~Penguins 4, Predators 1: I didn't know much about Nashville other than their 37-14-3 record, and predicted a 4-2 Pens loss. Now, the Preds are officially overrated. The Pens dominated the best team in the league, but that doesn't make us the new best team, because Nashville isn't really the best team. That record was boosted greatly by a 16-2-1 record against Columbus, Chicago, and St. Louis. Their record against the rest of the league is a much more pedestrian 21-13-2 - this all means that Nashville will soon begin backsliding in the standings, because a number of teams are playing better hockey than them right now (point proven last night), and they only have 5 more games against that patsy trio.
The Pens are now 12-2-3 since December 28th, a streak they can very obviously attribute to...Matt Stajan? Well, a little under four minutes into the December 28th game against Toronto, Stajan checked Ekman into the boards and dislocated his ego...or his elbow, whichever. The Pens went on to win that game and haven't looked back since.
The rest of the action was - well - lackluster
would be generous, and Skippy here can attest to that
~Buffalo beat Atlanta, 4-3 (2-0 in the shootout). This game featured names like Briere, Afinogenov, Kotalik, Kozlov, Kovalchuk, and Hossa, yet was still such a determinedly boring event that Jon Sim was the third star. Glad I missed this one.
~Phoenix and Columbus faced off in the Battle of Who Could Care Less. Apparently Columbus cared a lot less. Phoenix jumped out early, and then both teams quit halfway through (neither team scored for the final 28 minutes). 3-0 Coyotes, with the effervescent Steve Reinprecht snagging that elusive third star.
~Mr. Kessel Goes to Washington (or, How I Learned to Stop Lamenting My Missing Testicle and Love the Wrist Shot): in spite of goals from superstars...umm...Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr, the Capitals suffered a 3-2 home loss to the Boston Bruins. Phil "Me and Lance Are Tight" Kessel nabbed third star for doing absolutely nothing (0 points, 0 SOG, nada) then tallying the winner in the shootout.
~The Hurricanes went up to visit Les Habitants and walked out with a 2-1 victory. Chris Higgins earned the third star for his impressive three shots on goal.
~Shocker of the night! New Jersey played a low scoring game, heading into a shootout before polishing off the Rangers, 3-2. Zach Parise got the third star for scoring the goal that gave Jersey a second chance to blow a lead.
~Tampa and LA also wound their way to a shootout, with an equivalent 3-2 final. The Lightning blew a 2-0 third period lead, then went to a shootout and remembered that their ex-teammate Sean Burke was playing goal. Journeyman Kings defenseman Mike Weaver, playing his first game in a month, gets the first star for his first career goal, followed closely by your number two star....wait for it...Blair Jones! who also recorded his first career goal (though he did it 110 games quicker than Weaver).
~Dallas notched a 4-2 home win against the Wild. Trevor Daley (he of the 29 points in 157 career games) gets the first star for assisting on the game tying goal, while your third star, Joel Lundqvist, snagged an incredible 4th point on the season.
...you awake yet Skippy? didn't think so...
~Toronto beat St. Louis, 2-1. The two teams combined for 36 shots.
oh oh, some excitement is creeping in...
~Matin Havlat scored twice in the final 2:45 to erase a 2-0 deficit against Calgary, then went on to win the game in a shootout. How the hell does Havlat get second star?? To Jeff Friesen? Come on. This team should rename themselves the Chicago Havlats.
~The Edmonton Oilers went down, 5-2, to the law firm of Sedin & Sedin. The twins rattled off a combined three goals and six assists for the Canucks, who continue to creep up the standings. Third star went to...uhh...Zack Stortini, who notched his first career goal (and point) in his sixth game overall.
~The Florida Panthers played 40 minutes of fantastic hockey last night, ending the second period with a 4-2 lead (thanks mostly to a sudden offensive spurt from Chris Gratton). They then got trampled, as the Avs outshot them, 19-4, and scored with 37 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime, where the scored again 25 second in to finally show some mercy towards Panther fans.
~Last, but certainly not least, the Late Late Show with a Couple of Aquarium Dwellers: Anaheim apparently was sneaking peeks at the Florida game and taking notes. The Ducks finished the second period with a 6-1 lead, and the icing was being prepared for the cake. San Jose then realized they had a game that night, outshot Anaheim 18-3 in the third, and cut the deficit to 6-4 with just under six minutes remaining in the game before Anaheim finally iced it with an empty netter. Seven players had at least two points in this game, but only two of them made their way into the Three Stars. Who picks this crap?
Whew. Quite a whirlwind. Tonight's action - a mere five games, three of them Western Conference tilts - probably wont be much better. Best bet to tune in? San Jose and Anaheim are going right back at it.