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Heatley's a hit in home debut as Sharks rout Jackets

by Brian Hunter
Dany Heatley got used to playing with his San Jose linemates during a season-opening, three-game road swing through Colorado, Anaheim and Los Angeles. He got to introduce himself to the home fans at HP Pavilion on Thursday night. And did he ever welcome himself to town in style.

Heatley recorded a hat trick and his line was all over the place in a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, as last season's Presidents' Trophy winners, who flamed out in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tried to make an early statement that this season will be different.

"For this crowd to cheer his name, he's found a nice home here," said Joe Thornton, who centered a line with Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. "I'm sure they're going to see him raise his hands quite a bit this year."

Acquired in a trade with Ottawa last month, Heatley was already off to a fast start with a goal and 4 assists in San Jose's three road games. But his home debut turned out to be something special.

Heatley put the Sharks ahead for the first time at 2-1 early in the second period, gave them a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes by scoring 12 seconds before intermission -- and then completed his eighth career three-goal game by scoring on a penalty shot at 7:08 of the third.

"I think our whole team, our whole line played well tonight," said Heatley, who ended up a staggering plus-6 for the game. "We worked hard and got rewarded for it."
Thornton tied a franchise record with four assists while Setoguchi had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Dan Boyle chipped in a goal and a pair of assists.

"They're a very dangerous line. They got better as the night went on," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "As a threesome they're getting better every day. They're starting to know instinctively where each other is on the ice."

Rick Nash, Jason Chimera and Raffi Torres scored for the Blue Jackets, who had won their first two games. Goalie Steve Mason stopped 15 shots and was pulled after Setoguchi's goal 1:34 into the third.

"Their team played hungrier and desperate hockey," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We matched it for 35 minutes, but we couldn't match it for 60. We couldn't carry it through."

Torres answered Setoguchi's goal with a power-play goal at 3:45 to bring Columbus within 5-3, but Heatley was dragged down from behind on a clear break to the net and awarded the penalty shot. He beat backup Mathieu Garon to send hats cascading onto the ice and start chants of "Dan-y Heat-ley! Dan-y Heat-ley!" from the fans.

"Love it, love it," Heatley said in an on-ice interview after the game.

San Jose went ahead to stay on Marc-Edouard Vlasic's goal with 1:55 left in the second that gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead. Boyle had the primary assist on that goal as well as Heatley's breakaway tally in the period's waning seconds.

"That's what we got him for," Boyle said. "He certainly delivered tonight. It's great for him to get off to a great start at home."

Devils 4, Lightning 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Jacques Lemaire had to wait more than 11 years to win his 200th game as coach of the New Jersey Devils. Travis Zajac made sure he didn't have to wait another two days.

Zajac scored with just one second left in regulation and then Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner beat Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith in the shootout as the Devils earned their first points of the 2009-10 season with a 4-3 win over the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"These guys have the potential to get these big goals," Lemaire said of the three players who make up the Devils' top line.

Lemaire, who coached the Devils to their first Stanley Cup title in 1995, resigned three seasons later with 199 victories behind the New Jersey bench. After eight seasons as the coach of the Minnesota Wild, he returned to the Garden State over the summer -- but his team dropped its first two games at home against the rival Flyers and Rangers.

"It's tough to put those two games behind you, but we've been improving every day," Zajac said. "I know we thought we played a lot better our second game. The outcome wasn't there, but tonight we did a lot of good things. We also gave up a lead and we still have to work on that and make it easier on ourselves."

After carrying a 2-1 lead into the third period, the Devils fell behind as Steven Stamkos connected on a power play for his second goal of the game and Todd Fedoruk beat Martin Brodeur at 5:41. The Lightning, also seeking their first win, protected the one-goal lead into the final minute, when Brodeur was pulled for an extra attacker.

Tampa needed just one more clear to seal the victory, but Andy Greene was able to knock a pass out of mid-air and it bounced to the front of the net -- where Zajac settled it down and ripped a shot into the net just before the green light went on to signal the end of regulation. A brief video review determined the puck beat the final horn by a full second, and the game was off to overtime.

"You can't believe it," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "The guys deserved better."

Smith was spectacular in the extra period, making highlight-reel saves on Parise and Zajac among his seven stops, but he had no answers for the Devils in the shootout. Parise faked to the backhand and got Smith to commit before bringing the puck back across from right to left and slipping it inside the post. Langenbrunner put a wrist shot past Smith to end it.

"I think we played better in the two games at home and didn't get any points," Langenbrunner said. "Tonight we stuck with it and Marty (Brodeur) came up big, especially in that second period when we were kind of non-existent, and we got the two points. That's a big thing going forward here."

Brodeur, who made 24 saves in the second period alone, finished with 41 stops through overtime. Stamkos hit the post on the first Lightning attempt in the shootout and Brodeur denied Alex Tanguay on a backhander for his NHL-record 29th shootout victory.

