Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lightning get by Caps in SE clash; Lucky bounces help two teams

Washington-Tampa goaltending duel won by newcomer
Don't look now, but the Lightning might've gotten themselves a goalie.

In his first appearance for Tampa Bay since being traded by the Islanders, Dwayne Roloson stoned Washington on 34 saves - including 21 in the second period - out-dueling counterpart Semyon Varlamov in a 1-0 Lightning overtime victory.

Varlamov made 37 saves, but the 37th was a juicy rebound off a Vincent Lecavalier shot that Martin St. Louis banged home into an open net for the game's only goal. The valuable second point earned by Tampa Bay gives it a one point lead in the Southeast Division over Washington, which has played one more game.

The win also erased some Lightning demons. In the two previous meetings between the teams, Washington won both by a combined 12-3 score, netting six goals in each game.

Lucky bounce boosts Minnesota past Devils
You know how Clayton Stoner will tell the story of his first NHL goal to his kids. "We were playing New Jersey, and you know how good Martin Brodeur was in those days. (Editor's note: He won't say that the Devils were the worst team in the league and Brodeur went through the one bad season of his career. Back to the story.) I came in on a 2 on 1 when I decided to just crank a slap shot and boom, top shelf, highlight-reel goal. It was incredible."

The reality was less so. A simple dump-in took a crazy bounce off the glass and flittered into a vacated net after goalie Johan Hedberg left his crease to play the puck. But it counted, and it was Stoner's first of his career, and it proved to be the game-winner as Minnesota edged New Jersey, 2-1.

Earlier, Cal Clutterbuck roofed a shot on Hedberg after a turnover at center ice. Ilya Kovalchuk got the goal back for New Jersey.

Jose Theodore needed to make just 21 saves as the Devils registered only one shot on goal in the first period and seven in the third. Hedberg (16 saves) started since Brodeur has been simply awful this season.

Lucky bounce, part deux
Todd Bertuzzi flipped a puck either toward the net or to a teammate but it hit a body in front and deflected past Nikolai Khabibulin for Bertuzzi's second goal of the game and the eventual winner with 2:50 remaining in Detroit's 5-3 win over Edmonton. The Oilers had erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period on a goal and assist by Sam Gagner and two helpers from Ales Hemsky. Chris Osgood made a surprise start and stopped 22 shots.

Quick response
Phoenix allowed a 2-0 lead to slip away but scored twice in 52 seconds less than five minutes after the tie to double up Columbus, 4-2. Shane Doan had a goal and assist and Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves.

He'll be thinking about this one
With Buffalo growing desperate for points, the Sabres need all the breaks they can get. Rookie winger Tyler Ennis was on the wrong end of two bad breaks.

After a goalmouth collision, the kid's stick found its way over the Colorado goal line and when Luke Adam's shot at an open goal reached the line, it hit Ennis's stick and bounced out before completely crossing the line. That would've given Buffalo a late 4-3 lead.

The game went to overtime, where Ennis took an accidental high-sticking penalty while the Sabres were on the power play and Colorado's David Jones converted the subsequent man-advantage for a 4-3 victory. Daniel Winnik had a goal and assist and Peter Budaj made 37 saves for the Avs.

Thomas Vanek led the Sabres with a goal and helper.

--The most entertaining part of Minnesota-New Jersey was the work of announcers Doc Emrick, Darren Eliot and Billy Jaffe. Good work, boys, especially that 10-minute stretch in the third period when you whipped out all kinds of snake references in honor of Brent Burns.

--But there were more goals in that game than in the Washington-Tampa Bay game. Who would have figured that?

--I'll admit to a bit of hypocrisy. Despite arguing that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin shouldn't be on TV all the time, I said on Twitter Versus should've shown Lightning-Caps instead of Wild-Devils. But c'mon. Minnesota's been bad, New Jersey, while historically good, is also historically boring as hell, and you had two of last year's three 50-goal scorers going against each other.

--Two counterarguments that made some sense to me: People in Minnesota would provide ratings but maybe Tampa and Washington wouldn't. And the NHL couldn't/wouldn't show Washington again because a team can be on national TV only so many times.

--I still don't think a Minnesota-New Jersey matchup was all that attractive. Buffalo-Colorado instead? That was the night's only game that featured two 2010 playoff teams. Ah well. In the end it was good the Wild were on, we got that little spiel on Burns' snakes.

--Don't get me wrong. I don't hate the Wild. They're at least my third- or fourth-favorite team in the Northwest Division.


Nick in New York said...

ha! Most of the time this (and last) season the Wild has been MY third or fourth favority team in the NW division. Anything's better than those damn Canux!

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...