|SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Toros were expected by many to be at the top of the Gretzky division this year, and perhaps even better than they were last year when they won the Presidents Trophy. But despite excellent advanced stat numbers, this year has been a rough go of it for the Toros.
On the other hand, the Los Angeles Speed Kings were expected to be in the middle of a rebuild, and the injury to Sidney Crosby seemed to be one they could not rebound from. And yet, behind the great goaltending of Tyler Plante, the Speed Kings have been the hottest team in the league.
However, both recent trends went the other direction when the two teams met up last night at Petco Arena in downtown San Diego as Tomas Plekanec, Michael Ryder and Eric Staal each recorded two points in a 5-1 Toros win that snappped Los Angeles' eight-game win streak.
"It's a good win, and you always want to play well in a rivalry game as well," said Staal. "But winning every game we can is the most important thing right now, so hopefully this game will get us going on our way."
In addition to the loss, things got even worse for the Speed Kings as it was announced that Plante will go on to miss roughly a week due to exhaustion.
"It's obviously a big blow considering how amazing he's played," said Speed Kings head coach Jon Cooper. "But we've obviously shown that we're resourceful, so I have no doubt we can get by."
With a significant number of Speed Kings fans making the trip down the coast, the Toros made sure to come out strong in the first. They out-shot Los Angeles 19-15 took a 2-0 lead into the second. It started following a boarding penalty on Evander Kane 1:38 into the first as Mike Lundin scored his second on the power play 12 seconds later, and then they went ahead by two goals at 5:47 on Blake Geoffrion's sixth of the year.
The second period was a quieter affair with just 11 total shots between th teams and no goals until the final minute of the period. But after a Victor Hedman hooking call with 1:05 left, Trevor Lewis scored his tenth of the year on the man advantage with 32 seconds left as the Toros took a 3-0 lead into the third.
San Diego once again dominated the third with an 18-4 shots edge, and they added to their lead with two more goals. Michael Ryder scored his 22nd at 8:23 of the third, and then after Taylor Hall snapped Dany Sabourin's shutout bid at 11:49 with his 15th of the year, San Diego added their final tally following a Jamie Benn roughing call at 16:43 as Plekanec scored his 14th on the power play with three minutes left.
That final goal made it 5-1 and sealed San Diego's win as well as the end of the Speed Kings' win streak.
HOT TO TROTZ - Derek Krestanovich scored two goals for the New England Whalers as they won their debut under new head coach Barry Trotz with a 4-2 home victory over the Toronto Fire.
ORANGE AND BLACK ATTACK - Tommi Huhtala and Zdeno Chara scored in the shootout for the Anaheim Ducks as they defeated the Wildkatz 3-2 in Philadelphia.
DEVIL OF A TIME - Steven Stamkos and Nigel Dawes scored in the shootout for the Chicago Blue Demons, who defeated the Red Devils 3-2 in Quebec.
BIG MC - Brandon McMillan, Ladislav Smid and Darren Haydar each had two goals for the Montreal Moose, who defeated the Minnesota North Stars 7-5 at home.
SHANNON POTS IT - The New Orleans Rebels rallied from a 3-0 third period deficit and won it in the shootout on a goal from Ryan Shannon as they defeated Brooklyn Red Bulls H.C. 4-3 at home.
HEAT CHECK - Dany Heatley scored two goals for the Edmonton Oilers, who defeated the Smugglers 7-3 in St. Louis.
POULIE D - Benoit Pouliot scored two goals and an assist for the Dallas Freeze, who defeated the Seals 7-4 in Oakland.
2015 XHL REGULAR SEASON
Monday, April 27 - DOUBLEHEADER - All times Eastern - Simming at approx. 11:47 PM.
Detroit (alternate) at Ottawa (alternate) - 7 PM - City TV, FS Detroit
Las Vegas (teal) at Greensboro (black) - 3 PM - KLAS, FS South
Quebec (red) at Vancouver (alternate) - 10 PM - CBC, TVA, XHL Network (U.S.)
Winnipeg (white) at Toronto (black) - 7 PM - CBC, XHL Network (U.S.)
Calgary (white) at Anaheim (orange) - 10 PM - City TV, KDOC
Philadelphia (orange) at New York (alternate) - 2 PM - WPSG, MSG, XHL Network (U.S.)
Chicago (white) at Brooklyn (alternate) - 2 PM - WGN, YES
St. Louis (alternate) at Minnesota (white) - 3 PM - KPLR, KSTC