|Cristobal Huet stopped all 29 shots he faced for his first shutout in almost a year as the Montreal Canadiens blanked the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Monday night.
The Montreal Canadiens goaltender made 29 saves for his first shutout since Nov. 28 of last year, while Tomas Plekanec potted what proved to be the game-winner at the 13:04 mark of the second period as the Habs earned a gritty 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.
With the victory, the Canadiens are 6-1-1 in their last eight games and pulled to within five points of the first-place Ottawa Senators in the Northeast Division. The Senators are off to a remarkable 12-1-0 start.
For Huet, almost 52 weeks had passed since he blanked the Florida Panthers in a 1-0 victory, which came in a shootout. The 32-year-old made 16 saves in the first period to keep his team in the game, en route to his 14th career shutout.
''They tried to shoot a lot in the first and create some rebounds and second chances off my pads and it gave me a little bit of confidence after that,'' Huet said.
Buffalo, meanwhile, continues to struggle. Despite solid goaltending from Ryan Miller allowed just one tally in this one and finished with 17 saves. Montreal’s Bryan Smolinski added an empty-net tally with 21.8 seconds remaining, as the Sabres were handed their third straight loss (0-2-1).
''We did a good job against a team that's not going to give up much by not giving up much to them,'' Miller said. ''Huet was very good. I thought we got inside a few times and he came up big. You can't be too mad, usually, about those games but it just comes at a time when we're looking for something to go right and hopefully the guys aren't going to take this too hard.''
Montreal was outshot 9-1 in the final 20 minutes, but Huet was able to make the 1-0 lead stand until Smolinski’s late goal. It was no secret in the Canadiens’ locker room as to who was mainly responsible for Montreal’s eighth win of the season.
''We didn't play a great game tonight, but thanks to Huet, we ended up with a win,'' Plekanec said.
Penguins 5, Devils 0 | Video
Dany Sabourin was a rock at “The Rock,” as he recorded his first NHL shutout behind some help from his captain, Sidney Crosby.
No. 87 scored twice, while Sabourin stopped all 20 shots he faced as Pittsburgh caused New Jersey to fall to 2-2-0 at the Prudential Center. Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur was pulled 3:28 into the third period, when Crosby – who leads the NHL with 12 points on the power play – potted his second goal of the night. Brodeur, who made his sixth straight start, allowed five goals on 24 shots before being replaced by Kevin Weekes.
''I'm not going to sugar coat it,'' Devils coach Brent Sutter said. ''Our commitment tonight was unacceptable. This was a big divisional game. To come to the rink like that doesn't cut it. I am surprised, to be quite honest.''
Crosby’s first goal of the night was also the game’s first goal, as he fired a rebound past Brodeur at the 12:09 mark of the opening period. Adam Hall made it a 2-0 game just over four minutes later, when he was able to redirect Brooks Orpik’s shot for his second goal of the season.
It marked a tense situation for the Penguins, who entered the contest having surrendered two-goal leads in each of the last two games. This time, though, there were no breakdowns, as Petr Sykora and Erik Christiansen scored in the second period to give Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes. The Penguins outshot New Jersey by a 10-3 margin in the middle frame.
''We really didn't talk about it,'' Sabourin said of his team’s recent struggles with holding a lead.
''We played like it was 0-0 all the time. That's why we had success.''
Sabourin preserved the shutout with a gorgeous glove save midway through the third period. With his team already up by five goals, the Penguins’ netminder snagged Paul Martin’s chance for one of his six stops made in the final 20 minutes.
''I'm pretty happy to get the shutout, but it was a big night for the team,'' Sabourin said. ''They played well in front of me all night.''
Hurricanes 5, Capitals 0 | Video
|The Carolina Hurricanes had a lot to celebrate about Monday night as they shut out the Capitals 5-0 at the RBC Center.
Cam Ward took it from there.
Ward made 35 saves, while Stillman had an assist to go along with his natural hat trick, as Carolina blanked Washington at the RBC Center.
Stillman continues to produce for the Hurricanes, as the Carolina center – who missed the first four games of the season due to a car accident – has notched at least a point in eight consecutive games. His play is one of the main reasons why the Hurricanes sit atop the Southeast Division at 9-3-3.
''The team's winning, we're producing, we have confidence, we have confidence with the puck,'' Stillman said. ''That ends up showing on the stat sheet after you have a win.''
Nineteen of Ward’s 35 saves came in the opening period. He made his presence felt early in the game, when he stoned Alexander Ovechkin on two-point blank chances. In the end, he was able to pick up his third career regular-season shutout.
Guess who the opponent has been in all three of those games? That’s right, the Washington Capitals.
''It seems like I've had those opportunities to get shutouts, but it always seems like they get a late one or something like that,'' Ward said. ''It's nice to get rewarded.''
After winning their first three games of the season, the Capitals are 2-9-0 in their last 11 games. They are 0-3-0 thus far in November and head to Atlanta on Tuesday night to take on the Thrashers.
''Any time you go on a streak like this losing, it's never fun,'' Capitals left wing Matt Pettinger said. ''It's still early, but we have to do something to right this ship. You don't want to get too far behind the eight ball.''
Carolina finished with three power play goals, with Stillman’s first goal coming just four seconds after Milan Jurcina was whistled for holding. His second tally also came with a man advantage.
''The power play was moving well, and (Stillman) was on the receiving end of some nice plays,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. ''On any night, I think it's anybody that can pop out.''
Panthers 4, Lightning 3 | Video
The effort seems to be there on most nights, but Tampa Bay still can’t find a way to pick up a victory away from the St. Pete Times Forum.
David Booth broke a 3-3 tie with just 1:19 remaining in regulation, giving Florida an exciting victory over their Sunshine State rivals in the first of a home-and-home series at the BankAtlantic Center. The loss – Tampa Bay’s seventh straight -- dropped the Lightning to 0-7-0 on the road.
"We're learning from this," Tampa Bay defenseman Brad Lukowich said. "The best thing for us is to stay positive. It's a struggle right now. But we've got to push the envelope and become even more positive."
After Martin St. Louis gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with a power play goal 6:39 into the game, the Panthers rallied for two goals late in the opening period by Olli Jokinen and Ville Peltonen. Jokinen, who also had two assists, said his team was fully aware of Tampa Bay’s season-long struggles on the road. Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun stopped 10 of 11 shots in the third period to help Florida win its 11th game against Tampa Bay in the last 13 games at the BankAtlantic Center.
"They haven't won on the road, you definitely want to keep the cap on them," Jokinen said. "The first 40 minutes was better than the last 20. Vokoun made some big saves. We got a big goal by Booth at the end."
Booth’s goal – his first ever on home ice – came after the Panthers surrendered a 3-2 lead on a shorthanded tally by Michel Ouellet 3:40 into the third period. But with time winding down, Booth was able to redirect Ruslan Salei’s slap shot from the point past Johan Holmqvist.
"It's my first one at home here in Florida, so it's a special one," Booth said. "They were coming on strong. They wanted to get their first road victory."
After the Lightning host the Panthers on Wednesday night, they’ll receive their next chance to pick up a road victory 24 hours later at Carolina, which is 5-1-1 on home ice.
We've got to get that first one," St. Louis said. "We get one, we'll feel a little better."
Wild 5, Oilers 2 | Video
|Minnesota's James Sheppard gets tied up by Edmontons' Denis Grebeshkov, as goalie Mathieu Garon defends the net in the Wild's 5-2 victory over the Oilers.
Nicklas Backstrom made 22 saves for Minnesota and improved to 6-0-0 lifetime against the Oilers, whose own goalie, Dwayne Roloson, allowed three goals on eight shots and was replaced by Mathieu Garon after the first period.
Mikko Koivu had three assists for the Wild, who also got goals from Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Kurtis Foster and Stephane Veilleux. Minnesota’s special teams received a huge boost in this one, going 4-for-10 on the power play. Impressive, considering the Wild were forced to play without Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra and Wes Walz.
"Some pretty goals, some backdoor goals, some ugly tip goals,” said Parrish, who is second on the Minnesota roster with six tallies. “We had it all going, and that's good.”
Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish was less than pleased with the undisciplined play of his team, which led to two handfuls worth of man advantages for the Wild.
"You can commend the effort and intensity, but you've got to play this game with your head or else you're going to get picked apart,” MacTavish said. “We were moving around the ice like chickens with our heads cut off.”
Dustin Penner scored the Oilers’ lone goal, which came on the power play at the 5:18 mark of the second period. It was Edmonton’s fourth goal on the man advantage in 60 chances this season.
"We're a close-knit team, and we're going to stay positive," said Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff, who also scored in the second period. "We've got a lot of injuries, but we're not making any excuses when it comes to losing games here. We're going to let go of this one and work hard tomorrow."
Foster was happy to contribute for a team that had to use an “all-hands-on-deck” approach up front. His blast from just inside the point gave the Wild a 3-0 lead with 52 seconds to play in the opening period.
"It was nice to get some chances tonight and really contribute, when we're missing two big guys," Foster said, referring to Demitra and Gaborik.
Avalanche 4, Flames 1 | Video
|Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr reaches in to knock the puck away from Colorado left winger Andrew Brunette in the third period of the Avalanche's 4-1 win.
