|SAN DIEGO - During last year's XHL Cup playoffs, Las Vegas Sharks' center Teddy Purcell became a household name with a playoffs for the ages as his contributions went a long way towards securing the Sharks' first XHL Cup. But now, with the 2016 season well underway, Purcell has so far shown no signs at all of slowing down.
Last night, Purcell scored two goals to give him a league-leading nine on the year as the Las Vegas Sharks defeated the Toros 4-2 in San Diego.
"It's been good to get off to a good start, and it definitely feels good to know that I haven't lost a step from last year," said Purcell. "But we know that this season is a marathon, and it'll be a long journey to getting back to the Finals, so we need to just keep going out and winning."
So far, Las Vegas is off to a good start in their title defense, as they are tied for the league lead in points with Denver at 12 points. It's a bit of a departure from the past couple of years for the Sharks, as they had been able to sneak up on teams in the past. But now with an XHL Cup under their belts, the Sharks are a marked team.
The Sharks opened the scoring last night as Purcell notched his eighth of the year 1:25 into the first, but the Toros, who out-shot the Sharks 16-12 in the period, evened the score at 1 following an Adam Henrich charging call at 5:31 as Jack Skille scored his third at 6:06.
San Diego would then take a 2-1 lead with just ten seconds left in the first as Ahren Spylo scored his fifth of the year, but any late-period momentum that the goal may have given the Toros disappeared once the second period began.
Las Vegas out-shot the Toros 17-6 in the second, and they tied the score at 2 as Henrich made up for his earlier penalty with his third goal of the year 1:46 into the second. Then the Sharks went ahead for good at 11:36 as Purcell notched his second of the game and ninth of the season to make it 3-2 as they entered the third.
The Sharks once again controlled the third with a 13-8 shots advantage, and they would put the game away following a Theo Ruth hooking call at 12:04 as Rick Nash notched his sixth of the year ten seconds later on the power play to make it 4-2 - a lead that the Sharks would not relinquish as they moved into a tie for the most points in the league.
YUR THE BEST - Yuri Alexandrov scored two goals for the Ottawa Rough Riders as they hammered the Cougars 8-2 in Detroit for their third straight win. The victory capped off a dominant home-and-home for Ottawa, who beat Detroit 7-3 two days earlier for a combined 15-5 score over the two games.
Adam Courchaine (goal, two assists), Patrik Elias (three assists) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (goal, two assists) all notched three points each in the blowout victory for Ottawa.
MAX HEADROOM - Max Pacioretty scored his first two goals of the year for the Edmonton Oilers while Joe Thornton also notched a pair of goals as they defeated the Blackhawks 6-4 in Chicago. Andrew Kozek, Darren Helm, Patrick Marleau and Sean Monahan also notched two points each in the win for the Oilers.
THREE EQUALS THREE FOR HENRIK, CANUCKS - Henrik Sedin scored a goal and two assists for three points as the Vancouver Canucks picked up their third straight win - 5-2 in Calgary over the Inferno.
TONIGHT: There are eight games on the docket tonight, highlighted by a national television doubleheader in the U.S. featuring New England hosting Greensboro in the early window while New York visits Los Angeles in the nightcap. A pair of interesting non-division intra-conference battles also take place as Chicago visits Winnipeg, along with Vancouver traveling to Montreal.
2016 XHL SEASON - All times Eastern
Day 16 - Tuesday, February 9 - Games simmed at approx. 11:57 PM
New York (white) at Los Angeles (black) - 10:30 PM - NBCSN
Greensboro (white) at New England (green) - 8 PM - NBCSN
Ottawa (alternate) at Quebec (red) - 7:30 PM - SN Ontario, TSN Quebec, RDS
San Diego (yellow) at Dallas (blue) - 8:30 PM - FS San Diego, FS Southwest
Vancouver (alternate) at Montreal (red) - 7:30 PM - Sportsnet, TVA
Chicago (red) at Winnipeg (blue) - 8:30 PM - CSN Chicago, TSN Winnipeg
Detroit (throwback) at Toronto (throwback) - 7:30 PM - FS Detroit, TSN Toronto
Las Vegas (teal) at Anaheim (orange) - 10 PM - Cox Sports Television, FS West