Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar(notes) and Calgary center Craig Conroy(notes) played their 1,000th NHL games this week. The veterans didn’t get to celebrate the moment for very long, however, as both the Senators and Flames lost. Meanwhile, Montreal heads into the weekend sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference, while Edmonton is back where they ended up last season – in the Western Conference basement. Oh well, at least rookie Taylor Hall scored his first NHL goal, a deflection against Columbus on Thursday night.
Here’s a look at how the NHL’s Canadian teams fared last week – and a look ahead to what’s in store on the weekend.
The Week That Was: The Flames blanked San Jose 4-0 last Sunday behind Miikka Kiprusoff’s(notes) shutout goaltending and red-hot winger Rene Bourque’s(notes) two-goal effort. A 5-4 victory over Alberta rival Edmonton on Tuesday gave Calgary five wins in six games, but the Flames blew a 4-1second-period lead and needed Alex Tanguay(notes) to score in the shootout to secure the win. Backup Henrik Karlsson(notes), a 6-foot-6 Swede in his first pro season in North America, got his second start on Thursday against Colorado – to disastrous results. Karlsson was exposed in a 6-5 loss to the Avs, allowing five goals in the final 25 minutes of the game.
The Week That Was: The Oilers have dropped six games in a row after opening the regular season with back-to-back wins, including three losses last week. Edmonton was thumped 6-1 by San Jose last Saturday – at home and on Hockey Night In Canada, no less – and then came up short in consecutive shootouts on the road, falling 5-4 at Calgary on Tuesday and 3-2 at Columbus on Thursday.
The Weekend That Will Be: Edmonton isn’t getting a break from the schedule, with a game in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup champions on Friday night.
The Week That Was: The Habs won three in a row last week to run their streak to five victories in six games and improve their Northeast Division-leading record to 6-2-1. Carey Price(notes) blanked the Senators 3-0 in Ottawa last Saturday night for his first shutout in nearly two years while Andrei Kostitsyn(notes) scored in all three wins, collecting four goals and six points, including the overtime winner in a 3-2 decision over Phoenix on Monday.
The Weekend That Will Be: The Canadiens have back-to-back games, at Long Island on Friday – with Alex Auld(notes) set to make his debut in net for Montreal – and at home against Florida on Saturday. Both the Islanders and Panthers have gotten off to decent starts, but these games represent a great chance for Montreal to keep streaking. The anticipated return of linchpin defenseman Andrei Markov(notes) will also help the Habs’ cause.
The Week That Was: The Senators kicked off a four-game homestand with an uninspiring 3-0 loss to Montreal last Saturday, but rebounded with wins over Phoenix (5-2) and Florida (5-3). Snakebitten veteran Alexei Kovalev finally scored, collecting two goals – and an assist – against the Coyotes and a goal against the Panthers; Kovalev and Sens defenseman Erik Karlsson(notes) combined to score two goals in nine seconds against Phoenix, setting a team record. With Pascal Leclaire(notes) recovering from a groin injury, Brian Elliott(notes) made his sixth straight start against Florida.
The Weekend That Will Be: Ottawa goes for a third consecutive win at home against divisional rival Boston on Saturday night.
The Week That Was: The Leafs continued to fall back to earth after their rocket of a 4-0-0 start. Toronto dropped a 5-2 decision at Philadelphia last Saturday, then rebounded with a 3-1 win over visiting Florida on Tuesday to snap a three-game winless skid. The good times didn’t last, though, as Toronto couldn’t get one past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas(notes) on Thursday in a 2-0 defeat at Boston. The highlight of the week was enforcer Colton Orr’s(notes) second goal of the young season – the game-winner against Florida – as Tim Brent’s(notes) shot from the slot hit Orr and went in as the Leafs tough guy was tied up (and probably interfering) with Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen(notes).
The Weekend That Will Be: The Leafs host the Rangers on Saturday night in the third game of the season between the Original Six rivals. This is the rubber match, with the road team winning the first two games.
The Week That Was: It wasn’t a busy week for the Canucks, who played just two games, but it certainly was hectic. Vancouver beat Minnesota 5-1 last Friday, but lost agitator Rick Rypien(notes) to a six-game suspension for grabbing a Wild fan as he left the ice after being ejected. The incident, which lasted a moment and was relatively minor, led to a debate on player-fan confrontations. The Canucks didn’t get distracted, though, following up with a 4-3 overtime win over Colorado as Mason Raymond(notes) stole the puck and poked it past Avs backup Peter Budaj(notes). This was the game in which Craig Anderson(notes), Colorado’s No. 1 goalie, hurt his knee in warm-ups and is now sidelined indefinitely. Roberto Luongo(notes) made 36 saves on 39 shots in his best performance of the season.
The Weekend That Will Be: It’s the calm before the storm. The Canucks don’t play this weekend, but face 13 games in the first 26 days of November, including four games in six days next week. Vancouver hopes to get back winger Alex Burrows and defenseman Dan Hamhuis(notes) from injuries, while Rypien is eligible to return next Saturday.