The Vancouver Canucks have been waiting for three years for Cody Hodgson to blossom into the player they thought he'd be when they took him in the first round of the 2008 Entry Draft. It looks like he might be ready.
Hodgson scored Vancouver's first goal and added an empty-netter as the Canucks ended their preseason by beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.
Roberto Luongo stopped 28 of 29 shots, allowing only a second-period goal to Magnus Paajarvi that tied the game at 1-1. Jannik Hansen beat Nikolai Khabibulin from the slot 5:36 into the third period before Mikael Samuelsson and Hodgson added goals in the final minute.
"I think as a team we really got better as the game went along," Luongo said. "In the third period we really shut them down and took over."
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"You learn from your experiences, whether they're good or bad," Luongo said. "I think as a team we grew last year -- not counting the end result, but the process we went through in two months. We learned a lot about ourselves. It was a disappointment for our team, but looking back on it I think we can be proud as a group of what we did, not only in the playoffs but in the regular season. Unfortunately, we just fell one step short."
Hodgson, the 10th pick three years ago, has been plagued by back problems and other injuries. He's getting a chance at top-six ice time due to the hip surgery that has sidelined No. 2 center Ryan Kesler. He said he hasn't gotten discouraged by the parade of injuries and setbacks.
"I had a lot of help from a lot of doctors and trainers," he said. "My family has always been very supportive. Friends and teammates and coaches have helped me along the way get back to where I am now. I have a lot of people to be thankful to."
The biggest question for the Oilers is whether they'll keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first player taken in the Entry Draft last June. GM Steve Tambellini told "Hockey Night in Canada" after the game that while the 18-year-old center had played well during camp, the decision was still up in the air.
All Nugent-Hopkins can do now is wait.
"I'm just waiting to see what happens," he said. "I thought I had a pretty decent preseason."
Canadiens 5, Lightning 1
The Habs gave the full house in Quebec plenty to cheer about, playing their best game of the preseason and atoning for a 4-0 home loss to the Lightning two nights earlier. The Canadiens outshot Tampa Bay 32-19 and got goals from Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Mathieu Darche, Eric Cole and Mike Cammalleri.
"Last game I think was a bit of a blow to our pride,” said Darche, who had his first goal of the preseason. "We wanted to have a good performance and we did, from the first minute of the game to the last."
Gionta scored on a shorthanded breakaway in the first period, Gomez, Darche and Cole connected in the second and Cammalleri completed the scoring in the third as the Canadiens won for just the second time in eight preseason games.
Vincent Lecavalier scored in the second period for Tampa Bay's only goal.
"Disappointed but not surprised," coach Guy Boucher said when asked about his team's performance. "The idea of this training camp was to push them hard, further than their limit. They gave us their limit.
"We had no legs. … It was very clear it was because of the load. That's OK. That's what we wanted."
Lightning forward Ryan Malone was thrown out from the game midway through the third period for a check to the head of Chris Campoli while the newly signed defenseman was exiting his zone. Campoli was forced to leave the game amid fears he suffered a concussion.
"It's not what I wanted to happen," Malone said. "I'm coming in to finish my check, and he's leaning forward a little bit there and my elbow is by my hip. Obviously, I didn't have the intention of hurting him."
Devils 2, Flyers 1
Petr Sykora is going to make it hard for the Devils not to sign him. The former Devil, who's in camp on a tryout contract, scored on a second-period breakaway as the Devils edged the Flyers in Newark.
Zach Parise's pass sprung Sykora for the tying goal at 4:12 of the second period. David Clarkson's power-play goal at 15:39 gave the Devils the win.
SOG: 49 | +/-: -1
"I don't know what else he could do in camp if you're going to script a camp for a guy who's walking on," DeBoer said. "However it shakes out, I don't think he can have any regrets about how he played and what he did to earn a spot."
Sykora, who played for the Devils from 1995-2002, now has to wait and see if he'll get another chance from GM Lou Lamoriello.
"I believe I can still bring some positives to the hockey club, and it doesn't matter what's going to happen Monday or Tuesday or next week," said Sykora, who spent last season in Russia and the Czech Republic. "One of the very important things to me is that I proved to myself that I can still score in this League."
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on Scott Hartnell's power-play goal with 3:31 left in the first period -- the only one of Philadelphia's 26 shots that beat Martin Brodeur. Ilya Bryzgalov played the entire game for the Flyers and made 18 saves.
"I thought we competed really well," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "They had a lot of players in their lineup and we wanted to evaluate a lot of people. I thought, generally speaking about our team as a group and as a whole, we played really hard. We could have won that game. … More than that, we get another look at guys we wanted to look at as we have to make decisions."
Philadelphia opens its season in Boston on Thursday, then returns to the Prudential Center for the Devils' opener next Saturday.
Bruins 3, Islanders 2
As they did in their preseason opener, the Bruins spotted the Islanders a 2-0 lead, then came back and won in the final tune-up for both teams.
