The last time Simon Gagne returned to NHL action after missing time with an injury, he scored an overtime game winner to help the Philadelphia Flyers begin an improbable comeback from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins.
Gagne once again showed an impressive “sense of the moment” after missing more than a month of action as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning by scoring (wait for it …) an overtime game winner in his first game back.
Tampa Bay 4, Toronto 3 (OT)
Gagne also earned an assist tonight, a welcome sight because he went his first six games with the team without a single point before succumbing to injury issues.
He wasn’t the only reason the Lightning ended up with two points, though, as Martin St. Louis played a huge role in the team’s victorious rally. The two teams traded goals (Kris Versteeg for the Leafs; Ryan Malone for the Lightning) and then Toronto raced to a 3-1 lead thanks to Nikolai Kulemin. St. Louis showed that he isn’t just there to feed sweet passes to the Steve Stamkos Sweet Spot™ by scoring the next two goals, including the tally that sent the game to overtime with only nine seconds left in the third period.
The great effort by St. Louis opened the door for Gagne to score in overtime, as the talented sniper opted to shoot rather than pass on a 2-on-1 to win the game for Tampa Bay. (You can see that goal in the video clip at the bottom of this post.)
Jonas Gustavsson shouldn’t take too much of a beating for this loss, as he stopped 35 out of 39 shots while Dan Ellis earned the win despite a puck handling gaffe, only needing to stop 22 out of 25 shots.
Tampa Bay remains second in the Southeast and currently rests at fifth place in the conference as of this writing. Toronto finds themselves with 20 points, tied with Florida for the third worst record in the East.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.