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Shorthanded Pens top Islanders

Wednesday, 02.27.2008 / 10:00 AM / Game-Day Skate

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Ty Conklin stopped 50 shots to help the Pens to a 4-2 win last night.
Watch Pens-Isles highlights
A few thoughts as we recover from the whirlwind of activity at the trading deadline:

It's Quality, Not Quantity – The New York Islanders fired everything but the kitchen sink at Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Ty Conklin on Tuesday night.

But an abysmal power play — combined with some head-scratching moves —added to a disappointing 4-2 loss, as Conklin stopped 50 shots to spoil the night for fans at the Nassau Coliseum.

But there were times Conklin didn't have to do a thing. The most puzzling play of the night came when Isles forward Sean Bergenheim opted to pass on a breakaway. Mother Teresa was more selfish.

"Our power play had a chance to get us the lead early, but we didn't move the puck, we didn't move our feet and we didn't execute the plays we worked on from the start of the year," Isles coach Ted Nolan said after watching his team go 1-for-9 with the man advantage. "It certainly let us down. There was no working together. Guys were on the other side and not supporting each other."

Pittsburgh was playing shorthanded following the trade that sent forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen to the Atlanta Thrashers as part of the Marian Hossa deal earlier in the day. The Pens played with a short bench until Connor James — who scored in the third period — and Nathan Smith arrived from Wilkes-Barre of the American Hockey League in the second (that's what happens when you don't have E-Z Pass).

"It was like pick-up hockey," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "Who is fresh goes on the ice."

Huet

Nothing Like Competition — No one was more surprised by the Washington Capitals' deadline-day acquisition of goalie Cristobal Huet than the team's perennial No. 1 goaltender, Olaf Kolzig.

Hours after the Caps plucked Huet from the Montreal Canadiens for a second-round draft pick in 2009, Kolzig showed he won't give up the job he's held for 10 years without a fight.

"I'm just going to play my game," Kolzig said after his 34-save performance led Washington to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. "If it's good enough to play, I'll play. If not, someone else will play."

It's not like the Capitals don't have options. Besides Kolzig and Huet, Brent Johnson is still with the club, too.

"What I'm shocked is that there are still three goalies here," Kolzig said. "I'm still here. It's not like I'm answering questions in Colorado or Phoenix."

Paying Dividends — The Carolina Hurricanes were desperate for scoring when they decided to claim the often-enigmatic Sergei Samsonov off waivers from Chicago on Jan. 8. The Russian winger showed on Tuesday night why he once was the eighth overall selection in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Samsonov

Samsonov scored both of Carolina's goals — including the game-winner 3:24 into overtime — as the Hurricanes notched an impressive 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at the RBC Center on Tuesday night. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and ended a horrid funk against New Jersey: In their first three games against the Devils this season, the Hurricanes were outscored 15-3.

"It was a good measuring stick for us," said Samsonov, who has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 22 games with Carolina after getting just four assists in 23 games with Chicago. "We got beat, three games in a row, pretty bad. It was in the back of our minds, no doubt. It was an important game just to prove to ourselves that we can match against anybody."

You Can Do It! — Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had a message for his club after declining to make any moves prior to Tuesday's trade deadline.

"He said he believed in this team," said Bruins forward David Krejci, who scored his first NHL goal Tuesday night in a 4-0 win over the Senators at Ottawa. “He said we have good chemistry on the ice, and that's why he didn't make any trades."

Ottawa did, acquiring forward Martin Lapointe from the Chicago Blackhawks for a sixth-round draft pick. Lapointe has three goals this season — or three more than what the Senators have over their last two games.

"We're deep into frustration right now," Sens coach John Paddock said after his team fell out of first place in the Eastern Conference following its second straight shutout loss. "We have to move the puck better, and we're not winning any battles."

Higgins

You Like Me! You Really Like Me! — After numerous rumors that he was headed elsewhere, Christopher Higgins ultimately remained a member of the Montreal Canadiens following the trade deadline.

A couple of hours after the deadline passed, Higgins went out and thanked his team the best way he knew how: He scored twice and added an assist to lead the Habs to a 5-1 win over the Marian Hossa-less Atlanta Thrashers.

Higgins had been among the players rumored to be headed to Atlanta if the Canadiens landed Hossa, who went to Pittsburgh instead.

"I didn't sleep this afternoon," said Higgins, who now has 21 goals. "I usually get a little nap in, but I went to bed with 20 minutes left in the deadline and didn't sleep the two hours I usually sleep. I woke up and wasn't moved, so I was definitely happy, but I think everyone's relieved. It's a collective sigh of relief from our team.”

While Higgins stayed put, goalie Cristobal Huet headed to Washington. That ultimately made rookie Carey Price the team's new No. 1 netminder. Price stopped 26 shots for the win Tuesday night.

"It just means I'm going to be playing more," Price said. "You can't overburden yourself with the pressure. I thought it was going to happen eventually and it just happened sooner than I expected."

Rolling Right Along — Hours after acquiring Brad Richards in a blockbuster deal, the Dallas Stars continued their surge toward the top of the Western Conference.

Eriksson

Trailing 1-0 heading into the third period, Loui Eriksson scored twice in the third to lead Dallas to a 3-1 win over the host St. Louis Blues. With the win, the Stars closed the gap on Detroit to just five points for the No. 1 seed in the West.

Eriksson had thrived on the top line alongside Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro. He now has four goals in his last two games.

"I've just tried to go to the net more," Eriksson said of his recent success. "I'm playing with two great guys, Ribeiro and Morrow, and they feed some good pucks in front and I just try to build my game. It's fun now and we're winning now, so that's good."

Who's He? — That wasn't a ghost wearing No. 52 for the Colorado Avalanche in Calgary on Tuesday. It really was Adam Foote, who was reacquired from Columbus during the day and made it to the Pengrowth Saddledome during the first period.

Colorado's front office arranged for a jet to fly Foote to Calgary, and he arrived in time to play 18:30 in the Avs' 3-2 overtime victory.

"I got there for the second period, but I wasn't warmed up," said Foote, a member of the Avs' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1996 and 2001. “Once I got going, I felt better. I can't believe (I'm back). We get guys back off injury, and then a few trades, it seems like we should have some pretty good energy."

Shootout Stopper – The Edmonton Oilers broke the NHL record for shootout wins by beating Detroit, 3-2, on Tuesday. It was their 13th victory in 16 shootouts, breaking Dallas' mark of 12 set in 2005-06.

Nilsson

Robert Nilsson got the winning goal, but Oilers coach Craig MacTavish says a lot of the credit for the shootout success falls squarely on the shoulders of goaltender Mathieu Garon, who is 9-0 in the penalty-shot competition.

"When you have a goaltender that has only allowed two goals in 29 shots, that's pretty spectacular. Especially with the quality shooters you face at this level,” MacTavish said. “One goal is normally enough in a shootout with Mathieu in net."

Nilsson said having Garon in net makes life easier for the Oilers' shooters.

"In shootouts he is awesome,” Nilsson said. “That's what gives us so much confidence in those situations. He stopped three out of three again today. He's one of the best shootout players in the world."

You can e-mail John Kreiser at jkreiser@nhl.com.



Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins