Riding the Zamboni – November 30th

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Let’s take a look at tonight’s five contests.

Tampa Bay 4, Toronto 3 (OT)

Check out this full recap featuring the late game heroics of Simon Gagne and Martin St. Louis.

Chicago 7, St. Louis 5

It was a wild game between to solid Central Division teams, with each period getting crazier than the one before it (three goals in the first, four in the second and five in the third). Few should be surprised that the Blackhawks won a shooting gallery type contest against the offensively stunted Blues, although they had to work for it after building a 5-1 lead.

St. Louis rattled off three goals to take it within one before Jonathan Toews (two power-play goals, one assist on the night) and Patrick Kane (two goals, one assist) brought it back to a three goal lead. David Backes scored to cap a wacky night of bad defense and exciting offense, but the Blackhawks were just too much for the beleaguered Blues.

Nashville 3, Phoenix 0

The Coyotes peppered Pekka Rinne with 33 shots, but he turned all of them away to help the Predators beat Phoenix at their own bend-but-don’t-break game. Nashville relied on a productive power play (2 out of 7) and an empty-net goal to win this one. Shea Weber and Cal O’Reilly scored those PP goals while Jordin Tootoo earned an ENG. Steve Sullivan provided to helpers in this one, as well.

This is the first time the Coyotes lost two games in a row in regulation this season.

Atlanta 3, Colorado 2 (OT)

With Chris Stewart injured, his brother Anthony Stewart hurt the Avalanche in a different way: scoring an overtime game winning goal. Rich Peverley and Dustin Byfuglien also scored for Atlanta, while Matt Duchene and David Jones provided Colorado’s tallies.

This extends the Thrashers’ winning streak to six games.

Detroit 5, San Jose 3

On a night in which some wondered if a power outage might preempt a game, the Red Wings revealed that they are the true powerhouse team in the West once again. The only other team in the conference with at least 30 points is Chicago, but they’ve needed a league-high 27 games to get there.

Detroit’s stars fueled this win, with Henrik Zetterberg scoring two goals and two assists while Pavel Datsyuk added a goal and two assists himself. Jimmy Howard is now tied with Carey Price for the league lead with 14 wins, yet he needed four less to get there (18 GP to Price’s 22).

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen