January 20, 2010
An inconsistent offense and power play has dogged the Penguins for much of the year but you wouldn't know it from Tueaday's victory over the Islanders, as the hosts posted six goals including three on the man advantage. Crosby was the centerpiece of it all (two goals, four assists), with Evgeni Malkin(notes) riding shotgun (three goals, including the game-winner). Now, let's work on getting that defense healthy and repaired.
It's been a rocky time for Theodore in Washington over the past year and a half but there were nothing but cheers for No. 60 on Tuesday night; his 44-save effort willed the hosts to a 3-2 victory over Detroit. The resurgent Theo has stopped 117 of the last 123 shots he's faced and several of his stops Tuesday were highlight-worthy. Mike Babcock has to be muttering to himself, wondering how the Red Wings came up empty here.
Life on the trading block hasn't affected the dazzling left wing; he's been on the top of his game for several weeks now. He was the dominant player in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over Toronto, racking up two goals, an assist and eight shots on net. Keep your cell charged, Don Waddell.
Honorable Mention: The Rangers spread the wealth in their 8-2 romp over Tampa Bay, with 16 players grabbing points on the New York goals (only Artem Anisimov(notes) and Michal Rozsival(notes) missed the score sheet). Marian Gaborik(notes) grabbed top billing but in a surprising role, collecting four assists for the night. … San Jose's 5-1 victory at Los Angeles is a little deceiving on the surface – Evgeni Nabokov(notes) was plenty busy in this one (36 saves). Dan Boyle(notes) (1-2-3, 6 PIMs) and Ryane Clowe(notes) (two goals) paced the Sharks offense, which rolled up a tidy 14 goals over two nights. … Jonas Hiller(notes) is on a nifty 7-1 stretch and there's nothing cheap about his victories; he's collected 226 saves in those seven wins. He kicked out 41 of 45 shots in Tuesday's victory over Buffalo. … Evgeny Artyukhin(notes) doesn't get a lot of ice time or scoring chances with the Ducks, but he's making the best of what comes his way. He collected a goal and an assist against the Sabres (not bad for 5:27 of ice time), and now has four goals on 21 shots for the year. … Ryan Getzlaf(notes) continues to earn his paycheck; after a 1-1-2 effort Tuesday he's now got seven points (and 19 PIMs) this month. … We had some fun with the Mike Fisher(notes) engagement curse while it lasted but he's ruined the fun over the last week, rolling up a 2-5-7 line over the last four games. Fisher's late power-play goal was the capper in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the visiting Blackhawks.
Brian Elliott(notes) was in a fog for a solid month but he's snapped out of it, beating Boston and Chicago on consecutive nights. He stopped 29 of the 30 shots the Hawks threw at him Tuesday. … Chris Neil(notes) doesn't have a lot of multiple-point games so let's stop and recognize his two-assists effort here. He also was plus-2 for the night, and he managed to steer clear of the penalty box. … Jeff Carter(notes) was in fine form, collecting two goals, an assist, and eight shots in Philly's 5-3 win over Columbus. His holiday season slump is long forgotten now; he's been great over the last three weeks. … R.J. Umberger(notes) isn't going to win a Selke Award anytime soon, but he's still handy in the offensive end (two goals at Philadelphia). The Blue Jackets also heard from two of their other notorious streak players; Kristian Huselius(notes) had three assists while Anton Stralman(notes) added two helpers. … Alexei Ponikarovsky(notes) potted a couple of first-period goals 37 seconds apart at Atlanta, but unfortunately for the Maple Leafs there weren't a lot of highlights after that. Ponikarovsky has a sneaky 18 tallies on the year. … Phil Kessel(notes) only managed one assist against the Thrashers but it wasn't for a lack of effort (eight shots).
Did you know?: Zenon Konopka(notes) is running away with the league's penalty-minute title. A 17-minute effort Tuesday at New York (fueled by a scrap with Aaron Voros(notes)) puts Konopka at 175 PIMs for the year, comfortably ahead of Ottawa's Neil (132 PIMs).
Dishonorable Mention: The Blackhawks look like a fierce Stanley Cup contender up front and on the blue line, but will their goaltending be good enough come playoff time? Cristobal Huet's(notes) effort at Ottawa (four goals on 18 shots) plants a scary seed in the minds of Chicago fans. Chicago's depth on defense has led to Huet's 2.24 goals-against average, but his .904 save percentage inspires little confidence. … Patrick Lalime(notes) was given a rare start for the Sabres but did little to justify the assignment, allowing a quick four goals at Anaheim. Ryan Miller(notes) stopped 18 of 19 in his relief stint. … Kurtis Foster(notes) and Victor Hedman(notes) got the worst of Tampa's blowout loss on Broadway; both players finished minus-3. Foster did have four shots on goal, for what it's worth; Hedman, who's still feeling his way through the pro game as a rookie, didn't have any. … The Rangers didn't play favorites when it came to Tampa's goalies; the hosts took it out on both guys. Antero Niittymaki(notes) allowed five goals on 20 shots, while Dustin Tokarski(notes) yieled 3 on 11. … Mathieu Garon(notes) has allowed 13 goals in four starts after letting five sail past him at Philadelphia. Steve Mason(notes) (7-for-7) relieved him midway through the third period.
Kyle Okposo(notes) had his chances at Pittsburgh – a penalty shot plus two other breakaways – but wasn't able to solve Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson(notes). And Okposo's tripping penalty midway through the final period ultimately led to Malkin's game-deciding goal. … The goals have dried up for Todd Bertuzzi(notes) (one tally in 11 games) albeit he did have five shots at Washington. Bertuzzi's biggest impact on Tuesday's game was a silly tripping penalty 175 feet from Detroit's cage in the third period; the Caps scored the game-tying goal on the ensuing power play and took the lead for good soon after that. Say this for Bertuzzi, he was a stand-up guy about his mistake. "Stupid, stupid penalty by me," Bertuzzi conceded. … Chris Osgood(notes) doesn't deserve Hall of Shame treatment for his loss at Washington (23 shots, 20 saves) but you'd like to grab a victory on a night where Alex Ovechkin(notes) is held without a shot. Osgood was making his first start since Dec. 20 at Chicago; he hasn't had a one-goal game since the first week of November. Granted, it's hard to do that when you're sitting on the bench watching Jimmy Howard(notes) steal your job.