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Sydor eager to prove the doubters wrong

by Brian Compton / NHL.com
A few thoughts while Donovan McNabb waits for the start of double overtime:

Sydor's a Star … again
-- Looking to bolster their blue line, the Dallas Stars acquired a familiar face Sunday.

Darryl Sydor, who played for the Stars from 1995-2003 and again in 2006-07, was traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to Dallas in exchange for defenseman Philippe Boucher. The two-time All-Star defenseman could be in the lineup as early as Thursday night, when the Stars host the Chicago Blackhawks.

"Darryl is a proven veteran defenseman who brings a great deal of character and leadership abilities to our group,” said Co-General Manager Les Jackson. "He is obviously a player we are very familiar with and we are excited to welcome him back to the Stars. On the other side of the coin, we thank Philippe Boucher for everything he’s done for the Dallas Stars organization the last few years, and we wish him the best with the Penguins."

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Sydor, who had a goal and an assist in eight games for the Pens this season, signed as a free agent with Pittsburgh in 2007. If he had gotten his way, though, he would have remained in Dallas.

"I didn’t want to leave," he said. "I have a lot of roots there, and we love Dallas. It is just a dream come true to be able to put that jersey back on. I think the reason why (I was not re-signed by the Stars) was a cap issue. That’s the way it is; it’s the way the system works. There are no hard feelings. I’m very excited to be back."

Now that he's in Dallas, Sydor is eager to show he can still play at a high level.

"Being 36, some people might say your skills have diminished, but I think I bring experience and intangibles," Sydor said. "I feel I can play. I felt really good in Detroit the other night (with the Penguins) and got to play a few more minutes. I believe I can play; I think I showed it last year when I sat for so long and got thrown into the Stanley Cup Final. I have positive thoughts that I can still play this game for many more years."

He owns Atlanta -- Philadelphia Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki relishes every opportunity coach John Stevens gives him, but there's something about the Atlanta Thrashers that brings out the best in him.

Niittymaki continued his dominance over Atlanta on Sunday, moving to 11-0-0 lifetime against the club with a 4-3 victory at the Wachovia Center. Niittymaki also started against the Thrashers on Oct. 28, when the Flyers cruised in a 7-0 rout.

"It's a remarkable run that he has," Stevens said. "He really was strong tonight and we knew he would have to be. I thought he was terrific down the stretch to keep the streak alive."

Seriously, though, what is it about Atlanta?

''I really don't know, I just feel comfortable playing against them,'' said Niittymaki, who finished with 29 saves to help end the Thrashers' five-game win streak.  ''There's no magic. Hopefully it stays that way.''

Don't bother bringing up Niittymaki's lifetime success against the Thrashers with Atlanta coach John Anderson. He's not buying it.

''He played decent tonight,'' Anderson said of Niittymaki, who faced 21 saves in the third period. ''I don't think he was the difference. I don't take any stock in that.''

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Last man standing -- The Chicago Blackhawks gave the San Jose Sharks everything they had Sunday night, but were unable to stand toe-to-toe with one of the League's true powerhouses for a full 60 minutes.

Devin Setoguchi broke a 5-5 tie with 4:15 remaining in the third period, lifting the Sharks to a wild 6-5 victory at the United Center. San Jose now has won its last 12 meetings with Chicago and improved to 15-3-1 on the season, while the Blackhawks lost in regulation at home for the first time in 2008-09.

"It was one of those crazy nights when the last guy standing wins," Sharks goalie Brian Boucher said. "You got to win all different ways. Two points is two points. And on the road against a team that hasn't lost (at home) in regulation, it's a nice win for us."

The main reason why the Blackhawks came up short Sunday? Well, one could certainly point to their deficiencies on the penalty kill. San Jose went 4-for-6 on the power play.

"I'm not happy at all with the way this thing ended," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "They're a good team. We had them where we wanted them and let them off the hook. We were gracious."

Better than nothing -- It didn't go as well as he had hoped, but Rick Tocchet's debut as an NHL head coach could have been worse.

In the end, his Tampa Bay Lightning earned a point in the standings with Sunday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center. With his team locked in a 2-2 tie, Tocchet watched as the Lightning dominated the tempo in the third period. While they were unable to grab the lead, the Lightning outshot Carolina 8-1 in the third.

 
 
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''It's a step in the right direction,'' said Tocchet, who replaced Barry Melrose on Friday. ''I thought the guys played well, I think they're really starting to get what we're trying to do here.''

Tocchet's first order of business was to reunite the line of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal. The move paid immediate dividends, as Lecavalier and St. Louis scored the team's goals in regulation. It marked the first time this season Lecavalier and St. Louis scored in the same game.

''This is our first crack at it,'' St. Louis said. ''I thought he did a good job. I wish we had a better outcome, but I thought we stuck together. We battled hard.''

No goals for you!
-- The Anaheim Ducks have come up with a plan to consistently defeat the Los Angeles Kings.

Don't allow any goals. Ever.

Jonas Hiller made 29 saves for his first NHL shutout Sunday night, leading the Ducks to a 2-0 win against their rivals at the Honda Center. In the previous meeting Nov. 4 in Los Angeles, Chris Pronger scored in overtime to give the Ducks a 1-0 victory.

"It feels great. That's what I work for every practice -- stop as many pucks as possible, and today I stopped them all," said Hiller, who made his 29th career NHL appearance.

Hiller got in a groove early as he stopped 14 shots in the opening period. The scoreless tie wasn't broken until midway through the second, when Corey Perry beat Erik Ersberg. Bret Hedican made it 2-0 in the third with his first goal in 13 months.

''It's easier to get in the game when you get some shots at the beginning and move around and get the confidence -- especially when you don't play that much," Hiller said. "I've been looking to get more starts than last year, but I'm happy to be able to play this many so far. Hopefully I can keep playing good enough to get some more.''

Meanwhile, the Kings are working on the recipe to solve the Ducks.

''If you don't score, you don't win,'' Ersberg said. ''(Hiller) played good in net at the other end, so it happens. We played a good team tonight and we gave it our best effort. Maybe we ran out of gas at the end. It was like this the last game, too. We couldn't get the puck in the net.''
   
"Being 36, some people might say your skills have diminished, but I think I bring experience and intangibles. I feel I can play. I think I showed it last year when I sat for so long and got thrown into the Stanley Cup Final. I have positive thoughts that I can still play this game for many more years."
  -- Stars defenseman Darryl Sydor
Nothing you can do -- St. Louis Blues goalie Manny Legace knew exactly what Montreal Canadiens forward Alexei Kovalev was going to do in the shootout.

It didn't matter.

Kovalev went to the forehand, then pulled the puck back to his backhand and lifted the shot high over Legace, lifting the Habs to a 3-2 victory at the Scottrade Center.

''I knew he was going there, too,'' Legace said. ''I was just slow to react to it. He's a good player and can put it where he put it, probably two feet over my pad. Not too many guys can pull it that quick and bang, in the back of the net.''

Christopher Higgins agreed about Kovalev, who had the lone goal in the shootout after receiving more than 25 minutes of ice time Sunday.

''It was a pretty sweet deke,'' Higgins said. ''I don't think anyone expects less from him right now because he's such a skilled player.''

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.

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


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