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Nash ends drought emphatically

Tuesday, 01.01.2008 / 12:59 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Rick Nash's second career hat trick paced the Blue Jackets 4-2 win over the Oilers on New Year's Eve.
Only A Matter Of Time -- As far as Rick Nash is concerned, the only thing missing was a promo on Versus.

“Is this the night I break out my slump?”

After going eight games without a goal, the sniper scored three times – including two huge tallies in the third period – as the Blue Jackets picked up a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Nationwide Arena Monday night.

”I've been struggling lately,” Nash said. “Goals seem to come in bunches. They haven't been bouncing my way lately and tonight it was bouncing my way.”

Nash’s New Year’s resolution? Easy -- to not have another eight-game drought.

Oh, Brother! -- Talk about stealing the spotlight.

One period after watching his older brother score his first National Hockey League goal, Boston Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart potted the game-winning tally in a 5-2 win over Colin Stuart and the Atlanta Thrashers.

”It was nice,” Mark said. “He one-upped me earlier, so I had to do it.”

Typical. I’ll never forget several years back when my wife (then girlfriend) bought me PlayStation 2 for Christmas. My younger brother was so outraged that he immediately ran out and bought an XBox system.

I guess my smile was simply too much for him to bear.

Nothing like a sibling rivalry.

Road Warriors -- If the Sharks played half as well on home ice as they do on the road, the city of San Jose could start making plans for a June parade.

The Sharks won their 10th straight road game on Monday night, as Jonathan Cheechoo’s goal late in the third period broke a 2-2 tie as they earned a 3-2 win at Minnesota.

”I really don't know what it is,” Joe Thornton said. “We feel comfortable on the road. I can't put one thing on it. We try to play the same on the road as we do at home, but we got wins on the road, so it's been exciting.”

No truth to the rumor that the Sharks are asking to play their final 26 home games in that sparkling new building in Kansas City.

Manny Legace got his revenge against the Detroit Red Wings with a 2-0 victory on Monday night.

Sweet Revenge -- Think Manny Legace had Monday night circled on his calendar after what transpired last Wednesday?

Five days after being chased out of his net in a 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Legace stood on his head on Monday, stopping 17 shots alone in the third period to lead St. Louis to a 2-0 win at Joe Louis Arena.

"The guys played phenomenal for me," said Legace, who was a member of the Red Wings from 1999-2006. "I was awful after Christmas ... You have to bring your A-game (against the Red Wings) or you'll look bad."

You really want to know what’s awful after Christmas? Best Buy. I won’t go back there until at least Groundhog Day.

Shot In The Arm –Islanders fans, your power play quarterback is back.

After spending the majority of the season bouncing in and out of the lineup, Marc-Andre Bergeron scored twice on the power play and also had an assist as New York won in Carolina for the first time in almost four years.

”I knew that everything would be back to normal sooner than later, so hopefully I wasn't going to have to wait too long” to return, Bergeron said. “It's turning out pretty good right now, so hopefully, the worst is behind me.”

If the worst is indeed behind Bergeron, the Islanders will only benefit. Once Rick DiPietro returns to the lineup – a scenario that can unfold as early as Thursday night – all the pieces will be in place for Ted Nolan’s club.

I See The Light -- We all know how amazing Wayne Gretzky was as a player.

Turns out he’s becoming a pretty good coach, too.

Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes got back to the .500 mark (18-18-1) on Monday night, thanks to a 4-3 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche.

”We have many good days ahead of us,” Gretzky said. “There is a long road ahead of us, but there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

There is no question that the Coyotes have plenty of young talent up front (i.e. Peter Mueller, Radim Vrbata), but do you want to know the main reason why Phoenix is inching its way back into the Western Conference playoff race?

Two words: Ilya Bryzgalov.

Take That, Dallas! -- Dan Ellis isn’t bitter, but he sure showed the Dallas Stars on Monday night that he is an NHL-caliber goaltender.

Ellis

After spending several years in the Stars’ minor-league system – he was their second-round pick in 2000 – Ellis signed as a free agent with the Nashville Predators over the summer. Barry Trotz’s club has provided Ellis with a legitimate amount of playing time, and the latter is making the most of it.

Facing his former club on Monday night, Ellis stopped all 22 shots he faced, leading Nashville to a 1-0 win at Dallas.

”It always has some extra meaning when you play an organization that you were with for your whole pro career,” Ellis said. “I loved being a Dallas Star and have the utmost respect for their organization but tonight was an opportunity to play for the Predators. They're the ones that gave me a shot in the NHL.”

With Nashville currently on the outside looking in as far as the playoff race is concerned, it will be interesting to see how Trotz tries to split time between Ellis and Chris Mason.

Fifth Time Is The Charm – They were 0-3-1 in their first four games against the Vancouver Canucks this season, but Monday’s 2-1 win has the Calgary Flames just three points behind the Northwest Division leaders.

Not too many goaltenders can outplay Roberto Luongo in this league, but Miikka Kiprusoff did just that on Monday. Kiprusoff stopped 24 of 25 shots to give the Flames their second straight win. His performance was one of the reasons why Vancouver went 0-for-4 on the power play.

”Our (penalty killing) was good,” Kiprusoff said. “We had some trouble with them earlier in the season. We knew it was going to be key to do a good job. I think we did a much better job.”

The Flames are doing a much better job across the board. As long as they have Kiprusoff between the pipes, it would be foolish to count Calgary out.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Brian Compton can be e-mailed at: bcompton@nhl.com.

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness