The hockey gods are starting to play with Philadelphia's Kent Manderville.
Last Saturday against New Jersey, Manderville entered his 100th straight regular-season game since his last goal. Tack on 18 playoff games and the drought grows even longer.
In fact, it goes all the way back to Oct. 2, 1999, when the center scored in Boston.
"He works so hard, that's why you feel so bad," forward Rick Tocchet said. "If a guy floats around, you wouldn't really care."
But Game 100 might have been the cruelest for the 29-year-old Manderville, now in his 10th NHL season.
Midway through the second period of the Flyers' 6-3 victory over the Devils, Manderville skated down the left side and ripped a shot at the New Jersey goal.
The puck squirted through the pads of Martin Brodeur and appeared to be headed into the open net ... but it struck the inside of the right post and stayed out.
"I was so tired and I took a shot at the end of the shift," Manderville said. "There's going to be a time when I shoot the puck, not expecting it to go in, and it will go in."
It finally did, at 5:46 of the third period, when Manderville converted a rebound with the Flyers enjoying a delayed-penalty call.
Play is supposed to stop only when the penalized team gains control of the puck. Brodeur stopped a shot, but sent the rebound right to Manderville.
Referee Kerry Fraser incorrectly whistled a stoppage of play, before the shot, negating the goal.
"I talked to Kerry Fraser and he felt really badly about that after," said Manderville, who has 27 career goals. "He knew that he goofed up, but what can you do? You've got to laugh."
Even Tocchet had a laugh.
"If I ever go to Atlantic City, I'm not going with him," Tocchet said.
Manderville had a better idea.
"You'd think you'd want to take me and bet the opposite of whatever I'm betting," he said.
Through Thursday, the streak stood at 102 regular-season games -- 120 including playoffs.
"All I have to do is keep shooting and it will find its way," Manderville said. "You look at SportsCenter, every night there's goals like that."
TIS' THE SEASON: Because of swift action, hockey fans can don Mario Lemieux jerseys even before the Hall of Famer resumes his playing career with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
CCM answered the demands of holiday shoppers and shipped up to 6,666 specially-made Penguins sweaters with Lemieux's familiar No. 66 in time to reach select retailers before Christmas.
The apparel division at CCM started making the jerseys ever since Lemieux, also the Penguins' owner, revealed his intention to get back on the ice, 3 1/2 years after his retirement.
Lemieux has begun practicing with the team and is aiming to make his return Wednesday night at home against Toronto.
TAXING TRIPS: It's going to be more expensive for visiting players when they come to Columbus to play the expansion Blue Jackets.
The Columbus city council approved an amendment to the tax code that will require visiting players to pay the city's 2 percent income tax.
"It was perhaps a recognition that professional athletes are not standard employees with standard working hours," said Melinda Frank, the city's income tax administrator.
Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean doesn't like the idea, especially because it was approved without consultation with the franchise.
"All of a sudden it comes out of the blue," he said. "It was never discussed with us until we reacted to it."
MacLean said the city benefits enough from the new team without taxing its opponents.
"I don't understand tax issues and dollars and things like that very well," he said. "But if you look at 18,000 moving into downtown Columbus every time we play, and if you look at the spinoff that has created, I would think they're doing well by the Blue Jackets."
The city is taxing nonresident players' wages based on what they earn per game, as well as their incentives and bonuses. The average salary for an NHL player is about $1.4 million a year, or $17,000 a game, meaning the city is due an average $340 per player per game in taxes.
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