|SAN DIEGO - Not much was expected of the Dallas Freeze coming into this season. The team formerly known as the Pittsburgh Penguins were just hoping to get a fresh start in their new city with some new players and a new attitude. But even the most diehard fan probably couldn't have foreseen the season they have had so far.
Last night, Brandon Dubinsky scored two goals as the Freeze regained sole possession of first place in the Gretzky division with a convincing 4-1 win in San Diego over the Toros.
"We still have a way to go, and we know it will be a battle," said Dubinsky, "But this is a good win tonight and it shows how well we've played recently , so hopefully we can keep this going long enough to hold onto first place for good."
Dallas now holds a narrow one-point lead on second-place Las Vegas, who was idle last night, but they hold a game in hand on the Sharks as well, which could end up being a good opportunity for them to increase their lead in the division.
The Freeze came out strong in the first with an 18-7 shots edge, and they would go up 2-0 as well as Andrei Markov started the scoring at 6:54 with his sixth of the year. Benoit Pouliot would then add his 11th at 9:13 as the Freeze took a two-goal lead into the second.
San Diego would hold a trim 9-7 shots edge in the second, but Semyon Varlamov - who stopped 25 of 26 shots on the night - was excellent in turning aside each shot he faced to keep the Freeze lead in tact heading into the third.
And in the third, it would be the Brandon Dubinsky show. Dubinsky extended the lead to 3-0 at 1:59 on his 24th of the year, and then after Tomas Plekanec finally got the Toros on the board at 7:23 with his 17th of the year, Dubinsky scored his second of the game and 25th of the year at 8:35 to cap the scoring as the Freeze took command of the Gretzky division for at least a day.
NIK OF TIME - Nikolay Zherdev scored two goals to give him five in two games as the Ottawa Rough Riders won their third straight to move back into first place in the Howe with a 4-1 win in Quebec over the Red Devils.
GONE FISH-IN - Mike Fisher scored a goal and two assists as the Toronto Fire took care of the Minnesota North Stars 6-3 at home.
BROOKLYN IS KREST-FALLEN - With the score tied and just 27 seconds left in regulation, Derek Krestanovich scored a shorthanded goal - his second goal of the game - to give the New England Whalers a 4-3 home win over floundering Brooklyn Red Bulls H.C.
MCBAIN: LET'S GET SILLY - Jamie McBain scored in round six of the shootout to cap a wild night of hockey in the Big Easy as the Greensboro Swordsmen edged the Rebels 5-4 in New Orleans.
STA FOR A WHILE - Matt Stajan and Blake Comeau each had three points for the Calgary Inferno as they defeated the Montreal Moose 4-2 at home.
BRO-MANCE - Martin Brodeur turned in an excellent 38 save performance for the Oakland Seals as they defeated the Philadelphia Wildkatz 3-1 at home.
DAD-BOED - Mikkel Boedker scored the game-winner in overtime for the Edmonton Oilers as they edged the Ducks 3-2 in Anaheim.
YOU CAN'T HIDE YOUR RYAN EYES - Down 3-0 in the second, the Vancouver Canucks exploded for six unanswered goals - including a hat trick by former Smuggler Bobby Ryan - as they sank St. Louis 6-3 at home.
2015 XHL REGULAR SEASON
Monday, May 25 - All times Eastern - Simming at approx. 11:51 PM.
Dallas (white) at Los Angeles (alternate) - 6 PM - KTXA, FS Prime Ticket
Chicago (white) at Greensboro (black) - 3 PM - NBC, XHL Network (Canada)
New York (red) at Las Vegas (alternate) - 3 PM - NBC
Calgary (red) at Winnipeg (alternate) - 8 PM - City TV
Quebec (black) at Detroit (alternate) - 6 PM - TSN Quebec, RDS, FS Detroit
Oakland (alternate) at San Diego (brown) - 8 PM - NBCSN