"It was definitely a greasy one, but we pulled it off and sometimes that's what you need to try and get going," Brodeur said of his 558th career win. "We showed a lot of character coming back, especially late in the game."

Parise's first goal of the season came on a power play 4:46 into the first, giving New Jersey a 1-0 lead. Stamkos evened the score midway through the second, but Jay Pandolfo put the Devils back in front with 1:51 left in the period when he converted the rebound of David Clarkson's wraparound attempt.

Thrashers 4, Blues 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Thursday was a milestone night for both Ilya Kovalchuk and Evander Kane, one that finished with Atlanta owning a 2-0-0 record.

Kovalchuk tallied a pair of goals, including the 300th of his career, and Kane scored his first NHL goal just months after being taken with the fourth pick in the 2009 Entry Draft to help the Thrashers spoil St. Louis' home opener. Eric Boulton also scored and Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 29 shots as the Thrashers silenced the Scottrade Center crowd and started their five-game road trip off on a high note.

"The most important thing is we got a win," Kovalchuk said. "I think we played a really good defensive game, especially in the third period."

Keith Tkachuk had a goal and assist for the Blues, going over 400 points for his St. Louis career, but the team couldn't capitalize off the energy of fans buzzing from a pair of season-opening wins over Detroit in Stockholm as part of the 2009 Compuware/NHL Premiere. St. Louis rallied from two-goal deficits in both those games, but didn't have the same magic against Atlanta.

"It's going to bite you," Tkachuk said. "You've got to get yourself ready to play and find a way to motivate yourself to go out and play within the system that we've played in the second half of both games in Sweden."

After Tkachuk finished off a 2-on-1 break with Brad Boyes at 5:01 of the first, Boulton answered 2:48 later by converting a Chris Thorburn feed from behind the net. Kovalchuk put the Thrashers ahead to stay at 10:18 with his 300th goal, a power-play marker after a nifty move in the slot.

"He's big every night," Pavelec said. "He's unbelievable. Two games and four goals, that's a lot."

Kane, who assisted on a goal in Atlanta's opening night win over Tampa Bay, got into the act with 2:17 left in the second when he beat Chris Mason. Kane had 48 goals and 48 assists last season for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL before he was taken with the Thrashers' first pick in the draft.

"I don't think any of us were happy with how we played," Mason said. "That's not our style."

Roman Polak revved the St. Louis crowd up again with a slap shot that got past Pavelec with 2:44 remaining, but Kovalchuk's second of the night into an empty net with 31 seconds left sealed the two points for Atlanta.

Ducks 6, Bruins 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Anxious to secure the season's first victory, Anaheim put its foot on the accelerator and didn't let up.

After spotting Boston a 1-0 lead after the first period, two quick power-play goals by Teemu Selanne put the Ducks in the driver's seat, and they didn't stop filling the net until Corey Perry's shorthanded tally with 53 seconds to play in the third.

"We were embarrassed at home on opening night, and then let the 3-0 lead slip away our next game," coach Randy Carlyle said. "So we had a lot to prove."

Anaheim dropped its opener 4-1 to San Jose and let a three-goal third-period lead slip away in a 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. The Ducks arrived at TD Garden ready to get down to business, even if things didn't go exactly as planned from the start.

Marco Sturm got the game's opening goal past Jonas Hiller with 3:27 left in the first, but Hiller stopped the other 18 shots he faced in the period and 33 overall. Meanwhile, the Ducks received a 5-on-3 advantage early in the second after minors to Matt Hunwick and Sturm -- the only penalties called against the Bruins in the game -- and proceeded to turn the game around.

Selanne was alone in the slot to take a Scott Niedermayer feed from the corner and tie the game at 2:13. With the Ducks still up a man, he struck again 1:23 later off a Saku Koivu rebound for the 581st goal of his career and a 2-1 Anaheim lead.

"Both goals changed the momentum and gave us life and energy," said Selanne, who had never gone three games into the season without a point when healthy. "It's very disappointing what happened in Minnesota the other night. We know how important the power play is, it can turn the whole game around."

Perry made it 3-1 before the end of the second period and the Ducks poured on the offense in the third, as Evgeny Artyukhin and Bobby Ryan scored even-strength goals before Perry got his second of the night while helping to kill a delay of game penalty.

Tim Thomas made 24 saves for the Bruins, whose lackluster effort disturbed coach Claude Julien.

"(There are) too many skilled guys not going, and I'll have to deal with the dirty laundry in the dressing room," Julien said. "When you need to keep talking about your fourth line being your best line, it doesn't bode well for your hockey team."

Sabres 2, Coyotes 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Buffalo avenged an overtime loss in its season opener while a successful road trip for Phoenix came to a disappointing finish.

