February 23, 2009
Before his dazzling performance in Minnesota's 2-1 victory at the Chicago Blackhawks, the last time Josh Harding won a game for the Wild was Nov. 29 against Nashville. It was worth the wait: Harding made a career-high 44 saves in the big conference win for the Wild; in a game that saw Chicago have a 25-6 shots on goal advantage during the second period.
Ramo wasn't perfect, as goals by Phil Kessel and Andrew Ference in the first period were on the soft side. But the Tampa keeper stopped 28 of 29 shots the rest of the way, and made 40 saves for the game, backstopping the Bolts to an upset win at home over the Boston Bruins. Vaclav Prospal had the game-winner on the power play in the third period for the 4-3 victory. Said Ramo: "We decided it's no fun if anyone quits."
The Canes are starting to catch a little fire, winning three in a row and four of five as they defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 5-2. Cullen's hat trick included a rebound goal to tie the game in the first; an aggressive play on a loose puck near the Colorado goal in the second; and then an empty netter to cap the scoring.
Honorable Mention: Pavel Kubina had three assists, including the shot that Niklas Hagman tipped home for the power-play game-winner, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers, 3-2 in overtime. Harry Howell and Andy Bathgate entered into Rangers history by having their numbers retired; Rangers fans continue to let their feelings known about Coach Tom Renney and GM Glen Sather also becoming history. ... Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov and Shaone Morrisonn each had a goal and an assist in the Washington Capitals' 5-2 national television domination of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jose Theodore was solid again in goal, making 31 saves. ... Jonathan Toews scored his 22nd in the Hawks' loss, while Peter Olvecky's first NHL goal was the game-winner for the Wild.
Dishonorable Mention: The Rangers are facing plenty of problems right now. Here are two of them: Nikolai Zherdev (one goal in his last eight games) and Brandon Dubinsky (one goal in his last 15 games). ... Marc-Andre Fleury was dismal against the Capitals (five goals on 20 shots) before being lifted for Mathieu Garon. ... Finally, as we discussed earlier, nothing like seeing the two biggest stars in the NHL openly jaw and mock each other on national television. When asked in a Russian-language interview after the game, Ovechkin addressed the "cheap-shotting" of Sidney Crosby thusly: "What, I can't play hard against him? What is he going to do, cry?"