The Islanders edged the Sabres, the Senators win a shootout in Winnipeg, the Panthers prevailed at Carolina, and the Flames sneak past the Predators.
The Islanders got on the board in the first period with a powerplay goal, nursing a 1-0 lead over the Sabres for most of the night. The Sabres evened things up early in the third, setting the stage for Brian Rolston to play hero with the game-winner later in the period. Dominik of Lighthouse Hockey on Rolston's goal and Al Montoya's amazing night in goal:
It was one where a bounce in either direction could have made it 2-0 or 1-1, but the Sabres got the next bounce to tie the game and make it interesting 1:54 into the third. Eight minutes later, another good shift by Brian Rolston, Josh Bailey, and David Ullstrom created the game winner, finished by Rolston just a faceoff after he couldn't quite get his stick on a puck that lay in the crease behind Jhonas Enroth, who was quite good with 28 saves.
But even better, and the big star of the game: Al Montoya and his 30 saves. He stood on his head, and saved the game when the Sabres received a 1:34 long and quite dubious 5-on-3 with under 10 minutes left in the game.
Panthers 3, Hurricanes 1
The Panthers stole the spotlight on Tuesday, spoiling Kirk Mueller's head coaching debut with the Hurricanes. Then again, playing the role of spoiler has kind of become Florida's thing, as Ryan Meier of Litter Box Cats notes in his recap:
The story in this game was supposed to be the debut of former NHL player Kirk Muller as head coach of the struggling Carolina Hurricanes. As it was with Pete DeBoer facing his former team for the first time, the Panthers instead made the attention focus on them, winning a close game 3-1 with some heroics by Shawn Matthias and Tomas Kopecky late in the third. Despite a slow start and some great pressure by Carolina, the Cats managed to stand tall and walk away with a win mostly due to the sterling play of netminder Jose Theodore, whose efforts kept Florida in the game many times throughout and especially in the first. With the tough road trip ahead, it's great to see the Panthers come out of Raleigh with a win and a hard-working one at that, but more than anything it's refreshing to see the top line didn't have to do all the scoring.
If you blinked, you probably missed a goal. The Senators and Jets went back and forth all night long with four lead changes, with Zack Smith scoring the game-winner on a power play with six minutes left in the third. Appropriately enough, Peter Raaymakers of Silver Seven dubbed "Zmith" his hero of the game:
The Sens' third line was once again instrumental in Ottawa's win, and tonight it was Zmith who led the was for them. His first goal was controversial (the play probably should have been blown dead because it appeared Pavelec had the puck covered), but Zmith kept digging, loosened the puck, and put it in. The second was as nice as the first was gritty; a give-and-go with Sergei Gonchar set Zmith up to cut into the slot and fire a sweet snapper home. He also played a season-high 18:19 TOI, over four minutes of which was short-handed, and won 60% of his draws (9/15). It's been an incredible season for Smith so far; can we expect the production to continue?
Flames 1, Predators 0
If the Senators-Jets game was a barnburner, the Flames-Predators was barely a spark. Neither team had much firepower, resulting in a new season low for the Predators, notes Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck:
The Nashville Predators just couldn't muster much offensive pressure tonight in Calgary, as the Flames plodded their way to a 1-0 victory behind Miikka Kiprusoff's 26 saves. Despite a late power play and a bit of a flourish with Pekka Rinne pulled in the final minute, the Preds just couldn't score, making this the first time all season they've been shut out.