January 07, 2009
No. 1 star, Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild:
The 30-year-old Finnish goalie had all the answers on Tuesday night. Backstrom stopped all 28 shots the Bruins fired his way to make one goal stand up for a 1-0 victory on the road. This wasn't any old shutout. Backstrom handed the league's top-scoring team its first blanking of the season, and he did it on Boston's ice. It was also Backstrom's second straight shutout and his fifth of the season. The victory also kept Minnesota perfect in Boston. The Wild are 5-0 all-time as visitors and 8-1 overall against the Bruins.
No. 2 star, Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins:
All was right in the rocky Penguins' world for one night, anyway. Malkin provided assists on all three of Pittsburgh's goals, two of which were primary helpers, as the Pens snapped a five-game losing streak. Malkin now leads the league in scoring with 63 points despite having not scored a goal in a career-long nine straight games.
No. 3 star, Chris Chelios, Detroit Red Wings:
A sentimental pick here, the soon-to-be 47-year-old defenseman played in his 880th career regular-season victory. That's the most in the history of the league, breaking a tie with former Devils defenseman Scott Stevens. Chelios blocked a shot and had a takeaway during his 14:42 of ice time during the Red Wings' 3-0 win over Columbus. Detroit is 4-0-1 during the five games in which Chelios has dressed this season.
Honorable mention: Jose Theodore was real good for Washington, stopping 33 of 34 in regulation and all three during a shootout victory as the Caps won a seventh straight and moved to 18-1-1 at home. … Wojtek Wolski responded to a move to center by scoring Colorado's only two goals during a one-goal win at Nashville. … Chicago's Cristobal Huet was plenty happy to get back indoors, where at Phoenix he turned aside all 22 shots for a 19th career shutout. … Meanwhile, the victorious Winter Classic goalie, Ty Conklin, was at it again on Tuesday with a 23-save shutout (No. 4 on the season and No. 8 of the career) to extend his personal scoreless streak in Detroit to 138:46. Pavel Datsyuk supported the cause with a goal and two assists as the Red Wings earned a point in the 23rd of their last 28 games. … Ruslan Fedotenko inspired the Penguins with a one-punch victory in a fight with Atlanta's Colby Armstrong. … Derek Roy scored a goal and added two assists as Buffalo snapped a four-game losing streak at home. … Calgary coach Mike Keenan stands fifth all-time now with 650 career wins. … Sergei Samsonov scored his 200th career goal for victorious Carolina. … Speaking of the Hurricanes, they were ahead 3-0 against New Jersey when Devils coach Brent Sutter decided to pull his goalie during a power play with nine minutes remaining in regulation. The other odd part to the desperate strategy is the fact that Sutter's 19-year-old son, Brandon Sutter, was on the ice trying to kill for Carolina. The elder Sutter's bold move, while rarely seen, is deserving of honorable mention because it breaks from the mold, and it worked as New Jersey eventually scored.
Dishonorable mention: No doubt, Jarkko Ruutu's decision to bite the glove and eventually inflict injury upon Andrew Peters of the Sabres takes the cake. Ottawa's Ruutu didn't even get penalized, landing referees Mike Hasenfratz and Frederick L'Ecuyer in this corner as well. Just wondering, is Jarkko Ruutu Finnish for Sean Avery? … Speaking of the Senators, they're now 1-12-3 in their last 16 on the road. … Pittsburgh's power-play futility reached 33 straight failures over seven games before finally clicking Tuesday. … Interesting comment from Sidney Crosby with regards to Fedotenko's one-punch KO of Armstrong 1:27 after the opening faceoff: "That sparked us a little bit; that was a pretty quick one," he said. Weren't he and Armstrong thisclose of friends as teammates? Guess there really aren't any "friends" on the ice. … The Sharks didn't listen to coach Todd McLellan's warning that the Flames would be ready on Tuesday. San Jose faced an 0-3 deficit and got outshot 16-4 in the opening 20 minutes. … Referees Bill McCreary and Gord Dwyer watched San Jose's Alexei Semenov and Calgary's Andre Roy throw down the gloves and trade punches for 20 seconds, then sent both off for roughing minors. What?!?!?