It was a busy Saturday around the NHL, with 11 games on the ice. Here is a quick tour around each arena:
- Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had a goal and two assists in the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Penguins earned their first home ice victory and seem to be rounding into form with all lines clicking. They also played well defensively, holding the Devils to 16 shots, meaning Marc-Andre Fleury had a relatively easy win.
- Ryan Miller gave up 4 goals on 21 shots in 40 minutes of action, but he got almost no support from his Buffalo Sabres teammates as the Montreal Canadiens rolled to an easy 6-1 win. David Desharnais and Rene Bourque each scored twice, and P.K. Subban had an assist in his season debut for the Canadiens. Thomas Vanek, surprise surprise, had the Buffalo goal, a nice shorthanded effort. Buffalo was outshot 32-31 in the game, but it was a 15-1 first period advantage that set the tone for the game and the lopsided score.
- Nail Yakupov scored in the first minute to give the Edmonton Oilers a 1-0 lead, but that is all the offense they could muster as the Colorado Avalanche scored 3 unanswered for the 3-1 win. Jamie McGinn had a goal and an assist for the winners, and Matt Duchene had a pair of assists. Sam Gagner had an assist on Yakupov’s goal, extending his point streak to 8 games.
- Chris Bourque, son of Boston Bruins Hall of Famer Raymond Bourque, scored his first goal as a Bruin and it was all the offence Boston would get. Fortunately, it was enough as Tuukka Rask made 21 stops for the shutout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Phil Kessel obviously remained scoreless, although he continues to get quality chances and is the most snakebit player in the league. James Reimer was also stellar, making 33 saves in the losing effort.
- Coming off his 1-0 shutout of the Senators, Carolina Hurricane’s goalie Dan Ellis got his second straight start. It didn’t go as well as the last one, as the Philadelphia Flyers lit him up for 4 goals on 12 shots in just over a period of action as the Flyers rolled to a 5-3 win. Claude Giroux and Danny Briere each had a goal and an assist while Matt Read and Kimmo Timonen each had 2 assists in the win. Ilya Bryzgalov was busier than the Ellis and Cam Ward combined, making 39 saves for the win.
- Martin Biron and the New York Rangers held the explosive Tampa Bay Lightning offense relatively in check, allowing only a pair of Steven Stamkos goals as the Rangers downed the Lightning 3-2. Carl Hagelin had a goal and an assist, including the winner, for the Rangers while Rick Nash and Derek Stepan also found the back of the net.
- Steve Mason made 32 saves and Artem Anisimov had a pair as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2. Anisimov’s goals both came at even strenght, while the Blue Jackets also got a power play goal from James Wisniewski and a short-handed marker from Mark Letestu in the win.
- Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith made 17 saves for his first shutout of the season as he blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. Nick Johnson and Mikkel Boedker provided all the offense Smith would need. Richard Backman made 32 saves in the losing cause.
- Ray Emery stole the show, and two points, making 45 saves and then 3 more in the shootout to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames. It was a game that the Hawks didn’t deserve to be in, and Emery had one of the best games of his career, robbing Flames shooters time and again. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist as well as the shootout winner for Chicago. Defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Dennis Wideman were the Flames who managed to beat Emery.
- The LA Kings hit a new low, dropping a 7-4 decision to the rival Anaheim Ducks. Nick Bonino scored 2 of his 3 goals on the night against Jonathan Quick in the first 6 minutes, ending the Conn Smythe trophy winner’s night early. Quick allowed 2 goals on 3 shots and was replaced by Jonathan Bernier. Bernier allowed 4 goals on 21 shots, as Bonino capped a career night with 3 goals and an assist.
- The last remaining undefeated team has fallen, as the Nashville Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout. San Jose had been playing with fire, going to the shootout in each of their previous two games, but won both times. Craig Smith was the giant slayer, and Pekka Rinne made 26 saves and 3 more in the shootout for the win.
There is only 4 games on tap, and all are afternoon tilts as the NHL remains dark at night because with the Super Bowl on, nobody would be watching hockey. In addition to Ottawa visiting Montreal, another rivalry game takes place in Washington, where the Penguins and Sidney Crosby visit a shell of Alex Ovechkin‘s former self and the Capitals.