December 30, 2009
After watching Sunday's win from the press box in St. Louis, Stafford returned to the Sabres lineup and helped spark a rally from a 3-0 deficit in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. Maybe patience is what coach Lindy Ruff was preaching when he banished Stafford, because the forward sure took his time dismantling the Pens' lead. He played it slow (video) on the penalty shot that snapped a 15-game goal drought, and two minutes later used some nifty stick work to basically walk his own rebound past Marc-Andre Fleury(notes). Stafford actually partially fanned on the backhand pass that set up Paul Gaustad's(notes) game-tying goal in the third, but watching the moves he put on Alex Goligoski(notes) and Sergei Gonchar(notes) is worth sitting through a nine-second ad. May all your Festivus dreams come true, Mr. Stafford.
Ott exploded past Niklas Hjalmarsson(notes) and Brent Sopel(notes) before beating relief goalie Antti Niemi(notes) on the power play for the deciding goal in Dallas' see-saw 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Each team blew two leads in this wild affair. Ott had given Dallas a 4-3 lead in the second period on a centering pass that deflected off the skate of Chicago forward Troy Brouwer(notes) and into the Blackhawks net. He also assisted on Mike Ribeiro's(notes) first-period goal and was a game-high plus-3 on the night. On the off chance celebrating Ott's Tuesday heroics is too unsettling, feel free to use the comments section to answer this question.
We were tempted to keep the three-point theme going here, but with apologies to Bobby Ryan(notes) and Shea Weber(notes), the Phoenix Coyotes' 10-game home winning streak just couldn't be ignored. LaBarbera made 28 saves through overtime and turned aside all three shootout chances in a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. It was just LaBarbera's second start since Nov. 16 as Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) (1.81 Dec. GAA) has been an ironman of late. Somehow Dave Tippett's crew sits in fourth place in the Western Conference and only a Monday shootout loss in San Jose stands between the Coyotes and a five-game winning streak.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Lalime(notes) stopped all 27 shots he faced in relief of Ryan Miller(notes) in Buffalo. … New York Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson(notes) made 41 saves and was perfect in the shootout in a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. … Mike Modano's(notes) first-period goal was the 549th of his career, tying him with Ron Francis for 25th on the all-time list. … Patrick Kane(notes) scored twice for the Blackhawks, giving him seven goals during his five-game goal streak. … As referenced above, both Anaheim's Bobby Ryan (two goals, assist) and Nashville's Shea Weber (three helpers) spearheaded victories with big nights.
Did You Know?: The Coyotes' previous franchise record for consecutive home wins was set from Dec. 27, 1992 through Jan. 23, 1993 when the organization was located in Winnipeg.
Dishonorable Mention: Considering how U.S. Olympic officials must feel about trashed hotel rooms, maybe it wasn't such a good idea for Ryan Miller to toss the bulk of his equipment down the runway after getting the hook against the Penguins. … The folks at Empty Netters were delighted, however. … The Jackets, who have lost 10 of 11, were held to two or fewer goals for the eighth consecutive game. … The Blues have lost seven of eight on home ice.