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Rookies lead Pens to victory

Tuesday, 12.04.2007 / 1:07 AM / Roundup

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Tyler Kennedy celebrates after scoring a goal in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night. 
At the beginning of the season, the Phoenix Coyotes couldn’t lose on the road.
  
Now they can’t win.
   
After Shane Doan erased a 1-0 deficit at the 1:26 mark of the third period, rookies Kris Letang and Tyler Kennedy scored less than four minutes apart as the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up a 3-1 win over the Coyotes at Mellon Arena on Monday night.
   
Video

The loss was the fourth straight on the road for Phoenix, which began the trip riding a four-game winning streak. The Coyotes could only muster nine shots on goal through the first two periods and only 18 on the night.
   
''We faced a team with a lot of talent,'' Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. ''We're at the end of a trip and took a lot of unnecessary penalties, but the penalty kill worked hard. We didn't deserve to win this hockey game.''
   
After missing five games with a sprained ankle, Maxime Talbot gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead, when he took a pass from Georges Laraque and beat Ilya Bryzgalov for his sixth goal of the season at the 19:24 mark of the opening period ( 700K ).
   
''You put it behind the net, he's going to control it for like 10 or 15 seconds and wait until we're open and give it back,'' Talbot said. ''It's good chemistry. When the fourth line can bring some goals, it's good relief for the first and second lines.''
   
Doan tied the game via the power play early in the third ( 700K ). Steven Reinprecht sent a backhand pass across the slot to the Coyotes’ captain, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot to make it 1-1.
   
It was the lone blemish on the night for Fleury, who finished with 17 saves and has stopped 67 of the last 69 shots he’s faced.
   
After Phoenix was whistled for having too many men on the ice, Letang gave the Penguins the lead with his first goal since Oct. 14, 2006 ( 700K ), as he one-timed Sidney Crosby’s feed past Bryzgalov with 9:14 remaining in regulation.      
   
“I think we were struggling a little bit on the power play all night long,” Letang said. “We tried to be too fancy. It was a great pass by Sid. I think he tried three times in a row, and the third time was the one.”
   
Crosby was pleased to see Letang capitalize after failing to do so on several previous chances. Letang was placed on the power play unit due to the absence of Sergei Gonchar, who missed his third straight game with a groin injury.
   
''He's smart and he got in the right spot, it took him a couple to get it but it was a big one for us,'' Crosby said. ''The power play was struggling a bit there, so to get a chance like that late in the game and come through was big.''
   
Kennedy put the Pens up by a pair less than four minutes later with his fourth goal in 13 games ( 700K ). Bryzgalov was left frustrated afterwards, as Pittsburgh was awarded eight power plays on the night.
   
''We took too many penalties tonight,'' Bryzgalov said. ''It's hard to get any scoring chances, hard to get going. We were in the box for half the game.''
   
Bruins 3, Islanders 1 | Video
   
Boston entered Monday night’s game without a victory at the Nassau Coliseum in almost six years.
   
For the Islanders, it must seem like it’s been that long since they scored more than two goals.
   
New York’s offensive woes continued, as Tim Thomas stopped 33 shots to make it 13 consecutive games that the Isles have failed to score more than two goals.
   
It wasn’t until the 18:49 mark of the third period that Chris Campoli scored the Islanders’ first goal of the night ( 700K ), ending a scoreless streak that lasted 140:12. New York suffered a 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday.
   
''We're not trying to split the atom here,'' said Islanders captain Bill Guerin, who has no goals in his last 14 games. ''We're playing hockey, and we all have had some success one way or another. We all know how to play.”
     
Boston took a 1-0 lead at the 13:03 mark ( 700K ) of the first period on Glen Murray’s eighth goal of the season. The Bruins’ forward beat Rick DiPietro with a pretty wrist shot from the right circle for a power play tally. It was Murray’s fifth goal in six games.
   
Former Islander Petteri Nokelainen increased Boston’s lead with his first goal as a Bruin with 1:56 left in the second period ( 700K ). The goal was absolutely gift-wrapped, as Andy Sutton coughed it up in the slot, allowing Nokelainen to skate in alone on DiPietro before putting a wrist shot past the Isles’ netminder to make it 2-0.
   
