This Week In The Southeast Division: 01-27-13

Joel Auerbach

Tampa Bay claims the top spot, Winnipeg is in playoff position, Carolina treads water while the Panthers and Capitals completely sputter.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have won two in a row to take the early lead in the division with a 3-1 record. Steven Stamkos leads the team in scoring with eight points (2G/6A). Anders Lindback posted a 2-1 record despite giving 3.67 goals a game. Tampa Bay has scored 19 goals and given up 12.

Tampa Bay opened the season with a 6-3 win on home ice over the Washington Capitals. Martin St. Louis scored 2 goals and added an assist while Teddy Purcell chipped in three helpers. Anders Lindback made 27 saves to win his first start for the Bolts.

Two days later, the New York Islanders would hand the Lightning their first loss in Uniondale. The Islanders jumped out to a 4-0 lead but the Lightning rallied with three third period goals. Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the campaign with twelve minutes remaining to close the gap to one but the Lightning would fail to come up with the equalizer.

The Lightning would bounce back a night later with an impressive 4-1 in Raleigh over the Carolina Hurricanes. Mathieu Garon would turn aside 35 shots in his first start of the season. Vincent Lecavalier set up two goals and Keith Aulie notched the game-winner early in the third period.

Tampa Bay completed the week with an exciting 6-4 win over the Ottawa Senators at home. Steven Stamkos scored a goal and added two assists. Ryan Malone scored twice and Lindback picked up his second win of the campaign.

Winnipeg Jets: The Jets went 2-1-1 during the first week of the season. They are second in the Southeast and fifth in the Eastern Conference. Defensemen Dustin Byfuglien (2G/3A) and Tobias Enstrom (0G/5A) lead the team in scoring with 5 points. Ondrej Pavelec started all four games and compiled an impressive 2.20 GAA and .932 save percentage. Winnipeg has scored 10 goals and given up 10 goals.

Winnipeg 2.0 got off to a slow start, losing on home ice to Ottawa 4-1. Milan Michalek, Chris Neil, Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris scored for the Senators while Byfuglien scored the only Winnipeg goal, striking on a power play to open the scoring.

The Jets hit the road and picked up a well-earned point by falling in a shootout to Boston. Chris Thorburn scored for Winnipeg and Brad Marchand replied for the Bruins. Patrice Bergeron got the winner in the second round of the shootout. Pavelec stopped 26 shots in the loss but was beaten twice in the shootout.

Winnipeg would get its first road win the next evening in Washington. Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Jim Slater all scored their first goals of the season. Kane and Ladd's goals came on the power play. Pavelec made 34 saves to get the better of the Capitals' Braden Holtby.

The Jets returned home to face the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night. The Jets overcame two first period goals by Sidney Crosby to post a 4-2 win and complete the week on a high note. Byfuglien, Ladd, Kane and Wheeler all scored a goal and added an assist. Pavelec turned aside 33 shots to hold the Penguins at bay.

Carolina Hurricanes: Carolina bounced back from an 0-2 start to finish the week with a 2-2 record. Eric Staal (3G/1A), Jordan Staal (0G/4A) and Jeff Skinner (4G/0A) lead the offense with four points each. Cam Ward started three of the four games, going 1-2 while posting a hefty 4.71 GAA. The Hurricanes have lit the lamp 11 times while surrendering 13 goals.

The Hurricanes opened the season in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers. The Panthers blitzed the Canes 5-1, scoring four times in the first period, with the last three goals coming on the power play. Carolina fired 42 shots at Jose Theodore but Patrick Dwyer was the only Hurricane to solve the Florida netminder. Cam Ward was pulled after the opening frame and Dan Ellis mopped up.

Carolina's next game was at home against Tampa Bay. The Lightning handed the Hurricanes another one-sided loss, this time by a 4-1 count. Jeff Skinner got the only Carolina goal to make the score 2-1 in the second period but the Lightning would score twice in the third period to cruise to the win. Cam Ward took his second loss of the season.

The Hurricanes remained in Raleigh to open a home-and-home with the Buffalo Sabres. Carolina rolled to a 6-3 win on the strength of an Eric Staal hat trick. Jeff Skinner added two goals and Justin Faulk scored as well. Ward made 33 saves to post his first win of the season. Jason Pominville scored twice for the Sabres.

