NEW YORK – A pattern is beginning to emerge in the NHL this early season. There are a few very good teams, Pittsburgh, Colorado, San Jose, and Toronto. Then there is the rest of the league. There is a sense that most of the NHL failed to get the memo that the 2013-14 season is actually underway.
“It’s good to finally get a win,” said Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, “Gives us a chance to feel good for a while, and hopefully we can build.”
Out west, the Sharks went on the road and routed the Blues in St Louis, 6-2. The real issue in St Louis was the health of the Sharks Dan Boyle. Boyle was taken off on a stretcher in the first period after being hit from behind by St Louis’ Maxim Lapierre. Lapierre was ejected from the game for a hit from behind. Expect a severe penalty from the league’s Brendan Shanahan later today.
“He wasn’t [saying anything] and that’s what was so scary,” Sharks Joe Thornton said on NHL.com. “I’ve never seen a guy be like that before. It just takes your breath away. He wasn’t responding or anything. It was very, very scary.”
“It’s just disgusting to see that type of play in hockey, when a player that probably shouldn’t even be in this League is taking out one of the best players in the world,” said center Logan Couture on NHL.com, who had a goal and an assist. “[Lapierre] has got a history.”
With the construction of the current collective bargaining agreement and protection of players’ health, it may be an extended period of time before Boyle returns to the ice. Much the same as Rick Nash of the Rangers, who suffered a hit at the hands of the Sharks last week.
In Philadelphia, the Vancouver Canucks paid a visit to the Flyers and left with a 3-2 victory. The story in this match was the separation of the Sedins. Head coach John Tortorella placed Henrik and Daniel on separate lines and caused some consternation among fans.
“Listen, [the twins] play really well together, and it’s very tough to split them up, but I think at times that’s going to happen,” Tortorella said on NHL.com. “I think as you go through the game, those are calls we’ll make, but it’s awful tough to keep them away from one another because they play so very well together.”
The Flyers have not responded to their new head coach, Craig Berube as quickly as some would like.
“You gotta go out and take it to the other team in the third period and win the game,” Flyers coach Berube said after the loss. “We’re kind of sitting back a little bit and waiting for something bad to happen. You know how that goes, but we’ve gotta get over that hump.”
The Avalanche are close to tying a franchise record which they can do Thursday night. They are now 6-0-0 on the season after defeating the Dallas Stars Tuesday.3-2.
“This is what we’ve been doing since the start of the year — finding a way to win,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “There’s nights where we’ve played better. Tonight was not our best game. I think the main reason is we didn’t manage our game well. We made turnovers at the blue line that cost a lot of chances. We didn’t get the puck out of our zone. That also created some chances, and we took some penalties.”
Toronto 4 Minnesota 1
NY Islanders 3 Buffalo 4 SO
Philadelphia 2 Vancouver 3
Pittsburgh 3 Edmonton 2
Carolina 2 Chicago 3 SO
Detroit 2 Columbus 1
Tampa Bay 5 Los Angeles 1
St Louis 2 San Jose 6
Nashville 4 Florida 3
Winnipeg 0 Montreal 3
Colorado 3 Dallas 2
Phoenix 3 Ottawa 4 OT
SHARKS STAY PERFECT
Joe Thornton (1-3—4), Patrick Marleau (1-2—3) and Logan Couture (1-1—2) each had multi-point performances to help the Sharks remain undefeated (6-0-0). The team is now one victory shy of matching its best start in franchise history, set last season (7-0-0).
With six goals last night, the Sharks bolstered their League lead in goals scored (30), goals per game (5.00) and goal differential (+21). They also have an NHL-high 19 goals when five-on-five and a League-best 3.17 five-on-five goals for/against ratio. Last season, the best ratio a team had in that category was 1.52 (Blackhawks).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Thornton now has 27 career games with four or more points, which ranks third among active players, behind Jaromir Jagr (55) and Teemu Selanne (38).
THE AVALANCHE CONTINUES
The Avalanche also improved to 6-0-0, the team’s best start since it moved to Denver in 1995 and one victory shy of matching the franchise record out of the gate (Quebec Nordiques: 7-0-0 in 1985-86).
With the victory, Patrick Roy tied the NHL record for consecutive head-coaching wins to begin a career. Mario Tremblay also won his first six games behind the bench for the Canadiens in 1995-96, a team for which Roy played before being dealt to the Avalanche midseason. Roy’s six straight victories to start his coaching career are an Avalanche/Nordiques record, surpassing the 5-0-0 mark set by Marc Crawford in 1994-95.
