23/01/2013: NHL TOP PERFORMERS OF THE NIGHT

Steve Sullivan of the Phoenix Coyotes battles goaltender Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Steve Sullivan of the Phoenix Coyotes battles goaltender Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Here are the results from last night’s games:

  • TORONTO 5 – 2 PITTSBURGH
  • BOSTON 3 – 4 NY RANGERS (OT)
  • CALGARY 2 – 3 VANCOUVER (SHOOTOUT)
  • COLUMBUS 1 – 5 PHOENIX

A couple of hat-tricks along the way last night, and some other fine individual performances worth mentioning; continue reading to see who stood out on the night.

STEVE SULLIVAN – the veteran scorer, now 38 and in his first season with the Coyotes, put on a show last night, putting himself in the firing line in front of the net and generally making sure he was in the right place at the right time, capitalising to maximum effect by getting a hat-trick of goals.  Phoenix need all the scoring they can get, and if Sullivan can add to that then that’s good news.

OLIVER EKMAN-LARSSON – the young star defenceman for the Coyotes was perhaps one of the primary reasons for the Coyotes’ success in last year’s playoffs, and was at his best again last night putting up 2 goals and an assist, firing 6 shots on goal, playing over 25 minutes (6 minutes more than the next closest Coyote) and laying out 2 hits.  This kid – still only 21 years old – is brilliant, is only going to get better, and in my opinion will win at least one Norris Trophy in his career, possibly multiple.

JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK – traded for in the summer, in return for Luke Schenn, JVR has long been something of an enigma.  He has all the tools to be a dominant power forward, but hasn’t really put it together for a full season yet.  However, he put it together last night as he scored his first 2 goals of the season for Toronto, and added an assist for good measure, showcasing his skills, whilst adding two hits to showcase his physicality.

NIKOLAI KULEMIN – Kulemin finally got his season off the ground by putting up 3 assists for Toronto last night, playing 18 and a half strong minutes at left wing.

MARIAN GABORIK – the Slovakian speedster posted his first 3 goals of the season last night in a back-and-forth encounter between the Rangers and the Bruins.  The talented right winger was a handful all night for Boston, and he eventually potted the game-winner in overtime on a stunning breakaway.

ZACK KASSIAN – nobody really knows quite the kind of player that Kassian will grow into – power forward Milan Lucic or just a more talented version of his enforcer brother Matt? – but he has been fairly impressive in the Canucks’ first few games of the season.  He registered his second goal in 3 games last night, played nearly 20 minutes and laid out 4 hits whilst only taking one penalty.  He capped it off by scoring the game-winning goal in the shootout.

COREY SCHNEIDER & MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF – the Canucks and Flames goaltenders, respectively, were very impressive last night, each making 34 saves on 36 shots for .944 SV%s.  Kiprusoff is showing that despite being 36 he’s still got “it”, and Schneider redeemed himself for the disaster that was Saturday night’s 7-3 drubbing by the Ducks.

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