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Season was filled with great individual efforts

Wednesday, 07.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2012-13: Year in Review

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Season was filled with great individual efforts
Here is a sampling of a few of the best individual performances of the 2012-13 season.

The 2012-13 NHL season had no shortage of great games and amazing performances. NHL.com asked its writers to stroll down memory lane and pick some of their top moments of the season that was.

Today: Best individual player performances of the 2012-13 season

No one was sure what to expect when the 2012-13 season started. How would players who had varied amounts of activity during the lockout respond after an abbreviated training camp?

Well, we didn't have to wait long. A pair of likely Hall of Famer members put on dazzling opening-night performances, serving as a precursor for a number of memorable moments and amazing efforts.

Here is a sampling of a few of the best individual performances of the 2012-13 season, in chronological order:

No stopping these legends -- Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr already were considered among the greatest of all time before they suited up for the 2012-13 season. But Jan. 19, they showed that even past 40 years old they still had a lot of special left in them.

Jagr, in his first game in a Dallas Stars jersey, scored the first goal late in the first period against the Phoenix Coyotes. He scored again to tie the game late in the second. In the third he set up Ray Whitney's goal to give the Stars a 3-2 lead, and after the Coyotes tied it, Jagr made a blind backhand pass to a cutting Loui Eriksson for the game-winner in the Stars' 4-3 victory.

Hours later, playing for the Anaheim Ducks, Selanne assisted on Sheldon Souray's goal in the first period and Corey Perry's in the second. Selanne scored a power-play goal with 13.3 seconds left in the second then added a goal in the third.

The four-point nights put Jagr and Selanne atop the League scoring race, making it look like 1999 rather than 2013.

"Way to go, old boys," Selanne said after his game.

High five for Zetterberg -- Henrik Zetterberg wasn't happy heading into the Detroit Red Wings' game Feb. 1. And he took it out on that night's opponent, the St. Louis Blues.

Angry over an opening-night loss to the Blues two weeks earlier, and slowed by an illness that kept him from practicing the day before, Zetterberg showed he was 100 percent by nearly beating the Blues single-handedly with the second five-point game of his career.

He scored the game's first two goals, 1:55 apart, in the first period. The Blues responded with a pair of goals in the first to tie it, then Kevin Shattenkirk's power-play goal in the second put St. Louis ahead.

The third period was all Zetterberg. He skated through the Blues' zone with the puck before finding Jonathan Ericsson, who scored to tie the game at 4:31. Zetterberg then set up Pavel Datsyuk's power-play goal that held up as the game-winner. And with 12.6 seconds left, Zetterberg outraced then outmuscled T.J. Oshie for a loose puck in the St. Louis end and completed his hat trick with a shorthanded goal from his belly.

"If I had been out for a day like that I would be struggling to skate," Ericsson said of Zetterberg after the game. "And he was flying out there. I don't know how he does it."

Double high five for Penguins -- Any time a coach can find an opportunity to give his top players extra rest during a game, it's a prized moment. So when the Pittsburgh Penguins opened a big early lead against the New York Islanders on March 10, coach Dan Bylsma saw it as an opportunity to trim some ice time from his top line, especially center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz.

Crosby played 15 minutes, and Kunitz skated 14:05, but they certainly got their work in -- each finished with five points in the Penguins' 6-1 win.

Crosby assisted on all three first-period goals by Pittsburgh, two scored by Kunitz. The duo assisted on Pascal Dupuis' goal that opened the scoring. Crosby added an assist on Kunitz's second-period goal, which gave Kunitz his second hat trick of the season. Crosby and Kunitz helped close the scoring when they drew assists on Dupuis' third-period goal.

Each player was appreciative of the other's efforts.

"The way [Kunitz] is firing the puck right now, he makes all of us look good," Crosby said.

"I get to play with the best player in the world every night; it makes going out and playing a lot of fun," Kunitz said.

Many happy returns -- Sidney Crosby sat out the final month of the season after sustaining a broken jaw during a game against the New York Islanders on March 30. It cost him the NHL scoring title, and after he sat out Game 1 of the Penguins' first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Islanders, there was worry it could cost him more.

The morning of Game 2, however, he was cleared to play and started in his usual place between linemates Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, wearing a football-style face mask to protect his jaw.

It didn't take long for Crosby to make his presence felt, winning a faceoff then going to the net to score a power-play goal 3:19 into the game to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.

Then, at 7:22 of the first, 18 seconds after the Islanders scored, Crosby scored his second, beating goalie Evgeni Nabokov from a sharp angle to make it 3-1.

