Teemu Gets No. 1 –
He may not be the same player he was all those years ago in Winnipeg, but it can’t be mere coincidence that the Anaheim Ducks
haven’t lost since Teemu Selanne
returned, can it?
Selanne scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday night, as the defending champs won their fifth straight in a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
Selanne’s goal came in the second period, as he jammed home a rebound in front on the power play to erase a 1-0 deficit.
''I'm not 100 percent,'' said Selanne, who signed a one-year deal with the team Jan. 28. ''I have to be patient. There's still a price to pay, but it's getting better. It's like training camp.''
After starting a nine-game road trip with an 0-3-1 record, Selanne and the Ducks finished the trip with five consecutive victories. They’ll play at the Honda Center for the first time since Jan. 23 on Friday night against the Dallas Stars, in the first of a seven-game homestand.
''Unbelievable road trip,'' Selanne said. ''You don't see that very often. We finished up very strong. We won the last five; that's a good sign.''
Bruins’ Struggles Continue – It was a case of too little, too late for the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
"We got our first goal a little late, but you saw the momentum that it built and the energy that it gave our team" - Bruins head coach Claude Julien
Claude Julien’s club did everything it could to completely erase a 3-0 deficit, as Shawn Thornton scored twice in the third period of a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
''We got our first goal a little late, but you saw the momentum that it built and the energy that it gave our team,'' Julien said. ''If only we could have gotten that earlier in the game.''
The loss was Boston’s second in a row and fourth in five games. They fell out of the playoff picture – at least, temporarily – thanks to Buffalo’s 5-1 win at Ottawa. The Sabres gained control of the No. 8 seed with the victory.
And now, the Bruins begin a five-game road trip while Disney takes over the TD Banknorth Garden to perform High School Musical: The Ice Tour.
Can you imagine Zdeno Chara in something like that?
Home, Sleet Home – Mother Nature just had to pick Tuesday night to wreak havoc on the New York metropolitan area.
Not too many saw it in person because of a winter storm, but the Islanders finally notched their first win at Nassau Coliseum in 2008 with a 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Isles were 0-5-2 at home since Jan. 1 before solving Philly on Tuesday.
More importantly, the win was New York’s first of any kind since it picked up a 6-3 win at Carolina on Jan. 22.
“We found a way to get it done tonight,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. “Now we take a deep breath. Winning is important. We've battled all season. Now we're battling through injuries. This team has found a way to persevere, and the last few games it looks like we've got our game back."
Put Me In, Coach – There’s nothing Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vaclav Prospal would like more than to play on the team’s top line alongside Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
Lightning coach John Tortorella granted Prospal that wish Tuesday night, and the latter did not disappoint. Prospal scored twice – including the game-winner with 8:09 left in the third period – in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
“I get such satisfaction playing on the best line in hockey,” Prospal said of being reunited with Lecavalier and St. Louis. “Playing with these two guys is incredible.”
Afterward, Prospal and Tortorella had a long, private discussion, which neither side would talk about when it concluded.
''I'm not here to be the happy man, make everybody happy,'' Tortorella said. ''I make calls as far as the game is concerned. Athletes that are mad can be good athletes. He played well, very well.''
There you have it, folks. Tortorella isn’t here to be the happy man.
This just in: We landed on the Moon.
Climbing The Charts – After spending most of December and January plummeting in the Eastern Conference standings, the Buffalo Sabres would be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the season ended today.
Thomas Vanek’s hat trick paced the Sabres to an impressive 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators in Canada’s capital city Tuesday night – a victory that saw the Sabres jump ahead of the Boston Bruins and into eighth place in the East.
Buffalo is now 7-0-2 in its last nine games, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff credited improved team defense – especially the play of Jaroslav Spacek and Brian Campbell – for the recent good play.
''We've gone nine games without losing in regulation and I think you can point to those two guys (Spacek and Campbell) really as the leaders for us in the fact that the goals-against has stayed down and the top lines from the other team have been frustrated,'' Ruff said. ''If we keep playing like that, we're a dangerous team.''
Mild Wings – The Detroit Red Wings have gone from invincible to invisible.
Coach Mike Babcock’s club dropped its fourth straight Tuesday night – a 4-2 decision to the Nashville Predators, who scored three times on their first four shots. Chris Osgood, who has been so good all season long, quickly was replaced in favor of rookie Jimmy Howard.
''We hung Osgood out to dry,'' Babcock said. ''It's not like we can go back and say they shot it through him. We drifted on two plays and they got it behind us, and then bang, it was in the net. The third one was a line change where we turned it over in the neutral zone while our guys were trying to get off of the ice.''
It’s not as if the effort wasn’t there, though. When the final horn sounded, the Wings had a 42-23 edge in shots. But Babcock wants to see more out of his club down the stretch.
“We’re playing desperate, desperate teams,” Babcock said. “We have to understand how desperate they are. When you look at the standings, we’re not as desperate as they are. We have to get that desperation back.
“When you win all the time, you talk about how you need some adversity. When you get it, you wish you didn’t have it. We have to find a way to get out of it.”
Homeward Bound – Finally, the Los Angeles Kings are going home.
The Kings concluded a season-long eight-game road trip Tuesday night with a 4-2 loss to the Blues in St. Louis. Los Angeles will play at Staples Center for the first time since Jan. 24 on Friday night against the Calgary Flames.
First, though, Jason LaBarbera just wants to see some people he hasn’t seen in a few weeks.
''We have tomorrow off,'' the L.A. goalie said. ''So it'll be nice just to hang out at home and spend time with our families.''
Judging by what coach Marc Crawford said after Tuesday’s loss, it sounds as if the Kings won’t have too many days off if they put forth more efforts like the one he saw in St. Louis.
''We showed some immaturity tonight, I think,'' he said. ''It looked as though we seemed to be a little bit satisfied.''
What Comes Around, Goes Around? – Coach Craig MacTavish believes it was poetic justice that his Edmonton Oilers finally won a game in which they were outshot.
Kyle Brodziak scored twice and Mathieu Garon made 38 saves as the playoff-hopeful Oilers earned a 4-2 win at Rexall Place over the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota outshot Edmonton 21-4 in the second period and held a 31-11 edge through the first two periods. The final total was 40-23 in the Wild’s favor.
''It was fitting to win a game like that when we have lost so many where we have out-shot the opposition over the years, particularly against Minnesota,'' MacTavish said. ''There have been lots of nights in here where we have nailed them with a lot of shots and lost the game. It's the old adage, what comes around, goes around.''
Coach, isn’t it, “What goes around … Oh, never mind.
Anyway, Brodziak was thrilled to see his team come out on top in his first-ever two-goal game. He now has eight goals on the season.
''It feels really good to have a game like this,'' he said. ''For a while I've been struggling personally and haven't been able to put my chances in the back of the net. Tonight when I got the chances, I made sure I was bearing down on them and I put them in the right spots, I guess. It feels good to be able to contribute like that.''
Dynamic Duo – Leave it to Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf to bring the Calgary Flames back from the depths of defeat.
Phaneuf tied it in the final minute of regulation, then set up Iginla for the game-winner with 24.9 seconds left in overtime as Calgary earned a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Sharks in San Jose on Tuesday night.
Iginla’s tally put a damper on what was a tremendous effort by the Sharks, who outshot Calgary, 43-18.
"You look at the shots and we were outplayed," Iginla said. "But we found a way to stay in there, battle, get a late goal ... and we found a way to win it. That feels really good. Some games, the other team is going to be better. (Winning those games) are huge boosts because they played really well. We found a way to win an ugly game, which feels great.”
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.