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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
NEW YORK (April 18, 2006) -- The 2005-06 NHL season was highlighted by an historic increase in offense, a sensational rookie class, successful introduction of the shootout and playoff races that lasted until the campaign's final moments.

Some of the many points of interest:

Goal-Scoring takes biggest jump in 75 years

Teams scored a total of 7,443 goals (not including the 145 goals awarded to clubs winning a shootout), an average of 6.1 per game. The figure represents an 18% increase over the average of 5.1 goals scored in 2003-04.

The 2005-06 campaign marked the largest percentage increase in goal scoring since 1929-30, when the goals-per-game average jumped from 2.9 to 5.9 thanks to a new rule that permitted forward passing inside all three zones.

League's stars post huge point gains

The increase in overall goal scoring was reflected in substantial point total increases by star players over 2003-04 (among players who appeared in 60 or more games each season). Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal posted the biggest increase of 69 points, going from 11-20--31 in 2003-04 to 45-55--100 in 2005-06. Other players posting gains of 50 or more points were New Jersey Devils RW Brian Gionta (+60, 21-8--29 to 48-41--89); Anaheim Mighty Ducks RW Teemu Selanne (+58, 16-16--32 to 40-50--90); Ducks C Andy McDonald (+55, 9-21--30 to 34-51--85) and San Jose Sharks C Joe Thornton (+52, 23-50--73 to 29-96--125).

Most 50-goal, 100-point scorers in a decade

Five players recorded 50 goals this season, the most since eight players reached the 50-goal mark in 1995-96. Seven players reached 100 points, also the most since 1995-96.

San Jose Sharks RW Jonathan Cheechoo led the 50-goal club with 56, followed by New York Rangers RW Jaromir Jagr (54), Atlanta Thrashers LW Ilya Kovalchuk (52), Washington Capitals LW Alexander Ovechkin (52) and Ottawa Senators LW Dany Heatley (50).

Nine players surpassed the League-leading total of 41 goals in 2003-04: Cheechoo, Jagr, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Heatley, New Jersey Devils RW Brian Gionta (48), Philadelphia Flyers LW Simon Gagne (47), Carolina Hurricanes C Eric Staal (45) and Ottawa Senators RW Daniel Alfredsson (43).

San Jose Sharks C Joe Thornton collected a League-leading 125 points, the highest single-season total since Jagr's 127 points with Pittsburgh in 1997-98. Other 100-point scorers this season were Jagr (54-69--123), Ovechkin (52-54--106), Heatley (50-53--103), Alfredsson (43-60--103), Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (39-63--102) and Staal (45-55--100).

Nine players surpassed the League-leading total of 94 points in 2003-04: Thornton, Jagr, Ovechkin, Heatley, Alfredsson, Crosby, Staal, Kovalchuk (52-46--98) and Atlanta center Marc Savard (28-69--97).

Shootout notes

The League's new shootout generated spectacular goals and saves, showcasing the talent and skill of NHL skaters and goaltenders. Approximately 12% of all games (145 of 1,230, 11.8%) were decided in a shootout, with home clubs holding a 75-70 edge. Approximately one third of shootout attempts were successful (330 of 981, 33.6%).

The Dallas Stars led the League in shootout victories (12), winning percentage (12-1, .923) and shooting percentage (24 for 42, .571). Stars' LW Jussi Jokinen made headlines by scoring on each of his first nine attempts.
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