NEW YORK – After a three-week, nine-game road swing, the New York Rangers have found their defensive scheme and except for a 3-2 loss to the Devils have not yielded more than two goals in their recent successful run. On Saturday night, they shutout the Montreal Canadiens, 1-0, on the strength of a 22-save performance by rookie netminder Cam Talbot and Ryan Callahan’s sixth of the season in the second period.
“It’s special, and it would’ve been special in any building for the shutout, but obviously tonight being Hockey Night In Canada and Saturday night in Montreal, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Talbot said.
The shutout was the first by a Ranger netminder since 1967 when Eddie Giacomin did it.
“He had made some good saves before, but obviously momentum can switch so much on a power play, and if they’re able to find the back of the net there, they’ve got momentum and they’ve got the lead and it’s a different game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “But he made big saves, and then we were able to score just at the end of the 5-on-3.”
The Colorado Avalanche have fallen back to earth with a thud. The Florida Panthers handed the Avs their third straight defeat, 4-1, in Denver.
Tim Thomas made 32 saves to get the win for the Panthers.
“We actually got the lead,” Thomas said. “We haven’t had the lead very often, but when we have had it, we’ve played pretty well. We play very composed with the lead, and that’s a good sign. It’s been our goal at times this year. The last thing we need is to have problems in that area. The last five games, the effort’s been there — maybe not for the full 60 minutes but for a good chunk of it.”
The Predators returned home from a dismal road trip and promptly throttled the Blackhawks, 7-2. Chicago lost backup netminder Nikolai Khabibulin to a lower body injury in the game. Corey Crawford came into the game in relief.
Toronto 4, Buffalo 2
NY Rangers 1, Montreal 0
New Jersey 4, Pittsburgh 1
NY Islanders 5, Detroit 4 (SO)
St. Louis 4, Carolina 2
Nashville 7, Chicago 2
Phoenix 6, Tampa Bay 3
Florida 4, Colorado 1
Edmonton 4, Calgary 2
The Blues yielded two shorthanded scores in 57 seconds to surrender a two-goal, second-period lead, but Alexander Steen posted his League-leading 17th marker to help the team improve to 13-2-3, tying the franchise record for the most wins through the first 18 games of a season (also 1990-91).
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Steen is the first player to score 17 or more goals in his team’s first 18 games of a season since 2005-06, when both Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson and Philadelphia’s Simon Gagne tallied 18 in 18.
* Steen had totaled 17 goals in his prior 73 regular-season games entering 2013-14.
* Steen also collected an assist on Saturday to extend his point streak to 13 games (13-5—8), the longest in the NHL this season.
* Steen’s point streak is the longest by a Blues player since 1999-2000, when Pierre Turgeon recorded at least one point in 15 consecutive contests. It’s the longest by any NHL player since 2011-12, when Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis had a 17-game streak.
* Steen (17-9—26) jumped over Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (9-16—25) and NY Islanders’ John Tavares (9-16—25) for the League lead in points. Steen also tied Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for first in game-winning goals (4).
* The Blues closed their five-game homestand with a 4-0-1 record and are 9-1-2 at Scottrade Center this season, their second-best start through 12 home games (2000-01: 10-1-1).
* The Blues improved to 6-1-0 versus Eastern Conference teams this season and are 30-8-5 against the East dating to 2010-11, the best inter-conference record in the NHL.
* Ken Hitchcock recorded his 618th head-coaching victory to move into sole possession of ninth place all-time.
HUNGRIER THAN EVER
Martin Hanzal matched a career high with four points (1-3—4) to lift the Coyotes to their eighth victory in their past 10 games (8-1-1). At 14-4-3 (31 points), Phoenix is off to its best start since 1998-99, when the team went 15-3-3 (33 points) in its first 21 games.
* The Coyotes improved to 9-0-1 at Jobing.com Arena, tied for the most home-ice wins this season (with the Blues and Wild). They also are one of two teams yet to suffer a regulation loss at home (Ducks: 8-0-0).
* The Coyotes improved to 7-1-1 versus the Eastern Conference this season. Hanzal leads the team with 3-9—12 in those games.
* Mike Smith made 27 saves to improve to 11-1-3 in his past 15 decisions. He is 12-3-3 overall this season, leading all netminders in saves (584), shots against (637), appearances (19) and minutes (1,106:36).
