21/01/2013 – NHL TOP PERFORMERS OF THE NIGHT

Rookie forward sensation Vladimir Tarasenko of the St Louis Blues.

Rookie forward sensation Vladimir Tarasenko of the St Louis Blues.

Here are last night’s results:

  • WINNIPEG 1 – 2 BOSTON (SHOOTOUT)
  • TAMPA BAY 3 – 4 NEW YORK ISLANDERS
  • ST LOUIS 4 – 3 NASHVILLE (SHOOTOUT)
  • BUFFALO 2 – 1 TORONTO
  • FLORIDA 0 – 4 OTTAWA
  • DETROIT 4 – 3 COLUMBUS (SHOOTOUT)
  • ANAHEIM 5 – 4 CALGARY

Some great performances last night, a lot from some unexpected sources.  Continue reading to find out.

ONDREJ PAVELEC & TUUKKA RASK – the Jets’ and Bruins’ goaltenders, respectively, were outstanding during this closely fought battle, each making 26 saves on 27 shots and finishing with .963SV%.  It was only in the shootout that the Bruins were able to solve Pavelec, with Seguin and Bergeron shooting pucks through.

JOHN TAVARES – two assists and a lot of dominating play from the Islanders’ superstar forward last night.  The former 1st Overall Pick in 2009 is slowly working his way into the upper echelons of the elite NHLers.

STEVEN STAMKOS – a goal and an assist from the Lightning’s super-sniper.  He lead the league with 60 goals last season, and should look to be up there with the best again this year.

VLADIMIR TARASENKO – a goal and two assists in just his 2nd NHL game – add that to his 2 goals from his first game and he is tied for 2nd in league scoring, although it is early going and we shouldn’t necessarily expect the St Louis Blues phenom to continue this torrid pace.  That said, he is making a case for himself as the early favourite for the Rookie of the Year.  Those Oiler fans who though Yakupov or Schultz had the Calder Trophy locked up already should watch out for this guy.

PATRIC HORNQVIST – one of the more underrated goal scorers in the league, Hornqvist has been a reliable presence for the last 3 seasons for Nashville, with one 30 goal season and two 20 goal seasons.  He had a goal and two assists last night, bringing him up to 4 points in 2 games so far this season.

RYAN MILLER – the veteran Buffalo goalie was a wall last night, making 34 saves on 35 shots.  Whilst for the last couple of years he hasn’t been at his previous Vezina-winning standard, he is still a very good goalie who is vital to the success of the Sabres.

KYLE TURRIS – Turris scored his 2nd and 3rd goals of the season last night in a great performance from the entire Senators team.  Whilst we obviously need to see if this will continue for the full season, it certainly seems as if Turris has turned a corner since his tumultuous time in Phoenix came to an end in 2011.  That has to be infuriating for Coyotes fans, who desperately need a capable scorer and were hoping that Turris would fill that role when they drafted him 3rd Overall in 2007.  Such is life, but the Coyotes fortunes have themselves turned around since that time too, so it’s not all bad.

DANIEL WINNIK – one of the most underrated defensive forwards in the league, Winnik was signed by Anaheim to be exactly that – a quality defensive-minded presence on a team desperately in need of that.  Yet Winnik has provided something extra in his first two games as a Duck; after scoring 2 goals in his first game, last night he put away another two goals and added an assist.  Having only reached double digits in goals twice in his 5-year career, he is currently poised to smash that total, being tied for 1st in the league with 4 goals on the season after 2 games.  Once again, expectations should be tempered as the season is young, and this pace is likely unsustainable for someone who has never been an offensive force, but either way Winnik is really helping his new team out in more ways than they ever thought.

ANDREW COGLIANO – the second “cog” (!) in Ducks’ dynamite third line (for the last two games, at least) is Andrew Cogliano, the former 1st round draft pick of Edmonton who was traded to Anaheim in summer 2011.  Long believed to have fallen well short of his initial potential – he scored 18 goals in each of his first two years in the league, but has failed to match those totals since, and then struggling with being moulded into a Todd Marchant-type two-way centre – he was picked up by the Ducks and has provided some modest secondary scoring for them ever since.  One of the fastest skaters in the league, Cogliano is making hay along with linemates Daniel Winnik and Saku Koivu by putting up 2 assists in each of his first two games of the season to be tied for the league lead in assists with 4.  He is also a +5.

SAKU KOIVU  – Koivu, the popular former Canadiens forward, popped a goal and two assists last night, bringing his season totals to 5 points after 2 games.  Koivu has been nothing but a positive influence on this Ducks team since signing with them in 2009, despite being 38, and is showing – like fellow Finn, Duck and good friend Selanne – that he still has something left in the tank.

RYAN GETZLAF – the Ducks’ captain had a disappointing year last season – though it was his first fully healthy season in a while, so it could have been expected – but is making up for lost time so far this season after scoring 2 goals last night, including the game-winner, and bringing his season point totals up to 4.

CURTIS GLENCROSS – the Flames’ speedster, who worked his way up from undrafted forward to minor-leaguer to 4th line forward to reliably consistent goal scorer, put away 2 goals and an assist last night.  He’s one of the Flames’ most important forwards, especially as he is also reliable defensively.  Why didn’t the Oilers re-sign him again?!

DAMIEN BRUNNER – the little Swiss forward played 17:45 in this game, and whilst he wasn’t much of a factor during the game, he’s on the list for basically one reason: the shootout.  Brunner scored the only goal of the shootout to give Detroit the victory, and it was a stunner.  The guy has clearly been watching Datsyuk’s moves, looking to skate and shoot one way but pulling it back and going the other way before slipping it through the tiniest of gaps to put it home.

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