Guy Boucher won the first game against his former player Sidney Crosby as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3.
After taking an early lead, the Lightning and Mike Smith promptly allowed three goals but managed to keep the game close with a late first period marker. From there Dan Ellis would relieve Smith and turn away all 24 shots he faced en route to another win.
Vincent Lecavalier would tie the game with a powerplay marker assisted by Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. In the third, St.Louis scored two, assisted by Stamkos as well. All three members of the team’s top line were very productive, combining for two goals, five assists, +3 and 14 PIMs.
The slugfest in Tampa was not the only high-scoring contest.
In Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers decided to start backup Martin Biron, who allowed five goals against the Atlanta Thrashers. Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Eric Boulton, Evander Kane and Niclas Bergfors all scored for their team as Anthony Stewart remained hot with two assists of his own.
The Rangers tried to fire back against the Thrashers, coming within one late in the third period. Their top two lines played well but were forced to go down a man with Artem Anisimov leaving the game with an injury. Todd White and Brian Boyle responded with a goal a piece but it did not make up for the team’s top line center.
Washington Capitals starting goalie Michal Neuvirth continued to show that he can add a new dimension to the powerhouse team. Last night, he shut out a rested Carolina Hurricanes team who could very well have won their first genuine home game of the season.
Although Matt Hendricks scored the game winning goal, this contest got Nicklas Backstrom going with two goals. Your likely first round pick’s inevitable turnaround seems poised to start now as he is very capable of putting up points in bunches.
North of the border, Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens put up a win in front of their home crowd. For Price it was his third in a row as he continues to get the job done and silence the critics. The Habs received an excellent effort from all of their players from their top line with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn to grinders Jeff Halpern, Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche.
There was still some value in the Isles play as James Wisnieski had a three point night, Doug Weight had two and John Tavares put up another goal.
After a new combination of lines, the defending Stanley Cup Champions defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Even though Patrick Sharp scored for the Hawks, it was Viktor Stalberg who put in the game winner. Jake Dowell and Justin Williams also scored for their teams respectively as Marty Turco picked up his fifth win of the season.
Finally we travel to San Jose where the struggling New Jersey Devils took on the Sharks and well, struggled.
Martin Brodeur allowed five goals on 39 shots while counterpart Antero Niittymaki turned away 27 of 29 as he continued to solidify his starting role. Niittymaki has only allowed more than two goals once over his five appearances and has yet to lose in regulation. He looks pretty primed to keep the role for now or at least until Antti Niemi finds his game.
Furthermore, the Sharks offense was particularly impressive. Joe Thornton put five points on the board while linemates Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau put up four each. It was a top-heavy night for San Jose as the only other player to even put up an assist was Jason Demers, however, it is safe to say the team got back into their offensive groove.
Bottom line: the Sharks now scare people again; the Devils, not so much.