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Despite another loss, Tocchet likes what he sees

by Brian Compton /
A few thoughts while the Oilers redeem 300,000,000 hotel reward points:

No time to panic -- The Tampa Bay Lightning haven't lost a game in regulation since Rick Tocchet took over as coach last Friday.

Of course, they haven't won, either.

Despite firing 52 shots on goal Tuesday night, the Lightning fell to 0-0-2 under Tocchet with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers at the St. Pete Times Forum. Bryan McCabe scored twice in regulation and Nathan Horton had the lone goal in the shootout for the Panthers, who received a 49-save effort from All-Star goalie Tomas Vokoun.


"Stamkos was on a rampage last night..."

"I'm proud of the guys," Tocchet said after his team's second straight shootout loss. "We had 52 shots, a ton of chances. It seems like we've just got a little bit of a cloud over our head. But the guys played great. They played really hard."

Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 selection in the 2008 Entry Draft, appeared to have more jump in his step. He picked up an assist for just his fifth point in 18 games this season. He also peppered Vokoun with nine shots on goal in 17:55 of ice time.

"He played very good," Tocchet said of Stamkos. "His energy level was there. I've been talking to him a lot, keeping his spirits up. You can tell the last three or four days, he's light on his feet and he's bouncing around at practice. You can just tell that he's excited. He had nine shots tonight … some guys don't get that in a month."

900 and counting -- Shane Doan is "Captain Coyote" after spending his entire career with the franchise that's now based in Phoenix. But on the occasion of his 900th NHL game, he still remembers the night he and the rest of the Jets said farewell to Winnipeg after the 1995-96 season.

"It was a long time ago now. It was one of those things," said the 32-year-old forward, who has played more games for the franchise than anyone else and scored in Tuesday night's 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago. "Leaving Canada was different, but coming down here -- it's a pretty special place. For my family and I, this is home for us."

Doan is off to another solid start, with 10 goals and 18 points in 17 games. The fact that he's now in his 13th season with the franchise and 12th in the desert still amazes him.

"I was just hoping to make the team the following year," he said when asked about his thoughts about skating off the ice for the final time in Winnipeg. "That's all I was worried about. I've obviously been very blessed and fortunate to be in the same organization for this long."

Doan was named captain of the Coyotes in 2003, making him one of the longest-serving wearers of the "C" in the NHL.

"I take it seriously and as a huge honor," he said of being captain.


"One of the best efforts by the Canes so far this season..."


"You can’t win when scoring less than 2 goals a game..."


"Why isn’t this kid getting the recognition he deserves?..."

Bombs away -- The Carolina Hurricanes think they've found a way to get of their offensive funk -- fire lots and lots of shots on goal.

That's what they did against the visiting Canadiens. Peter Laviolette's squad peppered Montreal's Carey Price with a season-high 48 shots on goal in a 2-1 victory against the Habs at the RBC Center.

Sergei Samsonov scored his first goal of the season in the third period, and Ray Whitney followed with one of his own less than four minutes later. It was exactly the jumpstart Carolina needed after averaging fewer than two goals in its previous six games.

''We came out with the attitude that we were going to shoot some pucks and crash the net a little bit more,'' Samsonov said. ''We really made an effort to try to put the puck on net from any position, and I think that kind of created the forecheck.''

Price's 46 saves set a career high. He also stopped the first 30 shots he faced to keep the Canadiens in the game.

"That's a team that shoots everything," Price said. "Whenever they get the puck in a good shooting position, they're going to be letting it go."


"It was a dominating performance by the Flames..."


"Worst performance by the Avs in recent memory?..."

Rocky Mountain Low — The Colorado Avalanche think it's time to go back to the drawing board following a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

After all, the score would have been much, much worse if not for the play of Avs goalie Peter Budaj, who made 47 saves. Budaj kept his team in the game until Adrian Aucoin broke a 1-1 tie with 7:32 to play. Things snowballed from there.

"I feel bad for him," Colorado forward Ian Laperriere said of his goaltender. "He's the only one who showed up tonight. We didn't have any effort in front of him. We hung him out to dry. It was embarrassing."

The Avalanche knew full well the Flames were entering the game steaming mad following their 6-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks last Thursday night. That knowledge proved to be useless.

"We knew they would come out and play hard," Avs coach Tony Granato said. "We stood around and watched how hard they worked. They just kept coming and coming."


"Niklas Backstrom once again stood on his head..."

Minnesota Devils? -- The Pittsburgh Penguins had an idea of what to expect when the Minnesota Wild came calling -- a defensive struggle.

That's exactly what transpired at Mellon Arena, where Niklas Backstrom paced the Wild to a 2-1 shootout victory. In the end, the Pens were unable to generate enough offense. Minnesota's stifling defense reminded Sidney Crosby of a division opponent.

"We had opportunities, for sure,'' Pittsburgh's captain said. ''A lot of teams play well defensively. We've played (New) Jersey enough to know our game doesn't change, we're still going to get chances if we do the right things.''

"We had opportunities, for sure.  A lot of teams play well defensively. We've played (New) Jersey enough to know our game doesn't change, we're still going to get chances if we do the right things." -- Sidney Crosby
While the Wild's defense did its job, Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire -- a former Devils' coach -- gave the credit to Backstrom, who made 24 saves before going 3-for-3 in the shootout.

''Our goalie was great,'' Lemaire said. ''I think he's the one that gave us the two points.''

Pin-point accuracy -- They had only 19 shots on goal, but boy, did the Edmonton Oilers make them count.

Seven players enjoyed multiple-point games, led by Shawn Horcoff's goal and 2 assists, as Edmonton pummeled the host Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 to end a three-game skid.

''I don't really think the score was indicative of how close the game was,'' Horcoff said. ''I thought we showed a lot of good character to get that fifth goal. We kind of gave ourselves some breathing room.''

Lack of effort certainly can't be labeled the reason why the Blue Jackets fell short Tuesday, as they held a 29-8 edge in shots after 40 minutes but struggled to beat Dwayne Roloson. Special teams? Well, that's a horse of a different color. Columbus, which possesses the worst power play in the League, went 1-for-7 on the man advantage

''We lost the special teams game,'' Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''You can't live on the negative play of our special teams and win.''
Material from wire services, team Web sites and broadcast media was used in this report.

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