Saturday was a mad one around the league with nearly the full NHL in action. There were an unlucky 13 games on the schedule meaning 26 teams were battling for early season points. Former Islanders play major parts in 10, count em, 10 of those contests. Here is the brief-as-can-be yet thorough-and-in-depth look at those games:
Stephen Valiquette got to winning real quick on Saturday in his first start of the season for the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts stymied an attempted comback from the host Philadelphia Flyers to hold on for a 4-3 win. Vali stopped 25 of 28 shots faced to start the season off 1-0-0. Valiquette may or may not see increased playing time with the Rangers this season depending on starter Henrik Lundqvist's play but he sure has caught the respect of the Rangers' brass.
Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik kicked his season in to high gear by scoring his team's first goal of the game as the Canadiens thumped the host Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. Hamrlik now has 1 point over the first 2 games of the season. The 2 games to score a goal was the fastest Hamrlik had tallied to start a season since the 2000-01 campaign when he scored on the opening day while in his first season with the Isles. Netting the lone goal for Toronto was winger Jason Blake. The powerplay goal was Blake's first of the season and it came in only the 2nd game of the year.
D-man Tom Poti continued to help offensively for his Washington Capitals as they doubled up on the visiting Chicago Blackhawks for a 4-2 win. Poti now has 2 points in 2 games and is on pace for an 82 point season. Go Tom!
Winger Richard Zednik needs no introduction. We all know now about the on-ice accident that nearly took his life. We all know that he has suffered his lumps and come out a stronger player for it. Now let us focus on his play which on Saturday was nearly the difference maker. Zednik recorded 2 even strength assists as the Florida Panthers pulled off a 3-2 home win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Dating back to last season, Zed is on fire in the regular season notching 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points over his last 8 games played. Zednik, neck guard and all, will look to continue his consistent work as the early season progresses.
Detroit goalie Chris Osgood took no time to reverse his fortunes after being on the losing end of the Red Wings opening night loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Osgood stopped 20 of 22 shots faced to backstop the Wings to a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the host Ottawa Senators. Osgood improved to 1-1-0 on the season with a 2.52 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.
The Devil, you say? It took him 3 games but Miroslav Satan notched his first goal as a Penguin scoring the lone goal, a powerplay tally, as Pittsburgh wwas edged by the visiting New Jersey Devils 2-1 in OT. The only shot Miro through at the net went through as the Penguins through only 15 shots at Martin Brodeur. Satan now has 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) on 3 games with his new team.
New Tampa Bay d-man Jamie Heward dazzled with a pair of powerplay helpers as the Lightning blew a 3-0 lead to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes and fell 4-3 in OT. Heward now has 2 points in his first 3 games with Tampa and is currently tied for the team lead in points scored with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. As Nelson Muntz would say, "Ha ha!"
Hockey would not be without really French-y sounding last names and Saturday night's cavalcade of FIs was no exception. Getting involved in the scoring action was cannon-for-a-shot d-man Marc-Andre Bergeron who scored a powerplay goal for the Minnesota Wild in their 4-3 victory over the visiting Boston Bruins. A force on the blueline with the man advantage, the goal was Bergeron's first since February 16, a span of 13 games without. Not surprisingly, February 16 was also the time Bergeron netted his last powerplay goal.
New Coyotes' center Olli Jokinen wasted no time making an impact. Jokinen opened Phoenix' season scoring with a powerplay goal and added a powerplay assist later in the same frame for a multi-point effort. The goal O-Jok assisted eventually became the game winner as the 'Yotes beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. A special teams kind of guy, it is not surprising to see Jokinen notch both points with the man advantage. His goal was even momentous for others as rookie Kyle Turris notched his first NHL assist and point on the tally. In other odd news, Columbus center Michael Peca has been suspended indefinitely after supposedly striking an official with his stick. Handed the suspension shortly after Columbus' opening night, Peca was forced to sit out the Phoenix game. Peca is claiming to have struck only the glass and not the ref after being angry over what he believed was a missed penalty call that immediately led to a Dallas goal. Forget all the Free Mumia crap, Free Peca! Free him now!
In their most recent song "Human," the Killers ask the questions "Are we human?/Or are we dancer?". If the latter be the case than Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo is the belle of the ball... Oh wait. Well either way, Luongo has started off strong for the Canucks as he has helped his team jump out to a quick 2-0-0 record. Not quite as solid as his first start, Luongo was still good enough stopping 19 of 23 shots as the Canucks overcame an early Calgary Flames' lead for a 5-4 OT win. Luongo has definitely overcome last season's poor finish when he dropped 7 of his last 8 starts. He is now 2-0-0 on the season with a 1.94 goals against average, a .296 save percentage and 1 shutout. Also getting involved in the action was Calgary newcomer and FI winger Todd Bertuzzi. It took only 2 games for Bert to score his first goal as a Flame as he dropped in the 2nd Calgary goal of the competition. Bertuzzi has 1 point over the first 2 games of the season.
Check back for more action-packed, bone-crunching, number-inducing FI news!