NEW YORK – The highlight for Friday night’s slate of NHL games was Buffalo hosting the Maple Leafs. The game was the coming out party for Ted Nolan as head coach. The anticipation at the First Niagara Center was high as fans wanted to see the effort that would be put out. They were not disappointed.
“You know what? I can’t even put it into words,” Nolan said. “It was one of those games where you didn’t know where this type of day would ever happen again. It was really very emotional. I’ll have a good cry after everybody leaves.”
Steve Ott had a power play goal in the second to tie the game at one apoece.
“Our compete, our work ethic right from the drop of that puck I thought was pretty contagious on the bench for our lineup,” Ott said. “It’s been a pretty awesome 48 hours in the sense of renewed energy and that clean slate. You’ve seen a lot of weight off a lot of guys’ shoulders out there.”
In Raleigh, the Ducks were grounded yet again in the east when the Hurricanes clipped their wings 3-2 in a shootout.
Goalie Justin Peters stopped 28 shots for the win.
“That was an exciting one,” said Peters who started all five home games and allowed six goals. “I finally get one for the boys in the shootout. The Charlotte Checkers connection there tonight got a couple goals for us.”
The Red Wings coughed up a two-goal lead to the Capitals in the third and then lost in the shootout, 4-3. The loss perpetuated the slide the Red Wings are on at home.
“A lot of good things had to happen, but from the start of the game I thought the guys were really engaged in the game,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “They got [two goals] late in the first, but we had a good period. The second half of the game we only gave up one chance [against us] 5-on-5, so we did a lot of good things in the game.”
Detroit is 0-1-6 in their last seven home games.
“Obviously we’re letting in goals that we shouldn’t let in and we’re not scoring on the chances that we’re creating,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s hard. Again, we think we’re doing a lot of good things, but I feel like I’m standing here and repeating myself. I don’t know, there’s nothing else we can do. We have to keep trying to play for 60 minutes and we should win this game.”
The Wild fell apart in the third period to surrender a lead to the Panthers. But a late goal from Charlie Coyle rescued Minnesota for a 3-2 win.
“I think we had a few chances where we could have buried [the Panthers],” Coyle said. “You could say we got a little complacent, strayed away from our system. It’s something you learn from.”
Florida had taken control of the game before Coyle’s heroics to permit the Wild head coach an opportunity to breathe easier.
“For sure, there’s no question that we kind of fell into that trap a little bit after the second period, where we wanted it to be easy,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “We were hoping it was going to be easy the rest of the way. When you want it to be easy and you’re not ready to do the hard things, then it ends up being very difficult.”
Buffalo 3, Toronto 1
Los Angeles 2, New Jersey 0
Pittsburgh 4, Nashville 1
Carolina 3, Anaheim 2 (SO)
Montreal 3, Columbus 2 (SO)
Ottawa 4, Boston 2
Washington 4, Detroit 3 (SO)
Minnesota 3, Florida 2
Winnipeg 3, Philadelphia 2 (SO)
San Jose 3, Edmonton 1
HARDING, WILD CONTINUE TO ROLL
The Wild surrendered a two-goal, third-period lead, but Charlie Coyle scored the decisive marker with 8:22 remaining in regulation and Josh Harding made 22 saves to lead Minnesota to its ninth win in its past 12 games (9-1-2), including points in seven straight (6-0-1). At 12-4-4 (28 points), the Wild are off to their best start in franchise history, surpassing the previous mark through 20 games set in 2011-12 (12-5-3, 27 points).
* The Wild also improved to 9-1-2 (20 points) on home ice this season, including victories in nine of their past 10 at Xcel Energy Center and five straight. They lead the NHL in home-ice wins and points.
* Harding improved to 11-2-2 in 16 appearances this season, including a League-leading 1.26 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 15 of his 16 games.
* Harding also improved to 9-0-0 with a 1.17 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and two shutouts on home ice this season. He is now 30-9-2 in 41 career starts at Xcel Energy Center, including a 23-4-1 record since Jan. 27, 2010, and 12-1-0 mark in his past 13 starts.
* Jason Pominville posted 1-1—2 for his fourth multi-goal game of the season and the 118th of his career. He has 9-4—13 in his past 11 games and is tied for fourth in the NHL with 12 goals this season.
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pominville’s 12 goals through Minnesota’s opening 20 games also match a franchise record set by Marian Gaborik in 2002-03 and equaled by Brian Rolston in 2006-07.
HERTL, THORNTON POWER SHARKS
Tomas Hertl scored the game-winning goal and Joe Thornton collected a pair of assists to help the Sharks improve to 15-2-3 in their last 20 games versus the Oilers. San Jose has earned at least one point in nine of its past 10 games overall (5-1-4) and 18 of 20 total contests this season (13-2-5).
Hertl leads all rookies with 12 goals, including two game-winners, and 18 points in 20 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is only the third active player – also Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (15) and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (12) – to record at least 12 goals in his first 20 career NHL games.
Thornton leads the League with 20 assists and has 1-8—9 during a seven-game point streak. He ranks second among active skaters with 807 career helpers (1,145 GP), trailing only New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr (1,016 assists in 1,410 games).
