Sunday, December 19, 2010

One is the loneliest number

Of the 11 games on the NHL schedule Saturday, eight of them featured a team that scored just one goal. And no, none of those teams won.

They're not saying "boo," they're saying "Kooooovalchuk," or maybe "Kovalchuuuuuuk"
OK, let's be honest. They were booing.

Ilya Kovalchuk's second triumphant return to Atlanta proved a success! He scored a goal, after all. The problem was, it didn't come until after Atlanta had already scored four times, proved to be New Jersey's only tally, and preceded three more goals by the hosts as the Thrashers became the latest team to embarrass the Devils, 7-1, behind Eric Boulton's first career hat trick.

Boulton now has four goals on the season and 25 for his career in 508 games. Good showing, New Jersey.

Chris Thorburn had a goal and two assists and both Ron Hainsey and Evander Kane had a goal and assist for Atlanta, which got 29 saves from Ondrej Pavelec. Martin Brodeur was chased after giving up four goals in 28 minutes.

The win, coupled with Washington's loss, put Atlanta atop the Southeast Division.

Thomas stonewalls Caps again
Speaking of Washington, the Capitals do not ever want to see Tim Thomas again.

Thomas made 39 saves - 25 in the third period and a dazzler on Alex Ovechkin with 11 seconds to play - to defeat Washington for the third time in four starts, 3-2. Boston scored three first-period goals, getting a goal and assist each from Patrice Bergeron and Blake Wheeler, then hung on for the win. Andrew Ference scored his first goal in 100 games.

The Capitals have now dropped eight in a row and actually fell to third in the division.

Stop the presses
For the second straight game, Tampa Bay received a good goaltending performance. Yes, I'm scared too. Maybe they heard Evgeni Nabokov is looking for NHL work and decided they can't lose to their job to that has-been.

Mike Smith made 22 saves, allowing only one goal for the second straight start to lead Tampa Bay over Buffalo, 3-1. Martin St. Louis had an empty net goal plus two assists and Steven Stamkos scored his 25th goal. Simon Gagne also scored.

Two of the three stars, by the way, were Nate Thompson and Dana Tyrell, who combined for no points, three shots on goal, two blocked shots, one hit, two takeaways and seven faceoff wins. Thompson was the first star. I have no idea what they did to merit star consideration. Great penalty killing or defensive work I guess.

Other one-goal games
--Nikolay Zherdev scored twice and Brian Boucher made 24 saves to lead Philadelphia to its fifth straight win, 4-1 over the Rangers.
--Roberto Luongo's 27 saves helped Vancouver get past Toronto, 4-1.
--Brad Richards scored twice and Kari Lehtonen stopped 35 shots to lead Dallas over Columbus, 2-1.
--Logan Couture scored a pair of goals as San Jose got to Jaroslav Halak in a 4-1 win over St. Louis.
--Los Angeles routed Nashville behind two goals from Ryan Smyth and 29 Jonathan Bernier saves.
--Mikko Koivu's three points (one goal) and Niklas Backstrom's 28 saves got Minnesota past Calgary, 3-1.

And finally
--Eric Staal recorded a natural hat trick and Cam Ward fended off 43 shots to lead Carolina over Anaheim, 4-2. Ryan Getzlaf scored both Ducks goals.
--Martin Hanzal tied the score with 1:28 left in regulation and Phoenix went on to defeat the Islanders, 4-3 in a shootout. Jason LaBarbera made 41 saves.

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