January 3, 2012

NHL Round Up - Highlighted by the Winter Classic

The big game of the afternoon was of course the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.The Flyers played host to the New York Rangers infront of a crowd of almost 47,000. With only 2 points separating the teams at the top of the Atlantic division and a fierce rivalry between them there was more at stake here than people might have thought. This wasn’t just a showcase game, both teams wanted the points and the bragging rights over their rivals.

It was a fast and furious 1st period without either team getting off the mark. Lundqvist was playing exceptionally well in the Rangers net and it took until 12.26 of the 2nd period before the Flyers finally got the opening goal of the game.

It was Brayden Schenn’s 1st NHL goal and what a game to get it in as he picked up a rebound in the crease off a Matt Carle shot and slammed it into the gaping net.

It was quickly 2-0 as Claude Giroux was sent through by Maxime Talbot and he went forehand to backhand to beat Lundqvist high over his blocker shoulder.

The Rangers took only 30 seconds though to get the score back to 2-1 as Mike Rupp snapped a shot from between the circles low past Bobrovsky who was screened by Meszaros. Rupp celebrated with a Jagr style salute which seemed to upset some of the Flyers players on the ice.

Ironically, Jaromir Jagr had seemed to pick up some sort of injury towards the end of the 1st which had limited him to only 7.06 of ice time. Most of that was through the 1st period as he was seen very little in the 2nd and not at all in the 3rd.

It was the 3rd period where things really hotted up as Mike Rupp got his 2nd of the game at 2.41. He squeezed a puck stick side on Bobrovsky where there really didn’t seem any room to do so.
Brad Richards gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead at 5.21 of the period as he received the puck at the top of the crease on a smart pass from Dubinsky and buried the puck into the back of the net.

Both teams then continued to create chances but none better than the Flyers chance to level the game with just under 20 seconds left as they were awarded a penalty shot with Ryan McDonagh adjudged to have covered the puck with his hand in the crease. The responsibility fell to Danny Briere but Lundqvist had been outstanding all game and was once again as he saved the shot and denied us all an extra 5 minutes of this wonderful event.

The Rangers came away with the 3-2 win, extending their lead in the Atlantic Division to 4 points whilst making it a 3-0 record against the Flyers this season.

In Vancouver, the Canucks hosted the San Jose Sharks and this game needed a shoot out to decide it. Jannik Hansen gave Vancouver the lead with just under 5 minutes left in the 1st period. He lead a 3 on 1 break out for the Canucks and although it looked like he had made a mess of it he somehow still managed to slide the puck on net and in off the San Jose defender Dan McGill who was diving in front of the net.

Vancouver edged the 1st period without creating any clear cut chances despite having 3 powerplay opportunities.

Ben Ferriero levelled the game 94 seconds into the 2nd period as he swept in the puck right on the doorstep as Bieksa had blocked one shot with his foot and stayed down by the side of the net.

San Jose started to create some momentum after the equaliser and Luongo fended off 6 shots on a Sharks powerplay soon after including a fantastic glove save from Thornton as the forward fired from point blank range.

Patrick Marleau gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead midway through the game. The Sharks pressure paid off as he picked up on a rebound from a Braun shot and back handed it past Luongo.

Thornton had a great chance to make it 3-1 but Luongo pulled off a pad save as the Sharks captain skated behind the Canucks defence and in on the netminder.

Hodgson then had a great chance for the Canucks as Joe Thornton gave the puck away on his own blue line and Hodgson went 1 on 1 with Niemi. The netminder managed to deflect the puck over with his arm as Hodgson tried to go high gloveside.

Vancouver had over a minute 5 on 3 at the start of the 3rd period as Burns and DeMurs sat for 2 minutes each but despite putting 4 shots on net they couldn’t find an equaliser at that point.

They finally got the equaliser with 8.25 left as Hodgson scored on the Canucks 6th powerplay of the game. Hamhuis got the puck out of the corner to Hodgson and he fired a one timer lower across Niemi and into the corner. Bieksa picked up the 2nd assist on the goal to extend his point scoring streak to 16 games.

The game stayed at 2-2 as both Luongo and Niemi fended off everything thrown at them for the remainder of the period. A 5 minute OT period couldn’t separate the teams either and it was decided on penalty shots. 

Burrows went 1st and missed as Niemi poke checked the puck away as he approached the net and then Luongo saved from Clowe as he tried to go stick side.

Hodgson went to his back hand side but Niemi saved with his blocker then Pavelski was shut out as he tried to go five hole on Luongo.

Kesler went right down the centre on Niemi and had the Sharks netminder backing into his net only to wrist the puck against the inside of the post which left Handzus with the chance to win it for San Jose. He did just that as he deked backhand to forehand and shot the puck past Luongo stick side.

In Ottawa the Senators staged a 3rd period comeback against the New Jersey Devils to tie up the game 2-2 before taking it 3-2 in Overtime.

The Devils built a 2-0 2nd period lead as Zubrus forced home a puck after Anderson had made a pad save on a Sykora attempt and then Clarkson tapped in a puck that Zajac had forced in behind the Senators netminder.

Spezza halved the advantaged a minute and a half into the 3rd period as he found some speed going in on Brodeur to fire the puck past him with ease.

It was Erik Condra who tied the game on a short handed play with just over 6 minutes of the game left as he fired from the wing and the puck somehow found a way through Brodeur.

That left it to Captain Daniel Alfredsson to win it 4 minutes into the overtime period as he fired the puck high stick side from the face off circle and into the net. It was a powerplay goal as Clarkson was serving a 2 minute hooking call and the Senators picked up the extra point.

In Chicago the Blackhawks were looking for some sort of revenge on the Edmonton Oilers after being battered 9-2 in their previous meeting in Edmonton. Things didn’t go to plan though and the Oilers took the 2 points with a 4-3 win.

Chicago had taken a 1st period lead as Toews beat Dubynk with a soft wrist shot that went straight through the Oilers goalie but 2 powerplay goals at the mid point of the 2nd saw the Oilers turn the game around. It was a 5 minute major penalty on Daniel Carcillo for boarding that saw the Blackhawks man thrown out and the Oilers get the powerplay chances.

First it was Ryan Smyth who put in the puck after a goal mouth scramble and then Taylor Hall fired in from an acute angle to give the Oilers a lead.

Andrew Brunette levelled the game at 12.39 of the 2nd as he tipped in a Hjalmarsson shot infront of Dubynk but Andy Sutton scored the Oilers 3rd before the end of the period as he found himself alone infront of the Blackhawks net to fire past Corey Crawford.

Ben Eager made it 4-2 at 8.17 of the 3rd as he swept a back handed shot across Crawford and in at the far post. This would prove to be the game winning goal and make some amends for his performance against Minnesota in the previous game.

Jimmy Hayes made it 4-3 with 4 minutes left to give the Oilers a scare towards the end but an equaliser could not be found. However, it was a 1st NHL goal for Hayes in only his 2nd game.

It was a low scoring affair between the LA Kings and the Colorado Avalanche as the Avs took a 2-1 win after a shoot out.

LA had taken a 2nd period lead through a Dustin Brown goal, the forward picking up a pass from behind the net from Kopitar and backhanding through Varlamov in the Avalanche net.

Ryan O’Reilly scored his 10th of the season to level the game in the 3rd period as he snapped the puck in off the far post with just over 5 minutes left.

It finished 1-1 after the overtime period and Milan Hejduk was the only one to stick his penalty shot inbetween the pipes and he took the extra point for Colorado.

- Adam Yates

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