Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crosby, Canucks turn on the lights

Premature hat tossing
When Sidney Crosby's slap shot found its way past Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec, hats rained down as the fans thought the goal completed Crosby's hat trick. Instead, it turned out teammate Matt Cooke deflected the shot, meaning Crosby had to settle for just two goals as part of a four-point night in Pittsburgh's 6-2 win over the slumping Thrashers, who have lost four straight games.

Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz and Mark Letestu also scored for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves. Cooke (two points) was the only other Penguin with more than one point.

Rested or rusty?
While some teams in the NHL have played three times in a six-day span, the Philadelphia Flyers have had over a week off since their last game. Rather than be fully rested, the Flyers appeared to be awfully rusty. Vancouver out-shot visiting Philadelphia 22-8 in the first period and jumped out to a three-goal lead early in the second period en route to a 6-2 rout of the Flyers.

Ryan Kesler led the charge with a pair of goals and one assist, Henrik Sedin tallied three helpers and Daniel Sedin registered two points, including a goal. Jannik Hansen, Manny Malhotra and Jeff Tambellini also scored. Roberto Luongo made 35 saves as the Flyers found their legs after the first period.

All-around stud
Nice game from Buffalo's Mike Weber. The defenseman scored the first two goals of his NHL career and added an assist in Buffalo's 4-2 win over Edmonton. Not only that, Weber registered three hits and blocked five shots. Jochen Hecht had a goal and assist and Luke Adam also scored for the Sabres. Ryan Miller made 29 saves.

Backups to the rescue
--Andrew Raycroft made 44 saves and Dallas scored three times in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit and defeat Nashville, 4-2. Loui Eriksson had a goal and assist for the Stars. Colin Wilson scored both Predators goals.
--Ty Conklin backstopped St. Louis to a 3-1 win over Chicago, making 25 saves.

Goalie carousel
Does anyone know who the No. 1 goalie is in Washington? Michal Neuvirth has done fairly well, but now he's fallen out of favor apparently. That's not likely to change after Semyon Varlamov stopped all 25 shots he saw to lead the Capitals to a 3-0 win over Montreal.

Holding the fort
Anaheim had to kill off three disadvantages in quick succession in the third period and held off Phoenix to earn a 3-1 victory. Jonas Hiller made 31 saves and Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul and Corey Perry all scored.

Late strikes
--Patrick Dwyer scored with 5:11 left in regulation to snap a 3-3 tie and give Carolina a 4-3 win over Toronto. Cam Ward made 34 saves and Eric Staal had two goals for the Hurricanes. Phil Kessel scored twice for the Maple Leafs.
--Mark Recchi's power play goal with 20 seconds left in the third period proved to be the difference in Boston's 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay. Tim Thomas made 31 saves for the Bruins. Steven Stamkos led the Lightning with a goal and assist.

--Probably lost in the shuffle of Crosby's four-point game and Pittsburgh scoring six times was Fleury played an excellent game. He made a number of big saves in the early going when Atlanta was controlling play.

--I learned the Lightning radio crew is about as homeriffic as anyone out there. I didn't see the late penalty to Stamkos that led to Recchi's goal, so I don't know if it was a good call or not, but those guys went off on quite the epic rant about the state of officiating in today's NHL.

--So, do we still think the Canadiens are good? Not a very good effort tonight, and now they've been surpassed in the division by Boston and have dropped to eighth in the conference. Given the bum teams in the East, I'm not convinced they'll fall any further, but Montreal has lost seven of its last nine games.

--Dear Anaheim: Please decide if you're good or not.

--Philadelphia suddenly has goaltending issues. Shocking, I know. First, Sergei Bobrovsky was excellent, the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy. A couple bad games and Brian Boucher started earning more starts. Boucher gets lit up, Bobrovsky gives up two in limited action, and Michael Leighton is lurking somewhere.

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