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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Wings beat Sharks again, 5-1

Saturday, 10.27.2007 / 12:32 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Chris Osgood has improved to 11-0-5 in his last 16 starts.
The Detroit Red Wings aren’t just winning – they’re making it look awfully easy.

Detroit got goals from five different players and limited San Jose to 11 shots in a 5-1 demolition of the Sharks at Joe Louis Arena ( 700K ). Only a late goal by Alexei Semenov spoiled Chris Osgood’s shutout bid as the Wings outshot the Sharks, 39-11.

Wings goaltenders see the fewest shots in the league, and Detroit has outshot its last two opponents, 78-26. But Osgood said he doesn’t object to the lack of action in his zone.

“I don’t mind,” he said after improving to 11-0-5 in his last 16 starts. “I love making a breakaway save or a (two-on-one) save after I don’t see a shot for two or three minutes.”

The Wings have been a puck-possession team for years, but they’ve improved on the formula this season to the point that it sometimes seems they’re playing keep-away with their opponents. On Friday, the puck seemed to spend most of the night in the Sharks’ zone.

“I thought we had the puck a lot, and I thought we were on the attack a lot,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after his team’s fourth straight win. “I don’t care if you’re coaching 12-year-olds like my son plays or you’re coaching here, your best defense is when you play in the offensive zone. You don’t have to be very good in your zone when you’re good in their zone, and I thought we did a good job of that.”

Valtteri Filppula and Tomas Holmstrom each had a goal and an assist as the Wings extended their winning streak to four games. Filppula opened the scoring by beating Evgeni Nabokov with a backhander 1:23 into the game, then set up Brett Lebda’s goal at 15:31.

The Wings, now 8-2-1, blew the game open in the third period. Holmstrom scored his eighth of the season at 39 seconds, then assisted on Henrik Zetterberg’s eighth at 8:12. Just 22 seconds later, Kirk Maltby scored his third of the season.

Babcock said Holmstrom’s goal was the backbreaker. “The way you win in this league is that you keep going after other teams,” Babcock said. “Anytime you get down three in the third, you don’t have the same kind of will, and that’s natural. That one kind of broke their spirit a bit.”

The Sharks, who had won their two previous games, lost to Detroit for the second time in nine days. The 11 shots on goal are fewest San Jose has ever had in a road game. The previous low was 12.

“They played really, really well tonight, and we played really badly, said center Joe Thornton, who was totally shut down by Detroit’s checkers. ''That's not a good combination for us.”

Added Christian Ehrhoff: “They were great on offense and didn't give us much room. But we didn't skate as well as we could to let them do it.”

Canucks 3, Capitals 2 | Video
Unfortunately for Roberto Luongo, the Washington Capitals aren’t in the Western Conference – meaning he doesn’t see them too often.

Luongo made 27 saves against Washington to extend his unbeaten streak against the Caps to 10 games and help Vancouver end a two-game losing streak. It looked like the win might come easily – the Canucks never trailed and had a two-goal lead for most of the third period – but Washington made it close on Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal with 1:36 left in regulation. Ovechkin then nearly set up the tying goal after another Canucks penalty with 77 seconds to go, but Luongo stopped Michael Nylander’s close-in bid for the tying goal.

Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo deflects a shot by Washington Capitals' Chris Clark.

“When he decides to turn it up, he's one of the top three in the league – and he turned it on at the end,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said of Ovechkin. “It was tough to watch from our bench.”

But Luongo closed out the victory.

“Alex likes to shoot a lot, so I like to challenge him – take away the angle. I don’t know if that's the reason for the success against them, but things go well against them,'' said Luongo, now 7-0-3 with two shutouts against the4 Caps, dating to 2003-04. ''Maybe I'm in his head a little bit.''

Taylor Pyatt scored twice and Daniel Sedin had the other goal for the Canucks, who improved to 4-2-0 on the road. Sedin had a power-play goal 2:11 into the game, but Nylander tied the score at 8:45, lifting a power-play rebound over Luongo.

But Pyatt scored on a breakaway at 11:16, then made it 3-1 at 3:37 of the third period when he poked in a rebound.

He also noted that the Caps aren’t the only team Luongo plays well against.

“He plays well against everyone,” Pyatt said. “He doesn't have many off-games.”

Washington captain Chris Clark took an Ovechkin slap shot in the head in the final minute. Clark dropped to the ice and left a small puddle of blood before skating off with some assistance. The Caps said he received stitches in his left ear after the game.

Sabres 4, Panthers 2 | Video
Coaches always preach that good things happen when you put the puck on the net. Buffalo’s Drew Stafford will be the first to agree after his fluke goal with 8:48 remaining in regulation broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Sabres a victory in Florida.

Stafford took a harmless-looking wrist shot from the right boards that bounced off Tomas Vokoun's blocker, went high into the air, then fell in behind the Florida goaltender.

“We’ve had some tough bounces go against us,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We got one there. But we got rewarded for putting the puck on net.”

With the Sabres having lost three in a row, Stafford was grateful for a fortunate bounce.

“We got a couple of lucky breaks at the end there, but I think we needed those,” Stafford said. “We’re happy. We’re smiling. I’ll take it. They don't ask how. The biggest thing for me is the team, we’re getting a break like that.”

It was a tough way for the Panthers to lose.

“I lost sight of the puck, and it ended up falling into the net," Vokoun said. “It's a bad goal and a bad break, too.”

Ales Kotalik and Jochen Hecht scored for Buffalo before Stafford’s goal and Daniel Paille added a shorthanded goal for the Sabres, who had been 0-3-0 on the road. Jozef Stumpel and Ville Peltonen scored for the Panthers, who lost at home for the second time in five games.

“I think the major factor was the specialty teams,” Florida coach Jacques Martin said. “They got a power-play goal. They got a shorthanded goal. That was the difference in the game, but we didn’t win enough battles in front of the net for rebounds. We’ve got to be better.”

Avalanche 3, Flames 2, OT | Video
They didn’t have to come from four goals down this time, but Colorado again rallied to beat the Flames – giving Joel Quenneville his 400th coaching victory.

Colorado was outshot, 27-13, in the first two periods – but trailed only 2-1 thanks to 25 saves by Jose Theodore. Marek Svatos forced overtime by scoring with 4:15 remaining in regulation, and Ryan Smyth gave the Avs the victory when he scored 23 seconds into overtime on a feed from Joe Sakic.

“I knew unless the defenseman went right at me that I was going to pass,” said Sakic, who came down the right side on a two-on-one with Smyth and fed him for an easy goal.

Colorado Avalanche's Ryan Smyth, left, celebrates his game-winning goal with teammate Brett Clark.

Sakic also scored in the first period, and the assist gave him 1,600 career points, eighth on the all-time list. He joined Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman as the only players to reach the 1,600-point mark while spending his whole career with one franchise.

“It’s an honor to be mentioned with those guys,” said Sakic, who has 100 points (40 goals and 60 assists) against the Flames. “And it was great to do it in a win.”

Alex Tanguay and Matthew Lombardi scored for Calgary, which blew a 4-0 lead at Colorado on Oct. 16 and lost 5-4 in a shootout.

“You’ve got to give them credit, but you have to have that killer instinct,” said Lombardi. “We jumped on those guys, but it doesn't matter how far ahead you are in shots, because they got the two points."

The Flames carried the play for most of the night but got only one point largely due to Theodore, who finished with 39 saves.

“We were back on our heels. We were in our own end a lot,” Quenneville said. “We probably didn’t deserve to win, but it was a huge two points for us. Jose kept finding a way to find the puck.”

Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery