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COWBOYS GIVE SAINTS THEIR FIRST TASTE OF DEFEAT
The Cowboys ended the Saints' 13-game winning streak and handed New Orleans its first defeat of the season. It was the longest winning streak ever snapped by the Cowboys. Their previous high was in 1991, when they beat the 11-0 Redskins, winners of 12 in a row entering that game. (Washington had won its regular-season finale in 1990.)
ROMO TO AUSTIN SETS NFL RECORD
Tony Romo's first-quarter touchdown pass to Miles Austin was their 11th TD connection this season, setting a new NFL record for undrafted teammates. The old mark of ten was set by Billy Volek and Drew Bennett for the 2004 Titans.
SAINTS' EARLY GENEROSITY
The Saints trailed 14-0 after one quarter and they've allowed a league-high 99 points during the first quarter of games this season.
ALMOST LIKE HAVING THE NIGHT OFF
Kobe Bryant played only 35 minutes during the Lakers' win at New Jersey but he still managed to score 29 points, grab ten rebounds and distribute five assists. Bryant has reached those minimums in points, rebounds and assists in 29 regular-season games during his career, but Saturday night marked the first time he did so in a game which he played fewer than 39 minutes.
WILLIAMS ON TOP OF HIS GAME
Deron Williams scored 23 points and handed out ten assists to help the Jazz defeat the Bobcats. It was the league-high eighth 20/10 game (points/assists) of the season for Williams, including five in the last ten days (since Dec. 10).
ROY NOT SHY
Brandon Roy scored 33 points and shot 13-for-27 from the floor in the Trail Blazers' loss at Orlando. It was the sixth consecutive game that Roy had at least 20 field-goal attempts, one shy of the longest streak by an NBA player this season (seven straight games for Carmelo Anthony). Over the last 18 seasons (since 1992-93), the only other player to take at least 20 shots from the floor in each of six (or more) straight games for Portland was Zach Randolph, who had two such streaks of that length, including an eight-gamer in December 2003.
Tyreke Evans put an exclamation point on a meeting of the NBA's top two rookies with a game-winning layup in the final second of the Kings' one-point win at Milwaukee. Evans outscored Brandon Jennings, 24-15. Both rookies had played 11 games through November 21, with Jennings averaging 25.3 points per game compared to Evans' 18.2 PPG scoring average. But over the last three weeks (14 games for each player since Nov. 22), Evans has outscored Jennings by an average of five points per game (21.4 to 16.4).
ROCKETS EXTEND WINNING STREAK VS. THUNDER
The Rockets defeated the Thunder in Houston to post their 13th consecutive win against the Seattle/Oklahoma City franchise. It matches the longest current winning streak for any NBA team against a particular opponent. The Mavericks have 13 straight wins against the Timberwolves and the Spurs have won their last 13 games against both the Nets and Clippers.
DUNCAN LEADS SPURS AT BOTH ENDS OF THE FLOOR
Tim Duncan's game-winning field goal in the final seconds of the Spurs' one-point win over the Pacers capped a night in which he blocked three shots and grabbed 16 rebounds, including eight off the offensive glass. It was the tenth time that Duncan registered at least three blocks and eight offensive boards in a regular-season game. Surprisingly, San Antonio has a losing record in those games (4-6).
CLIPPERS BEAT SIXERS IN OVERTIME
The Clippers defeated the 76ers in overtime at Wachovia Center. The Sixers, who had won their previous five overtime games, all on the road, hadn't played an overtime game at home in more than two years (since Nov. 24, 2007). They haven't posted an OT win in Philadelphia in the last three seasons (last was April 8, 2007).
DANIS WINS IN RELIEF OF BRODEUR
Yann Danis replaced Martin Brodeur in goal for the Devils at the start of the second period with New Jersey trailing Atlanta, 3-1, and Danis earned a victory when the Devils came from behind to beat the Thrashers, 5-4. It was only the fourth time that a New Jersey goaltender posted a relief win in a game Martin Brodeur started. The previous instances are almost ancient history, since the most recent was more than 11 years ago. Chris Terreri was the first Devils goaltender to come off the bench and win in relief of Brodeur (April 14, 1995 vs. Islanders), and Mike Dunham was the relief winner the last two times (Nov. 16, 1996 vs. Tampa Bay and April 15, 1998 vs. Buffalo). In all four games, Brodeur was taken out after giving up three goals.