Thomas Vanek scored on the power play with 3:53 remaining and Ryan Miller made 23 saves as the Sabres bounced back from a loss to Montreal at HSBC Arena on Saturday by sending their home fans home happy.

"We had chances but just couldn't get them," Vanek said. "We stuck to our systems, stuck to our game and got rewarded in the end."

Buffalo put 39 shots on goal but was stymied heading into the third period by Phoenix backup Jason LaBarbera.

The Coyotes, who started off the season with wins at Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, got on the scoreboard first on Matthew Lombardi's power-play goal 2:37 into the third. But the lead was short-lived, as rookie defenseman Tyler Myers kept the puck in at the blue line and earned his first NHL point when Clarke MacArthur beat LaBarbera at 4:14.

"We could have had three or four in the second period, but their goalie was unbelievable," MacArthur said.

The Sabres held a 30-18 advantage in shots after two periods, but LaBarbera helped keep the game scoreless. Ultimately, the Coyotes were done in by a cross-checking call to Jim Vandermeer with 5:47 remaining. They had killed off an earlier double minor for roughing and high-sticking to Scottie Upshall, but Vanek made them pay this time by one-timing MacArthur's feed from the slot.

"We're in a game that our goaltender is giving us a chance to win and we go out there and take six more minutes in penalties? That's disgusting," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "That's giving games away. That's bad discipline on our part and that's situations that can't happen."

The Coyotes were hoping to return to Glendale, Ariz., for Saturday's home opener against Columbus with a 3-0-0 record. After an offseason of questions about who would own the franchise and where it would play, they'll be greeted by a sellout crowd.

"We've been told this first game's already sold out," captain Shane Doan said. "We're excited about that. It's obviously a difficult situation, and nobody wants to be in it."

Senators 3, Islanders 2 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

New York earned a point for the second game in a row after finishing regulation tied, but is still looking for the first win of the John Tavares era thanks to Mike Fisher's goal 32 seconds into the extra period.

Fisher cruised down the left wing on a 2-on-1 break and put the first shot of overtime past Martin Biron, causing the fans at Scotiabank Place to erupt after watching the Senators blow a two-goal lead to the Islanders.

"They pushed pretty hard, especially when they got that power-play goal in the third and they got a bit of momentum out of it," said Ottawa goalie Pascal Leclaire, who made 23 saves in his third straight start. "Then we got that big goal in overtime. It's pretty exciting, and as a goalie you like that. You don't have to go to a shootout, and the fans get what they want. So it's a good night. It shows a lot of character."

After finishing 30th in the League last season, the Islanders got the top pick in the Entry Draft and turned it into Tavares, who had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut Saturday, a 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh.

Tavares didn't score against Ottawa, but was on the ice for Kyle Okposo's goal with 2:04 left in the second period that halved the Senators' lead. He then picked up the secondary assist on Matt Moulson's power-play goal 5:29 into the third.

"I thought I did well and I'm hoping to do better next time and keep improving from there," Tavares said.

Early on, the 19-year-old has earned rave reviews not only from his teammates and coaches, but the opposition.

"He's crafty," Fisher said. "He makes plays and he's good with the puck. On the power play, we've got to key in on him. He can make plays, for sure."

Ottawa defenseman Matt Carkner had a goal and an assist in staking the Senators to a 2-0 lead. Peter Regin scored the first period's lone goal off assists from Chris Neil and Carkner. Midway through the second, Carkner scored his first NHL goal when his centering feed from behind the goal line caromed in off Biron's stick.

"It's definitely not something that I planned, but it was a definite bonus for me," Carkner said. "I thanked (Fisher) at the end there for winning the game. If we didn't win, it wouldn't have felt half as good. It was awesome to get the win."

Predators 3, Avalanche 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

When the potential game-tying goal was disallowed in the third period, Nashville didn't panic. Instead, the Predators kept coming -- led by second-year forward Patric Hornqvist, who scored the tying and winning goals 2:17 apart in the third period to give Nashville a 2-0-0 start while handing visiting Colorado its first loss in three games.

"He gets in those really what I call dirty, greasy areas. ... You've got to want to be there," coach Barry Trotz said of Hornqvist, who had just two goals in 29 previous NHL games. "He's a guy who makes sure he's there when the puck's there. It's a skill. It's a great skill, and you see (Tomas) Holmstrom do it in Detroit all the time and how effective he is tonight. You saw how effective it was for us, and I thought Patric did a great job."

Kyle Quincey and Marek Svatos had power-play goals for the Avalanche, sandwiched around a score by Predators captain Jason Arnott.

Arnott thought he had tied the score in the third, but the referees immediately disallowed the goal into a wide-open net because it was ruled he intentionally directed the puck in with his skate after missing it with his stick.

