A few thoughts while Islanders fans digest the fact that Todd Bertuzzi scored on Trevor Linden Night:
-- When Martin Brodeur
went down with a torn biceps tendon in early November, it was assumed Kevin Weekes
would be the New Jersey Devils
' No. 1 goaltender.
Weekes stumbled a bit following Brodeur's injury, though, so Devils coach Brent Sutter
handed Scott Clemmensen
a golden opportunity. Clemmensen has made the most of it.
Clemmensen -- who appeared in 40 games in the American Hockey League last season -- made 23 saves Wednesday night, leading New Jersey to a 5-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres
at HSBC Arena. Clemmensen has won nine of his last 11 starts, while the Devils improved to 10-2-1 over the last 13 games.
"It's typical Devils fashion," said Clemmensen. "We're not very exciting to watch, and maybe our team goes unnoticed a little bit, which is fine with us. It's an entire team effort."
Indeed it was, as five different players found the back of the net for New Jersey. As opposing teams and hockey fans around the globe are finding out, this team goes well beyond Brodeur, who is expected to miss another 2-3 months.
''We're gaining confidence and learning a lot about each other,'' said captain Jamie Langenbrunner
, who had 2 assists. ''We're proving to ourselves as well as the rest of the League that we have a good team, and not just Marty carrying us. I think it can be huge for us later on in the year.''
-- After missing 27 games with a lower-body injury, Minnesota Wild
forward Marian Gaborik
returned, and quickly showed that he doesn't need time to find his game.
The All-Star forward assisted on Andrew Brunette
's second-period goal, and then scored his first goal since Oct. 14 to erase a 2-1 deficit with 4:43 remaining in regulation in the Wild's 3-2 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames
at the Xcel Energy Center.
"It was so exciting to score, especially after I was out for a couple months," said Gaborik, who has 2 goals in three games this season. "It's always good to get out there. When you get a goal or a point, it's always a bonus. It's too bad we couldn't get two points, but every point counts in this situation we are in right now."
The situation Gaborik is referring to is that Minnesota hasn't won since Dec. 3. Despite the recent slide, the Wild are just seven points behind the first-place Flames in the Northwest Division. They return to the ice Friday night when they host the struggling New York Islanders
"Right now what's happening is very simple," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire
said. "Guys are trying to come back and play as well as they can. They are making one mistake, pay the price. They make another one, give them a chance, and get exposed. That's where we're at right now."
-- Perhaps what Michal Rozsival
accomplished at the Staples Center will silence some of the boo-birds who have been serenading him at Madison Square Garden.
The New York Rangers
defenseman scored on a penalty shot in the second period and then notched the game-winning goal at 3:41 of overtime, lifting the Blueshirts to a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings
The win was the second is as many nights for New York on the West Coast, coming after the Rangers -- who received a 39-save effort from backup goalie Steve Valiquette
-- earned a 3-1 win at Anaheim on Tuesday night. They'll look to make it three in a row Saturday night at San Jose.
"We played hard, but they really played much better in the first period," said Rozsival, as the Rangers were outshot 14-3 in the opening period. "Valiquette played unbelievable today. He's the reason we had any chance to win this game. We are very happy about the win tonight. These were a huge two points."
Locked in a 1-1 tie in the second period, Rozsival was awarded a penalty shot after a broken stick was shot in his direction as he played the puck. Rozsival faked to his backhand and lifted the puck over Jason LaBarbera
's right pad.
"I knew there was a penalty going to be called, but I thought we were just going to be on the power play five-on-three," Rozsival said. "It happened so quick, and I'm not used to doing this. I just wanted to go backhand, and I made up my mind at the red line. I was just happy I was able to score."
Two good to be true
-- With Pascal Leclaire
and now Steve Mason
in the mix, Columbus Blue Jackets
coach Ken Hitchcock has a fabulous problem on his hands.
Mason, a rookie, was brilliant again Wednesday night, as he made 47 saves against the League-leading San Jose Sharks
in a 2-1 overtime victory at Nationwide Arena.
But with Mason playing this well, how does Hitchcock find time to keep both goalies mentally and physically sharp? The Blue Jackets visit Dallas on Thursday, when Leclaire will get the starting nod.
"I think we have to come to an understanding that we have a very good goalie and he's going to help us win games," Hitchcock said of Mason. "That's what you want. (On Thursday), it's Pazzie's turn. It's his opportunity to really step up because we're going to need him to be really good. We're going to play a rested team, and we're going to need our goalie to be great.
"We have an opportunity now to have a 1 and a 1A. We have an opportunity to have a great tandem. Both guys can help us win hockey games."
Mason certainly helped the Blue Jackets earn arguably their most dramatic win of the season. Given the talent on San Jose's side of the ice, it's certainly the type of win that can send an air of confidence throughout the Columbus locker room.
"We can draw back at this and know that we can play at this level," Hitchcock said. "This is an information basket that we can draw on now."
Canucks win one for Trevor
-- After an emotional ceremony that saw Trevor Linden
's No. 16 raised to the General Motors Place rafters, the Vancouver Canucks
went out and won one for their former captain.
-- who broke into the NHL with Linden as a teammate -- scored twice in Vancouver's 4-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers
in a game that saw the Canucks play the final 22 minutes with only four defensemen following injuries to Shane O'Brien
and Sami Salo
''It was a special night for him and for us, too,'' Sedin said. ''Trevor meant a lot to this team and to my brother (Henrik) and myself. It was great to get the two points out of it, for sure. We sat for 45 minutes or so, but guys were still pumped up. It was an emotional night, but the guys were prepared to play.''
"I felt good in there. I felt comfortable. It was a huge two points and the team responded accordingly. Our forwards did an extremely good job of helping our 'D' when we needed them back there. We played strong defensively for a full 60 minutes and were deserving of the win." -- Curtis Sanford
played well again for the Canucks, who are missing current captain Roberto Luongo
due to a groin injury. With the win, Sanford improved to 4-3 in eight starts since Luongo went down in Pittsburgh on Nov. 22.
''I felt good in there,'' said Sanford, who made 22 saves. ''I felt comfortable. It was a huge two points and the team responded accordingly. Our forwards did an extremely good job of helping our 'D' when we needed them back there. We played strong defensively for a full 60 minutes and were deserving of the win.''
So was Linden. Congrats, Trevor.
Contact Brian Compton at email@example.com.
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.