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Pads? Who needs pads? Not Legace

Wednesday, 01.30.2008 / 9:35 AM / Game-Day Skate

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Manny Legace finished last night's game with 23 saves for the Blues, giving his team a much-needed victory. watch Legace highlights
Some random thoughts before I apply to be the Anaheim Ducks’ travel agent:

Lost And Found – With his equipment in limbo, St. Louis Blues goaltender Manny Legace almost didn’t get to play Tuesday night.

Legace, who followed a solid performance at the All-Star Game on Sunday by spending the majority of Monday at the airport in Atlanta (think I’d rather have root canal, but I digress), and then couldn’t practice with the team Tuesday morning. His equipment still was missing.

''I was still doubting myself when I came to the rink tonight. I wasn't sure how I would react to all that,'' Legace said after the Blues ended a seven-game slide (0-5-2) with a 3-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. ''But we got lucky tonight.''

Legace finished with 23 saves for the Blues, giving his team a much-needed victory in his hometown – a town that could lose Mats Sundin in the next few weeks. With the trade deadline looming – and the Leafs struggling – the Toronto captain could be shipped to a contender.

''Of course we'll sit down with Mats eventually,'' Leafs interim General Manager Cliff Fletcher said. ''But it's not even Feb. 1 yet; it's very premature. There's nothing going on in the League yet. I just want him to lead the way and see if we can win some hockey games.''

If Sundin does get traded, let’s just hope his gear doesn’t have to go through Atlanta.

Capital Punishment – The Montreal Canadiens have picked up where they left off.

Huet

Cristobal Huet made 35 saves and shut down Alex Ovechkin as the Habs started the second half of the season by winning their third-straight game with a 4-0 victory against the Washington Capitals in front of a capacity crowd at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens gave Huet – who notched his 15th career shutout – plenty to work with early. Three of their four tallies came in the first period.

"We had a really strong first period," said captain Saku Koivu, who scored Montreal’s third goal. "We wanted to get the fourth goal and we weren't sitting on the lead, but at the same time we were playing well defensively and playing smart defensively."

Quote of the night goes to Alexei Kovalev – who took a shot from Caps defenseman Tom Poti off his thumb in the second period. Kovalev managed to score in the third to extend the Canadiens’ lead to four.

"It's really blue," Kovalev said, holding up his bruised thumb which had darkened under the nail with pooled blood. "I don't know if it's broken or not, I'm going to have X-rays, but it's just a thumb. I still have four fingers left."

Talk about being a glass-is-half-full kind of guy. Anybody else think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail after reading that quote? It’s just a flesh wound!

Can We Stay, Mom? Please! – What is it about the St. Pete Times Forum that brings out the best in the Buffalo Sabres?

Lindy Ruff’s team hasn’t exactly been on fire during the past two months, but as soon as it gets to Tampa Bay, everything changes.

The Sabres made it six in a row on the Lightning’s home ice Tuesday night, as Jason Pominville had a goal and two assists in a 4-2 victory. Buffalo has won nine times in its last 10 trips to Tampa.

''You can't explain why you struggle against teams,'' Ruff said. ''And you can't explain why you end up having success against them. We've had good success in this building for whatever reason. I like Tampa.''

So do a lot of other teams.

Fort Never-win – The first month of 2008 almost is in the books, and the New York Islanders still haven’t found the win column at Nassau Coliseum.

Fisher

After falling into a 3-0 hole, coach Ted Nolan’s club clawed its way back into things to make it a one-goal game. But a horrid giveaway in the Isles’ zone led to an easy goal for Mike Fisher, and the Ottawa Senators skated away with a 5-2 victory.

The Islanders have just one more chance in January to win a home game, as they host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

"We talked before the game about making turnovers, which you can't do against a team like this," Nolan said. "We made a good comeback to make it 3-2, but we had a turnover to make it 4-2 and then another to make it 5-2. Those type of things we just can't do."

You know what else the Isles can’t do? Hit the net. My gosh, it reminds me of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” at a 5-year-old’s birthday party.

Rolling Along – The Phoenix Coyotes not only won a game for the first time when trailing after two periods, but they also jumped into an eighth-place tie in the Western Conference.

Peter Mueller broke a 2-2 tie late in the third as the Coyotes earned a 4-2 victory against the host Columbus Blue Jackets. Phoenix trailed 2-1 after two periods, which was not good news for coach Wayne Gretzky’s club. The Coyotes entered the game with a record of 0-18-0 when down after 40 minutes.

