Let us take a look at five of the first six games tonight. We’ll clue you in to what happened during the late Battle of California between Los Angeles and San Jose tomorrow.
NY Rangers 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)
The Rangers won largely thanks to the reasons they’ve been winning so far in 2010-11: great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and scrappy play overall. Lundqvist made 37 saves and kept the Penguins off the board for all but 40 seconds of the game, as Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke scored rapidly late in the second period. Erik Christensen, Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan scored for the Rangers.
New York is on a three-game winning streak while the Penguins continue to struggle at the Consol Energy Center, dropping to 3-5-1 at home this season.
At this point, it seems pretty clear that the two best teams in the East are the Flyers and Capitals. Philadelphia continues their red-hot play (9-0-1 in their last 10 games) by throttling Brian Elliott even though the Senators goalie has been on the top of his game lately.
It’s hard to blame Elliott too much, though, as the Flyers are just downright dominant right now. They showered him with shots in this one, scoring five goals on 46 shots.
Is it too early to say that the Sabres righted the ship? Maybe, but they’re playing much better hockey right now. They’ve made it into overtime or later in five straight games – a Buffalo franchise record – and are 4-0-1 in those contests. They won this one in OT after Tyler Myers took advantage of a bad Canucks turnover. Ryan Miller is 2-0 since his return from injury.
After faltering a bit lately, the Bruins took advantage of the hapless Devils to help Tim Thomas earn his fourth shutout of this young season. He made 28 saves to earn his ninth win of 2010-11, beating Martin Brodeur, who made 21 out of 24 saves in this game.
John-Michael Liles was the star of this one with two goals and one assist (read more about his red-hot start to the season here). The Avalanche bludgeoned the Blues in this one, scoring six goals against Jaroslav Halak despite only putting 23 shots on goal while Peter Budaj scrapped his way to a solid victory.
The Blues are stumbling quite a bit now as they’re currently on a four game losing streak. The bad news is that November is going to be a rough month; the good news is that they’ll have a pretty cushy schedule in October. The question is: how big of a hole will they find themselves in by then?
The Kings saw their six-game win streak broken by a Sharks team that effectively pounced on the Kings when they were foolish enough to commit a penalty or turn the puck over. If the Kings weren’t doing one, they were doing the other in an uncharacteristically bad game. Patrick Marleau lead the way with a goal and two assists while Joe Pavelski and Dany Heatley each had a goal and an assist. Antero Niittymaki was strong in goal making 32 saves in the win. Jonathan Bernier had a shaky night stopping 28 out of 34.