PENGUINS FLY AT HOME
The Penguins improved to 4-0-0 at CONSOL Energy Center, marking their best start at home since 1994-95, when they won their first seven games at Civic Arena. Pittsburgh also improved to 9-2-1 in its last 12 games versus Edmonton, including a 5-0-1 record in the teams’ past six meetings.
Sidney Crosby recorded three assists to extend his season-opening point streak to six games (5-7—12), matching his longest point streak to start a season (2-7—9 in his first six games of October 2005, his rookie campaign).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Crosby now has 36 career games with three or more assists, but last night marked his first such game in which he set up every Penguins goal. Teammate Evgeni Malkin has five “assist hat tricks” in which he assisted on every Pittsburgh goal, including the last one by a Penguin prior to Tuesday (in a 3-2 win vs. Chicago on Dec. 20, 2011).
ST. LOUIS HITS MILESTONE
Captain Martin St. Louis recorded 2-1—3 to eclipse the 900-point mark in a Lightning uniform, becoming the first player in franchise history to do so. St. Louis, who was undrafted, played the first 69 games of his NHL career with the Flames (totaling 4-16—20) before signing with the Lightning in July 2000. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, St. Louis is just the eighth player in NHL history to record 900 or more points for a team other than the one with which he debuted. The others: Johnny Bucyk (Bruins), Marcel Dionne (Kings), Phil Esposito (Bruins), Wayne Gretzky (Kings), Brett Hull (Blues), Teemu Selanne (Ducks) and Mats Sundin (Maple Leafs).
BANNER WEEK FOR SHARP
Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who appeared in his 600th NHL game Saturday and celebrated the birth of his second daughter the following day, continued his banner week by scoring his 200th NHL goal and recording the shootout-deciding tally. “It looks like we’ve got to have more kids,” joked Sharp after the game.
Canucks captain Henrik Sedin, the franchise’s all-time leader in points, posted a pair of assists to eclipse the 800-point mark . . . Carey Price made 36 saves to become the ninth goaltender in Canadiens history to record 20 or more shutouts with the team . . . Senators captain Jason Spezza netted his fifth career hat trick, tying Martin Havlat and Dany Heatley for third on the franchise’s all-time list . . . Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson stopped 36 shots to post victories on consecutive days for just the third time in his NHL career . . . Avalanche forward Matt Duchene scored a pair of goals to reach the 200-point mark . . . Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker picked up an assist to register his 100th NHL point . . . Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel collected his 200th NHL assist, while teammate Dave Bolland recorded his 100th . . . Canadiens captain Brian Gionta played in his 700th NHL game, while teammate Josh Gorges skated in his 500th . . . Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin recorded the game-winning goal and has now scored against every NHL team except Pittsburgh . . . Daniel Alfredsson scored his first goal for the Red Wings. He tallied 426 times in a Senators sweater.
The Canucks improved to 20-0-1, including 16 straight wins, in games in which Ryan Kesler has recorded two or more goals . . . Ryan Miller made 41 saves and the Sabres overcame three one-goal deficits to pick up their first victory of the season . . . Cory Conacher scored the overtime winner to help the Senators complete a season-opening, six-game road trip with a 2-2-2 record . . . Last night’s loss snapped the Blues’ 10-game winning streak at Scottrade Center (dating to last season). They also hadn’t trailed at home in their last 568:47 of playing time prior to Logan Couture’s first-period goal . . . Six of the Islanders’ last 10 games (dating to last season) have gone to a shootout, with the club posting a 2-0-4 record in those contests. Nine of their last 10 games also have been decided by one goal, with the Islanders going 2-3-4 in those affairs . . . The Department of Player Safety suspended Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta for 10 games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head of Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson . . . It also fined Capitals forward Jason Chimera $4,487.18, the maximum allowed under the CBA, for boarding Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz.
SNEAK PEEK AT WEDNESDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
NY Rangers @ Washington, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2
Calgary @ Anaheim, 10:00 p.m., TSN, PRIME
WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY
Playoff foes in four of the last five years, the Rangers and Capitals meet on NBCSN’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry” telecast. The Rangers have won seven of their last 10 regular-season meetings, including two of three matchups last season. Captain Alex Ovechkin has scored in five of Washington’s first six games (six goals total), while Brad Richards paces New York with four goals through the team’s opening five contests.