Just like in his playing days, Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky saw the play developing before it happened. Before the game even started, actually. Prior to Friday's Phoenix-Carolina tilt in Raleigh, Gretzky admitted he was "a little nervous" about facing Staal, a proven scorer mired in an eight-game goal scoring drought. As it turned out he had reason to be concerned. Staal scored three goals in a 24-minute span on a night he said he wanted to "show his stuff" with a hockey legend behind the visitor's bench. All three were scored from in close, the first two tying the game and the third, off a pretty backhand feed from Scott Walker, holding up as the game-winner. It's not like Staal hasn't been trying. Entering play Friday he ranked fifth in the NHL in shots with 78. Is this the catalyst for a turnaround? Time will tell. Oh, and Marc Staal, it's your turn.
Shutouts come in different shapes and sizes and this one definitely had a bit of everything. Biron faced 40 shots, survived a pair of lengthy 5-on-3s, had a few pucks clank off the iron and even had to sweat out a video review after Drew Stafford tucked one under his pads. The lamp went on and the music played, but replays indicated the puck never crossed the goal line. If you ask the Sabres they'll tell you they made Biron look good in the 3-0 Philly win. Biron, however, made his share of clutch stops, including turning aside a pair of close-in chances from Thomas Vanek, who happens to lead the league in goals. This one was a nail-biter until Jeff Carter scored at 8:19 of the third period to make it 2-0.
You could put captain or coach in this slot, as Lecavalier scored a pair of goals in a 4-1 win over Nashville to hand Rick Tocchet is first victory as an NHL head coach. Vinny opened the scoring by stuffing home the rebound of a Steven Stamkos shot and made it 2-0 with a boomer from the slot just seven minutes into action. Tocchet likened the win to scoring his first NHL goal, something he did all the way back in 1984-85.
Honorable mention: Friday nights generally aren't for fighting in Boston, where before Nov. 21 the Bruins hadn't hosted a Friday night home game since 1977. Milan Lucic and Nick Boynton observed "SlapShot night" with a second-period scrap. … Scott Niedermayer's goal with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation earned Anaheim a point. … Devils goalie Kevin Weekes made 25 saves for career win No. 100. … New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner had a three-assist night and was robbed of a sure goal by Joey MacDonald's glove. … Anaheim's Bret Hedican reached the 1,000-game plateau, something only 13 other U.S.-born players have accomplished.
Dishonorable mention: New Jersey's third-period power-play goal could go in the books as a 5-on-1 tally. The Devils had a two-man advantage and two Islanders penalty killers had to discard broken sticks. … A different kind of numbers "advantage" led to St. Louis' overtime goal, as Lee Stempniak managed to score despite being the only Blues attacker in the offensive zone against three Ducks players.