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Last-minute heroes in first quarter reaches 15

Friday, 11.20.2009 / 4:44 PM / Quarterly Report

NHL.com

The number of final-minute, game-tying goals during the first quarter of the season reached 15 on Thursday, with Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes and Maxim Afinogenov of the Atlanta Thrashers taking their turns at playing the hero.

Cole's goal, at 19:57 of the third in a 6-5 shootout win against Toronto, and Afinogenov's goal, at 19:18 of the third period in a 4-3 shootout loss to Boston, thrilled the hometown fans in each city. Carolina fans were extra pleased because the Hurricanes went on to win the game. In Atlanta, Afinogenov gave the Thrashers a crucial point with his goal.
       
Coming with a little more than two seconds remaining, Cole's goal was the fifth game-tying goal to come with fewer than three seconds remaining in regulation. Rene Bourque of the Calgary Flames scored at 19:58 of the third in a 4-3 shootout win at Edmonton on Oct. 8, while Chris Phillips of the Ottawa Senators scored at 19:58 of the third in a 6-5 overtime loss to Nashville on Oct. 22, Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils scored at 19:59 of the third in a 4-3 shootout win against Tampa Bay on Oct. 8, and Bill Guerin of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored at 19:59 of the third against Boston on Nov. 14.

These two goals are just the most recent reminders that no lead was safe in the season's first quarter. The Hurricanes' shootout victory against Toronto on Thursday night marked the fifth time this season that a team won a game it had trailed by three or more goals. It was the 36th comeback resulting a win this season from a two-goal deficit.

The most dramatic comeback occurred Oct. 12, when the Chicago Blackhawks allowed five goals in a span of 5:29 during the first period against Calgary but roared back with six unanswered goals for a miraculous 6-5 victory. It was the biggest comeback in Chicago history and tied the record for the biggest deficit overcome in NHL history.

Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie