After coming up short in his first two games as an NHL head coach, Rick Tocchet earned his first win on Friday night when his Tampa Bay Lightning defeated Nashville, 4-1. The Lightning entered the game having lost five in a row, and seven of their past eight.
Vincent Lecavalier picked up a pair of goals in the first period, while Ryan Malone recorded three assists. Malone, who had missed the previous four games for Tampa Bay, entered play on Friday with just three goals (and no assists) on the season. He eventually left the game in the second period for what the Lightning called "precautionary reasons."
Nashville held a commanding 35-24 edge in the shots department, but could never solve Lightning goalie Mike Smith, who continued his rock-solid play in net turning aside 34 shots. Dan Ellis, suffering through a sophomore slump of sorts for Nashville, struggled once again, giving up four goals in the games first 26 minutes.
Facing 35 shots isn't anything new for Smith, seeing as how Tampa Bay is allowing a league-high 35 shots on goal per game. Thus far, the 26-year old Smith, acquired as part of the Brad Richards trade at last year's trade deadline, has been up to the challenge registering a .929 save percentage.Eric Staal Ends Scoring Drought In Win
Carolina's Eric Staal entered play on Friday night mired in a scoring slump, picking up only one point (an assist) in his previous eight games. Consider the slump busted, at least for one night, as he recorded a hat trick in the Hurricanes 5-2 win over Phoenix. Carolina has now won three games in a row, after losing three in a row the previous week. Hello, Dr. Jekyll. Meet Mr. Hyde.
Staal scored his first goal at the 15-minute mark of the first period, and then completed the hat trick in the second period with two goals in ten minutes, giving the Hurricanes their first lead of the night.
Trailing by one with just under two-minutes to play in regulation, Anaheim was awarded a power play which ultimately turned into a 6-on-4 advantage when the Ducks pulled goalie J.S. Giguere for the extra-attacker. It appeared as if St. Louis was going to hold on for the 2-1 win, until Scott Niedermayer was credited with the game-tying goal with just 0.9 seconds to play in regulation.
The Blues were able to recover in overtime, however, when Lee Stempniak slipped a shot behind Giguere, who was effectively screened by Chris Pronger. That would have been all well and good for Pronger six years ago when he actually played for the Blues. Trouble is, for him anyway, he now plays for the Ducks.
The two teams combined for 44 penalty minutes in the first period, including three separate sets of fighting majors.
Yesterday's Newsmakers in the NHL: Welcome to the Win Column Rick Tocchet originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Sat, 22 Nov 2008 01:10:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.