To Bruce Boudreau and Martin Brodeur the firsts were less meaningful than the outcomes.
Boudreau won in his debut as the interim coach of the Washington Capitals on Friday night, a 4-3 victory in overtime against the host Philadelphia Flyers.
The 52-year-old minor league coach said that his mind wasn't on his first game behind the Washington bench.
"I was really thinking about the players and trying to make sure that they were positive about themselves," Boudreau said. "They were playing such a good game that there was no way something bad was going to happen in the end."
Boudreau was selected to the interim position Thursday, replacing Glen Hanlon, who was fired a day after the Capitals lost to Atlanta, 5-1. He took over a team that had lost nine of its previous 10, and 15 of 18.
Brodeur set aside all 22 shots for his first shutout of the season and the visiting New Jersey Devils beat the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-0.
With the win, New Jersey moved to the .500 mark (10-10-2) for the first time since Oct. 17 when they were 3-3.
"We've been close a lot of times, but couldn't quite get it. It feels good to finally get there," Brodeur said.
The Devils cooled off the Thrashers, who had won four in a row and seven of eight.
In other NHL games, it was: Boston 2, N.Y. Islanders 1; Columbus 4, Minnesota 0; Phoenix 4, Anaheim 3, in a shootout; Carolina 4, Tampa Bay 3; Buffalo 4, Montreal 2; Florida 3, N.Y. Rangers 2, SO; St. Louis 3, Vancouver 1 and Dallas 3, Toronto 1.
Nicklas Backstrom, who also had two assists, slipped a loose puck past Philadelphia goalie Marty Biron with 1:55 left in overtime.
"I really don't know what happened," Backstrom said. "The puck came to me and I waited out (Biron) and it worked."
Mike Green, Chris Clark, and Donald Brashear also scored for the Capitals, who squandered a 3-0 lead. Tom Poti added two assists for Washington.
Philadelphia's Mike Richards tied the score on a rebound goal with 4:15 left in regulation. Danny Briere and Jeff Carter also scored for the Flyers, who were outshot 35-25.
At Atlanta, the Devils won their season-high third straight game. Brodeur has been in the net for all three, allowing only three goals.
Brodeur earned the 93rd shutout of his career. He made a brilliant, diving kick save of a shot by Pascal Dupuis from in close with 9 minutes remaining to preserve the shutout.
"He's a winner. He's making big saves for his team and they are playing better right now, and Marty's a big part of that," Dupuis said of the 14-year veteran whose has won the Vezina Trophy three times.
Rod Pelley, Paul Martin and Jay Pandolfo (empty-netter) scored for New Jersey. Atlanta goalie Johan Hedberg's six-game winning streak came to an end. He stopped 24 shots.
At Boston, Tim Thomas stopped 25 shots and Glen Metropolit scored the winner to lift Boston to its fourth win in five games.
Mike Sillinger scored for the Islanders, who have two goals or fewer in their past seven games, but have won three.
At St. Paul, Minn., Pascal Leclaire stopped 32 shots for his club-record sixth shutout this season, Michael Peca had a goal and an assist in his return from a groin injury, and Columbus snapped a five-game road winless streak.
David Vyborny, Dan Fritsche and Rick Nash also scored for Columbus.
At Anaheim, Calif., Radim Vrbata scored his second goal of the game on a power play with 1:07 left in regulation, then added the clinching goal in the shootout to make Ilya Bryzgalov a winner in his return to Anaheim.
Bryzgalov, who made 23 saves, was Jean-Sebastien Giguere's backup in Anaheim before he was claimed off waivers by the Coyotes on Nov. 17.
At Raleigh, N.C., Glen Wesley capped a third-period comeback with his first goal in more than nine months to help Carolina beat Tampa Bay for the first time in three tries this season.
Ray Whitney and Justin Williams scored as the Hurricanes netted three goals in less than 7 minutes of the third period.
Vincent Lecavalier, the league's top scorer, had a goal and an assist for the Lightning.
At Buffalo, N.Y., Thomas Vanek scored to break a third-period tie, Tim Connolly had a goal and an assist and Ryan Miller made 30 saves for Buffalo, which matched a season high with its third straight win.
Derek Roy and Daniel Paille also scored for the Sabres. Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens.
At Sunrise, Fla., Olli Jokinen scored the only goal of the shootout and Tomas Vokoun made 28 saves for Florida, which ended New York's five-game road win streak.
Chris Drury, who scored twice for the Rangers in regulation, missed on the ensuing turn.
Stephen Weiss and David Booth also scored for the Panthers, who have won four of five.
At St. Louis, Paul Kariya had a goal and an assist, and backup goalie Hannu Toivonen made 25 saves in a win over Vancouver.
Rookie Erik Johnson and Martin Rucinsky also scored for the Blues, who have won four in a row at home.
The Canucks lost for the first time in regulation in their past nine games, dropping to 6-1-2. Ryan Kesler scored for Vancouver.
At Dallas, Antti Miettinen scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period, and Marty Turco made 18 saves to help Dallas stretch its season-best winning streak to four games.
Mike Ribeiro added a goal for the Stars, 4-0-1 since a front-office shakeup by owner Tom Hicks that included the firing of general manager Doug Armstrong.
Alexei Ponikarovsky scored for the Maple Leafs.