A Day in the NHL: Leafs Fall Again, Neal Returns to Dallas


The Night that Was:

In what could have been called the game of the night, James Neal returned to Dallas for the first time since his trade to Pittsburgh last year. The Stars tried to spoil the homecoming early when Jamie Benn scored (18) in his return to the Dallas lineup, but Steve Sullivan tied it up before the end of the first. Sheldon Souray (6) scored the only goal of the second period to give the Stars a 2-1 lead they were hoping to hold. Pittsburgh came storming back though, with Craig Adams (4) and Chris Kunitz (18) scoring before the third was five minutes old. Michael Ryder capped a crazy eight minutes with his 26th, and after Souray hit the crossbar in overtime they were off to a shootout. James Neal and Loui Eriksson scored in round one, Kunitz and Benn scored in round three, and Pascal Dupuis scored the only goal of the fourth round for a 4-3 Pittsburgh win. Eric Nystrom was a target all game after hitting Kris Letang halfway through the first on a play that will probably be reviewed. Letang left the game with an upper-body injury while Sullivan and Radek Dvorak were also banged up. Eriksson had two assists, while Kari Lehtonen made 26 saves and Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 (many of the highlight-reel variety).

The Buffalo Sabres made the rare trip out to Anaheim last night, and pulled in a victory. Derek Roy scored his 14th of the season seven minutes in to the first period, and Brad Boyes added his fourth eight minutes in to the second for the only two goals the Sabres needed. Ryan Miller stood tall, making a staggering 43 saves for his 20th victory, his seventh-straight year hitting the 20 mark. Christian Ehrhoff had two assists, his first points since a three assist game on the 19th.

It was an Original Six battle in Chicago last night as the Blackhawks welcomed the Toronto Maple Leafs to town. The Leafs came in having won just once in their last ten, but it looked like that might change when Tyler Bozak (14) scored to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead early. Andrew Shaw’s sixth would tie things up, but Joffrey Lupul (25) and Clarke MacArthur (19) gave the Leafs a 3-1 lead before Marcus Kruger (8) spoiled the party and cut it to 3-2 before the first was up. Patrick Kane (15) and Marian Hossa (25) turned the tables with the only goals in the second, and Hossa would add his 26th before Mike Brown (2) scored with just four seconds left in a 5-4 Chicago victory. Hossa, Kane, and Nick Leddy all finished with two points for the ‘Hawks, while Joffrey Lupul was the only Leaf to register multiple points. Ray Emery came in and made 23 saves for the victory after Corey Crawford was pulled following the first, while Jonas Gustavsson gave up all four Chicago goals (Hossa’s second was into an empty-net). Chicago’s win snapped a three-game losing streak.

Their Central Division foes from St. Louis were in action too as the Blues visited the Edmonton Oilers. Andy McDonald opened the scoring just 59 seconds in with his fourth of the season, all of them since he came back from injury. Scott Nichol (3) scored on a big slap shot two minutes into the second before McDonald added his fifth, chasing Devan Dubnyk. After Yann Danis came in, it seemed to spark the Oilers as Corey Potter (4) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15) both scored to cut the lead to one. In the third though, the Blues put the finishing touches on their victory with goals by Kevin Shattenkirk (8) and Chris Stewart (14-on a penalty shot) for a 5-2 win. Shattenkirk added two assists for a three-point night while TJ Oshie added a pair of assists as well. Ryan Smyth received a five-minute major for checking from behind halfway through the second when he drilled Roman Polak from behind. Polak was slow to get up and did leave, but also returned, as the hit will likely be looked at.  Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 shots for his fourth-straight win and fifth in his last six games.Yann Danis meanwhile, made his first appearance of the season in relief, stopping 10 of 12.

What’s on Tonight?

The New Jersey Devils stop by Boston to take on the Bruins, while Minnesota visits Montreal, and the New York Islanders visit Philadelphia. The Rangers are off to Carolina, while Florida hopes to move six points up on the Jets for the division lead in Winnipeg. Columbus will hope to stop Colorado’s four-game winning streak, Calgary takes on the streaking Coyotes, and St. Louis faces a big test in the Vancouver Canucks. The Buffalo Sabres continue their Western tour in San Jose.

The Injury Bug:

-Mikko Koivu has been shut down from contact drills due to his shoulder injury. Koivu is set to miss his seventh-straight game with the injury that he has tried to play through before. Minnesota is six points out of a playoff spot.

-Logan Couture’s lower-body injury at least feels better after treatment and rest. He didn’t play against the Flyers, and there’s no word yet on his status for tonight’s game.

-Martin Havlat meanwhile, is skating as he continues to recover from a torn hamstring. It is progress, but Havlat still has no timetable for a return in mind.

-Ryan Callahan did not participate in practice for the New York Rangers on Wednesday. Callahan is listed as day-to-day and is questionable for Thursday’s game.

News, Notes, and Rumours

-Jean Beliveau remained in hospital yesterday after suffering a stroke two days ago. Beliveau is receiving treatment and is under examination, but has requested privacy so updates will be limited.

The Overlooked Fantasy Line(s) of the Night:

Kevin Shattenkirk recorded his second career three-point game and first of this season last night. Shattenkirk assisted on St. Louis’ second period goals (both even strength), and then scored a power play goal in the third. Shattenkirk added five shots on goal and a +3 rating in just over 21 minutes of ice time.