LIVING UP TO HIS NAME
Ottawa goaltender Mike Brodeur, who says he is a "very distant" relative of the all-time wins leader, Martin Brodeur, made his NHL debut on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory against the Wild. Mike is the first goaltender to win his NHL debut this season, and only the third netminder in Senators history to do so. The others were Jani Hurme (April 2000) and Brian Elliott (October 2007). Martin Brodeur also won his first NHL game (March 26, 1992 vs. Boston), though he allowed one more goal in his debut than Mike Brodeur gave up against Minnesota.
MARKOV IMPRESSIVE IN RETURN
Andrei Markov, who had not played since he suffered a cut tendon in his left foot in the Canadiens' season opener, returned to action on Saturday night and scored two power play goals in Montreal's 3-0 win on Long Island. Markov was the first Canadiens defenseman to score two power play goals in one game since Sheldon Souray did that in Tampa on Nov. 15, 2006. Two other NHL defensemen have scored two PPGs in a game this season: Detroit's Niklas Kronwall (Nov. 11 at Columbus) and Dallas' Stephane Robidas (Dec. 17 at Atlanta).
HALAK BUSY IN SHUTOUT WIN
Jaroslav Halak made 40 saves in his 3-0 win over the Islanders. The last time a Canadiens goaltender posted a shutout in a game in which he faced at least 40 shots on goal was Jose Theodore's 42-save, 3-0 win against the Islanders in Montreal on Nov. 7, 2002.
HILLER BEATS COYOTES
Jonas Hiller, who extended his winning streak to three games with a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes on Saturday, is 8-0-2 against Phoenix in his NHL career. Hiller's .900 points percentage versus the Jets/Coyotes franchise is the highest for any of the 91 goaltenders, active or retired, who have faced them at least ten times.
LETANG WINS ANOTHER SHOOTOUT
Kris Letang scored the shootout decider in the Penguins' win at Buffalo on Saturday, after doing the same thing in Pittsburgh's victory at Philadelphia on Thursday. It's the second time that Letang has scored the shootout-winning goal in each of two consecutive team games. He did that in Penguins games at Calgary and Vancouver in December 2007. No other NHL player has done so more than once.
LUNDQVIST STOPS FLYERS
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 of 37 Flyers shots on goal (including all 28 over the final two periods) to almost single-handedly lead the Rangers to a 2-1 win in Philadelphia. Lundqvist is 6-0-1 in the seven games in which he's faced at least 35 shots on goal this season, allowing no more than two goals in any of those games. The victory improved his career record in Philadelphia to 7-1-0. During Lundqvist's five seasons in the NHL, the only other goaltender with seven or more wins as a visitor to Philadelphia is the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury (9-3-0).
TWO GOALS FOR SKRASTINS
Karlis Skrastins scored his first two goals of the season in the Stars' victory against the Red Wings, including the game-winner early in the third period. It was the first multiple-goal game in the defenseman's 11-year NHL career. Entering play on Saturday, Skrastins had played the fifth-most games (711) among active skaters who had never scored more than one goal in an NHL game, behind fellow defensemen Sean O'Donnell, Hal Gill, Ruslan Salei and Jay McKee.
ERAT MATCHES MONTHLY HIGH
Martin Erat scored the first goal and assisted on two more in the Predators' win at Calgary. He leads Nashville with eight goals and 15 points in ten games this month, after recording only four goals and nine points in 23 games this season through the end of November. Erat's eight goals in December equal his career high for any calendar month; he scored eight goals in 12 games in November 2007.
HURRICANES HOLD ON TO LEAD
The Hurricanes took a 3-0 lead in the second period of their game against the Panthers on Saturday and held on for a 3-2 win. Carolina has had a three-goal lead in four of its eight games in December, after leading by three goals or more in only three of 27 games this season through the end of November.
LEAFS ROOKIE BLANKS BRUINS
Maple Leafs rookie Jonas Gustavsson posted the first shutout of his NHL career with a 2-0 win against the Bruins on Saturday night. Over the last 12 seasons, the only other Toronto rookie to record a shutout was Mikael Tellqvist, who had two in 2005-06.
EARLY STRIKE BY THE AVALANCHE
The Avalanche had a 4-0 lead by the 8:02 mark of the first period in their win against the Blue Jackets. It was the second-fastest four goals from the start of a game by the Avs since the team moved to Colorado in 1995. They scored four times in the first 6:37 of an 8-1 win over the Oilers on St. Patrick's Day in 1996.