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Stepan debuts with hat trick as Rangers top Sabres

Sunday, 10.10.2010 / 1:32 PM / Roundup

Derek Stepan had the kind of NHL debut every player dreams of.

The 20-year-old became the first player in the 85-year history of the Rangers and the fourth in the NHL since 1927 to score three goals in his first NHL game, powering New York to a season-opening 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

"Not a chance could I have dreamed this," Stepan said after becoming the first Ranger in 55 years to get a hat trick on opening night. "You dream about playing in the NHL, and then you go out and play like that, I mean the hockey gods must have been looking down on me. It was a fun night overall, that's for sure."

Stepan, the captain of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the World Junior Championship in January, turned pro this summer after leading the University of Wisconsin to the NCAA championship game -- and impressed the Rangers enough to earn a roster spot.  He joined Montreal's Alex Smart in 1943, Quebec's Real Cloutier in 1979 and Dallas' Fabian Brunnstrom two years ago as the only players to score three times in their first game.

Rinne blanks Caps in Preds' win

Sunday, 10.03.2010 / 10:02 PM / Roundup

Pekka Rinne appears ready for the regular season.

Rinne played the full 60 minutes and stopped all 22 shots he faced as the Nashville Predators earned a 3-0 win against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Nashville, which won four of its six preseason games, opens the regular season on Saturday night against Anaheim at Bridgestone Arena.

Joel Ward scored twice and Cal O'Reilly had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who were the only team to defeat the Caps this preseason (5-1-0).

Senators outlast Rangers 8-5 in preseason finale

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 11:30 PM / Roundup

John Kreiser - Columnist

The New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators both showed that their offense is ready for the start of the regular season. The defense? Not so much.

Two Senators, Zack Smith and Chris Kelly, completed hat tricks with empty-net goals after Jesse Winchester broke a 5-5 tie with 5:48 left in regulation to give the Senators an 8-5 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night in the preseason finale for both teams.

Winchester tipped Peter Regin's shot past Martin Biron to snap a 5-5 tie after the teams had combined to blow five one-goal leads. Mats Zuccarello had tied the game for the Rangers when he scored 6:13 into the third period.

"That was a great tip and a great shot by (Regin) and Jesse was in the right spot at the right time," Kelly said. "That line (Winchester, Regin and David Hale) played well all night and they generated a lot of chances and they looked good."

Hossa scores twice as Hawks beat Penguins 5-2

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 12:22 AM / Roundup

John Kreiser - Columnist

If Friday night's game is any indication, the Chicago Blackhawks are ready to defend their Stanley Cup championship.

The Hawks, dressing most of what figures to be their opening night lineup, got two goals from Marian Hossa and beat Pittsburgh 5-2 in a meeting between the last two Stanley Cup champions.

The Penguins left Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin back in Pittsburgh, which made it a little easier for the Hawks, but even the presence of the Pens' top stars might not have helped in a game the Blackhawks (2-4-0) dominated.

The only bad note for the Hawks was that defenseman Brian Campbell left in the second period with an undisclosed injury and didn't return.

Winless Wild head for Europe after loss to Columbus

Friday, 10.01.2010 / 12:17 AM / Roundup

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Minnesota Wild left for Europe after Thursday night's game against Columbus. They're more than happy to leave the North American portion of the preseason behind them.

Columbus completed a home-and-home sweep of the Wild as Ethan Moreau and Samuel Pahlsson each had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win. Fedor Tyutin and Jakub Voracek also scored for the Blue Jackets (3-3-0), which beat the Wild for the second time in three days.

The Wild finished the North American portion of their preseason with an 0-4-2 record, including a 3-2 shootout loss at Columbus two days earlier. After the game, the Wild left for Helsinki, Finland, where they will play an exhibition game against Tampere Ilves on Monday and a pair of regular-season games against Carolina next weekend as part of the NHL Premiere series.

