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A look at the busiest night of the NHL season

by John Kreiser
Fourteen games in just over six hours -- what more could a hockey fan ask for? (Multiple TVs? An unending supply of snacks and beverages? A DVR, perhaps?) Saturday night was the busiest evening of the season, with hockey from coast to coast to coast. In all, 28 of the NHL's 30 teams suited up on Saturday, with only the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers getting the evening off. Happily for everyone, Sunday is a day of rest -- the only one on the schedule that's not related to the Christmas holiday or the All-Star break.

Here's a look at some of Saturday's highlights:

By the Numbers -- Visiting teams came out slightly ahead. Home teams were 7-7-0; the visitors visiting teams went 7-6-1. The home team won the only shootout.

The 14 games generated 70 goals, exactly five per game. Washington and Calgary combined for the most (9); the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs produced the fewest (2). The 70 goals came on 855 shots.

The 28 teams combined for 490 penalty minutes (35 per game). Nearly 25 percent of those came in one game, as the New York Islanders (73) and Philadelphia Flyers (47) combined for 120. New Jersey and Los Angeles combined for just 10 PIM, as did Chicago and Minnesota..

Tampa Bay and Phoenix combined for the fewest shots -- 46 (23 apiece). Buffalo and Dallas had the most with 75, including 41 by the Stars. 

There were 13 sets of fighting majors; six of those came in the matchup between Pacific Division rivals San Jose and Anaheim.

Stoppers -- In the battle between shooters and goaltenders, Saturday belonged to the guys who stop the pucks.

Five of the 14 games ended in shutouts, and five of the other nine saw the losing team score just one goal. Just one game saw each team score as many as three goals -- St. Louis beat Atlanta 4-3 in a shootout.

The best performance in a shutout belonged to Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped all 36 shots he faced in New York's 2-0 victory at Toronto. But no one stopped more shots in a victory than Florida's Tomas Vokoun, who made 40 saves in the Panthers' 3-1 victory at Montreal. Jonathan Quick stopped 39 in Los Angeles' 3-1 victory against New Jersey. Quick had the busiest period, stopping all 20 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes.

Hats off -- While five goaltenders put up zeroes, just one shooter managed a hat trick. St. Louis' Jay McClement scored all three of the Blues goals during regulation before his team won in a shootout. It was McClement's first NHL hat trick.

Sharpshooters -- Goaltenders had stopped four of the six previous penalty shots this season, but Saturday wasn't their night. Frans Nielsen of the Islanders, Ryan Callahan of the Rangers, David Booth of the Florida Panthers and David Steckel of the Washington Capitals all scored on penalty shots as shooters went 4-for-4. Nielsen's came with the Islanders playing down two men -- the first time a player has scored on a 3-on-5 situation this season. Steckel's also came after he was hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway.

Comebacks -- Two teams came back to win after spotting the opposition a two-goal lead. St. Louis trailed 3-1 with less that seven minutes remaining but rallied to tie the game in overtime and win 4-3 in the night's only shootout. Washington spotted the Calgary Flames a 2-0 lead in the first period, then scored seven goals in the next 23:01 on the way to a 7-2 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Fastest gun in the West -- It was a big night for Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who set a personal best by scoring two goals in 12 seconds early in the second period -- before Saturday, his fastest two goals had been 28 seconds apart. Ovi missed matching Steve Leach's team record by two seconds.

It was Ovechkin's second two-goal performance of the season. Ironically, the other one came in the Caps' other seven-goal night -- he had a pair in Washington's 7-2 demolition of New Jersey on Oct. 9.
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