There were a plethora of games on Saturday and excitement was high as 24 teams faced off in a dozen high energy tilts. Former Islanders are making their presences known and this night was no different. FIs helped out (or tried anyway) in 7 of those contests. Here is a quick look at the happenings:
Florida winger Richard Zednik notched a pair of assists as the Panthers demolished the visiting Atlanta Thrashers 8-4. Zed received primary assists on the team's 6th and 8th goals as the Panthers had bookended the game with a 3 goal 1st period and a 5 goal 3rd period. Zednik has had 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points over the last 5 games and has 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) on 31 games this season.
Boston captain and defenseman Zdeno Chara had the secondary assist on the first of 3 insurance goals as the Bruins dismantled the visiting Carolina Hurricanes 5-1. An All-Star-in-waiting, the assist was big for Chara not just because it snapped a 4 game point-less drought but because it was career helper #200. Chara has played in 729 regular season games but has come into his own over the last 5 or 6 seasons as a source of defensive offense. Chara remains only 8 points away from 300 on his career - a number he could foreseeable hit before the month is out.
Colorado winger Ryan Smyth had another good game recording a goal and an assist as the Avalanche outlasted the underwhelming Pittsburgh Penguins for a 5-3 home win. Smyth repeated his effort from 2 nights earlier and has 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) during his current 3 game mini-scoring streak. Over the last 9 games Smyth has racked up 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 points. On the season, he has 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points on 42 games. The goal was point #30 for the season, a mark he has reached in 12 consecutive campaigns. Smyth is on the verge of another landmark as he sits only 2 goals away from career #300.
Tough Philadelphia winger Arron Asham assisted on the insurance goal as the Flyers downed the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Not known as an offensive force, Asham has managed 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) over the last 8 games. He now has 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points on 38 games. The helper was career #75 for Asham who has played in 536 regular season games. On a completely different note, Asham currently leads all Flyers with 97 penalty minutes.
Columbus center Michael Peca finds ways of making other players look good. Peca set up rookie Nikita Filatov's 2nd and 3rd goals as the youngster became the first Blue Jackets' freshman to score a hat trick. The Jackets knocked off the pesky Minnesota Wild 4-2 for the home win. Peca now has 3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points on 37 games. For the 13th consecutive season Peca has notched 10+ points. Over the last 6 games Peca has had a strong showing with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). The multi-point effort was his first since February 10, 2008 snapping a 58 game string of 1 point or less.
Phoenix center Olli Jokinen was stopped by Dallas goaltender Marty Turco in the 3rd of 5 rounds of SO as the Coyotes edged the visiting Dallas Stars 1-0. Jokinen is tied for 49th in all-time SO history at 8 goals for 24 attempts (33.3%) equaling the efforts of Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, St. Louis' Andy McDonald and Colorado's Marek Svatos.
New Jersey backup goalie Kevin Weekes received 1st star honor as he stopped 34 of 35 shots en route to a 5-1 Devils victory over the host Los Angeles Kings. The start was Weekes' single best outing of the season and improved his record to 3-4-0. He is sporting a .908 save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average. To be totally honest, the start was actually his best in a season and a half nearly mirroring his win in the first game of the 2007-08 season when on October 6, 2007 he stopped 32 of 33 shots leading the Devils to a 4-1 win over the host Florida Panthers. Scoring the lone goal for the Kings was center Derek Armstrong who was playing in first game since December 9. Army snapped a 5 game point-less and goal-less streak and now has 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points on 19 games.
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