* The Senators scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to rally from an early two-goal deficit and earn their first home-ice victory over the Bruins since April 7, 2009 (0-9-2). Jason Spezza scored the tying goal and also assisted on Jared Cowen’s winner, while Craig Anderson made 30 saves for his fifth win of the season.
* Nicklas Backstrom recorded the lone goal in the shootout as the Capitals overcame a two-goal, third-period deficit to pick up their sixth victory in their past eight contests (6-1-1). Alex Ovechkin scored his 15th goal of the season, one behind St. Louis’ Alexander Steen for the League lead. Michael Latta (below) potted the tying marker, his first in the NHL (10 GP).
Ryan Miller made 32 saves to lead the Sabres to a 3-1 victory in Ted Nolan’s return behind the Buffalo bench. With the win, Miller improved to 30-15-1, including a 2.45 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and four shutouts, in 46 career regular-season appearances versus the Maple Leafs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur is the only other active goaltender with 30 or more regular-season victories against one opponent (he has 30-plus wins versus 11 NHL teams, including a career-high 50 against the Islanders).
The Sabres improved to 12-1-1 in their last 14 home games versus the Maple Leafs. They also moved to 10-1-2 all-time in the home portion of a home-and-home series against Toronto, with their lone loss coming on Dec. 20, 1970, in the teams’ first such set.
Buffalo commemorated the returns of Nolan and Pat LaFontaine, who on Wednesday was named the team’s president of hockey operations, with a video tribute.
SCRIVENS, KINGS WIN 2012 FINAL REMATCH
Ben Scrivens made 26 saves for his fourth career shutout and second of the season in the first meeting between the Kings and Devils since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Scrivens has stopped 49 of 51 shots since replacing injured starter Jonathan Quick on Tuesday, improving to 3-1-1 with a 1.51 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in seven appearances this season.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scrivens is the first goaltender in Kings history to post two shutouts in his first four starts for the team, besting Quick’s previous record of two blank sheets in his first six starts for Los Angeles.
PETERS STYMIES DUCKS
Justin Peters recorded 28 saves, plus another two in the shootout, to help the Hurricanes improve to 4-0-1 in their past five games. Peters was 0-5-0 with a 3.49 goals-against average and .890 save percentage in his first five appearances this season, but has a 1.16 goals-against average and .958 save percentage in the team’s last five games. His current streak of five consecutive decisions without a regulation loss is a career high.
MALKIN IT HAPPEN
Evgeni Malkin collected two assists to extend his assist/point streak to six games (0-8—8) and help the Penguins snap a three-game losing streak. Pittsburgh improved to 8-3-0 this season at CONSOL Energy Center and has won a League-high 55 games on home ice dating to the 2011-12 season, two more than second-place Chicago.
Dustin Byfuglien scored a pair of power-play goals and Bryan Little netted the decisive tally in the fifth round of the shootout to lead the Jets to their fourth consecutive victory . . . Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj made 23 saves to improve to 3-1-0 this season . . . Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recorded an assist to re-claim sole possession of the League lead in points (9-16—25) . . . Bruins forward Loui Eriksson posted 1-1—2 to extend his point streak to five games (2-4—6) . . . Red Wings forward Johan Franzen totaled 2-1—3 for his third multi-point game of the season . . . Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera recorded an assist for his 100th career point . . . Penguins forward Chris Kunitz played in his 600th NHL game, while teammate Deryk Engelland skated in his 200th career contest . . . Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg played in his 600th NHL game . . . The Wild improved to 10-2-3 all-time against the Panthers, including a 5-0-2 mark at home . . . The Predators closed their franchise-record, 17-day, seven-game road trip with a 2-4-1 record . . . The Canucks signed goaltender Eddie Lack to a two-year extension through the 2015-16 season.
SNEAK PEEK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Buffalo @ Toronto, 7:00 p.m., CBC, MSG-B
NY Rangers @ Montreal, 7:00 p.m., CBC, RDS, NHLN-US, MSG 2
Pittsburgh @ New Jersey, 7:00 p.m., ROOT, MSG PLUS
Detroit @ NY Islanders, 7:00 p.m., FS-D, MSG PLUS 2
Carolina @ St. Louis, 8:00 p.m., FS-CR, FS-MW
Chicago @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., CSN-CH, FS-TN
Tampa Bay @ Phoenix, 8:00 p.m., CW44, FS-A
Florida @ Colorado, 9:00 p.m., FS-F, ALT2
Edmonton @ Calgary, 10:00 p.m., CBC
2013 TOP PICKS MEET FOR FIRST TIME
The Avalanche play host to the Panthers in the first meeting of 2013 top draft picks Nathan MacKinnon, selected first overall by Colorado, and Aleksander Barkov, claimed second by Florida. MacKinnon has 3-9—12 in 18 games, ranking second among rookies in assists and tied for second in points. Barkov has 4-4—8 in 20 contests, tying for third on the Panthers in goals and fourth in points.
TRIO OF GAMES HIGHLIGHT HNIC COVERAGE
CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast features a trio of games: the Sabres visit the Maple Leafs in the second half of their home-and-home series; the Canadiens face the Rangers at Bell Centre, where they have won eight straight against New York; and the Oilers and Flames meet in the first Battle of Alberta this season.