Saturday night was a mad one around the NHL as 24 teams faced off in 12 contests. Since it is still early in the season just about every team has flashes of brilliance that may hint at playoff possibilities. Former Islanders are trying to chip in where they can. FIs made differences in 7 of those games. Here is a quick look:
Tim Connolly kept his strong start going by netting his first goal of the year, the lone Sabres' tally, as Buffalo fell to the host Boston Bruins 3-1. Connolly scored his first since February 29 of last season snapping a 7 game goal-less run. TimCo now has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) on 4 games this season and has started on the same point-per-game pace that he kicked off last season before he was sidelined by hip surgery. The goal was his first non-powerplay point of the season.
Tom Poti potted the game winner as the Washington Capitals edged the visiting New York Rangers 3-1. Poti burned one of his old teams for his first goal of the season. Poti now has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) on 8 games this season. With the score he snapped a 15 game (including 7 playoff games) goal-less drought dating back to April 3 of late last regular season. Poti had only 2 goals last year and is looking to improve on his poorest goal-scoring outing since the 2001-02 season when he split time between the Edmonton Oilers and the Blueshirts.
Winger Todd Bertuzzi may make believers out of unfavorable Flames fans before long if he keeps contributing on the scoresheet. Bert had a powerplay assist on the lone Calgary goal as the Flames fell to the host Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. Bertuzzi now has 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) on 15 games this season including 4 assists in the last 2 games. Nine of those points (5 goals, 4 assists) have come on the man advantage.
It was an unlikely FI goaltender faceoff as Detroit's #1 man Chris Osgood faced off against the rarely used New Jersey backup-turned-interim #1 Kevin Weekes. The Devils' tender made a noble effort but his offense failed him yet again as Ozzie and the host Red Wings walked away with a 3-1 victory. Osgood improved to 6-1-2 on the season having won 5 of his last 6 starts. Ozzie has not dropped a game in regulation since opening night managing a 6-0-2 record in his last 8 games. He has summarily raised his save percentage to .892 while dropping his goals against average below 3 to a respectable 2.97. Despite posting better numbers Weekes dropped to 1-2-0 on the season losing for the 2nd time in his 3 starts. Weekes has a .913 save percentage and a lean 2.52 goals against average but his team has managed only 1 goal in his 2 losses while he has only surrendered 5 goals between those two starts.
Phoenix center Olli Jokinen kicked off a productive weekend with a goal and an assist as the Phoenix Coyotes thumped the visiting Florida Panthers 4-1. O-Jok is off to a hot start with 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points on 12 games. Jokinen has turned on the goal-scoring as of late with 3 tallies in his last 4 games. Also getting involved was former FI teammate and blade-to-throat-courtesy-of-Jokinen victim Richard Zednik of the Panthers. Zed opened the scoring with his 2nd goal of the season, the lone Panthers tally. Zednik snapped a 5 game goal-less run and now has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points on 13 games.
Colorado winger Ryan Smyth was credited with the secondary assist on the lone Avalanche goal as they blanked the visiting Nashville Predators 1-0 for thei tightest victory of the season. Smyth now has 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) on 13 games. Despite notching 2 helpers in his last 3 games, Smyth is looking to snap an 8 game goal-less stretch that he has found himself mired in.
Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo has 201 consecutive shutout minutes and counting. The Canucks' backstopper recorded his 3rd consecutive blanking as they cruised to a 2-0 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild. Luongo has been unbeatable in this recent stretch stopping all 29 shots he faced and 81 altogether during his current shutout streak. Luongo has won 5 of his last 6 starts and has brought his stats back to normal raising his save percentage to .920 and dropping his goals against average to 2.34. He now sports a 9-5-0 record and with 5 shutouts and Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur sidelined is already fueling talk of the Vezina Trophy. Luongo has been here before having recorded 3 straight shutouts between November 25-29, 2007, a particular outstanding stretch early in to last season. Luongo's single season high for shutouts is 7 (2003-04) and number that is already in danger of being surpassed.
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