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Isles' Weight joins 1,000-point club

by Brian Hunter
A few thoughts while we search for evidence that Columbus rookie goalie Steve Mason is, in fact, human:

A Weight off his shoulders -- He's won a Stanley Cup and accomplished plenty of other team and individual milestones over the course of his career. Another one came for Doug Weight when he became the eighth American-born player to reach 1,000 points as the New York Islanders lost 5-4 to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Weight assisted on a pair of goals by Richard Park late in the third as the Islanders nearly rallied from a 5-2 deficit. He now has 272 goals and 729 assists for 1,001 points since breaking into the League with the Rangers during the 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It was unbelievable for the team to stand up and give me a hand and the crowd, too," Weight said of the fans at Arena — a group that included about 30 family members and friends — who acknowledged the milestone when it was announced. "The U.S. has a lot of U.S. hockey fans and me being an American it's nice to do it on this soil. It was a very nice hand I got and I appreciate it."

Weight has also played for the Oilers, Blues, Hurricanes and Ducks, lifting the Cup in 2006 when Carolina beat Edmonton in seven games. This is his 18th season in the League and first with the Islanders, and Park was thrilled to play a role in his big moment.

"To be part of it, not only as a teammate but to get in on that accomplishment is something I'll always remember," Park said. "Things like that don't happen too much in this game. I think it speaks volumes about Doug as a hockey player and the dedication and sacrifice he's endured to get to that point."

Slow and steady -- The Vancouver Canucks are expecting to be a contender in the Western Conference. The Atlanta Thrashers are merely trying to stay out of the basement in the Southeast Division. But when their game Friday night at Philips Arena went into a shootout, the advantage shifted to the home team.

Erik Christensen's goal in the fourth round lifted the Thrashers to a 4-3 win over the Canucks and made them 2-0 this season in the penalty-shot tiebreakers. The Canucks have lost four of five shootouts. Christensen, now 16-for-28 lifetime in shootouts, had a simple explanation for why he feels comfortable in those situations.

"I don't know what it is with a shootout," Christensen said. "I'm always calm, which is different than during the game."

Vyacheslav Kozlov and Pavol Demitra traded goals over the first three rounds before Christensen beat new Canucks goalie Jason LaBarbera for the winner. Even though he wasn't picked to shoot in the top three, Christensen knew what he was doing when he took the ice.


"All my life," he replied when asked how long he had been working on the move that produced the winner against LaBarbera. "It's called the double deke. It's one of the two moves I usually do."

Vancouver, which won in Nashville on Thursday in LaBarbera's debut after being traded from Los Angeles, managed a point thanks to a pair of regulation goals by Henrik Sedin and one from Daniel Sedin.

"My success rate in the shootout hasn't been very good," LaBarbera said. "I would of liked to come up with one more save."

Close doesn't count -- Blame injuries, call it growing pains, but the bottom line is the St. Louis Blues have been struggling to win hockey games. The really frustrating aspect for players like David Backes is that the team usually isn't far away from earning two points for their efforts.

The Blues battled hard again but came out on the wrong end of a 2-1 final score against the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center. Eric Staal and Anton Babchuk staked the 'Canes to a two-goal lead before Backes scored with 8:04 left in the third. But the Blues were stymied from there by Cam Ward.

"The toughest part is that we're right there," Backes said. "It's one-goal games. It's tie games. Third-period leads that we've squandered. Somehow, we're finding ways to give it to the other team. It's just not winning hockey, the way we're playing. We've got to find a way to crack that."

Carolina, on the other hand, has points in 10 of 14 games since Paul Maurice came back behind the bench to replace Peter Laviolette. They responded well to Backes' goal to hold off St. Louis and maintain playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

"One of the things that I think our team has really improved on is, we're not panicking when things like that happen to us," said Ward, who stopped the first 23 shots he saw and finished with 30 saves. "Despite them having some opportunities, we didn't force anything. We didn't panic in any way or form."

Message received -- It was a fairly successful three-game road trip for the New Jersey Devils, who recorded four of a possible six points, but the final game was a 4-3 clunker against Dallas in which coach Brent Sutter was less than pleased with his troops' effort.

Sutter has never been shy about reading his players the riot act, and the Devils returned home to Prudential Center well aware of the ways they needed to be better. They were, defeating a depleted squad of Montreal Canadiens, 4-1, behind 33 saves from Scott Clemmensen.

"I had a good feeling," Sutter said. "I trust that group inside the room. I had good vibes coming to the rink today that we were going to play a really good game. We had a tremendous effort from our goaltender right out."

Max Pacioretty was the only Hab to get a puck past Clemmensen, scoring in his NHL debut. Pacioretty was one of several players called up by Montreal for the game after a rash of injuries that has claimed scorers such as Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay and Christopher Higgins. Starting goalie Carey Price is also out.

"That's a good team no matter what," said Devils winger Zach Parise, who had a goal and an assist. "They're missing a couple key guys, but that's not our problem. We still gotta win the game. They're pretty deep and we had to take advantage of their injuries tonight."

Another day in paradise -- The legend of Steve Mason just continues to grow in Ohio and around the League as the rookie goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets recorded another win. He did actually have reason for lament afterward -- unlike the previous three games, he surrendered a goal this time.

"That's kind of disappointing when you look at it that way," said Mason, who backstopped the Jackets to a 6-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche. "It went through a couple of guys and I didn't get the greatest push across."

But the Jackets and their fans are probably more focused on the fact Mason's 23-save performance helped them leap over the Avalanche and into eighth place in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the leading candidate for this season's Calder Trophy lowered his NHL-best stats to a 1.65 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

"He plays like he's been in the league 10 years," said teammate Rick Nash, who registered four points, including a successful penalty shot. "He doesn't get flustered. He plays like a veteran."

Kristian Huselius, who really is a veteran, scored a pair of goals in the second period as Columbus won for the second time this season at Pepsi Center after going 1-12-1 previously.

"We changed and adjusted," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said of the second period. "We really went after it and played our game."

Even once again -- The two Atlantic Division rivals couldn't have gotten off to more different starts. While the Philadelphia Flyers began the season winless in their first six games (0-3-3), the New York Rangers started with five straight victories en route to a 10-2-1 record for the month of October.

Needless to say, the Flyers spent the first several months of the season looking up in the standings at the Rangers, but they gradually and steadily improved as a team. Now, after a 5-4 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center, they are even with New York and tied for first in the Atlantic with 49 points.

"We got behind the eight-ball early in the season, but we showed the type of resilience we have as a team," said captain Mike Richards, who scored the lone goal in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. "We get behind early tonight, and it doesn't faze us."

Indeed, the Ducks jumped out to leads of 3-1 and 4-3 in the second period, but the Flyers responded quickly both times. Josh Gratton started the first rally with a goal 16 seconds after Andrew Ebbett had his first NHL goal for Anaheim, and it took Mike Knuble all of 14 seconds to tie the game at 4-4 after Ryan Getzlaf had tallied.

"The second period was a little crazy," Flyers goalie Martin Biron said. "They scored three goals after getting one in the last minute of the first. There were some good plays and some deflections, but we battled back hard."

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

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