It was the final positive moment for Crosby, though; the Islanders scored the next three goals to win the game and even the series. However, the Penguins won the series, and Crosby had three goals and six assists in five games.

Rookie steps up for Senators -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau didn't make his NHL debut until April 11, but it didn't take long for the 20-year-old center to become one of the Ottawa Senators' more popular players.

He raised that level even higher in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, scoring a hat trick in Ottawa's 6-1 victory.

Pageau's first goal, at 4:40 of the second period, held up as the game-winner. He took a long pass from Sergei Gonchar, split a pair of defenders, and beat Carey Price with a wrist shot while Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban high-sticked him in the face hard enough to knock out a tooth.

Pageau scored again 1:18 into the second and capped the night with a power-play goal with 1:58 left in the third for the hat trick.

"It was a great night for the kid," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "He's played very well for us, and tonight for him to be here in his first playoff game at home, to get a hat trick and play the way he did, that's a big night for him. We're going to have to really calm him down and talk to him for a long time tomorrow to get him back and ready to go on Tuesday night. But I hope he really enjoys it tonight because that's a heck of a night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I never had one of those."

Bergeron caps memorable comeback -- Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron played a major role in the wildest ending to a Stanley Cup Playoff game anyone had seen in a long time.

Game 7 of the first-round series between the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs saw the Maple Leafs build a 4-1 lead midway through the third period. Nathan Horton's goal got the Bruins within 4-2, but even that advantage seemed safe.

As all Maple Leafs fans know, it wasn't.

With 1:22 left, Bergeron fed Zdeno Chara for a one-timer that led to Milan Lucic's rebound goal that got the Bruins within one; 31 seconds later, Bergeron's wrist shot from just inside the Toronto blue line went through a Chara screen and past goalie James Reimer.

At 6:05 of overtime, Bergeron capped the comeback with a goal that shook TD Garden.

Not bad for a player who had one goal in the first six games.

"I don't think his stats were indicative of his series," Bruins coach Claude Julien said that night. "For him to come up big like that when it really counted, I think is fitting for Patrice Bergeron."

Playing on one leg -- Gregory Campbell has been in the NHL long enough to know what his role is: kill penalties, win faceoffs, bring energy and block shots.

It was in doing the latter that he turned in one of the more inspirational moments in Stanley Cup Playoff history.

Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins was tied 1-1 in the second period when the Bruins were whistled for having too many men on the ice at 10:50. Campbell was on the ice late in the Boston penalty kill, guarding Evgeni Malkin above the right circle. When the Pittsburgh star wound up for a shot, Campbell did what he usually did: slid to block the shot. Rather than find padding, Malkin's shot broke the fibula in Campbell's right leg.

Campbell was down for a moment after getting hit, but he couldn't afford to stay down long; the Penguins' dynamic power play still had possession of the puck. Campbell, clearly injured, gamely returned to his position, doing what he could to get in the way of Malkin and Kris Letang when they had the puck in his area.

The penalty ended and the Bruins were able to clear the puck, but 60 seconds had ticked off the clock.

Fans in Boston knew they had seen something special and chanted Campbell's name even after he left the ice. Players from around the NHL, as well as other sports, took note of Campbell's toughness.

However, he saw it as just doing his job.

"There's a lot of players right now that are playing not 100 percent, and there's a lot of guys that play through pain," Campbell said during the Stanley Cup Final. "I don't see myself any different than anybody else in this League. There's a lot of tough guys in this League, a lot of players are willing to do whatever they can to win. At this point you see that more often, guys doing whatever they can to win. I'm no different than anyone else on these two teams in the playoffs. I was just trying to finish the play and do my job."

Kane steps up -- The Chicago Blackhawks reached the Western Conference Final despite a minimal contribution from Patrick Kane, their regular-season scoring leader; he had three goals in 16 games heading into Game 5 against the Los Angeles Kings.

In one game, he managed to match that total and propel the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Final.

Kane's goal 5:59 into the first period gave Chicago a 2-0 lead, but L.A. scored twice to tie it early in the third. With 3:52 left, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell forced a turnover in the Kings' end, and Kane cut to the slot to one-time a short pass from Bickell past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to give Chicago a 3-2 lead. It wouldn't hold; Kings center Mike Richards scored with 9.4 seconds left to force overtime.

With 8:20 left in the second overtime, Toews grabbed a loose puck near the Blackhawks' blue line and led a 2-on-1 breakout with Kane coming down the right side. Toews feathered a pass across, and Kane rocketed a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle over the glove of a sliding Quick to complete the hat trick and close the series.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Game 4 he was expecting more from Kane. After Game 5, Quenneville said, "That was more than more."

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Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

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