NEW YORK – Two things happened in Dallas that deserve recognition. First, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 shots in the first period Thursday night to set a career record for stops in a game. He stopped a total of 41 Stars shots on the night.
“It’s important to get early offense when you’re struggling, especially on special teams,” Nash said. “When you’re struggling at scoring, you’ve got to look to your special teams for a boost and tonight we got it.”
The second point of the game was the Rangers scoring three goals in one game. Yes, three goals. While head coach Alain Vigneault’s defensive schemes have taken hold, it has been the offense that has abandoned the club for stretches.
“Last couple of games, we lost. We didn’t get the points. Now it’s time to step up. We really needed this one. It was just so important to get points here,” said Lundqvist, who has rebounded from his early-season struggles to lower his goals-against average to 2.36 and improve his save percentage to .921. “I think we earned this one after two, three really strong games at home without points.”
The defense has been sound for the last few weeks and only once has given up up more than two goals in a game. But the offense has let the goalies down and spoiled splendid performances in the net.
“Sometimes you need a little bit of puck luck. We got some puck luck there,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of Kreider’s goal. “Johnny Moore’s goal was a great goal. We hadn’t scored 5-on-5 in a while. Hopefully that’s the start of something real positive for us.”
The effort by Lundqvist seemed to motivate the Rangers to drive the net more. The free-wheeling offense Vigneault has wanted was evident in the final frame.
“There’s a lot of goalies around the League, that’s what they do for their teams,” center Brad Richards said of Lundqvist keeping the Rangers in the game. “He probably does that more than anybody. Some nights when our legs aren’t going in the first and he can stand tall like that, it’s a huge help. We just could tell early it was going to be tough to score on him tonight and that gives us so much confidence.”
Since their general manager made a public statement earlier this week, the Oilers have been heating up. On Thursday, Edmonton dropped the Panthers, 4-1, for their third straight win.
“It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but to get a win and to have won three straight going into a bit of a break, it’s nice to have some momentum going,” left wing Taylor Hall said. “Winning games does so much for the confidence of the team, especially when you are playing well and winning. That’s a double bonus. We are getting great goaltending, and it seems like our special teams is the engine that is driving us right now. We are getting a lot of confidence off of that.”
A stronger work ethic on the ice has been difference according to the Oilers head coach.
“The key was the energy; we didn’t have any,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “That’s the key to the game. If your energy is better and you go out with a workman attitude, everything improves; the whole game improves from our standpoint.
“I thought at the beginning of the game, you could see the work ethic wasn’t there, the legs weren’t there, the compete level wasn’t there. That made it a struggle.”
In Toronto, the visiting Predators downed the Leafs, 4-1, behind Craig Smith’s two goals and Matt Cullen’s four points.
“We just didn’t play well enough,” Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. “I don’t think you can say much more than that. We didn’t do enough of the little things against a team that always comes hard. They play very disciplined to their system, they have for a long time, and we just weren’t good enough.”
Smith’s two goals gave the Predators their 3-1 and 4-1 leads.
“We wanted to make sure every shot counts, make sure the right play is going to be made,” Smith said. “We tracked the defensemen hard tonight and we created some turnovers on the wall which we were able to convert into some offensive chances.”
In San Jose, the Sharks continued to get their house back in order as they routed the Lightning, 5-1. The Sharks’ Tommy Wingels was placed on a line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, with the return of Brent Burns from injured reserve.
The new line worked well Thursday in scoring eight points total including Wingels’s career-high two goals, while Couture had a career-high three assists, and Marleau netted a goal and added an assist.
“Patty (Marleau) and Cooch (Couture ) are two all-world players, and it’s easy to fit in with those two,” Wingels said. “Game one [together] tonight, we found a bit of chemistry off the get-go. We’ll look to build on that in practice tomorrow and in the games going forward.”
St. Louis 3, Boston 2 (SO)
Nashville 4, Toronto 2
Philadelphia 4, Buffalo 1
Detroit 4, Carolina 3
Chicago 6, Winnipeg 3
NY Rangers 3, Dallas 2
Colorado 4, Phoenix 3 (OT)
Edmonton 4, Florida 1
New Jersey 2, Los Angeles 1 (OT)
San Jose 5, Tampa Bay 1
Jaromir Jagr scored the winning goal at 2:30 of overtime, propelling the Devils to their third consecutive victory and sixth win in their past eight contests (6-1-1) while adding to his legacy in the NHL record books:
* Jagr tied Gordie Howe for the most game-winning goals in League history (121).
* It also was the 690th goal of Jagr’s career (1,413 GP), matching former teammate Mario Lemieux (915 GP) for ninth all-time.
* Jagr added to his NHL record for regular-season overtime goals (18). Three players are tied for second with 15: Patrik Elias, Sergei Fedorov and Mats Sundin.
* The 41-year-old Jagr leads the Devils with 9-9—18 in 22 games this season, including 6-2—8 over his last eight games. He also is tied for fourth in the NHL with three game-winning goals.
BLUES OUTLAST BRUINS, EXTEND RECORD START
Jaroslav Halak made a season-high 29 saves, plus another three in the shootout, to help the Blues improve to 15-3-3 (33 points), continuing their best start to a season in franchise history.
* Derek Roy scored in regulation and also potted the deciding goal in the tiebreaker; he is 11-for-32 (34.4%), including six game-deciding goals, all-time in shootouts.
* The Blues improved to 32-9-5 versus the Eastern Conference since the start of the 2010-11 season, the NHL’s best inter-conference record in that span.
* St. Louis has won six consecutive games at TD Garden, tied for the longest active streak in the League.
