When I left for my friend’s house to watch the presidential debate and let the rest of the game record on DVR, things weren’t looking too good for the Bruins.
They were down in a deep hole after one period following a flurry that saw the Habs score three goals in just 3:19. Alex Kovalev netted a handsy goal on the power play, set up by excellent work by Andrei Kostitsyn to back Chara out of the slot, then Saku Koivu scored at even strength and Maxim Lapierre picked up a shortie. It was looking like a blowout in the works.
But I’m a redblooded American and a politics junkie, so the live debate called. Besides, the Bruins were doomed.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I returned home and watched the Bruins claw their way back into the game. A second-period goal by David Krejci gave them hope, and Marc Savard’s two-goal third period forced overtime and rescued the point.
The Bruins may have lost in the shootout thanks to Alex Tanguay roofing it like it warn’t nuthin’ over Tim Thomas, but if Boston can steal points in games like this against their archrivals, that’s a huge change from the Bruins of last year, who would have packed it in and given up another two or three no problem.
And lookit Marc Savard, who there was actually talk of TRADING (for defensive help) earlier in the offseason. The guy has scored five goals and six points in three games, and while obviously that production will drop off slightly, he’s already a third of the way to his total goal production from last season. Many thought that Michael Ryder would benefit greatly from Savard’s top-three-in-the-league playmaking ability, but no one counted on Savard to be singlehandedly bailing the Bruins out of hopeless situations. Barring injury, he’ll be a 90-point player no problem this season, and at just $5 million dollars, he’s one of the biggest bargains in the NHL.
Also huge in the game was the play of both Carey Price and Thomas. Can’t really fault Price on the Savard goals. One was a rocket through a crowd at the end of a power play that I doubt he saw, and the other fluke tap-in off a weird bounce off the end boards with 17.6 seconds left to force OT. In fact, even the Krejci goal was more or less unstoppable. At the other end of the ice, though, Thomas settled down from an iffy first period to turn in several jaw-dropping stops on two-on-ones, breakaways, defensive breakdowns, and even a three-on-one in overtime.
Also of note was the play of Dennis Wideman and Zdeno Chara, who were dropping everyone that came across the blue line and ate up 27:41 and 31:24 minutes of ice time, respectively. Meanwhile, Andrei Markov’s fantasy owners kept smiling as he picked up another two points, giving him six so far this year.
This game was EXACTLY as advertised. It was intense, fun to watch, and featured a shocking number of highlight-reel plays. If you bailed early, like I almost did, you made a huge mistake.
Dallas 6, Nashville 4
Not a bad NHL debut for Fabian Brunnstrom. He only became the third player in NHL history to pick up a hat trick in his league debut. Only Alex Smart of the ‘43 Canadiens and Real Cloutier of the ‘79 Nordiques did that before. No. 1 Star of the night, and all those puns. Apart from that, it was standard fare for the Preds, who saw Dan Ellis cough up five goals for the second time this season.
Buffalo 3, New York Rangers 1
The Sabres have it figured out. You stop Voros and Co., you stop the Rangers. This was the first game all year in which none of Aaron Voros, Brandon Dubinsky or Nikolai Zherdev had a point, and the Rangers had to rely on their secondary scoring. You see how that turned out. It was a pretty pathetic offensive effort for the formerly high-flying Rangers, who managed 20 shots on net and just one goal. And once the Sabres figured out that shooting low on Henrik Lundqvist is not going to get you anywhere, they scored twice and won the game. Credit to the fightin’ Sabres, because tonight they wrote the textbook on how you beat the Rangers.
Chicago 4, Phoenix 1
Why’d Chicago EVER want to get rid of Nikolai Khabibulin? Guy made about 10 great saves in the first period to keep the Blackhawks in the game. He was unbelievable tonight, as was Martin Havlat, who scored an eye-popping goal through three people to get Chicago on the board and added an assist later on. Patrick Sharp picked up the game-winner as Chicago won for the first time this year.
Edmonton 3, Anaheim 2
Not even getting JS Giguere out of the goal was enough to keep the Ducks from losing again. Jonas Hiller may have surrendered fewer goals, but he didn’t look especially convincing in making 25 saves. They don’t get this sorted out soon, and Anaheim’s in a ton of trouble. Luby Visnovski and Sheldon Souray both scored from the blue line for Edmonton.