Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Isles snap Crosby's streak, plus win to boot

Islanders trap Crosby, Penguins to earn shootout win
I hate playing teams coming off a horrid loss. Usually they bounce back nicely. The Islanders certainly made it so.

Rick DiPietro made 37 saves and New York blanked Sidney Crosby en route to earning a 2-1 shootout win over Pittsburgh. The Islanders lost their last game by a 7-2 margin and DiPietro was making his first appearance in nearly two weeks after being out with an injury. Naturally, they're the ones who end Crosby's 25-game point streak. Speaking of DiPietro's injuries, there's at least a 50-50 chance he injured himself in the celebration after he stopped Mark Letestu in the fourth round of the shootout to get the win.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves, including a few good ones, for Pittsburgh, but couldn't stop three of four New York shooters (Rob Schremp, Frans Nielsen, P.A. Parenteau) in the tiebreaker. New York has now won four of its last five games and five of the last seven.

The numbers don't add up
So, New Jersey averages 30 shots per game. The Devils allow the second fewest shots per game at 27. They routinely out-shoot their opponents. Yet they still lose, and lose, and lose.

Henrik Lundqvist's 43 saves got the Rangers past New Jersey, 3-1, handing the Devils their sixth straight loss. Get this: In each of those six games, New Jersey scored exactly one goal. No more, no less. The Devils out-shot five of those six opponents, including by a large margin a couple times.

New Jersey has lost 11 of 12 games in December, with each loss coming in regulation, and it scored more than one goal in only two of those 11 losses. The Devils have one more chance to earn a point or two in December with a game Friday afternoon against Atlanta.

Speaking of which, the last three Devils losses were at home. They were out-scored 12-3 in that time.

Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and assist for New York.

More good goaltending
Cam Ward's 37 saves and two first-period goals by Zach Boychuk fueled Carolina's 4-0 win over Ottawa. Patrick Dwyer had a goal and assist and Erik Cole also scored.

Not good goaltending
--Minnesota scored three times in a five-minute span against Antero Niittymaki in the third period and earned an impressive 5-3 comeback win over San Jose. Kyle Brodziak scored twice, Brent Burns had a goal and assist and Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves.
--Kari Lehtonen is not feeling good. Dallas led 3-1 early in the second period before Detroit rattled off six straight goals, the last into an empty net, and ended up routing the Stars, 7-3. Patrick Eaves recorded a hat trick and one assist, Jiri Hudler and Nicklas Lidstrom each had a goal and assist and Jimmy Howard made 28 saves. Lehtonen finished with only 19 stops.
--Jonathan Quick allowed six goals on 18 shots in 30 minutes and Phoenix doubled up Los Angeles, 6-3. Shane Doan scored twice, Scottie Upshall had a goal and two assists and Keith Yandle posted three helpers. Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves.

--Really, DiPietro ended the streak? That's it, I am so leaving the Islanders when my NHL11 Be a Pro contract is up.

--Elite teams score on a 4-on-3 power play in overtime against a team like the Islanders. The Penguins didn't. Draw your own conclusions. I don't know, maybe they were tired; the game was their fifth in eight days, even with the holiday break. I won't say they have the worst schedule in the league (they don't) but they haven't gotten many days off. I think they tried to force too many plays through Crosby as well rather than focus on just winning the game.

--At least the Penguins got a point. One of their problems is when they lose, they usually lose in regulation. So while they lead the league in wins, they'd have a bit more of a cushion in the standings if they got more loser points. Tonight's was just their third loss (out of 14 total) after regulation.

--I dunno, do I sense more Jonathan Bernier appearances in the future? He's been playing better and maybe Quick deserves some rest more often.

--Was about to say Quick was struggling, but actually he had shutouts in three of his last six starts, including two of his last three before tonight. Never mind me.

--I just don't get what's going on in New Jersey. The Devils are always out-shooting opponents but nobody at all is scoring. They actually got the first goal of the game tonight, and from someone who's really been struggling (Travis Zajac.) Paging Ilya Kovalchuk: This is when you step up to be a leader and go-to scorer your team needs.

--The karma's rich though, isn't it? I don't know if Kovalchuk legitimately wanted to stay in Atlanta and the Thrashers just didn't pony up the money (in which case, well, he didn't really want to go back, did he?), but he went from that dead-end franchise to a new team that's suddenly becoming dead-end, while his old team is one of the bright surprises in the league.

--How the eff do the Red Wings put up seven goals without Pavel Datsyuk, with no Dan Cleary, and only a secondary assist for Henrik Zetterberg?

--In case you're wondering, yes, I hate the Penguins again, and yes, I'll flip-flop, again, after their next win.

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