"There's no secret to this game," Gretzky said. "It's hard work, it's effort, it's second effort. The guys who do little things that you don't often see on the scoreboard, creating openings. I was just really proud of our effort."

I Want To Go Home! – If the New York Rangers continue to play like this on the road, it’s going to be a long offseason.

Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center was the Blueshirts’ sixth-straight on the road. With only 13 games remaining at Madison Square Garden this season, New York needs to be in a different state of mind.

"I wish I had some answers, but I don't really," Rangers forward Sean Avery said.

Sounds like something I said at an oral exam back in college several years ago.

Anyway, New York better find some answers rather quickly, considering the Blueshirts will visit Philadelphia, New Jersey and Montreal during the next five days.

Kick Is Good! – OK, so Scott Hartnell didn’t intentionally kick in the game-winning goal in Philadelphia’s 3-2 overtime victory against L.A. on Tuesday night. His sliding tally, however, did put the Flyers in first place in the Atlantic Division.

Hartnell

“I would say distinct sliding motion,” said Hartnell, who has 17 points in his last 10 games. “I was just going to the net, and (Mike Richards) made a great pass, and I knew I couldn’t bat it out of the air. The guy knocked me, too, and (the puck) was just kind of falling down and hit my skate and went in the net. It doesn’t matter how pretty they are; it matters when you win games, and we got the two points tonight.”

Anybody else impressed with just how quickly the Flyers have turned things around? Not even Dennis Rodman could rebound like this.

He Works Hard For The Money – Glen Metropolit is known more for his defense, but the Boston Bruins forward was smiling after Tuesday’s 3-1 win against the Nashville Predators because of his offense.

Metropolit scored twice in the third period for the Bruins, collecting his 100th NHL point along the way.

"It's nice," Metropolit said. "But the important thing is that we won the game."

Bruins coach Claude Julien raved about his special-teams specialist after the victory, which was Boston’s fifth in seven games.

"Every night he comes and plays hard for us," Julien said of Metropolit. "We've asked him to kill penalties for the first time in his career this season. He's done a great job at that. When you see a guy that gets rewarded, that's nice to see."

All Brent Out Of Shape – Brent Sutter is not a happy man right now, and rightfully so.

The New Jersey Devils have not responded to Sutter’s demands in recent games, and failed to do so again Tuesday night in a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Prudential Center. The Penguins have won five in a row in the Garden State.

The loss came just a few nights after Sutter forced his team to hit the exercise bikes after it was out-shot 20-3 in the third period of a 4-3 loss to Montreal. The Devils had a 3-1 lead in that one.

"We haven't stayed within our game. We've had mental breakdowns," Sutter said. "When our team is playing well, it is because our detail to our game is very good. Right now it isn't where it needs to be."

And for that, the Devils were forced to walk home after the game.

Just kidding.

I think.

Nabokov

Finally, A Break … Sort Of – He started all but one game in the first half of the season, and his play earned him a spot in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

Obviously, Evgeni Nabokov didn’t have much of a break.

And even though he got the starting nod in San Jose’s first game of the second half, Nabokov faced only 13 shots as the Sharks picked up a 3-0 win at Edmonton.

“I didn’t have to do a lot,” said Nabokov, who was sensational Sunday in Atlanta, too. “The guys put up a heck of an effort.”

The Oilers didn’t. They were held to just four shots on goal in each of the second and third periods.

Other than the play of goalie Mathieu Garon, Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish wasn’t all that impressed.

“It was a humbling, humbling effort,” MacTavish said after his team was out-shot 39-13. “It was humiliating in almost every aspect, except goaltending.”

No Relief For Luongo – Roberto Luongo was allowed to skip Tuesday night’s home game against the Dallas Stars as he spends time with his expecting wife in Florida.

That’s where the Vancouver Canucks will join Luongo on Thursday night, when Alain Vigneault’s team will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning. Considering what transpired Tuesday in Vancouver, it’s safe to say the Canucks can’t wait to get No. 1 back between the pipes.

Curtis Sanford allowed three goals on 11 shots and was chased after a long drive off the stick of Stephane Robidas found its way past the backup netminder in a 4-3 loss. Vancouver has won only once in its last six tries.

“Most times we’ve played him, he’s played well,” Vigneault said of Sanford. “Maybe the last two times at home, he hasn’t played as well as before.”

With Luongo back in the fold Thursday, expect Vigneault to ask the former first-round pick to carry a very heavy load in the second half.

“Now we can go with Roberto for a long time,” Vigneault said. “He’s going to get the chance to play a lot of games.”

Just how they like it in Vancouver.

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com



Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season