Need to know: Oh, what a wacky night
February, 1, 2013
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com
• On a night full of wacky stuff, you could hardly find a wackier game than the Buffalo Sabres' 7-4 win over Northeast Division-leading Boston. The Sabres had been winless in four. At one point, they trailed the Bruins 3-1 after the teams went scoreless through the first period before combining for 11 goals in the final two periods. Thomas Vanek -- who else? -- paced the Sabres with three goals (he now has six) and added two assists. The Bruins lost for the first time in regulation this season and, after allowing just 12 goals in their first six games, were kicked in the defensive shins.
• Speaking of wacky, how about the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils going hammer-and-tong in a 5-4 Isles overtime win? The Isles took leads of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 before Brad Boyes’ OT winner. The win was the second in a row for the Isles, who are now 4-2-1 and pulled into a tie in points with the Devils, who are the only team in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss and with points in six straight games (they’re 3-0-3).
• Not so wacky was the San Jose Sharks winning again, edging Edmonton 3-2 in a shootout to maintain their perfect 7-0-0 record out of the gate. The wacky element to the game was the fact that scoring leaders Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton did not factor into the score sheet for the Sharks. Kudos to the young Oilers, though, who fell behind 2-0 midway through the second period but bounced back to force extra time and pick up a point in the process. The Oil are tied for first in the Northwest with a 4-2-1 record.
• Just when it looked like the New York Rangers were about to start climbing back to their rightful place atop the Atlantic Division/Eastern Conference standings, they stubbed their toe, being shut out 3-0 at home by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens had looked more than a little off while being waxed 4-1 at home by the Islanders in their previous outing, and yet behind the 28-save performance of Tomas Vokoun, the Pens looked much more like the team many had envisioned when the season began. Evgeni Malkin, off to a slow start, scored his second of the season and added an assist for the 4-3-0 Penguins. The Rangers fell to 3-4-0 after winning two in a row.
• The St. Louis Blues continue to roll, as they won their fourth in a row to move to 6-1-0 by whipping hapless Columbus 4-1 in Columbus. Pretty typical Blues night as they got goals from four different players, including three first-period markers to chase starting Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Brian Elliott was solid for the Blues while stopping 24 of 25 shots. Vladimir Tarasenko continued his strong start with his fifth goal of the season, most among rookies. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have one win in their past seven games and have scored more than two goals just twice.
• Nice effort from the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday as they poured 40 shots at Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth and twice overcame one-goal deficits to beat the reeling Caps 3-2. James van Riemsdyk is starting to come around, as he got his fourth of the season, and Matt Frattin, who scored the winner against Buffalo earlier in the week in the waning seconds of overtime, scored the winner midway through the third period. The Leafs moved to 4-3-0. Washington did get a goal from Alex Ovechkin, his second, but fell to a shocking 1-5-1.
• The desperate and goal-starved Florida Panthers somehow managed to score five times in the third period to erase a 3-2 deficit and defeat Winnipeg 6-3. The win, sparked by a goal and an assist by rookie Jonathan Huberdeau and the first goal of the season by Kris Versteeg, halted a miserable five-game losing streak during which the Panthers had managed to score just five goals. The Jets have lost two in a row and once again are struggling to keep pucks out of their net. They are tied for 24th in goals allowed per game.
• In a battle of two stumbling squads, the Colorado Avalanche fairly exploded offensively, doubling the host Calgary Flames by a 6-3 count. Paul Stastny scored his first two goals of the season and P.A. Parenteau continued his strong play for the Avs with two goals and an assist to stop a three-game slide that had seen the Avs outscored 11-1. Goalie J.S. Giguere made 25 stops in earning his first win in his first start of the season. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff gave up five goals on 21 shots.
• Talk about a battle of popgun offenses, it’s no surprise that Nashville and Los Angeles took eight rounds of a shootout before the Predators sneaked out a 2-1 win. Nashville ranks last in the league in goals per game and the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings rank 28th. The Preds managed just 14 shots on goal in spite of collecting two much-needed points. The Kings, meanwhile, are a mediocre 2-2-2.