeaked by Los Angeles, 3-2. If Smyth's stick was above the crossbar, it was juuuust barely. Hard to tell.

Pascal Leclaire made 28 saves, Alexei Kovalev had a goal and assist and Jason Spezza broke the 2-2 tie midway through the third period.

Trouble brewin' in the Big Apple
John Tortorella insists there's no goalie controversy in New York with his Rangers. That's why he started Martin Biron for the second straight game. Now he might have a problem on his hands.

Biron made 31 saves, including 15 in the third period, and New York edged Calgary, 2-1. Brian Boyle and Daniel Girardi scored, with Girardi assisting on Boyle's goal.

Jarome Iginla scored his sixth goal in his past three games and seventh in the last five.

Not this time
For a while, it looked like Carey Price would blank Philadelphia for the second time this season. That would've happened if games were 35 minutes. Of course, they're 60.

Philadelphia overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring three straight goals to earn a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens. Struggling youngster James van Riemsdyk, often a healthy scratch as of late, broke the 2-2 tie just over seven minutes into the third period. Ville Leino and Claude Giroux also scored for the Flyers and Brian Boucher made 29 saves.

Price finished with 42 stops. Maxim Lapierre had both Montreal goals.

And finally
Nikolai Kulemin scored twice and Toronto knocked off Dallas, 4-1. Kris Versteeg scored into an empty net and had an assist and Jonas Gustavsson made 21 saves.

Thoughts
--I'm growing convinced that Dallas isn't good.

--I really hate playing Florida and Tomas Vokoun. Always a tough battle, rarely high scoring, at least for the Penguins.

--New Jersey's huge win replaces Columbus beating St. Louis 8-1 as the season's most surprising result so far.

--Boston might like their goaltending combo but it really might make sense to trade one for a decent forward. They got shut down by Mike Smith, for crying out loud.

--Maybe Steve Mason just shouldn't start consecutive games. He has won three straight but his GAA is still over 3.00.

--Rough stretch for the Kings. They did win two games ago but they're 1-4-0 in their last five. Maybe home-ice advantage does exist for some teams. Just look at the splits for LA, Washington and St. Louis to name a few. Unbeatable at home, mortal on the road.

Tuesday's game
Just one game Tuesday. Edmonton (5-10-4) at Phoenix (10-5-5), 9 p.m. ET, TSN. You have to really, really love hockey to want to watch this one. I'm shuddering just thinking about it. Best part about this one is "R. Whitney" leads both teams in points and assists, Ryan for Edmonton and Ray for Phoenix. The sad part is Ryan has more assists than Ray has points. Ryan also doesn't have a goal.

Phoenix 3, Edmonton 1

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