Thursday, December 2, 2010

Caps best Halak this time; Canucks rout Flames

Russian leads Washington
One Russian Capital had a pretty strong night. Yup, Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves as Washington figured out Jaroslav Halak in a 4-1 victory over St. Louis. Nicklas Backstrom scored a pair of third-period goals, one into an empty net, and had an assist. Brooks Laich and Dustin Boyd also scored.

Fantasy owners weep as Miikka Kiprusoff plays whole game
One of the notes prior to the Vancouver-Calgary game was Kiprusoff had been pulled in three of six meetings between the teams last year. Well, this time he played through the entire game. Which means he was in goal when Vancouver got two goals in the last five minutes to turn an already-lopsided game into an out-and-out 7-2 beatdown of the Flames.

Mason Raymond recorded a hat trick and finished with four points to lead the Vancouver attack. Jeff Tambellini had a goal and an assist and Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Dan Hamhuis also scored. Henrik Sedin posted two assists and Roberto Luongo made all of 18 saves.

Tim Thomas was up to his usual tricks, stonewalling Philadelphia on 41 saves in Boston's 3-0 victory. Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic all scored.

Ales the Great
Edmonton welcomed the return of Ales Hemsky to the lineup, and the right winger responded with a goal and two assists, but it was Dustin Penner who capitalized on a turnover in overtime and scored to give the Oilers a 4-3 win over Montreal.

After the teams exchanged power play goals - by Scott Gomez then Kurtis Foster - the Canadiens took a 3-1 lead on goals by Mathieu Darche and Roman Hamrlik. Edmonton erased the deficit with two goals 3:08 apart in the third period, with Hemsky and Sam Gagner (shorthanded) scoring.

Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves.

Not good enough
Antoine Vermette had two goals and an assist for Columbus but failed on his shootout attempt with the game on the line and Nashville came away a 4-3 winner. Steve Sullivan had the only shootout goal. For the Predators, Colin Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and Kevin Klein scored. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves.

Hanging on
Jason LaBarbera stopped 33 shots and Scottie Upshall had three points, including a pair of goals, in Phoenix's 4-2 win over Minnesota. The Wild made a late charge, twice cutting a two-goal deficit in half, before Lauri Korpikoski's empty netter sealed the win.

Not a misprint
George Parros scored twice - for the first time ever - and also had a fight four seconds after netting his first, as Anaheim opened a 3-0 lead over Florida before needing Bobby Ryan's empty net goal to close out a 5-3 win. An additional "Did that really happen?" from this game was Florida's power play scored twice - TWICE - to bring its season efficiency up from 6.4% to 8.8%. Steve Bernier had both power play goals and also an assist for the Panthers.

Jonas Hiller made 29 saves. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

--New Jersey (9.9% PP), you are on notice. Florida's comin' for ya.

--Alex Ovechkin had only one point, an assist on Backstrom's empty net goal, but I liked it. He could've shot it earlier but unselfishly worked his way into a better position, then dished it off when pressured and probably could've scored himself. He's not scoring but is piling up the assists; I don't know how many of those are off rebounds or actual passes but maybe he's making it a point to get his teammates more involved this season. That will only help in the long run.

--Do you know how painful it was for me to write the preceding paragraph? And how many shots it took?

--It took like, 15.

--That just got me past the second sentence.

--Seriously, I've been waiting so long to make a biting, "Oh, gee, look, Mr. Empty Netter himself made sure to be on the ice with an empty net in play" crack, and so far I really haven't been able to use it.

--By the way, I'm still not convinced Boston is good. When the Bruins aren't getting good goaltending...

--Yeah, yeah, I know. They ARE getting good goaltending, so therefore, they're playing well. But basically they go as their goalies take them. They've won only one game out of nine when they allowed more than two goals, but it's easy to win when you get a bunch of 2-on-1s like in a game like that. Except for that one fluke, they're not bailing out their goalies when either has a bad game.

--The Flames stink. If they're not careful, they're going to be passed by the Oilers. It's possible that Hemsky's return is going to make that team tougher to play against. Actually it's more than possible; just ask Montreal.

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