There were a handful of big nights points-wise in the NHL yesterday. Along with those, there were some NHL firsts and a milestone goal as well.
The Night that Was:
What a difference a few months makes. Remember in Steven Stamkos’ first few months in the league when everyone was mulling over whether or not he’d be a bust? Then he really turned it on during the last few months of that rookie season and scored 51 last year? Well now he’s become the sixth-youngest player to reach 100 goals in his career, doing so before his 21st birthday. The Lightning would defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 in a game where neither goalie that was slated to start actually did. Dan Ellis went in place of Mike Smith and Andrew Peters slid in when Cam Ward couldn’t go.
Pittsburgh beat up on Phoenix last night, but the big story coming out of that is the big night that the Penguins’ two stars had. Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists to extend his point streak to 21 games while Evgeni Malkin had two goals and three assists, coming up just short of a hat-trick. One of the biggest rebounds in the NHL this season though, belongs to Marc-Andre Fleury. After starting slow, the Penguins goalie is 9-1 in his last 10 games and is on pace for 36 wins.
In what has to be one of the biggest surprises last night, the Florida Panthers shut out the league-leading Philadelphia Flyers 5-0. Sergei Bobrovsky was chased from the Philadelphia net after giving up four goals, including a weak one from Dmitri Kulikov that put him on his way to a two-point night. Evgeny Dadonov also finished with two points giving him two-straight multi-point games and points in three straight.
In terms of Canadian teams, only one was successful. The Atlanta Thrashers embarrassed the Toronto Maple Leafs on home ice last night, going up 5-1 at one point and winning 6-3. Freddy Modin had two goals and Tobias Enstrom had four points while James Reimer made the first four saves of his NHL career in relief of Jonas Gustavsson. The Calgary Flames didn’t fare much better in Minnesota as they lost 4-1. Cal Clutterbuck and Martin Havlat had two point nights to sink the Flames. Vancouver was the only one to come out with a win last night, turning in a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Alex Pietrangelo was victimized for two big giveaways during the game as Roberto Luongo made just 15 saves for the win.
What’s on Tonight?
Another seven games in action tonight. Anaheim travels to Buffalo while St. Louis plays the second of back-to-back games and has to make their way to Atlanta, who are also on the back half of back-to-backs. Calgary plays for the second night in a row in Columbus, Washington tries to win their second in a row as they host New Jersey, and Montreal visits former Hab Mike Ribeiro and the Dallas Stars. The Kings and Avs and Oilers and Sharks are the last two games on the sched for the evening.
The Injury Bug:
Tim Connolly will be out until after Christmas for the Buffalo Sabers. The forward was hit face-first into the boards by Nate Thompson, and his injuries will require surgery.
As we talked about earlier, niether Cam Ward or Mike Smith started for their respective teams last night. Smith will be out for two weeks with a knee injury so Tampa Bay has called up Cedric Desjardins, while Carolina’s Ward missed the game with an infection in his forehead.
Rumours and News from Around the League:
Aaron Volpatti scored his first career NHL goal for the Vancouver Canucks last night. The BCHL grad and Brown graduate opened the scoring in the game’s second period. He had two points in 8 AHL games before he scored that goal.
Anaheim Ducks’ Rookie Brandon McMillan recorded two points last night, giving him the first multi-point game of his NHL career. Anaheim teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Andreas Lilja played in their 400th and 500th career NHL games respectively. Anaheim won 3-0.
Matt Duchene (First: 4 GP, 4 G, 3 AS), Tomas Fleischmann (Second: 4 GP, 4 G, 3 AS), and Eric Staal (Third: 3 GP, 4 G, 1 AS) are the NHL’s three stars of the week.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:
Fredrik Modin takes it with two goals on two shots and a plus-two rating in Atlanta’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Those were Modin’s first goal(s) since November 11th.
Bryan Thiel is a Columnist for Hockey54.com and TooManyMenOnTheSite.com. If you want to get in contact with Bryan, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.