* Head coach Ken Hitchcock recorded his 620th career win, tying Bryan Murray for eighth in NHL history.
TOEWS LEADS BLACKHAWKS IN (SECOND) HOMECOMING
In his second visit to his hometown of Winnipeg, Jonathan Toews matched a career high with four points (1-3—4) in leading the Blackhawks to their ninth win in their past 12 contests (9-2-1). With the victory, Chicago (15-4-4, 34 points) jumped to the top of the NHL standings, one point ahead of Anaheim, San Jose and St. Louis.
Toews has two four-point games in 23 contests this season (also 3-1—4 Oct. 29 vs. Ottawa), matching his total from his first 408 regular-season games prior to 2013-14. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first Blackhawks player to post two four-point games in one season since 2006-07, when Jeff Hamilton did so in his only campaign with Chicago.
NYQUIST GETS THE CALL, SPARKS RED WINGS
Called up from the AHL Thursday morning and playing in his first game of the season, Gustav Nyquist scored two goals, including his first 17 seconds after the opening face-off as well as the eventual game-winner, to help the Red Wings snap a seven-game losing streak (0-2-5) and eight-game winless streak at Joe Louis Arena (0-2-6).
Captain Henrik Zetterberg (0-3—3) assisted on both of Nyquist’s goals and added another helper, raising his point total to 15 (9-6—15) in 11 career games versus the Hurricanes. Zetterberg paces Detroit with 16 assists, 26 points and a +10 rating in 23 games this season.
AVALANCHE OF RICHES
Ryan O’Reilly scored the game-winning goal with 41.1 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Avalanche to a 16-5-0 record (32 points), their best 21-game start in franchise history. Semyon Varlamov made 41 saves, his third victory this season when facing 40 or more shots on goal (tied with Sabres netminder Ryan Miller for the most in the NHL).
NASH, LUNDQVIST STAR IN BIG D
Rick Nash scored his first goal of the season and Henrik Lundqvist made 41 saves, including 23 in the first period (a career high for a single period), to lead the Rangers to their fifth consecutive road victory.
Nash was awarded a penalty shot in the third period, but failed to score. The Rangers also took a penalty shot in their previous game, when Chris Kreider failed to convert against the Bruins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks just the second time in franchise history – and first time in 79 years – the Rangers have been awarded penalty shots in consecutive games (Nov. 19-22, 1934). The most recent NHL team to attempt penalty shots in consecutive games was the Canucks on March 14-16 of last season.
CULLEN POWERS PREDATORS
Matt Cullen (1-3—4) factored on all four Predators goals to help the team pick up its third consecutive victory. Cullen had recorded four points in a game only twice before in his 16-season NHL career, most recently with the Ducks on Dec. 15, 2002 (0-4—4). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, at age 37 Cullen is the oldest player to score four or more points in a game this season and the oldest player in Predators history to do so, breaking the mark set by 36-year-old Cliff Ronning on Dec. 20, 2001 (1-3—4).
DID YOU KNOW?
The Oilers scored 14 consecutive goals without yielding one to their opponents (dating to Nov. 16) before Scottie Upshall found the back of the net for the Panthers late in the second period Thursday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Edmonton’s run of 14 unanswered goals tied a franchise record set Nov. 6-8, 1985, when the team scored the last marker in a 4-4 tie at Los Angeles and then defeated Vancouver, 13-0.
Matt Read scored twice in a 1:40 span of the second period to help the Flyers extend their point streak to a season-high six games (5-0-1) . . . The Sharks tallied five consecutive goals, including two from Tommy Wingels, to pick up their fourth win in their past five games . . . Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane posted 1-1—2 to extend his point streak to nine games (5-8—13), the longest active streak in the NHL . . . Coyotes captain Shane Doan collected an assist to stretch his point streak to seven games (6-3—9) . . . Maple Leafs forward Mason Raymond recorded an assist to extend his point streak to five games (3-3—6) . . . Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien posted 1-1—2 to stretch his goal/point streak to four games (5-2—7) . . . Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk recorded his 100th career assist . . . Hurricanes defenseman Brett Bellemore scored his first NHL goal . . . Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller played in his first NHL game . . . Newly-acquired forward Peter Holland scored his first goal with the Maple Leafs . . . Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera (2-0—2) potted his first career shorthanded goal . . . Sharks forward Logan Couture collected a career-high three assists . . . The Ducks acquired forward Tim Jackman from the Flames in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft . . . In the NHL’s first foray into animation for a campaign, Shop.NHL.com – the official online store of the League and its 30 Member Clubs – puts the spotlight on its products in a new holiday ad set to debut during CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada . . . Bobby Orr and Brendan Shanahan dropped the ceremonial first pucks in Boston and Detroit, respectively.
SNEAK PEEK AT FRIDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m., MSG PLUS, ROOT
Montreal @ Washington, 7:00 p.m., TSN, RDS, CSN-DC
Florida @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., FS-F, SNET-W
Columbus @ Vancouver, 10:00 p.m., FS-O, SNET-P
Tampa Bay @ Anaheim, 10:00 p.m., SUN, PRIME
10 YEARS AGO TODAY . . .
Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the NHL’s first regular-season outdoor game. On Nov. 22, 2003, the Canadiens faced the Oilers in the Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. Braving the astonishing cold, 57,167 cheered the alumni game and Montreal’s 4-3 victory in a nightcap memorialized by the tuque worn by Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore on top of his mask.
“Every guy in here knows how special this moment is,” said then-Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray. “It’s something that we can look back on at the end of our careers and be proud that we were a part of.”