Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky
earned a special footnote in NHL history last Sunday. The speedy forward snapped a shot past Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire
for the 1,000th shootout goal scored in the two-plus seasons since the NHL adopted the penalty-shot competition to settle tied games.
It’s somewhat appropriate that Hemsky was the one who scored the milestone goal. He did it on his 35th career shootout attempt -- the most among all NHL players; four more than runner-up Slava Kozlov of Atlanta. Hemsky and teammate Sam Gagner are tops among all players this season with 15 attempts; they share the single-season record with Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, both of whom had 15 attempts last season. Koivu scored eight times, Hemsky six, and Gagner and Crosby were successful five times.
The successful attempt was the 12th of Hemsky’s career; he’s five behind all-time leaders Kozlov and Jussi Jokinen, who had 17 in 29 tries while with Dallas before being dealt to Tampa Bay at the trading deadline.
Goal No. 1,000 came in the 434th game to reach a shootout -- one out of every eight games since it was adopted in 2005-06. This season has been the best of the three for goaltenders: Through 1,013 games (126 shootouts), goalies had stopped 68.2 percent of shootout attempts, up from 66.4 in 2005-06 and 67.2 last season.
Fast starters -- San Jose finished off its eight-game road trip last Saturday by setting an odd NHL record by scoring first for the 16th-consecutive game away from home. It’s the longest streak since the League began tracking that statistics 18 years ago.
Center Joe Pavelski's goal at 16:41 of the first period gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead over St. Louis in a game that San Jose won 2-0. The last time an opponent scored first against San Jose was at Anaheim on Dec. 16 when rookie forward Bobby Ryan scored for the Ducks at 13:41 of the first period. The Sharks won that game in a shootout.
The Sharks are 10-5-1 during their streak; they are 22-8-3 away from HP Pavilion this season.
Wednesday wonders -- Though they had lost 10 of their last 12 games before hosting the St. Louis Blues on March 5, the Detroit Red Wings had every reason to be confidence going into the game. That confidence was justified when the Wings beat the Blues 4-1 -- the win improved their record on Wednesdays to 11-0-0. No other team is perfect while playing more than four games on any day of the week: Montreal is 4-0-0 on Wednesdays and Dallas has won all four games played on Sundays.
The worst single-day showings are also on Wednesdays: Nashville is 0-5-1, Los Angeles is 1-7-0 and Pittsburgh is 1-6-0. The Penguins are 37-18-7 in games played on the other six days of the week.
He’s the 1 -- No goaltender in recent memory has had a two-game stretch to equal the one Florida’s Craig Anderson put together this past week. Anderson stopped 53 shots in the Panthers’ 1-0 road victory over the New York Islanders on Sunday, then made 4-0 saves two nights later in a 1-0 overtime victory at Boston. The Panthers became the first team in NHL history to win back-to-back 1-0 wins, both on the road.
Anderson’s 53 saves against the Islanders were the most in a shutout since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1955, and he set another mark by making 93 saves in a two-game span without allowing a goal. In all, he stopped 106 consecutive shots between goals.
Firing blanks -- For all of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ problems over the past few years, one area in which the Leafs have excelled is capitalizing on two-man advantages. Not this season.
The Leafs were No. 1 in the NHL in 5-on-3 goals in each of the past two seasons, scoring 23 in 2005-06 and 15 last season. But this season, they have just two, tying them with Nashville and Edmonton for next-to-last -- Colorado, St. Louis and Washington have just one apiece.
The most impressive penalty-killing efforts this season belong to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have yet to allow a goal while playing two men down.
Middle men -- If you want to beat the Dallas Stars, you’d better slow them down in the second period. Dallas has outscored its opponents by a League-high 30 goals (73-43) in the middle period. The 43 goals allowed are the fewest surrendered by any team in the second period this season. Phoenix (plus-23) and Detroit (plus-18) are a distant second and third.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have the biggest positive differential in the second period among Eastern Conference teams at plus-18 (77-59), followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning at plus-15. So why are the Lightning last in the conference and the Leafs barely hanging on in the playoff race? The Bolts are minus-33 (60-93) in the third period -- the 93 goals allowed are the most by any team in any period this season, as is the negative differential. The Leafs are an NHL-worst minus-21 (47-68) in the first period.
A night to remember -- Washington’s 10-2 rout of the Boston Bruins Monday was a night the Caps and their fans will savor for a while.
* The Caps had as many multiple-goal scorers (three) as they did in their previous 18 games combined;
* They scored more than three goals against the Bruins for the first time since Dec. 11, 2003;
* They scored four power-play goals for the first time since March 18, 2004;
* Alex Ovechkin scored three goals in a period for the first time in the NHL.
But the best news for the Caps may have been that a crowd of 17,189 turned out -- the eighth-straight time the Caps have drawn more than 17,000 to the 18,277-seat Verizon Center. Ovechkin’s 13-year contract extension has paid some quick dividends: Since the deal, Washington has drawn an average attendance of 16,741 -- up nearly 23 percent from the average attendance through the first 20 home games (13,643).
Most valuable (missing) player -- If MVP awards were given to players based on how teams perform when they’re not in the lineup, Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson would have a good case for the Hart Trophy. Alfredsson missed his ninth game of the season on Thursday night when the Senators visited Los Angeles. Without their captain, the Sens are 1-8, including a 2-0 loss to the Kings.