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Late goal lifts Leafs over Canadiens

Sunday, 11.04.2007 / 1:01 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Matt Stajan celebrates after scoring the go-ahead goal against the Montreal Canadiens.
A big “thump” was the sound of victory for Matt Stajan and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Stajan broke in alone and beat Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet with 1:34 remaining in regulation to give the Leafs a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens ( 700K ) at the Bell Centre. The 23-year-old center ended a nine-game goal drought when he raced down the right side and beat Huet with a slap shot.

“I let it fire and I heard a metal thump,” Stajan said after scoring his first goal in nine games. “I knew it was the middle bar behind the goalie and I saw the red light go on, and the rest is history. It's a great feeling.”

Tomas Kaberle and Mats Sundin also scored for the Maple Leafs, who lost 3-2 in New Jersey on Friday. Vesa Toskala, who lost that game, made 32 saves to win this one.

“I thought coming into this building on a Saturday night on back-to-back nights, with them rested and them rolling the way they are, to win in regulation, it’s a great outing for us,” Leafs coach Paul Maurice said.

Montreal had been 5-0-1 in its previous six games. Chris Higgins and Mike Komisarek scored for the Canadiens, who’ve lost both games with the Leafs this season.

“Obviously it’s frustrating to lose a big game like that late in the game,” said Huet, who finished with 28 saves. “We had our ups and downs in the game but it's a shame to see it finish that way.”

Kaberle opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season on a power play 1:18 into the game. Komisarek scored late in the first to tie it at 1, and Higgins got his sixth goal on a 5-on-3 power play early in the second to put the Canadiens up 2-1. Sundin re-tied it at 6:04 of the second period when his centering pass deflected off Montreal’s Mathieu Dandenault and into the net.

It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams, who have faced each other every season since the League was formed in 1917. Kaberle scored the overtime winner in Toronto's 4-3 win over Montreal on Oct. 6.

“They played a smart game,” Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. “They played well defensively, they didn’t force anything and then they got the winner in the end.”

Senators 3, Bruins 2 | Video
Boston gave Ottawa one too many chances on the power play, and the Bruins paid the price.

Mike Fisher scored Ottawa’s third man-advantage goal of the game by banging in a rebound with 6:11 remaining in regulation as the Senators improved to 11-1-0.

“We kept it pretty simple, really,'' Senators defenseman Wade Redden said. “We got pucks to the net and told Fish just to plant himself there.”

The Bruins got a 42-save performance by goalie Tim Thomas, but it wasn’t enough against a power-play unit that went 3-for-6.

“They were throwing everything at me,” Thomas said. “They had shots on the rush, passes from behind the net, slot shots, point shots. They did a pretty good job of mixing it up and throwing a little bit of everything our way.”

The Bruins got two even-strength goals from Chuck Kobasew in the second period, but it wasn’t enough. Fisher scored off his own rebound in the first period and Dany Heatley tied it in the second on a one-time blast.

“(Thomas) made some good saves,” Fisher said. “We wanted to make sure we were getting pucks to the net and using our speed. They've got some big D, but we feel we're a little bit quicker. So, if we could chip it in and get in behind them, we could do a pretty good job.”

Boston coach Claude Julien was disappointed for his goaltender.

“Timmy is the reason we stayed in the game. There's no doubt about that,” Julien said. ''He stood tall for us and gave us chance to get at least a point. Unfortunately, penalties ended up costing us and that was disappointing.”

Rangers 2, Devils 1, SO | Video
Petr Prucha needed only one shootout attempt to go from a near-zero to a hero at Madison Square Garden. The third-year forward got the only goal of the shootout to give the Rangers a

victory over New Jersey and get back to the .500 mark.

“I know that I wasn’t scoring much this season, but I feel good on the ice and I didn’t lose my confidence,” said Prucha, who came into the game with just two points in 12 games. “I knew what I wanted to do in the shootout – and I did it.”

Prucha, the second shooter, beat Martin Brodeur with a shot over the left shoulder.

“I was off position a little bit,'' said Brodeur, who finished with 28 saves. “That’s his go-to shot. I gave it to him and he took it. It wasn’t that great a shot, but he beat me.”

New York's Henrik Lundqvist celebrates after the Rangers defeated the Devils, 2-1, in a shootout.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 shots and all three shootout attempts for the Rangers, who’ve won three in a row and are now 6-6-1 despite scoring just 23 goals, the fewest in the NHL.

“We played really hard tonight,” said Lundqvist, who has played every second of the Rangers’ first 13 games. “New Jersey came out really hard as well. It was a fun game to play in, a lot of action.”

Ex-Devil Scott Gomez scored 6:01 into the game and New Jersey’s Sergei Brylin tied the game 33 seconds later. The rest of the night belonged to the goalies.