Dallas saved the best for last, getting the game-winner from Brenden Morrow with 59.8 seconds remaining to rally for a win against Colorado in the back end of a home-and-home series.

Kadri's two goals help Leafs beat Senators 4-3

Thursday, 09.30.2010 / 12:22 AM / Roundup

John Kreiser - Columnist

Toronto finished last in the East in 2009-10, so there are jobs to be won during training camp. 2009 first-rounder Nazem Kadri gave management something to think about on Wednesday night.

After struggling through much of training camp, Kadri scored twice and set up Phil Kessel's game-winner with 1:50 left in regulation to give the Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Kadri hadn't done a lot up to this point to impress GM Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson or convince anyone that he was ready for the NHL. But given a chance to play left wing on the top line with Kessel and Tyler Bozak, rather than as the No. 2 center, he took advantage and likely made the decision whether to send him down more difficult.\

Ovechkin helps Caps to 3-2 win over Bruins

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 12:20 AM / Roundup

His scoring touch might not be there yet, but otherwise Alex Ovechkin's preseason debut was a success.

Ovechkin didn't turn on the red light in his 2010-11 debut, but he did have a couple of assists and banged a few bodies on Tuesday night as the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 at Verizon Center. Ovechkin set up a first-period goal by Mathieu Perreault and assisted on Alexander Semin's go-ahead goal at 19:14 of the second.

"I just gave them the puck and they scored the goals," he said. "It was easy."
Ovechkin finished with three shots and delivered several big checks. With 3:03 left in the game, he got into a shoving match after being run into the boards headfirst by Gregory Campbell. Ovechkin retaliated by slashing Campbell with a one-handed stick swing, and both players received minor penalties.

Kessel shines again in Leafs' win

Monday, 09.27.2010 / 11:53 PM / Roundup

Phil Kessel sure seems ready for the regular season.

Kessel scored his third and fourth goals of the preseason and Nikolai Kulemin also scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 5-4 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night.

Kessel, who was acquired from Boston in the deal that ultimately made Tyler Seguin a Bruin, also had another goal that was waved off in overtime on Friday. Christian Hanson also scored for Toronto (3-2-1).

The Leafs' lineup that dressed Monday was quite similar to the one that will take the ice for the regular-season opener on Oct. 7 against Montreal. Kessel is skating with Kris Versteeg and Tyler Bozak.

Three-goal surge in second leads Habs past Wild

Sunday, 09.26.2010 / 11:16 PM / Roundup

The Montreal Canadiens outshot the Minnesota Wild 28-14 in their preseason game Sunday night at the Bell Centre, but it was a quick barrage of three shots in the second period that ended up making the difference.

Ryan White, Dustin Boyd and Brendon Nash scored on consecutive shots as the Canadiens opened up a 4-1 lead and then held on for a 4-3 victory over the Wild.

Andreas Engqvist had the other goal for Montreal, now 2-2 in the preseason. Alex Auld had a light workload, finishing with 11 saves.

Panthers rally to top Seguin, Bruins in shootout

Sunday, 09.26.2010 / 12:27 AM / Roundup

Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

Tyler Seguin scored in his first game at TD Garden. Nathan Horton got on the board against his former team. But the visiting Florida Panthers still got the last laugh against the Boston Bruins.

Mike Santorelli and Cory Stillman netted shootout goals and goalie Scott Clemmensen denied Seguin, the No. 2 pick in this year's Entry Draft, on the Bruins' final chance as the Panthers rallied for a 3-2 victory Saturday night.

Boston carried a two-goal lead into the third period on the strength of tallies by Seguin and Horton, but Florida forced overtime when Radek Dvorak and Kenndal McArdle beat Tuukka Rask.

Patrice Bergeron led off the shootout with a goal for the Bruins, but Santorelli -- who is 3-for-3 career during the regular season in the penalty-shot tiebreaker -- answered immediately for the Panthers.
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