There were 7 games up for grabs on Friday night around the NHL. Former Islanders are making major contributions early in this season. FIs were involved in 3 games including a wild one in Calgary where 5 (!) FIs made the scoresheet. Let us look at their accomplishments:
New York Rangers' backup goaltender Stephen Valiquette stopped alll 21 shots he faced and an additional 2 out of 3 in SO as the Blueshirts edged the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0. It was the 2nd start of the season for Vali who is now 2-0-0. The shutout was the 3rd of his career and Valiquette has started this year off in spectacular fashion with a 1.44 goals against average and a .939 save percentage. Toronto winger Jason Blake was stopped in his attempt in the 3rd frame of the SO. If he had made the shot it would have extended the frame but alas the stars were not aligned for Blakey.
Phoenix center Olli Jokinen kept his point and assist streaking going even as his Coyotes dropped a 6-3 decision to the host Ottawa Senators. Jokinen is on fire to start the season with 1 goal and 5 assists for 6 points on only 4 games. For the first time this season, however, the 2 assists O-Jok recorded did not come on the powerplay. Jokinen also has an assist streak running with 5 helpers in the first 4 games. He has not found the net, though, since the opening game despite putting up 5 shots over the last 3 tilts.
It was an FI battle royale in Calgary as 5 separate FIs found their way on to the boxscore. The hero of the game was Edmonton center Robert Nilsson who scored the powerplay game winner to seal the 4-3 Oilers win over the Flames. The goal was Nilsson's first of the season and was his 2nd point in as many games. Nilsson now has 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) on 3 competitions. The game winner, only the 2nd of his career, was Nilsson's first since March 21, 2006 while still with the Isles, a span of 91 games without a winning tally. Receiving the primary assist on the goal was d-man Denis Grebeshkov. Greb is off to a hot start with 4 assists on the first 3 games. He is riding a 3 game point streak in which 2 of his 4 helpers have come on the powerplay. The last time Grebeshkov had a 3 game point/assist streak was November 24-28, 2007 while in his first season with the Oil. Also contributing for the Oilers was blueliner Jason Strudwick. He assisted on Edmonton's first goal with only 2:25 remaining in the first period. The helper was Strudwick's first point of the season on 3 games and snapped a 38 point-less streak (including 2 playoff games) dating back to November 21, 2007 while he was still suiting up with the Rangers. Calgary also had a couple of FIs making contributions. D-man Adrian Aucoin kicked the game off with his 1st goal of the season only 6:53 in to play. The goal was also his first point of the season on 4 games. Tearing it up goals-wise for the Flames is Todd Bertuzzi who netted the too-little-too-late powerplay goal 7:23 in to the 3rd period. Bertuzzi has 4 goals on 4 games and is a riding a 3 game goal-scoring streak. For all the questions about Bert's abilities, he is looking real good compared to Calgary captain Jarome Iginla who has managed a meager goal in the team's first 4 competitions.
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