“Overall, it was good,” said New Jersey’s Brian Gionta, one of the three unsuccessful shooters in the shootout. “It’s still disappointing. Our game was on. We didn’t give them that many opportunities. It was a pretty even game for 65 minutes.”

Hurricanes 4, Panthers 2 | Video
Matt Cullen left the Carolina Hurricanes after their Stanley Cup win in 2006 to sign with the New York Rangers. Happily for Carolina’s power play, he’s back.

Cullen, who was traded back to the Hurricanes by the Rangers last summer, had a goal and an assist on the power play as Carolina downed Florida at the RBC Center. The Hurricanes’ power play, fifth in the League coming into the game, scored twice in four tries against Florida.

“We’re at our best when there's a lot of movement, guys jumping in and out of holes, side to side, downhill, up high, and we're able to create chances from that,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.

The goal was Cullen’s third of the season with the man advantage and helped Carolina avenge a 4-2 loss in Florida earlier this week.

“We were all upset and angry about the way that we performed,” Cullen said of Wednesday night’s loss, in which Florida scored three times in the third period. “It’s not often that you have the luxury of going right back at the team that just beat you, so certainly we wanted to prove something.”

The Panthers, now 0-12-1 in their last 13 visits to Raleigh and 2-6-0 on the road this season, got goals from Jay Bouwmeester and Richard Zednik.

“We have to put forth a better effort. There are some guys who are putting forth a good effort, and there are some who are not,” said goalie Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 36 shots. “We’re not the kind of team that can play on 10 or 15 players.”

Thrashers 6, Lightning 4 | Video
This time, Ilya Kovalchuk got hot before it was too late.

Kovalchuk scored three times in the third period Thursday night in Ottawa, but with his team trailing 5-0, it was too late to prevent a 6-4 loss. This time, Kovalchuk began his hat trick when the Thrashers were only down 4-1, and it was enough to rally Atlanta to a victory in Tampa.

“When you're in the NHL, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Kovalchuk, who now has 12 goals for the season and 13 points in his last six games. “It was unbelievable. It was a great feeling.”

The Thrashers battled back from a three-goal second-period deficit, tying the game at 4-4 when Kovalchuk scored his second goal of the game from the left circle at 7:21 of the third period. Pascal Dupuis converted a feed from Bryan Little with 2:08 left, and Kovalchuk finished his hat trick by hitting the empty net with 1:22 remaining.

“He’s going as good as I've seen him go,” Atlanta general manager and interim coach Don Waddell said. ''This is outstanding.”

The Thrashers are 5-3-0 under Waddell after losing all six games before coach Bob Hartley was fired.

“I think we’re starting to fit together as a team,” said Dupuis. “Coming home will feel good.”

The Lightning, who got two goals from Shane O’Brien and one each from Michel Ouellet and Brad Richards, hoped that returning home would help them rebound after being swept in a three-game swing through the New York City area. It didn’t – not when the Thrashers scored three goals on five shots in the final period.

“I’m not making any assessments,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. “It’s what it is. Three goals on five shots. We pounded away chance after chance and couldn't score. They come down and score.”

The Lightning are 0-4-1 in their last five games. It's their longest losing streak since a six-game skid in November 2005. “It’s terrible, you know?'' O'Brien said. “It's the worst feeling when you're in one of these funks.”

Wild 4, Flames 1 | Video
Minnesota’s five-game winless streak started in Calgary on Oct. 24, a game in which the Wild blew a 3-0 lead and left with their first regulation loss. This time, the Wild made sure they

Minnesota teammates celebrate Marian Gaborik's second goal of the game.

didn’t let Calgary off the hook.

“This was kind of revenge, and it was great that we battled hard and got two points,” said forward Marian Gaborik, who scored twice and added an assist. Brian Rolston and Branko Radivojevic also scored for Minnesota, and Niklas Backstrom stopped 23 shots in his return after missing four games because of a strained groin.

“We started making plays,” Rolston said. ''Our ‘D’ did a great job handling the puck when we had it and made good plays up the ice. We were able to tip it in and get some good chances offensively.”

Jarome Iginla had the only goal for Calgary, which was coming off a seven-game homestand.

The Flames continue to struggle on the power play. They were 0-for-3 against the Wild and are now 3-for-32 in their last six games – and 1-for-17 on the road this season.

Minnesota also scored one goal on the power play and another two seconds after a Calgary penalty expired.

“We played decent enough five-on-five, but it was our special teams that let us down,” coach Mike Keenan said. “We gave up two power-play goals, and that was the essence of the game. And our power play didn't come through when we had the opportunity.”

Blackhawks 3, Blues 2 | Video
Who needs power plays? Not Patrick Sharp and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Sharp scored a pair of shorthanded goals in the third period as the Blackhawks stunned a sellout crowd in St. Louis.

