|Nicklas Lidstrom scored the game-winning goal against Phoenix last night. See Lidstrom's game winning goal!|
Simply The Best -- As far as defensemen go, it was a game like Wednesday night’s that shows you why Nicklas Lidstrom is the best in the business.
Midway through the third, Lidstrom helped his team tie the game, when his shot from just inside the point went off the knee of teammate Tomas Holmstrom and into the net. Just over three minutes later, Lidstrom scored the game-winning tally.
He finished the night with a plus-3 rating, extending his League lead to plus-43.
That’s right, plus-43.
“It’s a team defense, but it means you’re playing strong defensively,” Lidstrom said of the mind-boggling statistic. “When you’re playing with players like (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, that really helps.”
Typical Lidstrom, refusing to give himself any credit. The fact of the matter is, Nicklas, is those guys are playing with you.
Bump In The Road -- The Anaheim Ducks played the second of their longest road trip in franchise history (nine games) on Wednesday night.
They’re already homesick.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the rest of the defending champs allowed four goals in the second period and dropped their fourth straight in a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Anaheim has scored only five times during this puzzling slide.
”We've got to start getting dirty, start getting in high traffic areas, playing our physical style of game and playing our skating game,” defenseman Chris Pronger said. “We're a skating team that has to support one another, and when we don't we've got a lot of holes.”
One of those will be filled whenever Teemu Selanne returns to the lineup. The skilled forward is skating with the Ducks but did not dress on Wednesday night. The road trip resumes on Friday night at St. Louis.
”It never hurts to get good players,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
All-Star forward Ilya Kovalchuk was the victim of a knee-on-knee collision with Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu in the second period and will be re-evaluated by doctors Thursday. Kovalchuk actually tried to come back in the third, but the pain was just too much to overcome.
”You can't keep him off the ice,” Thrashers GM and coach Don Waddell said. “He was determined to come out and at least test it. These kind of injuries, you always wait until the next day and see how the swelling is and just see how he reacts from it.”
Here’s hoping that Kovalchuk is OK. It would be a shame for the Thrashers to lose the stud winger for an extended period of time, especially when you consider the strides the team has made since Waddell took over behind the bench.
Smiling In The Sun -- The Sunshine State was the perfect cure for the Buffalo Sabres.
Lindy Ruff’s team went 2-for-2 in Florida following Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over the reeling Panthers. Thomas Vanek ended an 0-for-39 road power play drought, while Ryan Miller was perfect in a 32-save effort.
After losing 12 of 13 games, the Sabres have now won three straight and are just two points out of a playoff spot. They’ll look to make it four in a row Friday night at Atlanta – which may be forced to play without the services of Ilya Kovalchuk.
”We're going to continue to climb,” Vanek said. “We got ourselves in a hole, now we've got to get out of it.”
Despite playing without the services of Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny, the Avs scored three times in the first period en route to a 6-3 win over the Blackhawks, who saw starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin exit early after another subpar performance.
”We lost a lot of battles,” Blackhawks defenseman James Wisniewski said. “The puck didn't bounce our way. And they found the back of the net every time. It wasn't just one thing. It was everything that went wrong. It's mind-boggling. How could we let this happen with their top three forwards out?”
Speaking of good questions, how did Small Wonder last as long as it did?
Nolan’s three tallies -- it’s the first time he’s scored that many in a game since Oct. 4, 1999 -- lifted the Calgary Flames to a 5-4 win over the Sharks, who attempted to rally from a 5-2 deficit but came up short.
The Flames’ veteran power forward admitted he enjoyed taking it to his former employer.
“I can’t remember the last one I had,” Nolan said of the hat trick. “But it’s nice to get one. I always try to play hard against the Sharks — I try to play hard against everyone.”
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