During his rookie season in Minnesota, Aaron Voros was known more for his physical play and willingness to mix it up than his offensive prowess.
Voros now plies his trade for the New York Rangers, and thanks in large part to his ability in front of the net, the Blueshirts have started a season 5-0 for the first time in a quarter century.
The second-year winger scored a pair of power-play goals and added an assist for a career-high three-point night, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots as the Rangers continued their mastery of the New Jersey Devils with a 4-1 win Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Brandon Dubinsky added a goal and two assists and Ryan Callahan capped the scoring with an empty-netter for the Rangers, who in 2007-08 beat the Devils 11 out of 13 games during the regular season and playoffs. They're off to their best start since the 1983-84 campaign.
"It's always nice to get a good start, no question," Lundqvist said. "This is definitely the start we were looking for and right now we really work hard and play hard, and it's been paying off."
John Madden's goal with 1:48 left in the second period drew the Devils within 2-1 entering the final 20 minutes, but Voros restored the two-goal lead for the Rangers early in the third. Positioned in front of the net, screening Martin Brodeur, he deflected Paul Mara's shot from the point at 1:39 for his first two-goal game.
Voros has 3 goals and 4 assists already this season after registering 7 goals and 7 assists with 141 penalty minutes in 55 games as a rookie for the Wild. He was originally an eighth-round pick of the Devils in the 2001 Entry Draft and played several seasons in their system before being sent to the Minnesota organization in the 2006-07 season.
"I haven't changed my game," Voros said. "Obviously the trade to Minny was a big deal for me. They gave me my shot, and obviously coming here and having a team say, 'We want you to play this way,' and that's the way I play. It's ended up being a good match so far."
Playing the Rangers hasn't been a good match of late for Brodeur, who was seeking the 541st win of his career as he chases Patrick Roy's record. But he misjudged Dubinsky's shot that changed directions off the stick of Devils defenseman Johnny Oduya and it ticked off Brodeur's glove and into the net at 6:30 of the first.
Voros made it 2-0 at 6:37 of the second by tipping a Dan Girardi shot past Brodeur, who finished with 20 saves. Madden scored off the rebound of a Jay Pandolfo shot to get the Devils closer, but Lundqvist stood tall from there.
"It is what it is," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "They play well against us. They do the things to get the wins and we're not. We have to put out our best game, like they have against us. For the last while, we haven't done that."
The excitement of the latest victory was tempered following the death of 19-year-old Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov, who died earlier Monday while playing a game in Russia. Cherepanov collapsed on the Avangard Omsk bench in the third period. A moment of silence was observed before the start of the game.
"On the bench, we just made some reference about the honorable thing to do was just work real hard for this young fellow," coach Tom Renney said.
Capitals 5, Canucks 1 | Video
Michael Nylander scored on a penalty shot and added a pair of assists, while Alexander Semin tallied twice as Washington won at Verizon Center and handed Vancouver its first loss of the season.
"'After the first five minutes, we were just all over them. They couldn't get out of their zone. We do that to every team, and it's going to be tough to get in our zone and put any pressure on us.'"
-- Capitals goalie Brent Johnson
Mike Green's third power-play goal in as many games put the Capitals ahead to stay late in the first period and Milan Jurcina also scored as Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo was chased after 40 minutes.
Washington goalie Brent Johnson, on the other hand, faced only 10 shots in picking up his 100th NHL victory. The Capitals outshot the Canucks 25-3 over the first two periods and dominated the game outside of Alexander Edler's power-play goal that tied the score just 4:02 after the opening faceoff.
''After the first five minutes, we were just all over them. They couldn't get out of their zone,'' Johnson said. ''We do that to every team, and it's going to be tough to get in our zone and put any pressure on us.''
After Green's go-ahead goal, the Capitals extended their lead to 4-1 when Jurcina and Semin scored 1:06 apart in the second. It was Semin's third of the season, tying him with Green for the team lead.
Nylander's penalty shot, the first successful one for the Capitals since Nov. 2005, was called when defenseman Willie Mitchell took a swipe at another player's stick that was on the ice, sending the equipment into Nylander as he handled the puck.
"I don't have any answers for what happened tonight," said Luongo, who was replaced by Curtis Sanford to open the third period.
Red Wings 3, Hurricanes 1 | Video
Marian Hossa had by far the higher profile, but he wasn't the only player the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings plucked from the team they defeated in last season's Final.
Ty Conklin made 27 saves in his first appearance of the season and was helped by power-play goals from Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom as the Red Wings edged the Hurricanes at RBC Center.
''We wanted to get him in early,'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of Conklin. ''We didn't want to wait because he's the new guy here to our program.''
Henrik Zetterberg added an empty-net goal for Detroit, which has won two straight road games after opening at home with a loss to Toronto after raising the 11th Stanley Cup banner in franchise history.
Although he was backing up Marc-Andre Fleury by the time Pittsburgh started its run to the Eastern Conference title, Conklin played in 33 games for the Penguins and won 18, filling in admirably when Fleury missed a significant amount of action due to a high-ankle sprain.
''There's always more nerves in the first game with a new team,'' Conklin said. ''You always want to impress, too. You try not to do too much and play outside of yourself. It's nice to contribute. It was nice to get in there early instead of sitting.''
Joe Corvo's goal was the only offense for the Hurricanes, who had won their first two games despite having to come back from multiple-goal deficits in each.
