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Flyers' winning streak reaches five

Sunday, 10.21.2007 / 1:57 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Martin Biron made 42 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers won their fifth straight game by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime.
Hockey is fun again for Simon Gagne and the rest of the Philadelphia Flyers. Winning can have that effect on people.
   
The Flyers have gone from being one of the NHL’s worst teams in 2006-07 to one of the best in the early going this season. Gagne extended Philadelphia’s winning streak to five games by scoring 48 seconds into overtime Saturday night to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes

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“It’s always fun when you get the winning goal,” said Gagne, whose 41 goals were one of the Flyers’ few highlights last season. ''There's no better feeling than when you see the puck crossing the red line and you know that's made the difference at the end. You get two points and you win the game.”
   
Mike Richards also scored for the Flyers, who had not won five straight games since Dec. 22-29, 2005.
   
They’ve even surprised themselves with their hot start.

“To think we'd be 6-1 at this point, I don't think anybody expected that,” coach John Stevens after his team’s fourth straight win at home.

Gagne stopped a pass from Derian Hatcher with his skate, then snapped the game-winner past Carolina goalie John Grahame and into the net for his 400th career point.

Justin Williams and Eric Staal scored for the Hurricanes, who had their three-game winning streak snapped when they lost a shootout in Pittsburgh on Friday night. They finished 3-1-2 on a six-game trip.
 
“It's a terrible way to end it,” said Williams. “Back-to-back overtime losses, which make it three on the year, and we've only played eight or nine games. We've got to find ways to win these overtime games.”

Flyers goalie Martin Biron came into the game with back-to-back shutout victories. The Hurricanes beat him twice, but Biron finished with 42 saves and has played every minute of Philadelphia’s seven games this season.

“We want to show teams that we can come back,” said Biron. “It’s tough in this League to win when you're down after two periods. It's something that we take pride in doing.”

Bruins 1, Rangers 0, SO | 700K
   
Phil Kessel continues to be a shootout ace. The Rangers continue to have problems scoring goals of any kind.
   
Kessel, who had four shootout winners as a rookie last season, got the only goal of any kind to end Boston’s eight-game losing streak against New York. He beat Henrik Lundqvist after the first five shooters were stopped.
   
“It was pretty much like last year,” he said. “I didn't know what I was going to do until I was going in. I watched the first two (shooters) so I had an idea how he was playing.”
   
The teams played 65 scoreless minutes, with Lundqvist making 19 saves and Boston’s Manny Fernandez stopping 26 shots.
   
The Rangers have scored an NHL-low 13 goals while going 2-4-1 in their first seven games. They also lost forward Martin Straka, who broke a finger when he was hit by a shot from Boston’s Zdeno Chara.
   
“Henrik's been great all year. There's no question about it,” Rangers center Scott Gomez said. “That's not the area we have to worry about.”
   
Blackhawks 6, Maple Leafs 4 | 700K
   
The worst thing the Toronto Maple Leafs can do is get a two-goal lead. For the third time in eight days, the Leafs blew a two-goal edge, this time by allowing the visiting Blackhawks to score five times in the third period.
   
Mats Sundin scored twice to give Toronto a 3-1 lead after two periods. But goals by Andrei Zyuzin and Duncan Keith in the first 1:34 tied the game. Robert Lang’s goal at 7:15 put Chicago ahead to stay, and Patrick Sharp made it 5-3 less than four minutes later.
   
“It's a bad circle right now we need to get out of, and the only way to get out of it is hard work," Toronto forward Alex Steen said. “Even though we have the lead, we need to be able to play the puck and want the puck. We started good. We had a couple big goals from Mats. It all comes down to the third period. We need to play a much, much better third period.”
   
Chad Kilger cut the margin to 5-4 at 17:05, but Tuomo Ruutu hit the empty net with 25 seconds remaining as the Blackhawks won in their first visit to Toronto since Feb. 3, 2004.
   
Four of Chicago’s goals came on the power play.
   
“It comes down to penalties,” said Raycroft. “They're just killing us. It's frustrating.”
   
The Hawks had seven power plays and took just one minor penalty.
   
“We said special teams was going to win the game and we got four power-play goals,” said rookie Patrick Kane, who had two assists. “That was obviously the difference in the game. It worked for us and we're glad it did.”
   
Islanders 4, Devils 3, OT |
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Like the Maple Leafs, the Islanders are having trouble holding on to two-goal leads. But unlike the Leafs, they’re getting wins after blowing them.
   
Two days after surrendering a 2-0 lead, then scoring three times for a 5-2 win, the Isles let New Jersey rally from a 3-1 deficit to force overtime – but got two points when Bill Guerin scored on a power play with 3.7 seconds left in OT.
   
“It just tells you what kind of character we have on this team,” Isles coach Ted Nolan said. “There's nothing better to have than experience. We got the big goal.”
   
The Isles overcame a 1-0 lead on second-period goals by Josef Vasicek, Miroslav Satan and Mike Comrie. But the Devils dominated the third period and tied the game on goals by Jay Pandolfo and Brian Gionta. Each team had a power play in OT, and Guerin made the Devils pay when he banged the carom of Comrie’s pass behind Kevin Weekes.
   
