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Bolts' Stamkos hits the scoresheet

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
A few thoughts as we salute Tim Thomas' back-to-back 1-0 shutouts, the first such performance by Boston in 72 years.

It's a start — After 8 NHL games without a point, even a secondary assist was enough to make Steven Stamkos smile — especially when it came in a win, against the team he grew up rooting for, and with a lot of family and friends in the stands.

The No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft this past June got his first point in his ninth NHL game when he was credited with the second assist on Vincent Lecavalier's second-period goal — the goal that proved to be the game-winner in Tampa Bay's 3-2 win at Toronto on Tuesday night.

After enduring a prank by his teammates, who let him race onto the Air Canada Centre ice for warmups by himself, Stamkos, a native of Markham, Ont., was relieved to finally get his name on the scoresheet.

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"It was a dream come true to play in Toronto, and getting the first point here was pretty special," he said. "Getting the win was even better."

Stamkos had about 50 family and friends in the sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre, and they made lots of noise when his name was announced.

"I think it was louder than when the Leafs scored," he said of the cheer that greeted the announcement of his assist. "It was great to have that fan support."

The shootout debate — His goal in the shootout gave Montreal a 3-2 win against Carolina on Tuesday night, but Montreal captain Saku Koivu isn't necessarily a big fan of using shootouts to decide the outcome of games tied after overtime.

"The shootout is an exciting way to decide a game, but maybe not the best way," the Montreal captain said after the Canadiens improved to 2-1 in the penalty-shot competition this season thanks to his backhander past Cam Ward.

On the other hand, losing coach Peter Laviolette likes the shootout — but not the feeling that's left when his team loses it.

"It’s disappointing when you come back in the third period, down 2-1, tie it up and then it goes to a shootout," he said. "I'm in favor of the shootout, but it just leaves you with a pit in your stomach, like you did something wrong. Now everybody's saddled with a loss and it's like you buried your dead cat in the locker room — nobody’s talking."

The loss ended Carolina's 9-game winning streak at the Bell Centre — the 'Canes had won their last 6 regular-season appearances and 3 playoff games. Cam Ward, who had been 7-0-0 in Montreal, left the Bell Centre as a loser for the first time.

"We've been very successful in this building, but at least we still got a point," said Ward, whose career save percentage at the Bell Centre dropped to .949. "No question it's fun playing here with all the atmosphere the fans bring, it just would have been nice to be on the winning side."

Saying thanks
— Coaches are often thrust into the background when a team becomes a dynasty. The Montreal Canadiens took time before their game with Carolina to salute the men behind the bench for 3 of hockey's greatest teams: Dick Irvin, Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman.

The 3 men together guided the club to 16 of their 24 Stanley Cups between 1940 and 1979 were honored last night with columns on Builders Row on the mezzanine of the Bell Centre as part of the team's 100th anniversary celebrations.

Irvin coached the Canadiens from 1940 to 1955, when one of his former star players, Blake, took over until '68. Bowman coached the Canadiens from 1971 to 1979.

Bowman is the lone survivor. He went to center ice for the ceremonial faceoff accompanied by his wife Suella, Toe Blake's son Bruce and former Canadiens play-by-play announcer Dick Irvin Jr. with his daughter Nancy.

Bruce Blake wore one of his father's fedoras and one of the red cardigans with a team crest over the heart that his dad wore during practices. The sweater is nearly 60 years old and comes out only on special occasions, said Bruce's wife Julie.

Two of Blake's great-grandsons donned skates and carried team flags to lead the Canadiens onto the ice to start the game.

''It means a great deal to all of us," Bruce Blake said of the ceremony. ''We're proud of my father for being a great player and a great coach, and being in the company of Dick Irvin and Scotty Bowman is a great feeling.''

Thrashed again — There's something about seeing an Atlanta Thrasher jersey that brings out the best in the Philadelphia Flyers.

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The Flyers have owned the Thrashers during the past few years, and their first meeting this season was no different. Three Flyers each scored twice and Antero Niittymaki stopped all 24 shots he faced as the Flyers won 7-0 to make it 11 in a row over the Thrashers — and 8 straight at Atlanta's Philips Arena.

Mike Knuble, one of the Flyers' 3 two-goal scorers, said he has no idea why Philadelphia so dominates the Thrashers.

"They are a better team than they showed tonight," he said. "Maybe we're not as good as we showed."

"We got great results today.  We scored every kind of way. It was good, a lot of fun tonight. It's kind of another good stress breaker for the team. We had a tough go at the beginning, but we followed it up with these good wins" -- Mike Knuble
Simon Gagne had 2 goals and set up 2 more as the Flyers, who started the season 0-3-3, won their third in a row and improved to 14-0-1 in their last 15 meetings with the Thrashers

"We got great results today," Knuble said. "We scored every kind of way. It was good, a lot of fun tonight. It's kind of another good stress breaker for the team. We had a tough go at the beginning, but we followed it up with these good wins."

For the Thrashers, it was another bad night in a stretch that's seen them go 1-5-2 after beating Washington on opening night.

"We weren't ready and from the start we didn't have the effort we wanted," forward Colby Armstrong said. "There were a couple of good bounces for them, but at the same time, the game was there for us. After they got up a few, we just kind of folded the tent."

One Alex was enough — The Washington Capitals were without Alex Ovechkin for their game against Nashville. Unfortunately for the Predators, Washington's other Alex — Alexander Semin — more than made up for Ovechkin's absence.

With Ovechkin in Russia to be with his ailing grandfather, Semin had a goal, an assist and a shootout goal as the Capitals beat the Predators 4-3.

Ovechkin had 65 goals last season and led the NHL with 112 points. He's struggled a bit this season, with just 2 goals and 5 points in 8 games. Semin now has 8 goals and 16 points in Washington's first 9 games.

His teammates have noticed.

"Obviously (Ovechkin) is the star of our team, but Alex Semin is, I think, the best player in the League right now," forward Brooks Laich said. "Everything he touches turns to gold and goes in the net."

 
 
Ovechkin's consecutive games streak ended at 203. He had missed just one of a possible 254 games before Tuesday night.

But Laich said the Caps want to be known as more than just Ovechkin's team.

"Obviously, we miss Ovie. Our hearts are with him and what he's dealing with," said Laich, who filled the void on Ovechkin's line. ''But we want to be known as the Washington Capitals — a good hockey team, not just a team with 1 or 2 good players."

Suffocating Sharks — If their performance against Pittsburgh was any indication, the San Jose Sharks are taking to new coach Todd McLellan's system just fine.

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The Sharks made it 8 wins in their first 10 games by checking the Penguins into the HP Pavilion ice on the way to a 2-1 victory. The final score was deceptive: The Sharks dominated the puck all night long, allowing a franchise-low 11 shots on goal to a team that includes Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien has been playing his 2 big guns on the same line, usually with Pascal Dupuis. But instead of putting out a checking line against Pittsburgh's big unit, McLellan put out his own top center, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Marleau, against them.

Thornton and Marleau are known for their offense, but they played the kind of defense that McLellan has been preaching.

"I think (Crosby and Malkin) score 60 percent of their points, their goals," McLellan said. "If you can shut those two down, you're in a good position to have some success."

Crosby had an assist on Ruslan Fedotenko's third-period goal but didn't have a shot on goal. Malkin had 2 shots but no room to move all night.

"It's frustrating, (because) you want to create chances and find ways to put pucks in the net," Crosby said after the Penguins matched their franchise low for shots in a game. "It's not an ideal situation with some of the guys injured, but that's part of the game. We have to find ways to score. We can't accept that. We expect to find ways to win games. ... We don't feel sorry for ourselves, and we don't want people to feel sorry for us."

One is the winningest number — For the second-straight night, Tim Thomas turned 1 goal into a Boston victory.

Thomas was perfect in Monday night's 1-0 overtime win at Edmonton. He was flawless again Tuesday in Vancouver, stopping 31 shots and making Michael Ryder's first-period goal stand up for the win.

Thomas said playing back-to-back nights was a help to him.

"They got some chances right off the bat, so maybe it was a good thing I played last night because I didn't have the shakiness that you have sometimes when you don t play in a while," said Thomas, who came in with a .932 save percentage.
"When I say something I keep my word, and my word is, if somebody is going to get hot, he's going to get the chance to take the ball and run with it" -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien on starting Tim Thomas on Tuesday night
Boston coach Claude Julien split the first 8 games between Thomas and Manny Fernandez and logic said Fernandez should have gotten the call for the second of back-to-back games. But Julien said there was no question about who would get the start.

"As soon as the game was over Monday, I knew who I was going with," Julien said after Boston's third straight win. "Not only did he get a shutout, but he played well. When I say something I keep my word, and my word is, if somebody is going to get hot, he's going to get the chance to take the ball and run with it."

Even losing coach Alain Vigneault was impressed.

"Give credit to their goaltender," he said. "Our goaltender played well too, but theirs played a phenomenal game."

On a role
— On a team with stars like Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf, it's easy to overlook role players like Curtis Glencross, David Moss and Rene Bourque.

But those 3 were the heroes in Calgary's 3-0 victory against Colorado, a victory that extended Calgary's winning streak to 4 games and snapped Colorado's at 5.

Moss' hard work behind the net and backhand pass set up Glencross for the game's first goal at 8:22 of the third period. Bourque added an insurance goal before Mike Cammalleri completed the scoring.

"It's fun to get that first one, I've had a couple chances this year so far but haven't had the luck. It's nice to get that one and hopefully they'll come in bunches now," said Glencross, who signed with the Flames as a free agent in the summer.

Calgary coach Mike Keenan said that when a role player like Glencross gets a big goal like that, the team really feeds off it.

"When they are rewarded, you feel good for them, and the team embraces their efforts as well," Keenan said. "It's just like (rookie Brandon) Prust scoring in Phoenix (on Saturday). It really energized the team. It makes them feel great and makes the team very positive about their contribution."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report

Contact John Kreiser at jkreiser@nhl.com




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