Carolina completed the quick sweep over the Sabres with a 3-1 win in Buffalo one night later. Summer acquisition Alexander Semin scored his first goal in a Hurricane uniform. Jay Harrison got the game-winner and Jeff Skinner completed the scoring with a power play goal with 26 seconds remaining in the tilt. Thomas Vanek was the only Sabre to beat Dan Ellis who made 40 saves to pick up his first win of the season.

Florida Panthers: The defending division champs opened up with an impressive win but dropped four straight to finish 1-4. Defenseman Brian Campbell leads the Cats in scoring with four points (2G/2A). Jose Theodore got the bulk of the time in net, going 1-3 with a 3.02 GAA. The Panthers have scored a paltry 8 goals and given up 19.

The Panthers started the season on fire, scoring four times in the opening frame of a 5-1 win over Carolina on home ice. Brian Campbell scored two power play goals, rookie Jonathan Huberdeau scored his first NHL goal and added two assists and newcomer Alex Kovalev also picked up three points. Jose Theodore turned aside 41 shots to post the win. A second straight division title seemed in the bag.

The Panthers hit the road for their next game and ended up getting blanked 4-0 by the Ottawa Senators. Kyle Turris scored twice to stake Ottawa to a 2-0 lead. Jose Theodore was strong in net and kept the Panthers in the game until Ottawa put it away with two more goals late in the third period. Craig Anderson made 31 saves to post the shutout for Ottawa.

Florida's Canadian misadventure continued in Montreal the next night. The Canadiens cruised to a 2-0 first period lead with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov getting the goals. Tomas Kopecky scored in the second period to give the Panthers some hope but Markov scored again four minutes later to put out the fire. Rookie Alex Galchenyuk scored his first NHL goal to complete the scoring. Scott Clemmensen got the start but looked shaky. He made 29 saves in taking the loss.

The Panthers returned home looking to get a measure of revenge against Ottawa. Florida got off to a good start with Tomas Fleischmann scoring his first of the season while on the power play in the first period. Unfortunately, the Panthers penalty problems caught up to them three minutes later with Chris Neil scoring on the power play to even things up. An ill-advised Shawn Matthias pass led to a pretty goal by Ottawa's Erik Karlsson goal in the second period. Theodore again kept the outplayed Panthers in the game until Jason Spezza scored with 1:16 remaining in regulation to complete the scoring in the 3-1 Ottawa victory.

Florida's final game of the week was on home ice against the Philadelphia Flyers, who were also off to a disappointing start to the season. The injury-riddled Panthers' problems were quickly exposed by the Flyers who romped by a 7-1 margin. Philadelphia scored three times in the first period to chase Jose Theodore. Clemmensen wouldn't fare much better, surrendering four more goals over the final two periods. Matt Read notched a hat trick to power the Flyers, who only needed 26 shots to net their 7 goals. Peter Mueller scored a sweet breakaway goal to get his first as a Panther in the second period.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals are off to a terrible start. They finished the week with an 0-3-1 record, good for last place in the division and the Eastern Conference. Mike Ribeiro leads the Caps with four points (1G/3A). Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby have spilt time in goal with Neuvirth's 3.36 GAA being the better of the two. The Capitals have scored 8 goals and given up 17. Alex Ovechkin has only managed one assist in the four games.

The Capitals opened the season in Tampa Bay and were outgunned by the Lighting in a 6-3 loss. Joel Ward scored two goals and Wojtek Wolski also tallied but Tampa Bay broke open a 3-3 tie with three goals in the third period. Braden Holtby was on the hook for all six Lightning goals.

Winnipeg was next up for Washington and the Jets would leave D.C. with a 4-2 win. Matt Hendricks staked the Capitals to a 1-0 lead in the first period. The Jets would score four straight times in the first and second period to put the game away. Troy Brouwer scored late in the third period to complete the scoring. Holtby took his second straight loss, making 35 saves.

Montreal would visit the Capitals next and they would also leave town with a road win. The Canadiens used a four goal second period to cruise to a 4-1 win. Joey Crabb beat Carey Price late in the third period to break the goose egg. Michal Neuvirth got his first start of the season and made 18 saves.

The Capitals would hit the road and try to pick up their first win in New Jersey. The Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Stephen Gionta and Patrik Elias. The Capitals would rally in the third period to send the game to overtime. Mike Ribiero and Mike Green got the goals for Washington. The Capitals would fail to pick up their first win as Ilya Kovalchuk netted the game-winner with 21 seconds left in the extra frame.

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