“It was a little too close for comfort,” Guerin said. “The game got away from us a little bit.”
   
Weekes, Martin Brodeur’s backup, made his second start of the season as the Devils played game eight of their nine-game season-opening trip.
   
“It's tough when you lose a game like that,” Weekes said. “The way the game was going back and forth, it would've been nice to at least get to a shootout.”
   
Canadiens 4, Sabres 2 | 700K
   
Montreal Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet dives to make a save on Buffalo Sabres' Thomas Vanek.
Montreal used the lively boards at the Bell Centre to its advantage, breaking a 2-2 tie on Roman Hamrlik’s fluke goal with 6:22 to play to beat Buffalo.
   
Hamrlik got credit for the tie-breaking goal when his shot went off the end boards and pinballed off two Sabres and into the net. Chris Higgins added an empty-netter for the final margin.
   
“It was definitely strange,” said Higgins, who was originally credited with the winning goal. “But we created our own bounces tonight. We were skating well, we were moving the puck well and luck was finally on our side.”
   
The Sabres weren’t happy about the funny bounce.
   
“I think the League should look into the trampolines they installed here,” Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller said. ''It's unbelievable.”
   
Added center Derek Roy, whose second-period goal was also the result of a fortuitous bounce off the boards: “You're going to lose games, we know that, but it's a tough way to lose one when you get those bounces against you. When they’re for you, you're all happy, but when they come against you, you're like, 'Why me?' It's going to happen. We were forcing them to shoot wide and they did shoot wide and they happened to get a lucky bounce.”

Bryan Smolinski and Kyle Chipchura also scored for the Canadiens, who had lost their last three games. Paul Gaustad scored nine seconds after Roy’s goal for Buffalo.   
   
Senators 4, Panthers 1 | 700K
   
Ray Emery looked right at home in his first NHL game this season, stopping 31 shots as the Senators beat the visiting Panthers.
   
“I thought the team played really well and I felt pretty good in there. Kind of like I expected," said Emery, who missed Ottawa’s first eight games while recovering from wrist surgery. “It's a situation where I know the team is going to play well, so I just have to play solid so it makes it easier to come back from an injury. It was a welcome change to get back in a game.”
   
Richard Zednik was the only Panther to beat Emery as Ottawa improved to an NHL-best 8-1-0.
   
Ottawa got goals by Mike Fisher, Shean Donovan, Christoph Schubert and Daniel Alfredsson. They had lots of other chances, but Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun made 43 saves.
   
“The main focus was to get pucks on net, get a lot of traffic and hopefully get a couple by him,” Panthers forward Anthony Stewart said of Emery. “We really didn't stick to the game plan. We stuck in there early but their guns took over towards the end.”
   
Lightning 6, Thrashers 2 | 700K
   
Tampa Bay's Chris Gratton, right, celebrates with teammate Jan Hlavac after scoring a goal against the Thrashers during the Lightning's 6-2 win over Atlanta.
No one can say Mathieu Darche isn’t persistent.
   
Darche scored his first NHL goal in nearly six years during a three-goal second period as

Tampa Bay remained perfect at home and kept Atlanta winless on the road.
   
Darche, a veteran minor leaguer, hadn't scored an NHL goal since Nov. 10, 2001. This was his 20th NHL game since his first NHL goal six years ago, when he was with Columbus.
   
"It was nice to see him get a reward," said Chris Gratton, who centers a line with Darche and Michel Ouellet. "He's been working real hard. He's always around that net, and if he continues to do that, the pucks are going to follow him into the crease area and he's going to get even more goals.”
   
Vaclav Prospal, off to the best start of his career, had two goals for Tampa Bay.
   
“He's playing honest, and good things are happening,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said of Prospal.
   
The Thrashers, who got their first victory of the season by beating the Rangers on Thursday, were outgunned from the start. Ilya Kovalchuk scored during a first period in which Tampa Bay outshot Atlanta, 17-2. Gratton’s goal with 1:06 left in the period put Tampa Bay ahead to stay.
   
“We almost weathered the storm there and gave up a bad goal at the end of the first period,” GM/interim coach Don Waddell said.
   
Stars 3, Ducks 1 | 700K
   
Dallas has been plagued by slow starts this season. Not this time – Brenden Morrow got the Stars off and running by scoring a power-play goal 2:04 into the game and Dallas shut down the defending Stanley Cup champs.
   
"It's important to stay disciplined and have good starts," said center Mike Ribeiro, who assisted on Morrow’s goal and scored one of his own in the second period. "It was probably our best game. It's important to get out of the gate quick and take the lead. The last two games it's been a bad start.”
   
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said his team’s poor coverage in the slot was to blame for Morrow's goal.
   
“We were out of position and left Morrow alone in front of the net,” Carlyle said. “He didn't get a good shot at it, but it trickled through and went in the net.”
   
Chris Pronger’s power-play goal was the only shot to beat Marty Turco, who stopped 20 shots.
   
“He was very solid, very good,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said of Turco after the Stars improved to 3-0-1 at home. “That's got to be a staple of our team, our goaltenders have got to play very well. We expect that from them every night.”
   
