I think the biggest difference tonight was the shifting of the lines. I didn't keep track of it all night, but there was a Kozlov, Recchi, Little line, and Kovy seemed to split time with Thorburn and Holik and Armstrong and Christensen. I think it definitely elevated Holik and Kozzie's play, and Kovy was hunting all night. The goal race between him and Iginla probably helped his motivation a bit.
We also seemed to do a much better job cycling the puck in the offensive zone tonight. Instead of dumping it in and losing it along the boards, they stayed in position and managed to move the puck around (the Perrin/Army/EC line, when they were together, seemed to do this the best). It not only helped us hang on to the puck longer, but it created huge chances at the point - at least one of Kovy's goals was created from our ability to control the puck in our own zone tonight. More of that please. :)
Props to Thorburn for burying his chance tonight as well. He works his tail off out there every night, no matter the score, and it was good to see him get on the board. As I already mentioned, Holik had a pretty huge game - not only offensively but he was also making huge hits all night long. Little had some good chances, and I continue to be impressed by the energy and effort by both EC and Army out there. It is especially impressive given that they both were used to playing limited minutes in Pittsburgh. And Kovy's hat trick was a long time coming, and of COURSE I was wearing the one hat I'm unwilling to throw on the ice. I have never yet participated in the hat-throwing - I'm either watching it on TV or not wearing a hat. Oh well.
Our defense played pretty well, overall tonight, especially in the latter half of the 2nd and the 3rd periods. The 1st was just atrocious - 2 breakaway goals is not generally the way you want to start your game. It was especially surprising because the first goal was a poor play on Enstrom, who has been so solid this year. Credit where credit is due, I thought Exelby had a pretty good game - not outstanding, but he did a better job playing in position tonight. I think keeping him paired with Mac makes the most sense - he has played his best games this year while paired with Mac, in my opinion. Kari had a fairly average game, for him. It is hard to really fault him 100% on the breakaway goals, but he let in a softie or two, nonetheless. He seemed to do a better job controlling rebounds tonight though, and made some huge saves when it counted.
Overall, it was an entertaining game. And don't look now, but we actually were NOT outshot tonight (only the 8th time this season). AND, we won in regulation! Happy early St. Patrick's day, everyone! :)
As always, this is only my two cents. I could be wrong.