They've been in the NHL a long time, though never on the same team. But Slava Kozlov of the Atlanta Thrashers
and Viktor Kozlov
of the Washington Capitals
share more than a common, though unrelated, last name and home country. The two veteran Russian forwards are among the NHL's best when it comes to shootouts.
Slava Kozlov is tied with Tampa Bay center Jussi Jokinen
for the all-time lead with 17 shootout goals. But Kozlov has been more consistent; 10 of Jokinen's goals (on 13 tries) came in 2005-06, the first season in which the shootout was used. Since then, he's 7-for-16, including 2-for-4 last season. Kozlov had five goals in 14 tries for the Thrashers last season after going 7-for-11 in 2006-07 and 5-for-7 in 2005-06, a combined total of 17-for-32.
has been a shootout star for three teams. He was 8-for-12 for New Jersey in 2005-06, 5-for-13 (including the goal that sent New York into the playoffs) for the Islanders in 2006-07, and 3-for-7 for Washington last season. In all, that's 16-for-32.
Both Kozlovs have also been good when the game's on the line. Each has eight game-deciding goals, one less than Boston's Phil Kessel
, who's tops in the three seasons the NHL has used the shootout.
But the Kozlovs aren't the only shootout aces in the Eastern Conference:
Jussi Jokinen, Lightning --
Jokinen shares the mark for most shootout goals with Slava Kozlov, though he needed only 29 tries to get them. He did all his damage for Dallas before being dealt to the Lightning at the trade deadline in a package that sent Brad Richards
(another shootout star) LINK TO WEST STORY HERE to the Stars. Jokinen has fallen off since 2005-06, when he scored on a record nine consecutive tries.
Phil Kessel, Bruins --
Kessel doesn't deal in volume; he's 9-for-20 in two NHL seasons, a good-but-not-great 45-percent success mark. But every one of Kessel's goals, 4 in 2006-07 and 5 (in 13 tries) last season was a game-decider. No one has more -- even though the 20-year-old has only been in the NHL for two of the three seasons in which the shootout has been used.
Erik Christensen, Thrashers --
Like Jokinen, Christensen is a lower-line center who's deadly in shootouts and was traded at the deadline last February. The Penguins dealt him to Atlanta, setting up what figures to be one of the NHL's best 1-2 shootout combos. Christensen was 6-for-11 last season and is 15-for-26 (.577) in his career.
Miroslav Satan, Penguins --
Christensen is gone, but the Penguins shouldn't lose much thanks to the arrival of Satan as a free agent. In three seasons with the Islanders, Satan was 13-for-28 (46.4 percent), despite a 1-for-5 showing last season. He had 7 goals in 2005-06 and 5 more in 2006-07, and has 7 game-deciders.
Matt Cullen, Hurricanes --
Carolina plays few shootouts, a League-low 20 in three seasons and only five in 2007-08. That's too bad for Cullen, who was 2-for-3 last season and is 11-for 20 in his career, including two seasons with the 'Canes sandwiched around one with the New York Rangers
Nikolai Zherdev, Rangers --
Zherdev excelled in 2007-08 while enjoying his best NHL season for the Columbus Blue Jackets
. The Rangers acquired Zherdev hoping he can better his career-best totals of 25 goals and 61 points. But Zherdev also converted five of his eight shootout attempts, by far the best on the Jackets.
Zach Parise, Devils --
For a team like New Jersey that plays in a ton of shootouts (their 43 is the most in shootout history), it's vital to have players who can convert under pressure. Parise is one of those players. He was 4-for-11 with three game-deciders last season and is 12-for-28 (.429) in three seasons with 6 game-deciding goals.
Patrik Elias, Devils --
Elias wasn't much on shootouts in 2005-06 and 2006-07, going just 4-for-16. He must have made some adjustments last summer, because he turned into one of the League's best shootout gunners, going 5-for-6 for a .833 percentage that led all players who took five or more shots.
Saku Koivu, Canadiens --
Saku has to battle younger brother Mikko of the Minnesota Wild
for the title of best shootout artist in his family. Mikko has 13 career goals, but Saku is coming off a 5-for-11 performance and is now 10-for-20 in his career. His 50-percent success rate is slightly better than Mikko's 46.4.
Ales Kotalik, Sabres --
Kotalik isn't someone most fans think about when discussing players who do well in shootouts, but he's been consistently productive for the Sabres, going 5-for-12 last season and 12-for-25 in his career. Five of the 12 goals were game-deciders.