Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 03/17/14 at 10:25 AM ET
FLYERS SWEEP HOME-AND-HOME WITH PENGUINS
Wayne Simmonds posted 2-1—3, his third three-point game of the season, to lift the Flyers to a sweep of their weekend home-and-home series against the Penguins.
* With the win, the Flyers (35-25-7, 77 points) – who are 9-2-1 in their last 12 games – leapfrogged the Blue Jackets (35-26-6, 76 points) and Rangers (36-29-4, 76 points) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
* Simmonds has 16-19—35 in his last 34 games (since Dec. 17); he had 5-10—15 in his first 33 outings of the season. With Sunday’s performance, he reached the 50-point milestone for the first time in his NHL career (21-29—50 in 67 GP).
* Claude Giroux recorded his second consecutive two-assist game while playing in his 400th NHL contest. He has 12-20—32 in his past 26 games, including 4-8—12 in his last seven.
* The Flyers improved to 28-12-3 when Giroux registers at least one point this season, including 12 consecutive victories (8-16—24 in those games).
* Matt Read scored a shorthanded goal for the second straight game, which proved to be the eventual game-winner. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Read is the first Flyer to record a shorthanded goal in consecutive games since Feb. 15-21, 2009, when Mike Richards did so in three straight contests.
* Read is now tied for the League lead with four shorthanded goals in 60 games this season. He had two shorthanded goals in 121 career games entering 2013-14.
HOSSA POWERS BLACKHAWKS IN RETURN . . .
Playing in his first game since March 1, Marian Hossa collected 1-2—3 – his 14th multi-point game of the season – to power the Blackhawks over the rival Red Wings in their second and final meeting of 2013-14.
* The Blackhawks improved to 31-1-6 when scoring first and 16-3-5 versus Eastern Conference opponents this season.
* Duncan Keith posted two assists to reach the 50-assist milestone for the second time in his NHL career. He also recorded the 300th assist of his nine-year career (62-300—362 in 674 GP).
* Keith leads all defensemen and ranks fourth in the NHL with 50 assists in 67 games this season. His 53 points place second among defensemen, eight behind Erik Karlsson of the Senators (17-44—61 in 67 GP).
* Jonathan Toews scored his second shorthanded goal of the season and the seventh of his career. He has 8-1—9 in his last seven games.
* Ben Smith posted 1-1—2, including the first game-winning goal of his NHL career (81 GP).
. . . AVALANCHE STAY AHEAD IN CENTRAL
Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves – but fell six seconds shy of his second shutout of the season – to help the Avalanche (44-19-5, 93 points) remain one point ahead of the Blackhawks (39-15-14, 92 points) for second place in the Central Division.
* The Avalanche improved to 7-2-0 in their last nine games and picked up their fourth consecutive road victory.
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Varlamov has won 10 of the last 11 games in which he has faced 35 or more shots on goal. He improved to 17-1-3 in 21 such games this season.
* At 34-13-5, Varlamov is tied with Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi (34-13-6) and Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (34-15-3) for the most wins in the NHL this season.
* Matt Duchene collected two assists and now has 5-11—16 in his past 11 outings.
NIEMI LEADS SHARKS TO SIXTH STRAIGHT VICTORY
Antti Niemi made 41 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season and backstop the Sharks to their sixth consecutive victory.
* With the win, the Sharks (45-17-7, 97 points) tied the Ducks (45-16-7, 97 points) for the most points in the Pacific Division, but they have played one more game and trail in the ROW tiebreaker (ANA: 43, SJ: 35).
* Niemi has started five of the Sharks’ six games during their current winning streak, posting a 1.60 goals-against average, .946 save percentage and two shutouts in that span.
* Logan Couture scored shorthanded for the lone goal of the game. Couture has two shorthanded goals in 53 games this season; he had two such goals in 232 career contests entering 2013-14.
LACK OUTDUELS LUONGO
In their first meeting as opponents, Eddie Lack made 26 saves and denied all three shootout attempts he faced to outduel former teammate Roberto Luongo (29 saves) and lead the Canucks to their third win in their last five games.
* Lack improved to 3-3 in shootouts this season. He has stopped 21 of the 25 shots he has faced in the tiebreaker (.840 SV%).
* Alexandre Burrows posted 1-2—3 for his first three-point game since Dec. 23, 2010 (not including playoffs). He has 3-3—6 in his past four games after totaling 0-5—5 in his first 34 outings this season.
* ICYMI: Defenseman Kevin Bieksa made a kick save to keep the Canucks ahead midway through the third period.
JETS SNAP SKID WITH SEASON-HIGH SEVEN GOALS
Fueled by multi-point performances from four players, the Jets scored a season-high seven goals to snap a six-game skid (0-3-3).
* Blake Wheeler (0-4—4), Dustin Byfuglien (2-1—3), Tobias Enstrom (1-2—3) and Olli Jokinen (1-2—3) all recorded multi-point games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks only the second time in Jets/Thrashers history that four of the team’s players have posted three or more points in the same game. The other such performance was on Jan. 19, 2002, when Pascal Rheaume (4-1—5), Ilya Kovalchuk (1-4—5), Dany Heatley (1-2—3) and Tony Hrkac (0-3—3) each did so in a 6-1 win over the Panthers.
* Wheeler matched his career high for assists/points in a single game, last accomplished Feb. 19, 2012 vs. COL (0-4—4).
Canadiens goaltender Dustin Tokarski made 29 saves to record his first NHL shutout (10 GP) . . . Capitals forwards Troy Brouwer (2-0—2) and Joel Ward (1-1—2) reached the 20-goal mark for the second and first time, respectively . . . Justin Schultz posted 1-1—2, including his second game-winning goal of the season, to help the Oilers wrap up their four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 record . . . Stars forwards Jamie Benn (4-6—10) and Tyler Seguin (5-6—11) extended their point streaks to seven and five games, respectively. Seguin also reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career . . . Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal scored his 14th goal of the season to stretch his point streak to six games (3-6—9) . . . Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald played in their 300th career game . . . Sabres goaltender Nathan Lieuwen stopped all 10 shots he faced in his NHL debut.
SNEAK PEEK AT MONDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Minnesota @ Boston, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2
Vancouver @ Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m., RDS2, SNET-P, SUN
Winnipeg @ St. Louis, 8:00 p.m., TSN-JETS, FS-MW
Phoenix @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., NHLN-CA, FS-A, FS-W
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