The first day of December was jam-packed with NHL action. Twelve games were up for grabs as 24 teams battled it out for those all important points. Former Islanders were buzzing in many of those competitions scoring 6 goals, 9 assists and a win in net. Let us take a peek at their contributions from Saturday:
* Martin Straka and the New York Rangers are glad to be back together. Straka assisted on a powerplay insurance goal as the Blueshirts downed the flailing Ottawa Senators north of the border 5-2. Only back from an injury for 4 games, Straka has added 3 assists in that time. Straka now has 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) on 11 games this season.
* A rare goal from an obtuse FI is one of the major highlights of the night. The Florida Panthers' Branislav Mezei scored the lone goal for his team as the Washington Capitals downed the hosts 2-1. This was only the second point of the season for Mezei and his first goal of the year on 24 games. Mezei had not scored a goal since January 1, 2003 a span of 139 games and almost 5 years! In fact, it was only Mezei's 4th goal of his career in 207 games since the 2000-01 season. Of course assisting on the goal was the lone Panthers' powerhouse, Olli Jokinen. O-Jok is running just below a point a game with 26 (12 goals, 14 assists) on 27 games this year.
* Tim Connolly, when healthy, is one of the most energetic and talented forwards in the NHL. Connolly continued to flash his offensive brilliance as the Buffalo Sabres slaughtered the visiting Carolina Hurricanes 8-1. Connolly scored the game winning powerplay goal and added a shorthanded assist to help power the Sabres 8 goal streak. He now has 18 points (3 goals, 5 assists) on 19 games this season with 10 points coming on the special teams. The shorty assist was Connolly's first since December 29, 2005.
* Chris Osgood continues to shine for the Redwings as notched another win and recorded an assist as Detroit dropped the visiting Phoenix Coyotes 3-2. Ozzie improved to 13-1-1 with a .924 save percentage and a league-leading 1.79 goals against average. On 16 games, Osgood has also notched 3 assists to lead goaltending point scoring.
* Roman Hamrlik has been a quality substitute for the exit of the now injured Sheldon Souray. Despite snickers that he would not be able to fill the void, Hamrlik has been a force at the blue line for the Montreal Canadiens. He helped yet again on Saturday as the host Habs dropped a big lead to the Nashville Predators and lost in the SO 5-4. Hamrlik has 2 assists, 1 on the man advantage, to improve to 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists) on 26 games. Hamrlik snapped a 4 game point-less streak in the process. Not quite the powerplay specialist Souray was, Hamrlik has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) with the extra man.
* Jason Blake snapped a huge goal-less streak to help power a 4-2 win for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. Blake scored the second goal of the night and his 3rd of the season. Blake had gone 18 games without a tally. He now has 19 points (3 goals, 16 assists) on 27 games this year. Leafs' defenseman Bryan McCabe received a powerplay assist on the game winner. With 21 games under his belt, McCabe has 12 points on 4 goals and 8 assists. Nine of those points (3 goals, 6 assists) have come on the powerplay.
* Adrian Aucoin is revived, enough said! Aucoin helped Calgary briefly knot the competition up as the Flames dropped a 4-3 OT decision at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Only 15 seconds after the Jackets took a 3-2 early in the third period, Aucoin tied it up with his 4th goal of the season. Earlier, Aucoin was credited with the primary assist on Calgary's first goal, on the powerplay, in the second period. Aucoin now has 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) on 26 games this season. It was his third multi-point night of the year, very impressive considering he had no such games in 59 competitions with Chicago last season. Helping the Columbus offense was center Michael Peca who assisted on the opening score of the game. With 18 games played this season, Peca is doing pretty well for himself notching 11 points on 2 goals and 9 assists.
* With all the stops-and-starts to Ryan Smyth's season, his effort finally paid off big on Saturday. Smyth scored 2 goals and added an assist for the Colorado Avalanche as they dropped the host Los Angeles Kings 5-2. Smyth's biggest night so far as an Av, he now has 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) on 25 games. In the process, Smyth snapped a 3 game point-less streak.
Check back soon for more FIW/NHL highlights. Thanks for reading.