* Hanzal leads the Coyotes with 6-12—18 in 18 games this season. His only other four-point performance came during his rookie campaign, a 1-3—4 effort versus the Devils on Dec. 15, 2007.
* Captain Shane Doan scored his 10th goal of the season to extend his point streak to six games (6-2—8).
* Twenty-year-old defenseman Connor Murphy made his NHL debut, scoring his first goal – the eventual game-winner – on his first shot. He is the sixth blueliner in franchise history to record a goal in his League debut and first to do so since Keith Ballard on Oct. 5, 2005. For his efforts, Murphy was awarded with a pair of commemorative pucks and the team’s “player of the game” belt.
TALBOT, RANGERS EARN RARE WIN
Cam Talbot made 22 saves for his first career shutout and Ryan Callahan scored the lone goal to lead the Rangers to their first victory in Montreal since March 17, 2009 (0-7-1). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers hadn’t shut out the Canadiens in Montreal (regular season or playoffs, a span of 115 games) since Feb. 25, 1967, when Ed Giacomin earned a 5-0 victory.
Talbot improved 4-1-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in his first five NHL appearances, all on the road, and has allowed two or fewer goals in each game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other goaltender to make the first five starts of his NHL career for the Rangers and yield two or fewer goals in each one was Lorne Chabot, who did so in 1926-27, the team’s inaugural season.
800 AND COUNTING
Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk scored twice, including the tying goal with 42.5 seconds remaining in regulation, while playing in his 800th regular-season game (266-523—789). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three other active players have recorded more points through the first 800 games of their NHL careers: Jaromir Jagr (1,064), Teemu Selanne (919) and Joe Thornton (812).
Datsyuk leads the Red Wings with 11 goals and is tied for eighth in the League with 22 points this season. He has 6-4—10 over his past eight games, including four multi-point efforts, and has registered at least one point in 14 of his 21 contests this season.
Seven different Predators scored and Marek Mazanec made 39 saves to pick up his first NHL win in Nashville’s return from a franchise-record, 17-day, seven-game road trip. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time seven different Predators scored in a game was on Dec. 15, 2009, when the team posted a 7-4 win over the Lightning. Patric Hornqvist was the only Predator to tally a goal in both games.
VETS LEAD DEVILS OVER PENGUINS
Jaromir Jagr scored twice and Martin Brodeur made 27 saves to help the Devils defeat the Penguins for the fourth time in their past five meetings. Jagr, who played the first 11 seasons of his NHL career for Pittsburgh, now has 23-20—43 in 45 regular-season games against his old club. Brodeur improved to 6-1-0 in his last seven games following a 0-2-2 start to the season.
The Red Wings have played five consecutive overtime games, losing all five (two in overtime, three in a shootout). They last played five straight games past regulation March 26-April 3, 1997 . . . The Oilers scored four times in the third period to rally from a two-goal deficit and snap a five-game losing streak . . . James van Riemsdyk scored twice to help the Maple Leafs split their home-and-home with the Sabres . . . Panthers defenseman Tom Gilbert and Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata each collected three assists . . . Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored his 11th goal of the season to extend his point streak to six games (4-5—9) . . . Islanders captain John Tavares posted 1-1—2 to stretch his point streak to five games (2-6—8) . . . Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas made 32 saves for his 200th NHL victory . . . Predators defenseman Shea Weber totaled 1-1—2 to eclipse 300 career points . . . Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook collected his 200th NHL assist . . . The Islanders improved to 6-0-1, including five straight wins, in their last seven games versus the Red Wings . . . The Lightning suffered their first loss to a Western Conference team this season (7-1-0) . . . The Maple Leafs acquired forwards Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz from the Ducks in exchange for defenseman Jesse Blacker, a conditional third-round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft and a seventh-round pick in 2014.
SNEAK PEEK AT SUNDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Columbus @ Ottawa, 1:00 p.m., FS-O, SNET-E, TVA
St. Louis @ Washington, 6:00 p.m., FS-MW, CSN-DC
Los Angeles @ NY Rangers, 7:00 p.m., FS-W, MSG
San Jose @ Chicago, 7:00 p.m., CSN-CA, WGN
Winnipeg @ Minnesota, 8:00 p.m., TSN-JETS, FS-N
Dallas @ Vancouver, 8:00 p.m., FS-SW, SNET-P