Monday, January 10, 2011

Shutout Sunday

Only five NHL games Sunday but three of them ended in shutouts. First, however, we check in on the career shutout leader.

Making progress
He wasn't flawless, but Martin Brodeur found himself back in the win column for the first time in nearly a month.

Brodeur made 33 saves, keeping Steven Stamkos off the scoresheet, and David Clarkson scored twice as New Jersey tallied a pair of empty net goals en route to a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay. Brodeur even took a stab at an empty net himself but didn't get enough on the shot; he ended up with the secondary assist on Nick Palmieri's first NHL goal.

Patrik Elias had a goal and two assists for the Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston each had two assists as the Devils scored five times in the third period for their second win in 27 tries when trailing after two. The win was Brodeur's first since Dec. 15, a string of seven starts and one relief appearance.

Clean sheets
--One night after blanking Pittsburgh 4-0 on the road, Minnesota fell victim to its own 4-0 home shutout, this coming at the hands of Andrew Raycroft and Dallas. Raycroft made 26 saves and Jamie Benn scored twice for the Stars.
--Corey Crawford got plenty of support in making 29 saves as Chicago routed the Islanders, 5-0. Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists and Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane each had a goal and assist.
--Jonas Hiller was spectacular in stopping 37 shots and Bobby Ryan's late second period goal was the only one in Anaheim's 1-0 win over San Jose.

In overtime
Erik Cole would not be denied as a strong second effort resulted in the overtime winner in Carolina's 4-3 victory over Atlanta. Justin Peters made 25 saves and Tuomo Ruutu had two points, including a goal, for the Hurricanes. Bryan Little led the Thrashers with two goals.

--Seems to me like the Sharks are going through a bit of a shift right now. Not only are they not elite, it's hard to say they're even good. They're pretty average, and in their current four-game losing streak, they've been shut out twice and held to one goal in another game.

--Atlanta has kind of fallen back to earth a bit. The Thrashers could still challenge for the division title but that's looking like it'll be just a two-horse race.

--For all the parity in the West, it's kind of funny that no division is all that close. Dallas has the smallest lead at five points but with two games in hand over second-place Anaheim. If the Stars win both those games, their lead will be nine.

--Conversely, each Eastern division will go down to the final days most likely. Except the Atlantic, unless the Rangers go on a tear.

--Prior to Sunday's loss, the Islanders had won seven of nine games, yet remain mired in 14th place in the East and 29th overall.

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