''I don't feel like we hit full-stride tonight,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. ''We came out with I think a better stride in the second period and started to generate some chances, but then you've got guys sitting (for penalties). That just took away from it. We've been taking I think lazy penalties for the first three games. These hooking and holding penalties have got to stop because they're going to kill us.''
The Hurricanes fell behind again on Lidstrom's goal 6:55 into the first, but Corvo made it 1-1 just 57 seconds into the middle period. Holmstrom notched the game-winner at 5:04 by taking a perfect touch pass from Hossa at the left side of the crease and putting the puck past Cam Ward.
Sabres 7, Islanders 1 | Video
Tomas Vanek stood out in an afternoon of specialty-teams heroes for Buffalo, scoring on the power play and shorthanded to spark a rout of New York.
With teammate Ales Kotalik in the box for interference, Vanek scored 7 minutes into the second period to stake the Sabres to a 3-0 lead and open the floodgates. Jason Pominville had a goal at even strength 1:39 later, and less than two minutes after that Vanek got involved on a Buffalo man-advantage, beating Islanders goalie Joey MacDonald.
Kotalik and Jochen Hecht also had power-play goals for Buffalo. Adam Mair and Clarke MacArthur had the other scores, and backup goalie Patrick Lalime made 23 saves.
Vanek has scored more than 35 goals each of the past two seasons, but penalty-killing had never been his specialty.
"That was my first shorthanded goal at any level of hockey," the fourth-year winger said. "It was good."
The fans at Nassau Coliseum for the Columbus Day matinee couldn’t say the same about the Islanders' effort. Hecht opened the scoring midway through the first, followed by a Buffalo onslaught of four goals in 8:11 that stretched the lead to 5-0 by 10:32 of the second.
Kotalik and MacArthur sandwiched third-period tallies around one by the Islanders' Trent Hunter that broke up Lalime’s shutout bid. The Islanders amassed 71 total penalty minutes and allowed the Sabres 11 power plays in the game.
"We just weren't in our positions. We didn't skate. We just didn’t work as hard," captain Bill Guerin said. "The big thing too is we didn't execute. I don't just mean offensively. We didn't get a lot of pucks out of our end. We didn't get pucks into their end when we had to. For us to be successful, we're going to have to be sharp every night."
Blues 5, Maple Leafs 4 (SO) | Video
Brad Boyes started the St. Louis comeback from a three-goal deficit, then finished it off.
Boyes scored the decisive goal in a shootout as the Blues rallied from 3-0 and 4-3 down to earn two points and disappoint the Thanksgiving Day crowd at Air Canada Centre.
Manny Legace stopped Nik Antropov, allowed a goal to Nikolai Kulemin and then stopped Pavel Kubina in the shootout to win it. Vesa Toskala was beaten by both St. Louis shooters, with Andy McDonald scoring in the first round and Boyes netting the decisive goal.
Boyes scored just 33 seconds into the second period, then the Blues took advantage of a five-minute major and game misconduct to the Leafs' Ryan Hollweg for checking Alex Pietrangelo from behind. Patrik Berglund picked up his first NHL goal at 4:47 and Keith Tkachuk tied the game 48 seconds later.
"We got lucky we got that five-minute penalty and we potted (two) goals on that power play," said Legace, who made 35 saves. "It was a great effort by the guys to not give up."
Niklas Hagman put Toronto back in front with 6 minutes left in the second, but Paul Kariya got St. Louis back into a tie with a goal 4:21 into the third. Tomas Kaberle, Nikolai Kulemin and Alexei Ponikarovsky all scored in the first to stake the Leafs to the lead, but they couldn't hold it, thanks in large part to the Hollweg major penalty.
"There's a fine line you dance of being aggressive and then completely pulling back and we've got to work with him to find that fine line," said Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "You have to at least limit the damage and we didn't. We allowed them right back into the game at that point."
McDonald collected a pair of assists for the Blues, giving him six points in three games this season.
Predators 3, Blackhawks 2 (SO) | Video
A lot was expected of Chicago entering this season, but after three games the Blackhawks remain in search of their first win.
Rich Peverley and J.P. Dumont scored in the shootout Monday while Nashville goalie Dan Ellis held Patrick Kane and Martin Havlat off the board, putting a damper on Chicago's home opener at the United Center.
“We had problems with our shootouts last year. We’ve worked harder on them and it paid off tonight," Dumont said. "Ellis made some great saves for us tonight and we had a solid team effort. Chicago is a tough team to beat, with a lot of talented young players. That was a big two-point win for us."
With Kane and new captain Jonathan Toews entering their second season in the League and a talented surrounding cast that includes free-agent signing Cristobal Huet in goal, the Blackhawks came into the preseason thinking playoffs after missing out by only three points last spring. Instead, they're off to an 0-2-1 start.
"I don't question our effort -- at all. I question our decision-making with the puck. That's very important," said Chicago coach Denis Savard, who bemoaned a turnover by Kane that led to Kevin Klein's goal in the first period. "Some of our young guys need to learn right now that that can't happen, period."
Havlat connected on the power play 6:14 into the first as the Blackhawks struck first, but Shea Weber got the Predators even on a man-advantage at 9:29 and Klein put them ahead 3:20 later. Patrick Sharp capitalized on a rebound 29 seconds into the middle period to tie the game, and that was the end of the scoring until the shootout.
"Special teams was the difference tonight," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We stuck to our game plan. Chicago is a very explosive team. It's exciting over here with the new direction they are going. It was big for us to get the two points because of the division rivalry."
Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report.