24/01/2013: NHL TOP PERFORMERS OF THE NIGHT

Nail Yakupov celebrates scoring the game-tying goal with 4.7 seconds left in regulation.

Nail Yakupov celebrates scoring the game-tying goal with 4.7 seconds left in regulation.

Here are the results from last night’s games:

  • NY ISLANDERS 7 – 4 TORONTO
  • NY RANGERS 1 – 2 PHILADELPHIA
  • MONTREAL 4 – 1 WASHINGTON
  • BUFFALO 3 – 6 CAROLINA
  • OTTAWA 3 – 1 FLORIDA
  • NASHVILLE 0 – 3 ST LOUIS
  • CHICAGO 3 – 2 DALLAS (OT)
  • COLUMBUS 0 – 4 COLORADO
  • LA KINGS 1 – 2 EDMONTON (OT)
  • PHOENIX 3 – 5 SAN JOSE

Wow.  Simply wow.  If any of you want to see some exciting hockey, just watch last night’s highlights.  Of course, my attention is particularly towards the Edmonton vs LA game – but then so is most of the hockey world’s at this time, given rookie phenom Nail Yakupov’s game-tying goal with less than 5 seconds to go, and his subsequently amazing celebration.  Some people will say it’s over the top, I say don’t be so boring – hockey needs more people who have that much passion, exuberance and excitement!  Check out him and the other players of note from last night’s action.

NAIL YAKUPOV – seriously, this kid is absolute gold.  After scoring his 1st NHL goal in the last game, Oiler fans thought they had seen a crazy celebration.  Not so.  Yakupov scored his 2nd NHL goal (in just his 3rd game) in dramatic style, as the Oilers tied the game at 1-1 with 4.7 seconds left in regulation (after having a goal disallowed 1 minute earlier), and Yakupov went MENTAL!  And he had every right to – it was a huge goal, against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and the building was electric.  Many were saying they hadn’t witnessed an atmosphere like that since Edmonton went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.  Hopefully there’ll be plenty more celebrations to come from Nail (pronounced “Nye-eel Yak-oo-pov” by the way!) – he could give fellow Russian Vladimir Tarasenko of St Louis a serious run for the Calder Trophy this year.

JUSTIN SCHULTZ – the rookie defenceman just continues to impress, going about his business quietly but getting the job done.  He put up 2 assists (overshadowed by Yakupov’s heroics), finished the night with an even +/- and once again led all Oiler skaters in ice time at a mammoth 26 minutes 51 seconds.  Only the best defenders in the game play that much – Schultz isn’t there yet but he will be, no doubt about it.

DEVAN DUBNYK – like Schultz, lost in all the chatter about Yakupov’s heroics was Devan Dubnyk’s great performance in goal for Edmonton – a performance he needed after allowing 6 goals on 17 shots in the 1st period of the last game against San Jose.  That’s what number 1 goalies do – bounce back – and Devan is showing extremely well so far in his first year as a bona-fide number 1 NHL goalie.  He made 30 saves on 31 shots for a .968 SV%.

JONATHAN QUICK – it shouldn’t be forgotten that star LA King goalie Quick – who was the MVP in their run to the Cup last year – put in a quality performance last night, allowing just 2 goals on 39 shots for a .949 SV%.

BRAD BOYES – Boyes has struggled somewhat since he had 42 and 33 goal seasons for St Louis from 2007-09, but he was on fine form last night putting up a goal and 2 assists for the Islanders as they came back from 3-1 down against Toronto in a wild game.

MATT FRATTIN – in his first game of the season, right winger Frattin was extremely impressive, putting up a goal and 2 assists and finishing +2 despite the 7-4 scoreline.  I don’t really know how Frattin will turn out as an NHLer, as he only had one really good season in the NCAA and hasn’t really spent enough time in the pro’s to know what he can do, but for last night at least, he was good.

CARL GUNNARSSON –  the smooth skating blue-liner has been impressive now for 3 NHL seasons, and was at it again last night with a great goal off a blast of a shot and two assists, finishing +2 despite Toronto allowing 7 goals.