The Isles took the lead on John Tavares' first-period power-play goal and made it 2-0 when Marty Reasoner scored early in the second. Starting goaltender Al Montoya stopped all 14 shots he faced.
But after Evgeni Nabokov took over in goal, Boston quickly got even on goals 86 seconds apart by David Krejci and Tyler Seguin. Dennis Seidenberg's goal with 8:07 left in regulation was the winner.
"The first period, we played extremely well," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "The second period, what happens is, if you don't change at the proper times, with the bench where it is, 30 seconds becomes a minute-and-a-half and (Boston) won the change game in the second period. That's why the ice was tilted and they had their 16 shots and the momentum went their way."
The announced attendance in Bridgeport, home of the Isles' AHL farm team, was 8,489, the biggest crowd for a hockey game at the 10-year-old Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. Many of the fans made the trip from Boston -- the Bruins were cheered loudly for most of the night.
The Bruins open defense of their Stanley Cup on Thursday night against Philadelphia at TD Garden, two nights before the Islanders begin their season at home against Florida.
"I think everybody is ready to get going and play for real," Seidenberg said.
Stars 4, Blues 0
The Stars completed a 6-1-0 preseason as Andrew Raycroft stopped all 33 shots he faced in St. Louis. Francis Wathier and Vernon Fiddler each had a goal and an assist for Dallas, which won its last three games and had its best preseason since moving to Texas in 1993.
SOG: 0 | +/-: -2
Jake Dowell and Tomas Vincour also scored, and Trevor Daley added a pair of assists for the Stars. Jaroslav Halak stopped 20 shots, but the Blues, who won five of their eight preseason games, were shut out for the second time at home.
The Blues also lost forward B.J. Crombeen, who broke his left shoulder blade in the third period and is out indefinitely.
Dowell scooped a shot over Halak for a 1-0 lead 5:25 into the game. Wathier scored on the Stars' first power play, deflecting Daley's shot from the point screening Halak at 8:29 for a 2-0 lead.
Fiddler beat Halak with a wrist shot at 5:01 of the second period for a 3-0 lead, and Vincour scored from in tight at 11:16.
Blues coach Davis Payne is just glad to see the preseason end.
"We still wanted to see some impressions, and unfortunately some of the guys we called up didn't leave great ones," Payne said. "We've got some moves we've got to make, we'll get the roster down and get to work.
Avalanche 4, Kings 1
The Kings didn't dress newly signed Drew Doughty, though they could have used him -- Colorado outshot L.A. and had little trouble winning at the annual Frozen Fury in Las Vegas.
It was the Kings' final game in North America before heading to Europe for the NHL Premiere series -- they play an exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, on Tuesday before opening against the Rangers in Stockholm two days later.
"11-hour flight, then the fun begins," Kings captain Dustin Brown tweeted after the game.
Matt Duchene had a pair of goals for the Avs, both set up by Eric Johnson and Milan Hejduk, while Paul Stastny and David Jones also scored. Simon Gagne's power-play goal 54 seconds into the third period was the only offense for the Kings.
“We just have to be better," Kings coach Terry Murray said before the team boarded a flight to Germany. "It’s been a tough grind here, the last week. This is five games in seven days, so I’d take that into consideration, but we’ve always played well in this building, in this game. It’s tradition. Over the past years, it’s been a fun game to watch, and for the Kings fans who come from L.A. We didn’t put on the show we wanted to tonight.’’
Predators 2, Hurricanes 1 (OT)
SOG: - | +/-: -
"It was kind of a broken play," Smith said of his game-winner. "We were forechecking pretty good, forcing some turnovers. I kind of pushed my guy into the blue line; Willie (Colin Wilson) came in and kind of made a stab at the puck and it jumped onto my stick, and I let it fly."
Patric Hornqvist's power-play goal at 7:41 of the third period against Brian Boucher tied the game after Bryan Allen scored against Pekka Rinne four minutes earlier. Boucher got the 'Canes into OT with a 41-save performance. Rinne stopped 20 shots.
The Predators got a boost from the return of forward Blake Geoffrion, who had been sidelined since cutting his right wrist in Nashville's preseason opener on Sept. 19. Geoffrion had an assist.
Carolina finished the preseason with a 1-4-1 record.
Coyotes 3, Sharks 1
The Coyotes became the first team to beat the Sharks thanks to a three-goal second period and 28 saves by Mike Smith.
Martin Hanzal broke a scoreless tie when he beat Thomas Greiss 30 seconds into the second period. Lauri Korpikoski doubled the lead at 7:15, and Taylor Pyatt made it a three-goal game at 10:36.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic's slap shot at 7:17 of the third period hit a Phoenix defenseman and went into the net to spoil Smith's shutout bid.
"It was definitely a good way to end the preseason," Smith said. "I felt pretty good most of camp. Tonight was one of those games where pucks were hitting me and I was in good position."
San Jose had won all five of its preseason games, including a 1-0 victory against the Coyotes at the Shark Tank last week. The teams will open the season against each other back in San Jose next Saturday.
Material from team and national media was used in this report.