Another busy night, as we approach the one week post before the regular season starts. The cuts are being made fairly quickly now and teams are starting to play a few more of their regulars. Goalies are getting their full games in and the cream of the rookie crop is getting a chance to come to the top and be skimmed off for the regular season. It's all coming together quite nicely. Not a lot of surprises on the post this morning, just some of the usual suspects per team. Enjoy.
The Leafs and Sabres faced off in Buffalo on Wednesday night, where they played a pretty reasonably paced game. The Sabres came away with the 3-2 win, thanks to Ryan Miller's 23-save effort for the win. Miller is rounding into fine form in this training camp and he looks like he'll be ready to put together a pretty good season in Buffalo. Didn't look too out of the ordinary though...
The Thrashers and Predators had a bit of a wild one on Wednesday night, with Atlanta coming away with the 5-4 victory. Ondrej Pavelec, who is auditioning for the number one spot while Kari Lehtonen is on the shelf with a back injury, made 33 stops for the win. Josh Gratton, more known for his pugilism, scored a pair of goals in the game, while both Brian Little and Nikolai Antropov each finished the game with a goal and an assist.
The Predators also had a pretty good game, seeing Martin Erat score a pair of goals for their cause, while Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand each picked up a pair of assists. The Predators offense has done fairly well in the preseason and if they can continue to score goals like this, they shouldn't be in that bad of shape come the start of the season.
The Devils went onto Long Island to spoil the home preseason debut of John Tavares by winning the game 4-2 on Wednesday night. Expected back-up, Yann Danis, made 20 saves in the victory, while Nicklas Bergfors scored a goal and an assist and Brian Rolston & Cory Murphy each tallied a pair of assists. The Devils still have a full training camp roster (or close to it), so they should be due to make a number of cuts here pretty soon.
Semyon Varlamov received a lot of scoring help last night in the game against the Blackhawks. Varlamov still had to make 26 saves for the victory, but the scoreline read 6-2 for the Capitals, so it likely wasn't a stressful 26-save effort. It was 3-point efforts for the scoring bunch last night, as Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble registered a pair of goals and an assist each, while Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists and Alex Semin had three assists. Knuble is turning into a really good fit there in Washington, which is a scary prospect heading into the season.
A team fresh from making a large number of cuts on Wednesday, the leaner and meaner Panthers beat up on the Stars, taking their preseason tilt by a score of 4-1. Tomas Vokoun was in net for the Cats, making 23 stops for the victory. David Booth and Radek Dvorak each put together a goal and an assist in the game and Dennis Seidenberg had a pair of assists. The Panthers may be finding some chemistry here in the preseason, which means the Southeast Division is going to be a little bit more competitive this year.
The Colorado Avalanche pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Kings on Wednesday, thanks in large part to the 31-save effort by new Avs goalie, Craig Anderson. Anderson, signed on as a free agent in the summer from Florida, looking for that number one job. Well, that's the sort of game you want when applying for that job. The two candidates, Anderson and Peter Budaj will likely get at least another start each, if not two. Not sure what their schedule looks like.
In Loveland, Colorado, the Coyotes and Lightning partook in another neutral site preseason match-up, where the Coyotes ended up with a 4-3 shootout win. Unfortunately, there isn't a good boxscore on NHL.com, so all I can take is the goal scorers and goalies. Both Peter Mueller and Radim Vrbata had a goal in regulation and a goal in the shootout to lead the Coyotes to the victory. Jason LaBarbera was in net for the Coyotes, but there was no mention as to how many saves he made.
The Flames and Oilers took part in another Albertan preseason tilt on Wednesday night, with the Flames coming away victorious. Miikka Kiprusoff was in net for Calgary, making 24 stops in the 5-3 win. Curtis Glencross had another good night, scoring a pair of goals, while Jarome Iginla throws his name into the preseason ring with a goal and an assist. It was a well-rounded effort from the Flames, who dressed a pretty complete line-up.
The Oilers' lone bright spot in their loss came from Dustin Penner, who scored a goal and an assist in the game. Penner has been under the microscope since coming to Edmonton from Anaheim via the restricted free agency offer sheet and will need to shine this season to prove that he was worth while. The 2-point effort last night was a good stepping stone towards that.
The Canucks had a 3-goal third period to help climb back from a 2-0 deficit to help them on their way to a 4-3 shootout win against the Sharks. Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for the win, as he kept the Canucks in the game for the three regulation periods. Luongo should be getting one more start in this preseason, the 27th versus the Oilers.
The Sharks had three different goal scorers in their loss to Vancouver and had only three players to assist on those three goals, in different combinations, of course. Joe Thornton, Devin Setoguchi and rookie Jason Demers all figured onto the scoresheet twice. Thornton and Setoguchi we all know, while Demers, 21, is getting his second crack to make the Sharks blueline and a good evening like that should do well for his cause.