October 31, 2008
Finally, Stamkos registers a point he can truly celebrate. The Tampa Bay rookie and No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft began his career with seven consecutive games without a point. When his name finally did pop up on a scoresheet, it was a measly secondary assist on a night he was left red faced by a practical joke. Even his first-period goal Thursday was awkwardly recognized, as official scorers initially thought his deflection of a Vincent Lecavalier shot actually was a goal for the Lightning captain. It wasn't until the first intermission that Stamkos' goal was announced.
No worries. Stamkos had stated that his first NHL goal could open the floodgates, and sure enough, there he was pumping his fist after a second-period tally in Buffalo. All told it was a three-point night for the rook, who assisted on a Ryan Malone goal as Tampa Bay won for the third time in four games.
The knock on Zherdev has been inconsistency and a lack of desire, but there was no questioning his drive Thursday when he put his head down, tracked down Todd White and then neutralized the Atlanta forward's short-handed breakaway with a diving, sweeping poke check that at the time preserved a Rangers lead. It arguably was Zherdev's most significant contribution to New York's 3-2 win, which is saying something when you factor in his third-period power-play goal and the wraparound attempt that led to Daniel Girardi's game-winning goal. Now in his fifth NHL season, Zherdev put a ribbon on the most productive October of his career with five goals, seven assists and a plus-11 rating.
You can't ask for a better response to a 1-0 defeat than going out and pitching a shutout the next time out, and that's just what Luongo did Thursday, making 28 stops to help Vancouver blank the Kings 4-0. He stopped an Alexander Frolov penalty shot as part of his 40th career shutout and Vancouver's first blanking of the Kings in Los Angeles since the Canucks joined the league in 1970-71.
Honorable mention: Jeff Carter scored two goals (8) to make a winner of Martin Biron and give Philadelphia its fourth straight win. … Nashville's Shea Weber moved into a tie for the defenseman scoring lead (11 points) with a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over Edmonton. … Cam Ward made 19 stops for his 7th career shutout in a 1-0 win over St. Louis. … Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff won his fifth straight decision and remains the only Western Conference goalie to
start every game play every one of his team's minutes this season. … Let's fish pucks out for Coyotes forward Kevin Porter and Sharks winger Jamie McGinn, who each scored their first NHL goals Thursday. … Finally, Colton Orr and Eric Boulton get fight of the night honors. It takes the announcers a while to realize they're watching something special, but the length of this bout still allows for plenty of "oh, man" and "oh, my goodness" commentary. Enjoy the video.
Dishonorable mention: Can't blame the NHL for scheduling a free preview of its GameCenter streaming video product on a night with 12 games on the docket. More games means more interested fans and more potential customers. But it also increases exposure to technical mayhem, and that's exactly what went down Thursday night. Note to the NHL.com techies: When all hell breaks lose, make sure the paying customers still can access subscription content, particularly those degenerates paying for both online and cable products. Not that I know any of those guys.