"I'm just glad we ended up with a win after missing a puck that's lying there on the crease line," Arnott said.

Hornqvist tapped in the rebound of Ryan Suter's shot with 7:29 left, then redirected Shea Weber's shot from the right circle past Craig Anderson to give Nashville its first lead of the game. Dan Ellis, who finished with 22 saves, made it stand up.

"It was a good day," Hornqvist said. "The puck went two times right to my stick, and I had an open net."

Trotz appreciated the resiliency of his team after the disallowed goal. The Predators also showed character in their opener when they won in a shootout after blowing a 2-0 lead to Dallas.

"They seemed to be on a mission the next few shifts, and they were," Trotz said. "They had great traffic. Hornqvist in front was really huge for that."

Colorado hasn't started with three straight wins since arriving from Quebec in 1995. Anderson was solid again, with 34 saves, but it wasn't enough for a winning effort in the opening of a seven-game road trip.

"He gave us a chance to win," Avalanche captain Adam Foote said. "We've got to learn to win those."

Flames 4, Oilers 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Calgary also played beat the clock, forcing overtime on Rene Bourque goal's with 1.5 seconds left in regulation and prevailing in the shootout on a goal by Olli Jokinen that needed a video review to count.

"That's a huge game for us," said Nigel Dawes, who also scored in the shootout.
"Especially the way things ended up at the end there, scoring at the last second. We really battled hard right to the end. That's two big wins for us here. You never know what can happen, so that's why you have to keep pushing.

"That's what we did tonight after falling behind by two."

Dawes and Daymond Langkow wiped out a 2-0 Edmonton lead, but the Oilers went back in front when Ales Hemsky stuffed the rebound of Shawn Horcoff's shot from the slot past Miikka Kiprusoff with 6:30 remaining.

That appeared to sink the Flames' chances of getting off to a 4-0-0 start for only the second time in franchise history. But with Kiprusoff on the bench and six skaters on the ice, Bourque tipped Jay Bouwmeester's shot past Nikolai Khabibulin and silenced the Rexall Place crowd.

Dawes and Patrick O'Sullivan traded goals in the shootout before Jokinen got the puck past Khabibulin in the second round. It initially appeared as though Khabibulin made the save, but video review confirmed that the puck trickled under his pads and across the goal line. Hemsky then missed the net on the Oilers' final chance against Kiprusoff.

"We kept coming and coming," Jokinen said. "We worked hard and deserved the two points."

It was the second painful loss Edmonton suffered at the hands of Calgary on home ice in the span of six days. David Moss scored in the final minute of regulation Saturday after Khabibulin came out of his net and misplayed the puck.

"You can't lose two tougher games than that," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said. "We played very hard in both games and did a lot of good things. I guess it gives some adversity to deal with early in the season because those are two of the toughest losses you are going to see all year, I hope."

Moreau and Lubomir Visnovsky scored in the closing minutes of the first period to stake the Oilers to the two-goal lead. Moreau had just finished serving an interference penalty when Gilbert Brule found him with a long lead pass, and Moreau finished the play by beating Kiprusoff between the pads with 3:33 left. Visnovsky made it 2-0 on the power play just 13.8 seconds before the intermission.

Kings 6, Wild 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Los Angeles made sure Minnesota wasn't able to erase a three-goal deficit this time. Teddy Purcell scored a key third-period goal and Ryan Smyth followed with his second of the game as the Kings held off a surge by the Wild and prevailed at Staples Center for their second straight victory.

"It was a great game for us. We're glad to get the two points and start to get rolling," said defenseman Jack Johnson, whose shot Smyth tipped in for the game's opening goal. "Our top line was playing great, and when your best players are playing well there's a good chance you're going to win the hockey game."

Jonathan Quick made 26 saves and Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar and Michal Handzus also scored for the Kings, who led 3-0 after the first period and 4-1 midway through the second.

"There were just some guys who weren't ready to show up," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "And the way that the game went, it's about doing the right things. You have to be committed to playing in your own zone, and again, we had some guys that just weren't ready for that."

Still, the Wild, which came back from a 3-0 third-period deficit to shock Anaheim 4-3 on Tuesday, looked to be game again. They got goals from Martin Havlat, Nick Schultz and Kim Johnsson, the latter coming off the rebound of Antti Miettinen's shot, to get within a goal at 6:24 of the third.

Purcell helped end thoughts of a Minnesota rally when he converted Jarret Stoll's feed past Josh Harding at 10:26. Cal Clutterbuck took a tripping penalty 15 seconds later and Smyth wasted little time in making it 6-3 on the power play with 8:58 left.

Smyth, Kopitar and Williams combined for four goals and nine points.

"We're communicating a lot in practices and on the bench here, and it leads onto the ice," Smyth said. "It's nice that we're communicating and we're getting rewarded."

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

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