''I think he lost control of it a bit,'' Nokelainen said. ''Sometimes, you get lucky.''
   
Chuck Kobasew made it 3-0 with his team-leading 11th goal of the season with 3:25 left in regulation ( 700K ). The tally came just nine seconds after Trent Hunter was sent off for roughing.
   
"We played well, except for a couple of breakdowns near the end," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We got some timely goals, and our power play came up big, obviously."
   
As for the Islanders, DiPietro is the only one coming up big. The Isles tried to shake things up by recalling Jeff Tambellini from AHL Bridgeport, but nothing seems to be working for Ted Nolan’s club.
   
"What's wrong with the offense? A lot," Nolan said. "We've just got to work harder. It comes down to be a little more gritty, a little hungrier. We're OK. OK just doesn't cut it."
   
Hurricanes 4, Rangers 0 | Video
   
Hurricanes' goaltender Cam Ward made 28 saves as Carolina blanked the New York Rangers 4-0 at Madison Square Garden.
Looks like Carolina has put Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Buffalo behind it.
   
Cam Ward stopped all 28 shots he faced, and Cory Stillman scored twice as the Hurricanes picked up an impressive win at Madison Square Garden.
   
Carolina took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, as Scott Walker scored 5:22 into the game ( 700K ), while Cory Stillman hushed the MSG crowd with 15.1 seconds to play.
   
“If you can’t get excited for a game in Madison Square Garden, there’s something wrong with you … you’re in the wrong sport,” Ward said. “I was extremely excited to get the opportunity tonight. The guys played a very strong first period, and that really set us up for the game.”
   
The Rangers outshot Carolina 11-5 in the second period, but failed to put anything past Ward, who notched his second shutout of the season. He made a huge glove save on Chris Drury eight minutes into the frame ( 700K ) to keep New York off the board. He is 6-1-1 on the road this season with a 2.23 GAA.
   
“Every save is huge,” Ward said. “Even though they might have never scored, there’s always room for improvement. You never want to get complacent. I’m going to take the positives from tonight. This is probably the sharpest I’ve felt in a long time, and hopefully I can build from it.”
   
David Tanabe deflated the Rangers when he scored on a breakaway 11:30 into the third period ( 700K ). Tanabe had just come out of the penalty box and gained control of the puck from Jaromir Jagr before beating Henrik Lundqvist to make it 3-0. Stillman scored his second of the night with 6:04 to play to seal the Blueshirts’ fate ( 700K ).
   
"It was a real stinker," Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan said. "There was nothing good about this one."
   
Sharks 3, Avalanche 2 | Video
   
Evgeni Nabokov made 33 saves and Mike Grier scored what proved to be the game-winner with 11:30 to play ( 700K ) as San Jose picked up a victory at Colorado, which played without captain Joe Sakic for the second straight game due to a groin injury.
   
Grier got a little bit of help on his tally, as his shot from the blue line deflected off the leg of Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles before going over the shoulder of goaltender Jose Theodore.
   
''I think it hit their D-man's stick and maybe bounced off the ice,'' Grier said. ''I was just trying to throw it at the net.''
   
It was that kind of night for Colorado (14-11-1), which outshot the Sharks 16-7 in the third period, yet came away with no points and suffered only its third home loss in 13 games.
   
''The puck went through Liles' legs, but I still had a chance to make the save,'' said Theodore, who finished with 25 saves. ''I saw it all the way, but the puck had too many strange bounces.''
   
Nabokov came up huge time and time again for the Sharks in the third period. His biggest save of the night came against Brett Clark with 40 seconds remaining ( 700K ), as the Avalanche had pulled Theodore for an extra skater.
   
''You expect your goalie to make big saves,'' San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. ''We gave up a few too many shots, but a lot of their shots were perimeter shots.''
   
Milan Michalek gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead just 3:14 into the game ( 700K ), but Milan Hejduk tied things up just 12 seconds later ( 700K ), as he gained control of the puck on the ensuing faceoff and skated down the right side before firing a high shot past Nabokov to make it 1-1.
   
