Sunday, January 16, 2011

Around the NHL

Remember me?
Kari Lehtonen never developed into the franchise goaltender Atlanta wanted. At least not until the Thrashers shipped him off to Dallas. Atlanta got a good look at what Lehtonen has become.

Lehtonen made 29 saves and Dallas scored five unanswered goals to rout Atlanta, 6-1. James Neal and Trevor Daley both scored a pair of goals for the Stars. Jamie Benn, Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards and Stephane Robidas each had two assists.

When did this happen?
At some point during the recent past, Phoenix climbed its way back up to the fourth spot in the West. Saturday's impressive 6-2 win over Anaheim might have had something to do with it. The Coyotes have won four in a row and are 7-1-2 in their last 10.

Ray Whitney had two goals and an assist and Lee Stempniak one and two. Sami Lepisto scored and set up another. Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves.

Corey Perry led the Ducks with a goal and assist.

Lucky, meet Good
Sometimes - quite a lot actually - luck plays a role in any player or team's success. Witness Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins netminder was outstanding until another team collapse of sorts allowed Boston to erase a two-goal deficit in 13 seconds, the second goal (by Michael Ryder) looking stoppable that Fleury allowed. From that point, Fleury looked shaky on a number of occasions and let quite a few pucks slip through or past him, but never into the net.

That shakiness and luck is probably why Fleury wasn't one of the game's stars despite making 44 saves - 20 in the third period - in Pittsburgh's 3-2 win at Boston. Jordan Staal broke the tie early in the third period and also had an assist. Public Enemy No. 1 Matt Cooke had two assists.

Dennis Seidenberg had a goal and assist for the Bruins, who were held scoreless in the third period. They entered the game with 55 third-period goals, second most in the league, and had netted nine in the two previous third periods against Pittsburgh.

Not good enough
Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves but the Rangers fell to Montreal, 3-2. The Canadiens converted two power play opportunities and got the winner from Andrei Kostitsyn. James Wisniewski tallied a pair of assists and Carey Price stopped 31 shots.

Bad goaltending of the night
--Eric Staal (one goal) and Jussi Jokinen (two goals) both had three points as Carolina won a run-and-gun affair with Tampa Bay, 6-4. Cam Ward made 30 saves. Simon Gagne scored twice and Steven Stamkos had a goal and assist, plus a temper tantrum that earned him 14 PIMs with 1:29 left in a one-goal game.
--John Tavares netted a natural hat trick in less than six minutes against Ryan Miller and the Islanders took down Buffalo, 5-3. Rick DiPietro made 40 saves. Matt Moulson (New York) and Jason Pominville (Buffalo) both had three assists.

Working late
--Drew Miller had a goal and two assists and Johan Franzen's goal early in overtime gave Detroit a 6-5 win over Columbus. Joey MacDonald made 25 saves for the Red Wings. Rick Nash led the Blue Jackets with a goal and two assists.
--Dmitry Kulikov's wrist shot after a nifty move beat Martin Brodeur and Florida downed New Jersey, 3-2 in overtime. The Panthers, who have won three straight, got 33 saves from Scott Clemmensen. Kulikov and Dennis Wideman both had a goal and assist.
--Calgary gave up a late power play goal but still defeated Toronto, 2-1 in a shootout. Olli Jokinen had the shootout winner and Miikka Kiprusoff made 32 saves.
--Nashville erased a 2-0 deficit with 10 minutes remaining and knocked off Chicago, 3-2 in a shootout. Pekka Rinne stopped 31 shots and Marcel Goc had the only tiebreaker goal.

Out West
--Drew Doughty had a goal and assist and Jarret Stoll scored twice to lead Los Angeles over Edmonton, 5-2. Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves.
--Two goals by Dany Heatley plus a two-point (one goal) night from Joe Thornton helped San Jose double up St. Louis, 4-2. Antti Niemi made 28 saves.

--I was starting to think it wasn't possible for the Penguins to beat Boston.

--If Atlanta isn't careful, it won't be in the playoffs in April. Carolina is just one point back with three games in hand. The Thrashers have really tailed off and need to right that ship, and soon.

--So the Lightning beat Washington twice in a span of five games, then lose twice to New Jersey and once to Carolina. I guess they don't get up for teams below them in the standings?

--I was starting to wonder if Los Angeles would ever win again.

--Ditto San Jose.

OK, my head's still pounding a little so it's night-night time.

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