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Scott Pianowski

Thursday Thaw: Around the rinks

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

Taking a page from the Andy Behrens playbook, we'll attack tonight's fantasy hockey sweep in segments. The late results run at the top, the early stuff is tucked at the bottom.

Third Period

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Capitals/Coyotes: Mikael Tellqvist finally got a start and he didn't disappoint, kicking out 31 of the 32 shots he faced (he had no real chance on the Brooks Laich goal). Twelve of the stops came against the Washington shooting gallery, Alexander Ovechkin (seven shots) and Mike Green (five). At least the Caps finally got a power-play tally, on the heels of a 1-for-18 skid. Ed Jovanovski (seven shots) easily could have had a hat trick by the end of the night, but Jose Theodore (32 saves) stoned him time and time again; Theodore has been sharp on the road trip but has just one win to show for it. Mikkel Boedker, last summer's No. 8 overall pick, looks like the real deal (goal, four shots). Olli Jokinen stuffed the stat line with an assist, five shots and two minor penalties.

Oilers/Avalanche: Peter Budaj owners can finally sleep soundly as he turned in his best outing of the year (25 stops, and no fault on the Oilers goal). Ian Laperriere filled the box score nicely; the goal and assist were a surprise, the 17 penalty minutes were not. Paul Stastny notched a power-play goal and has a point in all seven games this year. Mathieu Garon didn't get much help on Colorado's four tallies, all from in close, albeit he'll be the first to admit he should have stopped two of them. Shawn Horcoff scored Edmonton's goal, but later left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury.

Second Period

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Sabres/Wild: I wasn't sitting in the crease of either goal tonight, but five of the seven goals sure looked soft, including Buffalo's three-goal blitz that erased Minnesota's lead. Niklas Backstrom was probably due for an off night after a strong push to the season, but don't be surprised if Josh Harding gets the call Saturday against Columbus. The good vibes keep coming for Thomas Vanek (1-1-2) and Ryan Miller (30 saves, 5-0), while Derek Roy had his best showing to date (two points including the OT winner, 23:41). Drew Stafford also scored for the second straight start (the best goal in this game), which should keep him tucked on the top line. Brent Burns finally got something to show for his power play time (goal, five shots) and while Antti Miettinen has a red minus-3 to his name, at least he was active at the other end (five shots). He looks ready to climb a level and score 20-25 times this year.

Hurricanes/Penguins: Michael Leighton (31 saves) had a good thing going for two periods, but his defense left early to beat the traffic and the Pens netted four goals over the final 12 minutes. Ruslan Fedotenko (goal, six shots) showed up for the first time all year; his goal finished a gorgeous tic-tac-toe with Jordan Staal and Petr Sykora. We didn't learn a lot about the power-play units here - the game saw just three chances between the teams - but Sidney Crosby did take advantage on one of them, redirecting Evgeni Malkin's slap slot past Leighton (the Pittsburgh duo later hooked up on Malkin's empty-net stat-padder). Pittsburgh's Staal (assist, plus-1, three shots) got the better of his brother, Carolina's Eric (one shot, minus-1) Marc-Andre Fleury looked sharp after his early-week rest, stopping 24 of 25.

Flames/Predators: The home Predators were cruising with a 3-0 lead midway through the game, but then Jarome Iginla threw a wrist shot past Dan Ellis and all bet were off. Calgary closed the game on a 5-0 run (four third-period goals) and stunned Nashville, normally a tough out at home. Hats off to Iginla, even as the final one came into an empty cage, and give a tap on the pads to Dion Phaneuf (two assists, six shots, 29:41 on the ice). Love-him-or-hate-him Todd Bertuzzi didn't have any points, though he did throw some shots and checks around (three of each). For the Preds, no worries about Jason Arnott's finger (goal, assist), and Shea Weber (assist, eight shots, 27:41 of ice) has monster year written all over him.

First Period

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Stars/Islanders: Marty Turco needed a positive 60 minutes in the worst way, and he got it - sort of - in Thursday's match on the Island. A 5-3 victory and 24 saves sounds good up front, but Turco also allowed a pair of third-period markers, including one with three seconds to play, so his confidence wasn't completely rebuilt in one night.

The redemption was a lot clearer up front, where Mike Ribeiro had his first notable game of the year (goal, four assists). Whatever injury he was dealing with earlier in the week, it certainly wasn't a problem here. Loui Eriksson (two goals) and Brenden Morrow (three points, plus-3) helped the cause for the winners, and underrated power-play quarterback Stephane Robidas (47 percent owned?) added an assist, his sixth point of the year. On the Isle, Mark Streit (1-2-3, PPG) did everything to justify his big contract, and Doug Weight grabbed his fourth power-play point of the fall.

Leafs/Bruins: The B's got an early 2-0 lead then watched the Leafs buzz around them most of the night. Tim Thomas (33 saves) could only be faulted for one of the three goals against him; Toronto tacked on an empty-netter in the final minute.

Nik Antropov looks super when you catch him on the right night, and this was one of those nights (goal, five shots). Niklas Hagman (two points, six shot) finally did something for the first time in 2008-09. Ron Wilson gave power-play time to 14 different skaters, but Tomas Kaberle meshed with everyone; his 11:25 on the man-advantage was almost five minutes greater than anyone else on the roster.

Patrice Bergeron finally broke the seal with his first goal, and Marco Sturm was active all night (assist, five shots). Andrew Ference is getting some second-unit power-play time and might be worth considering in very deep pools, assuming Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman are long gone (read that again - if you're not in a giant league, don't bother for now).

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