Steve Bernier put San Jose back in front at the 9:20 mark of the second period ( 700K ), when he took a pass from Joe Thornton, skated around Clark and beat Theodore with a shot that found its way under the Colorado netminder’s right arm to make it 2-1.
   
''I wanted to pass the puck to (Jeremy Roenick), who was coming across the net,'' Bernier said. ''The puck came right back to my stick and I just shot it. I never saw the goal.”
   
Nabokov took care of the rest, until Andrew Brunette scored with 3:05 remaining to make it a one-goal game ( 700K ). But the Avalanche failed to notch the equalizer and fell to San Jose for the second time in four nights.
   
''My defense played well in front of me,'' Nabokov said. ''They blocked a lot of shots in front of me and let me see the shots they got through.''

Oilers 4, Kings 3 SO | Video

Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon had much to celebrate about on Monday night as he made 31 saves throughout regulation and overtime and then stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout as Edmonton defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. 
Two months into the season, one thing seems to be certain: If Edmonton gets to a shootout, it’s in pretty good shape.
    
After making 31 saves through regulation and overtime, Mathieu Garon stopped all three shots he faced in the breakaway session and made Sam Gagner’s goal stand up as the Oilers won at Los Angeles and improved to 7-1 in shootouts this season.
    
The victory also marked the first time since Dec. 4-8 of 2006 that Edmonton (13-14-1) has reeled off three straight wins.
    
"We're playing our best hockey right now," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "Mathieu makes saves, as a coach, you think are in the back of the net. I can't think of a better goalie in a shootout. Sam and Mathieu have gotten us a lot of points this year."
    
It was Garon’s first start in L.A. since he left the Kings as a free agent. Garon signed a two-year deal with Edmonton on July 3. He nearly won the game in regulation, but the Kings – who outshot the Oilers 13-3 in the third period – erased a 3-2 deficit when Ladislav Nagy beat Garon with just 1:28 remaining to tie the game.
    
Sophomore sensation Anze Kopitar gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead 5:29 into the game, when his wrist shot from 35 feet out deflected off Oilers defenseman Joni Pitkanen and past Garon. It was Kopitar’s 12th goal of the season.
    
Pitkanen got some revenge when he tied the game at the 1:34 mark of the second period, when he fired an absolute rocket from inside the left point past Kings goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin to make it 1-1.
    
Dustin Penner gave the Oilers their first lead of the night with a power play goal 8:05 into the second. The power forward capitalized off an awkward dump-in by Pitkanen that caromed off the end off Aubin’s skate, and Penner was right there to poke it home as Edmonton took a 2-1 lead.
  
 “I thought we had some pretty good power plays out there,” Penner said. “We got a lot of shots. They just weren’t going in, and then we got a lucky break with mine.”
    
Dustin Brown evened things up just over two minutes later with his 11th goal of the season, but the Oilers quickly regained the lead when Patrick Thoresen redirected Robert Nilsson’s one-timer past Aubin to make it 3-2.
    
“As the season goes along, teams change their identity,” Brown said. “They had some good opportunities, but I really believe that we just outplayed them tonight, just like we outplayed them earlier in the year. The difference was they had a great goaltending performance.”
    
Things appeared bleak for the Kings until Nagy found a way to solve Garon late in the third period. After a video review, it was determined that Nagy was able to put home Derek Armstrong’s centering pass during a goalmouth collision.
    
“Towards the end, I guess maybe we didn’t have the legs, but that’s what happens when you play back-to-back,” said Penner, as Edmonton earned a 4-0 win at Anaheim 24 hours earlier.

“Mattie stood on his head back there. He’s been pretty good insurance this year.”
    
The Kings (10-14-2) will look to bounce back on Wednesday night when they visit the struggling Phoenix Coyotes.
    
"There were more good things that happened tonight than bad," Kings coach Mark Crawford said. "It was pleasing to come back in the game. We played a real solid outing. We got the point, but lost the skills competition."
    
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were 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