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Lombardi's goal is long time coming

by Brian Compton /
A few thoughts while we douse Barry Melrose with champagne:

No longer door-Matts — Entering the 2008-09 season, the hope in Calgary was that it would be a breakout campaign for Flames forward Matthew Lombardi.

Five games into the season it sure didn't seem that way, as Lombardi registered just 1 assist. His lack of offensive production was one of the many reasons why Calgary had just 1 win during that span.

On Tuesday night, however, Lombardi had good reason to breathe a sigh of relief. His first goal of the season, early in the second period, proved to be the game-winner as the Flames earned a 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Not only did Lombardi notch his first goal of the season, but the Flames managed to kill off a 9-minute power play. Rene Bourque put his team in such a position after sticking up for teammate Daymond Langkow, drawing a double minor and a major.

Nine minutes! Not even "Titanic" was that long.

"I haven't seen 9 before," Flames forward Curtis Glencross said. "But we came through and just battled hard. We took it 30 seconds at a time, each shift at a time, and went from there. It's a reality check for all of us. You have to go out, do your job and get off the ice. We rotated guys pretty good." 

After stumbling out of the gate, the Flames are hopeful that a win like the one notched Tuesday night is a sign of things to come. Calgary visits Nashville on Thursday and Phoenix on Saturday.

"It's a very big win," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "We know what the standings are. Everybody was aware of how we had to buckle down defensively. We need to start building some momentum. There's a lot of things to feel good about."
Vanek scores … sort of — It won't count on the scoresheet, but Thomas Vanek's goal against Boston couldn't have come at a better time.

The Buffalo Sabres' leading scorer beat Manny Fernandez in the shootout as the Sabres pulled out a 3-2 victory against the visiting Bruins and earned a first-place tie with the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division.

Vanek — who scored at least once in each of Buffalo's first 5 games this season — was not about to take the credit for Tuesday's win. He deflected that to goaltender Ryan Miller, who stood on his head early in the contest, when the Sabres were being outshot by a margin of 14-2.

''Ryan was unbelievable,'' Vanek said.

Indeed he was. As far as Miller is concerned, though, it's all part of a day's work.

''Yeah, happy to help,'' Miller said. ''I thought the team did a nice job of settling down and playing.''

Meanwhile, Bruins coach Claude Julien feels like he's trapped in a bad Bill Murray movie.

''You almost feel like 'Groundhog Day' here," said Julien, who watched his team drop a 2-1 shootout decision Monday to Pittsburgh thanks to 35 saves by Dany Sabourin. ''We came up short again in the shootout. But we are that close, and if we can get over that hump it will make a big difference."

Six times a charm — It wasn't exactly the type of victory that will make Barry Melrose feel more comfortable about his team. Nonetheless, the new Tampa Bay Lightning coach picked up his first victory in 13 years with Tuesday night's 3-2 overtime win against the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Lightning entered the third period with a 2-0 lead, but the Thrashers were able tie things on goals by Colby Armstrong and Todd White. The game-tying tally came with just 35.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

"I'd like an easier one," Melrose said of his first victory since he coached the Los Angeles Kings in 1995. "I'd like a 7-0 or something. But this is probably a really important win for us because of us coming back and winning after giving up a 2-0 lead."

Tampa Bay picked up its first win of the season when franchise center Vincent Lecavalier beat Kari Lehtonen at 1:41 of overtime. While it was disappointing to see the 2-0 lead slip away, Lecavalier was happy to see his team come away with a victory after going winless in its first 5 games.


"Finally the Lightning grabbed their first win of the season..."


"The first win for Barry Melrose as head coach..."

''When you're up 2-0, you don't want to go to overtime,'' Lecavalier said. ''But the guys stayed positive and we kept playing hard. We battled through and got the game.''

Melrose agreed. He did his best to rally the troops once White beat Mike Smith with time winding down to send the game to overtime. Had the Thrashers won, who knows how long Tampa Bay would have gone without a victory?

"Right then you've got to get the guys on the bench going," Melrose said. "You see their heads drop and shoulders drop and the body language was pretty terrible. It was the old here-we-go-again scenario. That's why this win is so important."
A night to remember — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett doesn't have to wonder what it's like to score in the NHL anymore.

The 21-year-old scored what proved to be the game-winner Tuesday night, leading the Blue Jackets to a 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at Nationwide Arena. His tally came late in the second period, when he stuffed a rebound past Roberto Luongo, one of the game's best netminders. Not a bad way to score your first NHL goal.

"Fifteen years ago I was downstairs in my basement pretending I was an NHL player scoring a goal," Dorsett said. "It was a huge relief, probably one of the biggest celebrations I've done after a goal. It's just really exciting and I'm glad that I got it"

Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock raved about Dorsett's performance. Not only did the rookie score what proved to be the game-winner, but he also shut down Vancouver's top line, which features Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

"Dorsett is a big addition to our hockey club right now," Hitchcock said. "He does play like a young player. He played against the Sedin line all night, and that's a big responsibility for a 21-year old. He's a big part of our team right now."

They'll take it —
They surrendered a 2-0 lead and needed a cold Curtis Joseph to win in a shootout, but these days, the Anaheim Ducks will take a win any way they can get one.
"Fifteen years ago I was downstairs in my basement pretending I was an NHL player scoring a goal.  It was a huge relief, probably one of the biggest celebrations I've done after a goal. It's just really exciting and I'm glad that I got it" -- Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett on his first NHL goal
It was a bizarre scene at Air Canada Centre, where Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson opted to replace Vesa Toskala at the beginning of the shootout in favor of Joseph, who watched Toskala play the first 65 minutes and stop 19 of 21 shots.

The move didn't pay dividends, as Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne found the back of the net in the breakaway session to give the Ducks just their second win in 7 tries this season.

"I've never seen it happen before," Perry said. "I saw (Joseph) warming up and I turned to the bench and said, `They're putting him in?'"

Of course, they never would have seen Joseph at all had they been able to protect an early 2-0 lead. Not only did the Leafs storm back for the tie, but they held the Ducks without a shot on goal in the third period. Only a breakaway goal by George Parros would be more improbable. (Hey, wait a minute …)

"The way we've been going, we'll take everything we possibly can," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.
Contact Brian Compton at:

Material from wire services and team web sites was used in this report.

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