The Ducks are now 0-4-1 on the road and have scored two goals or less in four of those losses. Pronger knows that has to change.
   
“You've got to keep working to get out of your funk and your lack of goal-scoring,” Pronger said. “We've got to keep working hard in those high-traffic areas. (Turco) played well and we didn't execute very well and do the little things you need to do to win.”
   
Wild 3, Blues 1 | 700K
   
St. Louis Blues' Ryan Johnson, right, is knocked off his feet by Minnesota Wild's Brian Rolston.
Minnesota was 5-0-1 in its first six games despite a power play that was 1-for-22. Here’s some bad news for the rest of the League: The Wild’s power play is working now, too.
   
Coach Jacques Lemaire used four forwards on the power play and was rewarded with a pair of man-advantage goals as the Wild remained the NHL’s lone unbeaten team  by winning in St. Louis.
   
"I know our power play was moving the puck well," said center Eric Belanger, who set up one of the power-play goals and scored the tie-breaking goal with 11 seconds left in the second period – Minnesota’s lone even-strength goal. "It was just a matter of time before we scored."
   
Pavol Demitra and Brent Burns scored the power-play goals for the Wild and backup goalie Josh Harding made 32 saves, allowing only Steve Wagner’s first NHL goal. Minnesota is unbeaten despite not scoring more than three goals in any game.
   
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Blues goalie Manny Legace, who finished with 31 saves. “That's a great club over there and their goaltender played outstanding.”
   
Red Wings 5, Coyotes 2 | 700K
   
The rest of the NHL has been unable to shut down Henrik Zetterberg this season. Phoenix was no different. The NHL’s leading scorer had a goal and an assist as Detroit completed a 3-1 road trip.
   
Zetterberg has scored in each of the Wings’ nine games, and has a 17-game scoring streak dating back to last season.
   
“It’s not all about the points. We’re here to work hard,” said Zetterberg, who has 12 goals and 23 points in 17 career games against the Coyotes.

Kirk Maltby’s second of two goals broke a 2-2 tie with 25.5 seconds left in the second period.
   
''Kirk Maltby can really shoot but he chooses not to most of the time,'' coach Mike Babcock said.
   
Steven Reinprecht and Derek Morris scored in the first period for the Coyotes, who lost all three games of their abbreviated homestand. Phoenix has lost five of six since opening the season with a 3-2 home victory over St. Louis.

“'They outskated us on the ice, their top guys played at will and we seemed to be overwhelmed,” Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said.
   
The Red Wings won the last two games of their West Coast trip and are off to a solid 6-2-1 start.
   
“We knew this was an important trip for us,” said Zetterberg. “I think we had a great road trip.”
   
Flames 4, Oilers 1 | 700K
   
Edmonton Oilers' Alex Hemsky, left, gets checked by Calgary Flames' defenseman David Hale.
Calgary held serve in the Battle of Alberta as Jarome Iginla continued to pile up points.
   
Iginla had the tie-breaking goal and added a pair of assists as the Flames handed the Oilers their fifth loss in six games after a 2-0 start. He snapped a 1-1 tie at 9:21 of the second period by converting a slick pass from Daymond Langkow. Iginla has a five-game point-scoring streak in which he has five goals and six assists.
   
“I thought we had a good game as a team, we got that quick goal on the power play and kept it rolling from there,” Iginla said.
   
Kristian Huselius, Dion Phaneuf, and Adrian Aucoin also scored for Calgary, which is now 4-0-1 in its last five games, including back-to-back wins to start a seven-game homestand.

Rookie center Sam Gagner scored his first NHL goal for Edmonton.

“It’s a tough team to play, the way they play defense and how ‘Kipper’ gets on a roll," Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson said of the Flames. “We played well 5-on-5, but unfortunately their power play did a number on us tonight. They got all the second and third chances I thought we should have gotten.”
   
Sharks 3, Predators 0
   
Jeremy Roenick’s countdown to 500 goals is down to two after he scored the game-winner in San Jose’s first home victory of the season.
   
Roenick scored during a 5-on-3 power play at 4:52 of the second period to open the scoring, and Patrick Marleau added an insurance goal with 6:21 remaining in regulation. Milan Michalek hit the empty net in the final seconds.
   
Roenick has been troubled by a sore knee and was questionable for the game – but it didn’t seem to bother him against the Predators.

“I feel really strong,'' said Roenick, who took the last couple of days off. ''The knee didn't hamper me at all. I just have to watch it because I want to make sure and elevate my game.”
   
The Sharks, one of the NHL’s best home teams last season, had lost their first two games at the HP Pavilion. “We’re not playing up to expectations,” Roenick said. “But we’ll get better as we go along.”
   
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 22 shots for his 35th career shutout in the teams’ first meeting since San Jose eliminated Nashville in the first round of the playoffs last season.    
   
“I don't think we put enough pressure on their goalie,” Nashville goaltender Chris  Mason said. “This is not a good start and we don't want to fall too far behind.”
   
With 498 goals, Roenick is two away from joining Mike Modano and Joe Mullen as the only U.S.-born players to reach the 500-goal mark.
   
Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report.
Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets