Elias Says ...

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:


• Should two goals be enough to win an NHL game? For most teams, no, but for the Devils, yes!

The Devils edged the Rangers 2-1 at the Meadowlands on Tuesday, marking the 18th time this season that New Jersey has won a game in which it scored no more than two goals (not counting shootout goals, of course), far and away the highest such total for any NHL team. The Canucks, with 10 such wins, are the only other team in double-figures.

Martin Brodeur made his 30th consecutive start for the Devils on Tuesday, the third time in his career that he has had a single-season streak that long. He made 44 consecutive starts during the 1995-96 season, and had a 31-start streak last season.

How remarkable is that? Consider that Brodeur's total of three such streaks matches the total for all other active NHL goaltenders. (Nikolai Khabibulin had a 42-start streak in 1996-97; Dominik Hasek had a run of 33 straight starts in 1998-99; and Tomas Vokoun started 38 straight games in 2002-03.)

• If you need a shorthanded, third-period goal, who better to provide one than Marian Hossa? Hossa's shortie tied Tuesday's game at 1-1 early in the third, and the Thrashers went on to a 3-1 win over the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

Hossa leads all NHL players with 17 third-period goals this season, and his total of 10 shorthanded goals over the past two seasons is also a league high.

• Bryan Murray recorded his 600th regular-season win as an NHL coach when his Senators defeated the Oilers. Four other coaches, all retired, have reached that plateau: Scotty Bowman (1,244 wins), Al Arbour (781), Dick Irvin (692) and Pat Quinn (657).

Murray's first win as an NHL coach came more than 25 years ago, on Nov. 14, 1981, when his Capitals downed the Whalers in Hartford 4-0. Of the four coaches with 600-plus wins, Bowman had the shortest span between his first victory and win No. 600 (14 years, 343 days), followed by Arbour (18 years, 99 days), Irvin (24 years, 227 days) and Quinn (24 years, 361 days).

Daniel Alfredsson, who has spent his entire NHL career with the Senators, scored his 20th goal of the season in Ottawa's shootout win over Edmonton. Alfredsson has reached the 20-goal plateau in nine of his 11 seasons.

The only active players with more 20-goal seasons for their current teams than Alfredsson has for the Senators are Joe Sakic (17 for the Nordiques/Avalanche), Mike Modano (14 for the Stars), and Mats Sundin (12 for the Maple Leafs). Two other players also have nine 20-goal seasons for their current clubs: Jarome Iginla (Flames) and
Markus Naslund (Canucks).

• The Canadiens scored three first-period goals, each on the power play, and held on for a 5-3 win over the Capitals. It had been just over 15 years since Montreal last scored three power-play goals in the first period of a game; the last occasion was against Vancouver on Feb. 10, 1992.

Tim Thomas stopped 44 shots in the Bruins' 3-0 victory at Toronto -- the most saves in a shutout in the NHL this season. The previous high had been 42, done by Nashville's Chris Mason on Nov. 11 and by Fredrik Norrena of Columbus on Dec. 5; each of those shutouts came against the Avalanche.

It was only Boston's second shutout at Toronto over the past 25 years. Byron Dafoe blanked the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on March 28, 2001.


David Lee collected 16 rebounds in 36 minutes in the Knicks' 100-94 victory over the Magic. The second-year pro has averaged 10.7 rebounds per game this season (sixth in the league) while shooting a league-leading 61.1 percent from the floor.

Know this: Only four players in NBA history have shot 60 percent from the floor while averaging at least 10 rebounds per game in the same season: Wilt Chamberlain (who did it three times),
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who did it once, in the 1979-80 season),
Artis Gilmore (who did it an NBA-record five times) and
Shaquille O'Neal (once, in 2004-05).

Not only does Lee have a good chance to join them this season, but so do Tyson Chandler (currently at 12.3 rebounds per game and shooting 60.7 percent), Dwight Howard (12.0 and 59.6 percent), Amare Stoudemire (9.5 and 59.2 percent) and Andris Biedrins (9.6 and 61.0 percent).

• Yes, Steve Francis is still in the league -- and with his 5-for-5 performance from the foul line for the Knicks on Tuesday night, he lifted his free-throw percentage for this season to 91.5 percent and took over the league lead in that category from Charlotte's
Matt Carroll (91.1 percent).

In the team's 60 previous seasons, only one Knicks player has finished the season leading the league in free-throw percentage: Allan Houston had that distinction in 2002-03 (91.9 percent).

• You don't see this every day: The Bulls held the Hawks without a field goal for the entire third quarter in Chicago's 106-81 victory. Atlanta shot 0-for-16 from the floor during the period, and all eight of its points came from the free-throw line.

It was the first quarter this season in which an NBA team held its opponent without a field goal. It happened once last season (Sacramento shot 0-for-20 in the fourth quarter in Salt Lake City on Feb. 3, 2006) and once the previous season (Detroit went 0-for-15 in the fourth quarter vs. Utah on March 13, 2005, but the Pistons won the game).

Emeka Okafor had 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in the Bobcats' 104-100 victory over the Hornets -- the fourth time this season that Okafor has had 15 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in the same game. The last NBA player who had four such games in the same season was Shaquille O'Neal, who had five games of that stripe in the 2003-04 season.


• This year's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which features the top 64 players in the world (barring replacements), continues the recent trend of more international players and fewer American players in the event. Even with the late replacement of South Africa's Charl Schwartzel by American J.J. Henry, the USA has only 23 players taking part, the fewest of any of the nine seasons this event has taken place. In 2005, 27 players from the USA participated, and last year only 25 played.

• Several countries will set highs in numbers of golfers in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship this year. South Africa has five players in this year's tournament (Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Tim Clark and Rory Sabbatini), surpassing its previous high of four. Sweden is also sending five golfers (
Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson, Niclas Fasth, Carl Pettersson and
Johan Edfors), surpassing the four that it sent to the 2001 tournament. India's Jeev Milkha Singh is the first player ever from his country to play in this event.

• With Justin Leonard not making this year's event, Stuart Appleby enjoys the distinction of being the only player to participate in all nine Match Play Championships. Appleby has arguably the roughest draw in the first round for a top-five seed, as he plays last week's winner Charles Howell III in his opener. Had the field been seeded after the Nissan Open, not before, Howell III would have been a top-five seed himself, as he moved up to 16th in the World Golf Rankings after his playoff win over Phil Mickelson.