The Avalanche handled the Flames for a seventh straight time, as Paul Stastny paced his team with a pair of goals for a victory over Calgary at the Pepsi Center.
The Flames have not defeated Colorado since they picked up a 5-2 victory at the Pengrowth Saddledome back on Feb. 17 of this year. Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff – who stopped 16 of shots in the opening period to keep his team in the game -- was replaced with 9:22 left in regulation, when Stastny picked up his second tally of the night.
However, Calgary coach Mike Keenan wasn’t about to lay any of the blame on his goaltender. In the end, Keenan was simply trying to ignite a spark.
''He played really well for us,'' Calgary head coach Mike Keenan said. ''Pulling him had nothing to do with him.''
For Stastny, it was his first multi-goal game since the talented forward picked up a hat trick on opening night, a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars on Oct. 3. Milan Hejduk also contributed mightily with three assists.
''We are comfortable with each other,'' Stastny said. ''We played together all last year. We have developed a comfort level.''
Hard to argue with that, considering the line of Stastny, Hejduk and Wojtek Wolski combined for eight points and an impressive plus-9 rating.
''We're clicking right now,'' Wolski said. ''The effort is there and good chances come from good effort. We work well together, too. This isn't something that happened overnight. It took time.''
Flames captain Jarome Iginla was disappointed with his team’s effort. Unlike previous games against Colorado this season, Iginla believes the Flames were dominated from the opening faceoff. Monday seemed to be anybody’s game until Wolski broke a 1-1 tie 11:15 into the second period. Colorado dominated the tempo in the third period – evidenced by Stastny’s pair of goals – and wound up with a 36-24 advantage in the shots on goal department.
''I thought the first two of the season, we let get away from us,'' Iginla said. ''We controlled most of those first two games. This was a game that, right from the start, they outworked us, out competed us, and it's just not good enough.''
Stars 5, Ducks 0 | Video
Mike Modano was held off the scoresheet, but Marty Turco recorded his 31st career shutout and Jere Lehtinen had a goal and two assists as Dallas blanked Anaheim at the Honda Center.
Modano will get his next chance to tie Phil Housley for the most career points by a U.S.-born player on Wednesday night, when the Stars visit the San Jose Sharks. Afterwards, Modano, who helped Dallas win the Stanley Cup in 1999, said he believes Anaheim is having a difficult time recovering from last season’s championship.
''I think they have a bit of a Stanley Cup hangover going on over there,'' Modano said. ''As much as they put into the playoffs last year, it's just tough to come back and get motivated and get up for games because of how hard you've been pushed physically and mentally only a few months ago. A couple of their key guys from last year aren't there, so they've got a different makeup.''
The Ducks – blanked for the second time on home ice and for the fourth time this season -- allowed two power play goals after going 35-for-37 on the penalty kill at the Honda Center entering the contest. Mike Ribeiro got the game’s opening goal with the man advantage at the 19:36 mark of the opening period, while Jussi Jokinen put his team up by a pair with the first of three tallies in a span of 5:16 with a power play goal at the 14:40 mark of the middle frame.
Turco, who picked up his first shutout of the season with 19 saves, was credited with the second assist on Jokinen’s tally.
"I thought for about 10 or 12 minutes, we played more of a type of hockey that we needed to play," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "Then, for whatever reason, we just seemed to be zapped of our energy. We couldn’t execute. Just one of those nights that didn’t go our way, for sure. We were scrambling and just trying to survive."
Brenden Morrow made it 3-0 with his fifth goal of the season at the 18:28 mark, and Dallas (6-6-2) held a four-goal edge when Lehtinen scored with just four seconds remaining in the period, as he one-timed a feed past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The Ducks, who replaced Giguere with Ilya Bryzgalov to start the third period, left the ice to a chorus of boos from the capacity crowd of 17,174 in attendance. They were outshot 12-4 in the second period.
"It's obviously not the type of game we wanted to see, especially after the last couple where we thought we were making strides and starting to do some good things out on the ice," Ducks captain Chris Pronger said after his team suffered its most lopsided loss on home ice since dropping a 5-0 decision to the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 24, 2001. "Today, as a group, we weren’t able to accomplish anything."
Meanwhile, Stars coach Dave Tippett was pleased with his team’s effort. He’s hoping to see more of the same on Wednesday night.
''We played a strong, defending, hard road game and ended up with five goals and a shutout,'' Tippett said. ''It was the kind of game we needed right now because I thing we'd been cheating our identity and not playing the solid game we would like to play. But tonight our mindset was to come and play a strong road game -- which, in essence, is how our team has to play all the time.''
Material from wire services was used in this report.