MICHAEL GRABNER – the Islanders’ speedy winger popped two goals – including an impressive shorthanded empty-net effort with over a minute to go to seal the game – and an assist to help power the Islanders to a win.

JOHN TAVARES – the Islanders’ resident superstar put up 2 assists and was 60% in the face-off circle whilst playing nearly 20 minutes, and generally being the straw that stirs the drink, so to speak.

MATT MOULSON – the most underrated goal scorer in the league was at it again last night, scoring his first 2 goals of the year as the whole team exploded with offence.

FRANS NIELSEN – one of the most underrated defensive forwards in the NHL, Nielsen put up his first 2 assists of the season last night, was a +3 and played 18 solid minutes for the Islanders.

ILYA BRYZGALOV – Bryzgalov has disappointed so far in his time as a Flyer, but he was solid last night, turning away 18 of 19 shots for a .947 SV%.

WAYNE SIMMONDS – the hard-nosed winger scored a goal and added an assist whilst playing nearly 21 minutes for the Flyers, whilst taking 6 shots on goal.

HENRIK LUNDQVIST – turned aside 31 of 33 shots for a .939 SV% in a losing cause.  The Rangers’ goalie is the best in the world, but this was really his first good game of the season so far.  More games like that and the Rangers stand a much better chance of winning.

ANDREI MARKOV – the veteran blueliner continued his impressive comeback year by scoring a goal and an assist whilst leading the team in time on ice at over 24 minutes, whilst also blocking 2 shots.

CAREY PRICE – stopped 30 of 31 shots for a .968 SV%, the Canadiens’ have many problems but their goalie is not one of them.

JEFF SKINNER – the young scoring sensation potted 2 goals for Carolina last night, and may be one of the players to watch in that area this season. He also finished +1 in a high scoring game, and laid out 2 hits.

ERIC STAAL – Carolina’s long-time star forward scored a hat-trick – his 13th career one – last night on 7 shots and leading all Carolina forwards in ice time, proving he’s still “the man” for the ‘Canes.

CRAIG ANDERSON – the goalies were the heroes in the Senators/Panthers game, with Anderson putting in a player of the game performance with 25 saves on 26 shots – including some stunning saves – for a .962 SV%.

JOSE THEODORE – the former Hart and Vezina Trophy winning goalie was one of the few reasons the Panthers were in the game last night, making 34 saves on 36 shots for a .944 SV%.

PATRIK BERGLUND – the young center was a difference maker for St Louis last night, assisting on the first goal and scoring on a penalty shot.

PATRICK SHARP – Sharp was in on all 3 Chicago goals as they overcame a 2-0 deficit to win in OT, scoring the 1st goal to get the comeback started and assisting on both the following goals.  He was among the team leaders in time on ice.

MATT DUCHENE – Colorado’s young star forward was a force last night, putting up 2 goals and an assist, along with a hit, a block and a take-away packed into just under 19 minutes of ice time.

SEMYON VARLAMOV – Varlamov was great last game, but was even better last night as he posted his 1st shutout of the year – and 5th as a member of the Avalanche – by stopping all 33 shots sent his way, including 9 powerplay shots against.

STEVE SULLIVAN – the hat-trick hero of the last game continued his scoring ways in this one, scoring another goal and adding an assist.  Unfortunately it wasn’t enough at the Coyotes let a 3-1 lead slip away to the Sharks.

PATRICK MARLEAU – Marleau is on fire to start the season, scoring his league-leading 5th and 6th goals of the year in this game – including the game-winner – as the Sharks fought back for the win.  He also added an assist on the final empty-net goal.

JOE THORNTON – the big man was at it again, putting up 3 assists and adding an empty net goal for the Sharks for a 4 point night, bringing him up to 1st in the league in overall scoring.  Thornton has been one of the NHL’s premier playmakers for the last decade, but looked to be slowing down in recent years.  However he, like fellow veteran Marleau, is on fire for the Sharks so far this year – many had counted this team out before the season started but they’re looking to prove their doubters wrong.

JOE PAVELSKI – the Sharks’ “other” Joe, Pavelski was also in on 3 goals tonight, assisting on 3 including the game-winner.

 

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