CALGARY - Much was expected of the Quebec Red Devils this season after last year's surprising campaign. But you have to wonder at this point if Quebec is even surprising themselves.
Last night, Quebec became the second team in the XHL this season to reach the 70-point mark and won their fourth straight as three points each from Alexander Semin and Bryan Allen led the way in a 4-2 victory in Calgary over the Inferno.
"With every win, it seems like we get more confidence." said Allen. "Really we go out there and every night not only think we can win, but we expect to win as well."
The Saddledome was electric last night as Calgary, coming off two straight wins, was hoping to move slightly closer to a playoff berth in the underachieving West. But the Red Devils saw to it early that this wouldn't be a night of celebration in southern Alberta.
Greg Mauldin opened the scoring 3:27 into the first off a pass from Alexander Semin. Then the beat went on in the second despite a 16-8 Inferno shots edge as Mikko Lehtonen scored his 14th at 3:19 and then Semin took a pass from Mauldin eight seconds later for his 27th to make it 3-0.
Calgary would get on the board at 5:40 on Cory Stillman's team-leading 28th of the year, but the Red Devils would get some insurance at 13:14 of the period when Jamie Tardif scored his first of the season - as well as his first in nearly four years.
Tardif, seen at one point as a top XHL prospect, has bounced up and down between the XHL and MHL since playing the 2010 season with the Toronto St. Pats - a team that doesn't exist anymore in that incarnation - and his last goal came on June 10, 2010 in a 4-3 win in Oakland.
"It's been a long time coming," said Tardif. "I'm just glad to help the team, but it feels good to get that monkey off my back."
Ian White added his 12th in the third for Calgary, but it wasn't enough as Quebec's alternating goalies strategy continued to pay off thanks in part to the work of J.F. Berube, who stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced on the night.
GETZ WINS - Ryan Getzlaf provided two goals and an assist and Johan Franzen notched a goal and two helpers as the New England Whalers won their fifth in a row - 5-3 in Detroit over the Cougars. The win puts the Whalers six points behind idle Montreal for eighth in the East with two games in hand.
CRAIG'S LIST - Craig Anderson stopped 36 of 38 Fire shots on the night as the Greensboro Swordsmen picked up a 4-2 win in Toronto.
THREE'S COMPANY - Brooks Laich, Bryan Little, Guillaume Latendresse and Justin Abdelkader all tallied three points each as the Winnipeg Jets got past the Chicago Blue Demons 6-3 at home. Little and Abdelkader scored two goals each in the win.
ARNOTT GONNA TAKE IT - Jason Arnott scored two goals and four other North Stars each registered two points as Minnesota cruised over the New Orleans Rebels 5-1 at home to move back into eighth place in the West.
SHOWING SOME SKILLE - Jack Skille scored a goal and three assists for a four-point night as the San Diego Toros maintained their pace with Winnipeg in the West, edging the St. Louis Smugglers 5-4 at home.
2014 XHL REGULAR SEASON
Thursday, April 24 - Simming at aprox. 11:53 PM EST - All times Eastern - Jersey color in parentheses
Vancouver (alternate) at Ottawa (alternate) - 7:30 PM - SN Pacific, RRTV
Oakland (yellow) at Las Vegas (teal) - 10:30 PM - CSN Bay Area, Cox Sports Las Vegas
Edmonton (blue) at Los Angeles (white) - 10:30 PM - SN West, FS Prime Ticket, XHL Network
Montreal (red) at New England (green) - 7:30 PM - TSN, RDS, CSN New England