Saturday, December 22, 2007

Two out of three for metro teams last night

All in all, it was a pretty successful night for the three metro area teams last night on the road.
First, the struggling Islanders got some much needed offense from a couple of unlikely sources in Andy Hilbert (tying marker) and rookie Blake Comeau's first NHL career goal in a come from behind 4-2 win over the Penguins at Mellon Arena. Trent Hunter added his sixth for insurance.

It was their 16th win of the season and points 33 and 34, which pulled them within one of the Flyers who fell in Buffalo 3-2 due to a late Jochen Hecht tally. It was the Sabres' season best fifth consecutive win which put them into seventh in the East with 37 points.

Meanwhile, the Fishsticks will try to carry momentum into tonight's home game against the Caps.

The first place Devils continued their Western Canadian road trip by scoring three times in the final stanza to earn a 3-1 come from behind victory over the Oilers at Rexall Place.

They had trailed after 40 minutes 1-0 on a first period tally from Oiler defenseman Joni Pitkanen but New Jersey got goals 35 seconds apart from Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta (PPG) to take the lead for good. John Madden added an empty netter with 29 ticks remaining to seal the deal for points 40 and 41, gaining a point on the second place Rangers who fell in OT to Colorado 4-3.

Speaking of them, it was another listless defensive effort which doomed Tom Renney's club. If not for some splendid netminding from Henrik Lundqvist in the opening stanza where he stood on his head denying all 16 Avs' shots, it would've been a long night with no points possible.

However, King Henrik gave his team a chance to steal a victory. The lone tally in the opening period came off the stick of veteran finisher Brendan Shanahan, who was setup perfectly in front by leading scorer Scott Gomez for a power play goal. They were lucky to escape up a goal but continued to struggle defensively and finally paid the price when Milan Hejduk struck twice within a 4:16 span to give the Avs a lead.

But the Blueshirts responded quickly on the next two shifts to go back in front thanks to blueliners Michal Rozsival (9th) and rookie Marc Staal.

It would be all Colorado in the third as Marek Svatos forced OT with his 11th in a stanza which the Avs outshot the Rangers 9-5.

Lundqvist wasn't able to bail his team out in the extra session as Wojtek Wolski tallied the winner just 76 seconds in. They'll take the point (38) and return home tomorrow to host conference leader Ottawa before the two-day Christmas break.

We'll see if they can rise to the challenge in the final meeting against the Sens who will be out for revenge stemming from a Ranger 5-2 win on Dec.1.

Note: With a couple of helpers, Gomez extended his point streak to eight straight. During that span, the Anchorage Alaskan native who will turn 28 tomorrow has posted three goals and eight assists. If you got back even further, Gomer has points in 21 of his last 24 contests since Nov.1.

Tis The Season For Gomer

GP G A Pts +/-
Oct. 11 2 1 3 -2
Nov.-Dec. 24 6 21 27 +6

One other key stat we'll throw at you about the Rangers this season.

Avery The Key Ingredient
GP W L OT/SO L Pts GF GA Diff.
*NYR record w/ Avery 14 9 4 1 19 34 29 +5
NYR record no Avery 21 8 10 3 19 48 56 -8

*3-0 in shootouts when Avery dressed

Sean Avery: 14 games, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, 30 PIM, +1 rating, PPG, GW

Who said the agitator doesn't make a big difference?

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