The first appearance of the new season by many of Vancouver's stars ended the same way the last appearance of the old one did -- with a loss.
Lubomir Visnovsky's third-period power-play goal broke a tie and the Ducks held on for a 3-2 win at the Honda Center in the first preseason game for several key Canucks -- including goaltender Roberto Luongo and star forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin. They hadn't taken the ice since losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last spring.
"It's been different from previous years, but it was a short summer for everyone and to make sure that we were sharp we had some good practices last week and good workouts, but it's nice to finally play a game and we're anxious for the season to start," said forward Alexandre Burrows, who was among the regulars back in the lineup.
Visnovsky, the top-scoring defenseman in the NHL last season, beat Roberto Luongo with a slap shot at 5:08. Jonas Hiller made 31 saves and withstood a 6-on-3 power play in the final minute.
"I feel like I’m really sharp on the puck," said Hiller, who missed most of the last two months of 2010-11 with vertigo. "I’m going in the right direction. There always room for improvement, but that is what exhibition games are for. That is more the team we are going to face during the season. They had more skilled guys out there."
Cam Fowler and Bobby Ryan scored 66 seconds apart late in the first period to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Henrik Sedin and Sami Salo scored 14 minutes apart in the second to pull Vancouver even entering the third period.
With Anaheim also dressing most it its regulars, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said his team is just about ready for opening night.
"We’re close," he said. "We have to tighten up in a few areas and that will come with playing together. We’re taking the right steps right now and going in the right direction. We had a tough start to the preseason, but we have things going now. We have to continue that on and continue to build."
Six months after his season ended with a season-ending leg injury in a game against Colorado, Anze Kopitar showed the Avs and the rest of the NHL that he's healthy and ready to go by scoring three goals to lead the Kings to an easy win in Denver.
The Kings had scored only seven goals through four exhibition games, but after a scoreless first period, Kopitar's power-play goal put the Kings ahead to stay. His second goal capped a four-goal second period, and after Justin Williams made it 5-0 just 57 seconds into the third period, Kopitar completed his hat trick at 9:19. Jonathan Quick stopped 27 shots for the shutout.
Kopitar said there was no irony about having a big night against the team he was injured against.
"No. I was probably thinking about it a little more in the last game at Staples (Center), because it happened there," Kopitar said. "That was the only one. No, definitely not. It was a non-factor. I’m past that, obviously. I’ve got to look forward. What happened, happened, and I’m all healed up now and that’s the most important thing."
Kings coach Terry Murray was delighted to see his No. 1 center back in form.
"It was good to see him get himself on track here tonight," Murray said. "He’s been working real hard throughout the camp and you know, coming in, that he wants to show to himself, after his injury, that he can get himself to the same level again. I think tonight really goes a long way towards his personal confidence."
Even though it was only a preseason loss, Avs coach Joe Sacco met with his players after the game.
"The numbers will get lower, and we'll see who we want to stick around and who we don't," Sacco said of impending player cuts. "Tonight wasn't a great night for some guys."
"I thought Varly was fine tonight," he said. "When you look at some of the goals against, we had some breakdowns that we have to correct. It's tough to make the save when you can't see the puck. He made the first save on a couple of those goals, and we have to do a better job of boxing out and clearing out the rebounds."
It took the Jets more than 50 minutes to figure out how to beat Brian Boucher, but only 64 seconds to do it again. Evander Kane tied the game with a power-play goal at 10:45 of the third period and Blake Wheeler scored 1:04 later as the Jets evened their preseason record at 3-3-0.
The Jets outplayed and outshot the Hurricanes all night but trailed 1-0 on a first-period goal by Tim Brent until Kane beat Boucher through a partial screen. Wheeler then scored to put the Jets ahead for the first time, and Kane clinched it with an empty-netter.
"We played a good game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "I was curious to see how our speed would match up against their speed. We were a little bit slow getting on the board, but I thought we had a lot of chances.
Boucher finished with 35 saves, including 25 through the first two periods, as Carolina lost for the third time in four games. Chris Mason faced just 18 shots for the Jets.
Matt Halischuk put the Predators ahead with a tip-in at 8:02 of the second period, and Weber beat Vokoun at 14:37. Cal O'Reilly's power-play goal with 3:28 left in regulation completed the scoring.
"We're trying to accomplish two things," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We're trying to sort out the pieces and we're trying to get our core guys ready to play.
"We've been trying to ramp everybody, especially the core players, ramp their minutes up a little bit, to play a little more. It's just preparing them for the season."
Rinne made 23 saves for Nashville, which has won five of its six preseason games. Washington is 1-3-1.
"I hope it's not rust," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said of the reasons for his team's preseason struggles. "These guys have been practicing hard every day since camp began. Our guys are playing games. It's time we started getting our act in gear and playing better."