QUEBEC CITY - The Quebec Red Devils have had a successful season, but at no point this year have they been playing as well as they are now.
The Red Devils made it three straight victories and nine wins in ten games as they got past their division rivals, the Toronto Fire, 5-3 at home. Five different players registered two points each for Quebec.
"The key is to just keep winning, just keep playing good hockey," said Paul Stastny, who was one of the players to pick up two points. "You can't leave points out there, you have to just take them, and we did a good job of that tonight."
Quebec made it 68 points on the season - just two points behind first-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. In addition, they increased their lead over Ottawa in the Adams division to seven points.
But the news wasn't all positive for Quebec. With just two seconds left in the second period, Toronto's Kyle Quincey collided with Matt Duchene in a knee-on-knee play. Duchene limped off the ice and never returned to the game, and after the game it was announced that he will miss a week."
"With a guy like Dutchy, he's so important to this team that losing him long-term would have been devastating," said Stastny. "You hate to lose him for any time, but at least this will only be a few games compared to what it could've been."
Before Duchene left due to injury, he would prove to be an important factor in Quebec's win. After Colin Wilson's 16th - and his fifth goal in two games - opened the scoring for Toronto at 3:23 of the first, Duchene tied it at 1 on his 17th at 15:47 of the period.
Then in the second, after Greg Mauldin connected with Duchene for the first goal of the game, Duchene returned the favor and set up Mauldin for his ninth at 3:46 to make it 2-1 Quebec.
Toronto would strike back with a shorthanded goal after a B.J. Crombeen high-sticking call managed to result in Ondrej Nemec's tenth at 15:09 to tie the game at 2, but that would be as close as Toronto would get. Ales Hemsky put Quebec up by a goal with 41 seconds left in the period on his ninth, and then just 16 seconds later, Johannes Salmonsson's 11th made it a two-goal lead with 25 seconds to play in the period.
In the third, a Ben Eager tripping call led to Brandon Bochenski's team-leading 26th of the year on th power play at 12:26, but 1:03 after that, Dainius Zubrus notched his 15th to put the Red Devils ahead for good as Joe Cannata - his turn in the rotating goalies strategy coming tonight - preserved the lead for the rest of the way for the red-hot Red Devils.
HAY HAY! - Chicago's Kevin Hayes picked a great time to score his first XHL goal. Hayes scored at 1:03 of overtime and also added an assist on the night as the Blue Demons picked up a surprising 3-2 home win over the Los Angeles Speed Kings.
RYD-ING NORTH - In a game important to the playoff standing of both Montreal and Minnesota, the Moose rallied from three third period deficits and Michael Ryder's shootout goal gave them an important 5-4 win in Minnesota over the North Stars.
JETS PRESS "LAICH" - Brooks Laich scored a goal and three assists for a four-point night as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Seals 4-3 in Oakland.
2014 XHL REGULAR SEASON
Wednesday, April 16 - Simming at aprox. 11:52 PM EST - All times Eastern - Jersey color in parentheses
Ottawa (white) at St. Louis (alternate) - 8:30 PM - SN East, FS Midwest
Philadelphia (orange) at Greensboro (black) - 8 PM - NBCSN, TSN2
Detroit (red) at New Orleans (black) - 8:30 PM - FS Detroit, Cox Sports Television
Las Vegas (teal) at Brooklyn (black) - 7:30 PM - Cox Sports Las Vegas, WLNY