“That's the first time that's ever happened to me,” Sharp said after becoming the first Blackhawk to get two shorthanded goals in a game since Steve Sullivan on Jan. 26, 2001. “We have forwards that can skate in here that want to have short shifts and keep our legs fresh. So both of those goals were results of speed up ice and aggressiveness.”

Sharp stole the puck from Blues defenseman Barret Jackman and beat Manny Legace on a breakaway at 7:41 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie. After Paul Kariya tied it with a wrist shot past Nikolai Khabibulin at 14:40, Sharp banged in Rene Bourque’s rebound with 2:21 left in regulation after a mixup between Jackman and Legace.

“All I know is we have the puck under perfect possession and five-and-a-half seconds later, it's in the back of our net after we had a couple of great chances at the other end,” Blues coach Andy Murray said.

Two rookies, Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien and St. Louis’ David Perron, scored in the first period. Another Chicago rookie, Jonathan Toews, saw his points streak end at 10 games, marking the first time in his young NHL career that he didn’t notch a point.

Canucks 4, Avalanche 3 | Video
The Sedin twins took care of Vancouver’s slump and Colorado’s home winning streak at the same time.

Daniel Sedin had two goals and an assist and Henrik Sedin had three assists for Vancouver, which had lost six of its last eight. Henrik set up Brendan Morrison’s tie-breaking goal with 4:06 left in the second period and Ryan Kesler made it 3-1 at 1:16 of the third. After Marek Svatos scored at 5:06, Daniel converted a feed from his brother with 6:35 remaining and the Canucks up two men. Svatos scored again with 10 seconds left.

“You can’t give guys like that time and space,” Colorado’s Ian Laperriere said of the Sedins.

Vancouver's Willie Mitchell celebrates with Roberto Luongo after beating the Colorado Avalanche 4-3.

Colorado had matched a franchise record set by the Quebec Nordiques in 1995 by winning its first six games.

“We gave them too much over the first two periods,” said Svatos. “It was nice to get a couple of goals, but it didn’t help.”

Ducks 5, Coyotes 2 | Video
Anaheim finally won a road game by playing a team that can’t win at home.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 30 shots as the Ducks finally won away from Honda Center after going 0-5-1 in their first six road games, including one in London. Corey Perry scored a pair of goals and had an assist for Anaheim, and Ryan Getzlaf scored once and had two assists.

“It’s tough. That’s our first road win all year. It’s just another stepping stone to what we’ve got to do,” Perry said. “The way we play at home is the way we have to play on the road. We showed that tonight. If we play that way, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The Ducks also got a goal from defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who was playing in only his second game after returning from a broken ankle. The injury-riddled defending champs hope things will improve as they get healthy.

“When we have confidence, we’re going to be a better team,” Perry said. “That’s how we have to play. We have to play as a team. When you’re going out there and you’re getting wins and everybody’s playing hard, everybody’s getting a chance to play and everybody’s contributing. That’s how we play and that’s how we win every night.”

The Coyotes have no trouble winning on the road – they’ve won four in a row away from Jobing.com Arena. But they’ve dropped six in a row at home after an opening-night victory over St. Louis.

Sharks 3, Kings 1
Jeremy Roenick is just one goal away from making history after the 499th of his career proved to be the game-winner for the Sharks, who avenged a home loss to Los Angeles on Friday.

Roenick broke a 1-1 tie with 9:22 left in the second period, beating former Sharks defenseman

Brad Stuart to the rebound of Alexei Semenov’s shot and flicking the bouncing puck past

Jason LaBarbera’s glove for his fourth goal of the season. It was Roenick's 85th game-winning goal during regular-season play.

''I came here to be in a winning organization, to enjoy playing the game again and have an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. That is the only reason I came back,'' Roenick said. ''The 500 goals had no basis on me coming back. It's going to be nice getting 500, but I came back for a bigger and better reason. I'm really blessed to be a part of a first-class organization and I'm excited every day that I come to the rink.''

Jonathan Cheechoo added an insurance goal with 6:23 to play, one-timing the puck past LaBarbera from 25 feet.

Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks an early lead, beating LaBarbera with a one-timer from the left circle just 2:21 into the game. Stuart tied it at 5:23, firing a slap shot from the left point past Evgeni Nabokov.

''We were pressing a little bit,'' Kings forward Michael Cammalleri said. ''We played more of an impatient game. It was a big game that we were excited about. We were at home and we wanted to play hard. It could have been a big win for us.''

Material from wire services was used in this report.

Quote of the Day

Unless he really collapses, I don't see him going anywhere. I've been very impressed with his composure and maturity. Once the regular season started, he was a different guy; it was like game on and almost as if he's been around for a long time.

— Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon on rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad
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