Since he became coach just before the halfway point last season, Ted Sator has instilled a new spirit into the Buffalo Sabres.
He led them in a late-season drive that just missed the playoffs, and he has them playing outstanding hockey again at the start of this season.
In a superb performance Sunday night at Calgary, the Sabres knocked out goaltender Mike Vernon with a three-goal flurry in the second period and went on to beat the Flames, 6-3. The loss ended the Flames' six-game unbeaten streak.
The victory improved the Sabres' record to 7-5-3 and moved them into a tie with Quebec for second place in the Adams Division.
The three-goal spurt consumed just three minutes, and the scores by Bob Logan, Dave Andreychuk and Phil Housley gave the Sabres a 5-1 lead.
Goalie Darren Puppa stopped 38 Calgary shots.
Philadelphia 3, New Jersey 3--It was only a tie with the surprising Devils at Philadelphia, but it may have marked the return to form of Flyer goaltender Ron Hextall.
As a rookie last season, Hextall was the best goalie in the NHL. Although the Flyers fell one victory short of winning the Stanley Cup, Hextall was the Most Valuable Player.
But, in a moment of pique in the final game, Hextall slashed a player with his stick. He sat out the first eight games of this season and, when he joined the slumping Flyers, he appeared to have lost his touch.
In his first seven games he was 1-5-1 and the Flyers fell to last place.
In this game, Hextall gave up three goals on the Devils' first seven shots. The turnaround came shortly thereafter.
For the last 56 minutes, including a five-minute overtime, Hextall was spectacular. He stopped 35 consecutive shots, several of them difficult ones.
Winnipeg 3, Vancouver 1--Andrew McBain and Doug Smail scored first-period goals at Winnipeg and Daniel Berthiaume sparkled in the nets once again.
Berthiaume stopped 29 shots, losing his shutout when Stan Smyl scored on a power play late in the second period.
The Canucks had won two in a row, but they couldn't come back from the early 2-0 deficit.
Chicago 8, Minnesota 5--Denis Savard, for several seasons the Blackhawks' best player, had the biggest night of his career at Chicago.
Savard scored his ninth career hat trick and also had three assists in the high-scoring battle. The Blackhawks needed his best game to end a seven-game winless streak.
Three times Savard had scored five points, but this was his first six-point game.