Kris Versteeg tried to exact revenge on his former team, Milan Lucic set the physical pace against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s NHL comeback continued. There were also a couple of big games for a few of the league’s well-known rookies.
The Night that Was:
Kris Versteeg had two goals against his former team, by the Leafs got a hard-nosed goal from Darryl Boyce to secure their second win in a row, 3-2. The Leafs trailed 1-0 and 2-1 before Boyce’s fourth of the season as both Dion Phaneuf and Nikloai Kulemin added a goal and an assist. Mike Richards assisted on both of Philadelphia’s goals, who fired 30 shots on James Reimer, while Sergei Bobrovsky kept his team in the game with 30 saves of his own. Toronto moved to three points out of eighth place in the East while Philly’s lead over Boston for top spot in the East shrunk to just three points.
The reason that lead shrunk was thanks to a 2-1 victory for the Bruins over Tampa Bay. The two teams were tied for second in the conference before Milan Lucic took over physically, earning nine minutes in penalties and the game-winning goal with less than four minutes to go in the third. Eric Brewer scored his first for the Lightning in the loss, but ended up on the wrong side of Lucic’s fists after fighting the bruiser following his cross-check to the head of Tampa’s Dominic Moore. It was the seventh win in a row for the Bruins and second-straight loss for Tampa Bay.
Florida couldn’t bounce back from a 1-for-3 start for Tomas Vokoun, and while Scott Clemmensen 26-for-28 the rest of the way, it was too little too late. The Habs 4-0 win was spurred on by 30 saves from Carey Price as Lars Eller, Andre Kostitsyn, James Wisniewski, and Travis Moen each had two points. As far as positives go, David Booth probably had the best night for the Panthers with six shots on goal, while Mike Weaver and Marty Reasoner were the only Panthers to not finish the night with a minus-rating. Hal Gill had the game-winning goal, his first goal in 99 games, for the Habs third-straight win.
In the biggest game in the Eastern Conference on Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricans went to OT where rookie blueliner Jamie McBain played the hero. Before McBain’s fifth of the season sent the teams home 26 second in to OT, all of the scoring happened in the second where all four goals happened within eight minutes. Steve Montador and Andrej Sekera each had two points for the Sabres and Brad Boyes scored his second goal in as many games for Buffalo. McBain added an assist as Carolina hopped into seventh-place and the 3-2 loss moved Buffalo within two points of eighth.
-Speaking of eighth, the eighth place team was in action when the Rangers welcomed the Wild yesterday. Pierre-Marc Bouchard had two points, the fourth game of his last six where he’s record a point in the 3-1 win over the Rangers.
-The Washington Capitals won their third-straight last night when they beat St. Louis 3-2. Amongst the goal-scorers for Washington was Jason Arnott, getting his first with his new team.
-Colin Greening scored his first NHL goal while Craig Anderson made 42 saves in Ottawa’s 3-1 win over Atlanta.
-Taylor Hall had a Gordie Howe hat-trick, but left the game with an ankle injury. Edmonton did hold on for the 4-2 win though.
-Blake Geoffrion scored his second goal in as many games and Pekka Rinne made 29 saves in a 3-0 shutout for Nashville over Vancouver.
-Dustin Penner made his debut for the LA Kings, but Jarret Stoll was the only one to score in a 1-0 win over Phoenix.
-Their main stars might be going through a down year, but Dany Heatley had two goals (giving him 22) and Patrick Marleau added his 25th in a 3-1 San Jose win over Detroit.
What’s on Tonight?
The Atlantic Division matchup heats things up when Pittsburgh travels to New Jersey. The Rangers travel to Ottawa while Carolina and Chicago hook up cross-conference, Columbus visits Calgary and Dallas heads to Anaheim.
The Injury Bug:
-Looks like, despite not trading him, the Oilers will be without Ales Hemsky for the next couple of weeks because of a shoulder injury.
-Good news for Devils’ fans as Zach Parise skated on his own on Thursday.
Rumours and News Around the League:
-Trevor Gillies has his hearing scheduled for today after Wednesday’s hit from behind on Cal Clutterbucxk.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:
Despite not playing the whole game, Taylor Hall’s Gordie Howe hat-trick earns the honours. It was his first career fight in the NHL, and his third multiple point game in his last seven. Hall has 42 points on the season, just the third rookie to hit 40 points this year.