NHL – Three Stars of the Night
Although not being one for lengthy introductions, I would like to extend my warmest thanks to Chris Hext for so graciously welcoming me aboard the ship to awesome town (that is in terms of ice hockey related blogs). I am indeed a loyal fan of the Anaheim Ducks and thoroughly enjoy watching the NHL. This blog will hopefully give me a chance to share my love of this wonderful sport with you all. Though at times I may express opinions with which you heartily disagree, I think that this difference in view is exactly as things should be, so please do let me know so we can debate the finer points of the game into the early hours of the morning.
Now, moving swiftly on from warm welcomes to much colder news – last night’s action on the ice (I can’t promise that this will be the last awful joke I’ll ever post!). The eleven match-ups from the NHL yesterday threw up some surprising results, plenty of goals and some amazing individual efforts. However, only the three most outstanding performances, not always on the winning side, will be awarded star accolades.
Vancouver Canucks 3-4 Colorado Avalanche
Philadelphia Flyers 0-1 Buffalo Sabres
New York Rangers 1-0 New York Islanders (OT)
Boston Bruins 2-4 Carolina Hurricanes
Tampa Bay Lightning 5-6 Washington Capitals (OT)
Montréal Canadiens 1-5 Toronto Maple Leafs
Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 Florida Panthers
San Jose Sharks 1-2 Dallas Stars
Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Minnesota Wild
Calgary Flames 4-1 Edmonton Oilers
Anaheim Ducks 1-2 Los Angeles Kings
In the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins continued their sparkling form by battling their way past the struggling Florida Panthers, even without superstars Crosby, Malkin and Neal. Jhonas Enroth earned the Buffalo Sabre’s first shutout of the season against the Philadelphia flyers, with Daniel Briere striking the crossbar with the final shot of the game. Dan Girardi’s overtime goal gifted the New York Rangers a vital victory over the Islanders, fuelling their push for the playoffs. The Washington Capitals also extended their lead over the Winnipeg Jets to four points, despite unbelievably throwing away a four goal lead against the Lightning. The Toronto Maple Leafs earned a confidence-boosting win against the Montréal Canadiens, with Carey Price being withdrawn in the first period after conceeding three goals on four shots, the earliest he has ever been pulled in his NHL career.
Out in the Western Conference, Sergei Bobrovsky continued his stunning form to help the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Wild, making 39 saves with a .951 S%. The Los Angeles Kings won a Californian battle against the Ducks, with defenceman Drew Doughty delivering a 2-point night including both a goal and an assist. The surging Dallas Stars also pushed their way into a playoff position by seeing off the Sharks for their fifth straight win, back-up goaltender Richard Bachman making 31 saves and rookie Alex Chiasson continuing the blistering start to his NHL career with his sixth goal so far.
NHL – Three stars of the Night
(29 SV, 0 GA, 1.000 S%.)
Once more, Henrik Lundqvist took a break from a busy guitar session with John Mcenroe, lifted his New York Rangers team onto his stylish shoulders and carried them to an important victory over the New York Islanders. Though the 1-0 overtime win was only his first shutout of the season, for which the underachieving defence in front of him are largely to blame, many of his 29 saves last night were spectacular. In particular, robbing Matt Moulson in the slot displayed superb reflexes even though the forward knuckled the puck. A sharp pad save from Thomas Hickey in the second period also cemented his great form. The New York Rangers are now 5-1-1 in their last seven games and the additions before the trade deadline appear to have added much needed grit to their team.
(1G, 1A, 2P, 1SOG.)
Throughout the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have lacked secondary scoring – points from outside the top two lines have been hard to find. Last night, in the midst of their superb 5-1 victory over the Montréal Canadiens, Jay McClement stepped up to the mark in a big way. His shorthanded effort, his seventh goal of the season, featured a skillful drag between his legs before he backhanded the puck past Carey Price. This added to his earlier assist on Leo Komarov’s scrappy finish. His 2-point night was exactly the display needed to take the pressure off the likes of Phil Kessel (15) and Nazem Kadri (17). The Maple Leafs have now won three times in four meetings with the Canadiens this season.
(2G, 1A, 3P, 2OG.)
The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars to add a presence around the net and yesterday he scored both his second and third goals for his new team. In the absence of Sidney Crosby, Evegeni Malkin and James Neal, the likes of Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz have all regularly raised their games to get points on the board. Last night however, Morrow proved the driving force for a Penguins line-up unequalled in terms of depth. In the first period, Morrow helped set up Kris Letang who blasted a vicious slap-shot past Jacob Markstrom in the Panthers net. Then, taking Beau Bennett’s pass through the crease, the former Dallas captain banked in a shot off Markstrom from behind the goal. He would later add an empty-netter with seconds remaining to seal a 3-point night. The Pittsburgh Penguins have now won four games in a row and sit seven points clear atop the Eastern Conference standings.
(All images courtesy of NHL.com)