20/01/2013 – TOP NHL PERFORMERS OF THE NIGHT

Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild

Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild

12 teams were in action last night, some playing their first game of the season, some playing their second, and once again rust and sloppy defending meant lots of goals.  Except for Minnesota.  But that’s no surprise.

Here are my top performers of the night:

THOMAS VANEK – the Austrian star forward had in incredible night for the Sabres’ opening game of the season, posting 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points as Buffalo downed the Flyers 5-2.  He was a force all night, and after two nights of NHL action this puts him level with Marian Hossa of Chicago for the league lead in points.  Of course, it’s extremely early in the season, and Vanek is a bit of a streaky scorer, but it’s not exactly a bad way to start the year!

MARIAN HOSSA – capped off a great weekend with another 2 goal performance in Chicago’s 6-3 win over Phoenix.  Hossa may be 34 but he is showing that he’s far from done in this league.

PATRICK MARLEAU – got his season off to a flying start by scoring 2 goals in San Jose’s 4-1 win over Calgary.

JAMES NEAL – continued to show his chemistry with linemate Malkin as he scored 2 goals – his 2nd and 3rd of the season – in Pittsburgh’s 6-3 win over the NY Rangers.  Look for him to be one of the league’s top goal scorers this year.

JOSH HARDING – posted a 24-save shutout in Minnesota’s 1-0 win over Dallas, remarkable considering he was diagnosed with MS last year.  Who knows how long his career will continue, but he’s a terrific goalie and kudos to him for carrying on the best he can – and his best is pretty damn good.

ALES HEMSKY – of course I’ll have an Oiler on here!  Hemsky was flying against Vancouver in a 3-2 shootout win for Edmonton, scoring the game-tying goal in the 3rd period and notching the game winner on a stunning shootout move against Roberto Luongo.

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