Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wings nip Sharks; Leafs collapse; Thrashers stay hot

Gagne returns to help Lightning as Leafs collapse
When Nikolai Kulemin scored his second goal of the game off a freak bounce to give the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead almost midway through the third period, Toronto fans were jumpin'.

Now, they're bummin'.

Martin St. Louis scored 62 seconds after Kulemin's second then again with under nine seconds remaining in regulation, then Simon Gagne scored early in overtime to boost Tampa Bay past Toronto, 4-3. Gagne played his first game since Oct. 21 and was actually questionable for the contest. He also had an assist on Ryan Malone's goal.

Dan Ellis made 22 saves for the win. Jonas Gustavsson stopped 35 in the loss.

Speaking of collapses
Chicago tried to mimic Calgary's feat last season when the Flames held a 5-0 lead against Chicago only to lose 6-5 in overtime. The Blackhawks nearly pulled it off.

The Blackhawks jumped out to a 5-1 lead, saw the Blues score the next three goals before Chicago netted three in a row to close out what became a 7-5 victory over St. Louis. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored a brace with one assist, Tomas Kopecky had a goal and three assists, Patrick Sharp had one and one and Troy Brouwer also scored.

David Backes led the Blues with four points, including a goal. Vladimir Sobotka recorded three assists and Alex Pietrangelo had a goal and a helper.

Winning goalie Corey Crawford made just 21 saves on 26 shots.

Maybe I just overlooked something
But the Nashville-Phoenix game wasn't even shown on Center Ice. That's how enticing a matchup it wasn't.

So most viewers missed seeing Pekka Rinna put forth a goaltending display we did not see in Chicago, stopping all 33 shots he faced to lead the Predators over the Coyotes, 3-0. Shea Weber and Cal O'Reilly scored power play goals and Steve Sullivan had two assists. Jordin Tootoo scored into an empty net.

Ha, we still have our Stewart
Chris Stewart's injury meant he couldn't face off against older brother Anthony when Colorado played Atlanta. That proved to be a big shame for the Avalanche.

Anthony Stewart slipped a shot under Peter Budaj 1:49 into overtime to give Atlanta a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Colorado for the Thrashers' sixth straight win. Atlanta trailed with 9:50 to play after David Jones scored a power play goal to snap a 1-1 tie.

It took just 2:38 before Dustin Byfuglien continued his torrid pace by powering a shot past Budaj to tie the game. Byfuglien had two points and Rich Peverley also scored. Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves.

Detroit the team to beat
The Red Wings scored early and didn't really look back against San Jose.

Henrik Zetterberg recorded four points, including a pair of goals, and Detroit closed the first two months of the season having lost just three times in each month after a 5-3 win over the Sharks. Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and two assists, Daniel Cleary had one of each and Patrick Eaves also scored. Brian Rafalski chipped in two assists and Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots.

Dany Heatley had a power play goal for San Jose. That was basically all to write home about from the Sharks' standpoint.

--It shouldn't be long now before we start taking the Thrashers seriously. I know I'm nervous at best about Thursday's Pittsburgh-Atlanta meeting.

--I'm surprised St. Louis went with Ty Conklin tonight. I guess they wanted to save Jaroslav Halak for Washington on Wednesday.

--Stop me if you've heard this before, but Chicago might not have reliable goaltending. Of course, that seemed to work out fine last season.

--Detroit's good. Assuming there are no major changes - and it is a while away - but mark down March 16. That's when the Red Wings play Washington.

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