Two minutes


Mathieu Garon, Columbus Blue Jackets

Steve who? Former Calder Trophy what?

Garon recorded his second straight shutout - and matched his total from last season - by turning aside 25 shots in a 3-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.

The longtime journeyman has four career wins at Philips Arena, three by shutout.

"I don't know what it is about this building," Garon said. "There's always teams that for some reason - I'm not saying it's easier - you have more wins against."

If one-time rookie of the year Steve Mason isn't hearing footsteps, he should. Garon is 4-0-0 with a 0.89 goals-against average.

The win improved the Blue Jackets to 8-4-0, making the Central Division perhaps the best in the NHL this season. All five teams are separated by three points.

Speaking of the Central Division ...

Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues

Three shutouts and a 0.73 GAA in his last four games. Not bad.

With a 2-0 win over the San Jose Sharks, Halak moved into a tie with Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins for the league lead in whitewashes.

"(Halak) plays into a lot of the things we talked about right from Day 1 in training camp - how we're going to show up and work every day, how we're going to prepare, how we're going to play and how we're not going to allow one day to affect the next," Blues coach Davis Payne told the NHL's official website. "We're just going to get back at it and he plays goal with that mindset.

"It's one play to the next and away we go. Very few highs and lows, just steady performances, and that's what we want out of our hockey team. We tailor things to opponents, but when we talk about our game we want it to be steady, consistent and at a high level and he plays right into that."

Now the test begins. Starting Friday night in Boston, the Blues will play seven games in 11 days with six away from St. Louis, where they're 6-0-0 in 2010-11.

Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Spezza proved that with a goal and three assists in Ottawa's 4-1 win over the New York Islanders.

The four points was one shy of his season total he had coming into the contest. Groin injuries have kept the high-scoring whipping boy out of the lineup.

"We don't watch the standings at this point in the season, but we do judge (ourselves) by how we're playing and you want to be playing good hockey. We're heading in the right direction and to get a few wins in a row here would be nice," Spezza told the team's official website earlier on Thursday.


Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

Jumbo Joe is probably looking at a suspension after laying out David Perron with an elbow to the head in a shutout loss to St. Louis.

Early in the second period, Thornton got a boarding minor for flattening T.J. Oshie. Seven seconds after coming out of the box, he ran Perron, but didn't think much of it.

"I felt like I established myself on the ice," Thornton said. "I just braced myself for the hit. He just ran into me, to be honest with you."

Perron would later score on a pretty backhand.

Three games sounds about right for Thornton to sit and feel shame - the same number of games given to Phoenix's Shane Doan and Philadelphia's Danny Briere for their respective head shots in recent weeks.

The New York Islanders

Has the Scott Gordon death watch begun yet?

If not, why?

With a loss to Ottawa, Team Fishsticks has been outscored 29-11 while losing six in a row.

"We didn't score," Gordon said. "I mean, we had two breakaways, we had a couple of point-blank chances in the slot that we didn't bury on and right now we're just going through a situation where it seems like every time we do make a mistake it's in the back of our net and we don't get the same kind of return on our chances."

It also doesn't get any easier immediately with a home game against Philadelphia before a three-game swing through California. Makes me wonder if Gordon will be returning from the West Coast with the rest of the team.

The Sharks ... provided they're not in San Jose.

It's been a while since the Sharks scored on the road. Like, a looooooong while.

To be precise, 185 minutes and 15 seconds since John McCarthy scored in the third period of a 6-1 rout of Edmonton on Oct. 23.

That was San Jose's third straight road win in which the Sharks found the back of the net 13 times. After that, there was a 4-0 loss in Calgary on Oct. 24 followed by a 1-0 defeat in Minnesota on Tuesday.

No team has been blanked in four straight road games since the Montreal Canadiens from Feb. 3-15, 1938.

"It's been kind of all or nothing," San Jose forward Joe Pavelski said. "We have to figure it out. We're offensively challenged right now."


"That was a real playoff game. It was a real hard-fought battle. Nobody was going to give each other an inch, and there wasn't much out there for either team to get some offense. We're similar teams, in that we don't give much to the opponent. It was going to come down to who was going to make the mistake, and we made that little mistake and they capitalized on it. - Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher after the Lightning's 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in a matchup involving surprise division leaders

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