A Day in the NHL: Thursday January 6


The Vancouver Canucks became a part of NHL history last night, while the Penguins proved who was top in the East, and Dallas made a statement against the defending champs.

The Night that Was:

Roberto Luongo was busy all night, but never moreso than the third period last night in Vancouver. Luongo made 17 saves in third period alone, only allowing a goal to Tim Jackman, as Luongo preserved a 3-1 win. The three goals for Vancouver represent much more than just Ryan Kesler’s 20th, Kevin Bieksa’s fifth, and Daniel Sedin’s 22nd however, as the franchise entered the game with 9,997 goals, and Sedin’s made it 10,000 for the franchise. Overall Luongo stopped 43 of 44 shots on the Vancouver Canucks won their seventh straight.

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly showed last night who the top team in the East is, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who lead the Southeast Division and are just two points behind the Penguins, aren’t the top team. Evgeni Malkin scored the opening goal of the game just seven seconds in and then the Penguins would add four more that period. They would then add two in the second (including Chris Kunitz’s hat-trick goal), and one in the third. Adam Hall would be the only member of the Lightning to score, which would be highlighted by the fact that Steven Stamkos tripped over the top of the faceoff circle on a penalty shot in the second. The scoring (and misses) would all be added up into an 8-1 final for the Penguins.

On Broadway, the New York Rangers got the first big night out of Mats Zuccarello’s NHL career on their way to a 2-1 win in overtime. Zuccarello assisted on Matt Gilroy’s goal to open the scoring in the third period (Pens/Lightning this wasn’t), and after Eric Staal tied up the game and sent it to OT, Zuccarello notched his first NHL goal and first winner in the 2-1 victory. Brandon Dubinsky had two assists for the Rangers as well, while both goalies stood on their head. Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves in the win, while Cam Ward stopped 33 shots in the loss.

The Stars did away with the defending Stanley Cup champs last night as four different Stars had two points. Mike Ribeiro was the only one with two goals, while both Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson had two assists, and Brenden Morrow had one of each. Kari Lehtonen was nearly unbeatable during the game, making 35 of 37 stops, frustrating the ‘Hawks. Tomas Kopecky did score in the 4-2 loss, continuing a career season for him. He’s already established a new career-high in points (25) and assists (18), and is three goals away from tying his career high in goals.

Quick Hits:

-The Nashville Predators led 2-0 when Saku Koivu cut that lead in half in the third period, but the Predators added two empty-netters and Pekka Rinne made 40 saves for a 4-1 win over the Ducks.

-Rich Peverly scored his 10th and 11th of the season, while Andrew Laad had two assists, and Nik Antropov recorded his first point since returning to the lineup in a 3-2 Atlanta win.

What’s on Tonight?

Minnesota travels to Boston to take on the Bruins, while Alex Steen returns to Toronto to face the Leafs. The Flyers will battle the New Jersey Devils and the Penguins will try to win on back-to-back nights, this time against Montreal. The Phoenix Coyotes get a little out of their climate range in Colorado, while two young teams in the Islanders and Oilers hook up in Edmonton. Nashville ties up a Pacific Division set of back-to-backs with a stop in LA, while Buffalo changes time zones to stop in San Jose.

The Injury Bug:

-Rick DiPietro may or may not be good to go tonight. The Islanders have two other goalies on the roster just in case, and there’s really no answer yet as to whether or not DiPietro will be good to go.

-The Buffalo Sabres’ Patrick Kaletta is expected to miss a third-straight game with an upper-body injury.

-Los Angeles’ Alex Ponikarovsky remains questionable for tonight as well. The 30-year old has been out since December 27th with a lower body injury.

News and Rumours from Around the League:

-Mike Commodore was placed on waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets today.

-Marc-Andre Bergeron cleared waivers for the Tampa Bay Lightning, He’ll be re-assigned to Norfolk of the AHL.

-If Cory Clouston’s job is in jeopardy, Bryan Murray isn’t letting on. Despite an earlier report that Murray tried to fire him, Murray has denied those reports and nothing seems “imminent”.

The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:

Mats Zuaccarello gets it this evening. A game-winning goal and an assist makes him the main catalyst in the Rangers’ win yesterday. Henrik Lundqvist gets some credit though for his 31 saves.

If you want to e-mail Bryan, you can at bryanthiel74@hotmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.