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Sutter, Devils go 2-for-2 in Alberta

Monday, 12.24.2007 / 12:17 AM / Roundup

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur tied George Hainesworth for second on the all-time list with 95 career shutouts as New Jersey blanked the Calgary Flames 1-0 in overtime. 
For Brent Sutter, the turkey is going to taste just a little bit better this Christmas.
   
The New Jersey Devils coach went 2-for-2 in his first trip back to Alberta, as his team followed up Friday’s 3-1 win at Edmonton with a dramatic 1-0 victory at Calgary on Sunday.

Video

Patrik Elias scored 25 seconds into overtime, while Martin Brodeur tied George Hainesworth for second on the all-time list with 95 career shutouts.

Sutter, an Alberta native who coached the Red Deer Rebels, shrugged off any thoughts of the win being extra special – even though his brother, Darryl, is the Flames’ general manager.
   
“Every win tastes great – that’s the way I look at it,” Sutter said. “Any time you win, it’s a great feeling. No one likes to lose.”
   

Brodeur certainly doesn’t, as No. 30 put forth another superb effort in a 30-save effort. His play in the second period – he made 14 saves in the middle frame – was the main reason why the Devils were still locked in a scoreless tie after 40 minutes.
   
New Jersey was whistled for four penalties in the second period, with the last one carrying over into the third. The Flames also hit the goal post three times in the second.
   
“It was a tough one,” Brodeur said of the Devils’ 20th win of the season. “I think we didn’t get anything offensively. We just had to kill so many penalties. I had to make a couple of good saves. The guys did a great job in front of me. It’s definitely a big road win for us. We worked really hard.”
   
After a scoreless 60 minutes, New Jersey quickly capitalized in overtime. Elias made a tremendous play to strip Craig Conroy of the puck at the Devils’ blue line, which sparked a 2-on-1 the other way with Brian Gionta. The latter’s brilliant feed back to Elias set up a one-timer, as Miikka Kiprusoff was unable to slide across in time to make the save ( 700K ).
   
"(Conroy) wanted to shoot it and faked it and left the puck behind," Elias said. "I moved the puck right away to Brian and Brian made a great pass right back to me."
Conroy was hard on himself afterwards, as he took the blame for a loss that still has Calgary at 7-0-4 in its last 11 games.
   
"That was totally my fault, I should have just shot it quick," said Conroy. "I tried to pull it and it bounced over my stick and away they went. I’ve got to be smarter than that."
   
Brodeur was pleased that he gets to go home for Christmas with yet another victory. In the end, it will only mean for holiday cheer for the Brodeur family.
   
“The last game before Christmas, you always want to win,” Brodeur said. “You have to deal with you family for a few days, and you want to be happy when you do that.”

Penguins 4, Bruins 2 | Video
   
Gary Roberts scored a pair of goals and added an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Bruins 4-2, handing Boston its fourth straight loss.
The best things come to those who wait.
   
Such was the case for Gary Roberts on Sunday.
   
The veteran scored twice – the first time he’s hit the back of the net since Oct. 17 – and added an assist as Pittsburgh handed Boston its fourth straight loss.
   
It was just the second and third goals of the season for the 41-year-old Roberts, who said afterwards his team needs more from guys such as himself and take some pressure off stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
   
''We've all got to chip in and we're going to need that for the remainder of the season to win hockey games,'' Roberts said.
    
P.J. Axelsson gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead when he potted his sixth goal of the season just 3:48 into the game ( 700K ). After Penguins goalie Ty Conklin (28 saves) was able to get in front of Zdeno Chara’s blast, Axelsson was on the doorstep to slam home the rebound. It marked the 22nd time in 35 games that Boston scored the first goal.
   
Roberts scored for the first time in more than two months when he tied the game at the 2:16 mark of the second period ( 700K ). Playing on an effective line that also featured Georges Laraque and Erik Christensen, Roberts took a feed from Laraque and beat Bruins netminder Alex Auld with a shot from the slot.
   
''Gary, Christensen and Laraque really set the tone for this game,'' Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. ''They played well.''
   
Malkin gave the Penguins their first lead of the night with a power play goal at the 13:04 mark of the second ( 700K ). After Chuck Kobasew was whistled for charging, Malkin took a pass from Jordan Staal and ripped a slap shot from the right circle that beat Auld to the near side to make it 2-1. It was Malkin’s 14th goal of the season.
   
Pittsburgh went up by a pair when Laraque scored a rare goal just 30 seconds later ( 700K ) . Feeding off Malkin’s tally, Laraque drove to the net and tapped in a feed from Roberts for his 50th career goal and his second of the season. Christensen picked up his second assist of the game on the tally, as the Penguins’ third line continued to contribute.
   
''I like playing with those two guys and hopefully it will keep going,'' Laraque said.
   
Peter Schaefer gave Boston a bit of life when he made it 3-2 with just 54 seconds remaining in the third period ( 700K ), but Roberts scored an empty-net goal with 10 seconds to go ( 700K ) to seal the victory for Pittsburgh.
   
The Bruins enter the Christmas break looking for answers, as they’ll try to avoid a five-game skid on Friday night at Carolina. Although they are very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, only three teams have scored fewer goals in the East.
   
''It's a game of momentum out there,'' Axelsson said. ''It switches all the time and they took advantage of the momentum they had in the second period. We have got to be better at changing the momentum.''
   
Predators 3, Blue Jackets 1 | Video
   
Nashville teased Columbus for a while, and then J.P. Dumont broke a 1-1 tie with 38 seconds left in regulation as the Predators beat the Blue Jackets for the 11th straight time.
   
Dumont’s game-winning goal came following a video review, as replays concluded that hit a post in the upper part of the net before coming quickly back out on to the ice. Play continued until a whistle finally blew moments before the end of the period. It was Dumont’s 10th goal of the season ( 700K ).
   
“When I shot it, I definitely saw the back of the net move a little bit,” Dumont said. “I knew right away.”
   
Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock knew right away as to why his team has dropped three of its last four games. Columbus – which hasn’t beaten Nashville since April 3, 2006 -- has scored just four goals during this stretch and is 5-for-56 on the power play in the last 13 games.
   
“We’re not generating near enough to give ourselves a chance,” Hitchcock said. “We just stopped playing and making proper decisions with the puck. We allowed them back in the game, and it’s because we stopped playing.”
   
David Legwand gave the Predators a 1-0 lead with a power play goal 14:07 into the second period ( 700K ). With Adam Foote serving a holding penalty, Legwand one-timed a rebound past Columbus goalie Fredrik Norrena for his eighth goal of the season.
   
The Blue Jackets tied things up when Dan Fritsche beat Chris Mason at the 11:46 mark of the third period ( 700K ). After Jiri Novotny hustled to deny an icing call, Fritsche stuffed a wraparound attempt past Mason to make it 1-1. It was his fifth goal of the season.
   
''They are all close games,'' said Mason, who finished with 30 saves. ''We always have battles and wars with these guys. It's just one of those things. It's just good fortunate that could turn at any time.''
   
Norrena finished with 29 saves for the Blue Jackets, who return to the ice on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Thrashers at Nationwide Arena. Hitchcock hinted he may use the Christmas break to make some roster evaluations.
   
“If you allow two goals, you’ve got to win hockey games,” Hitchcock said. “We’re not even coming close to generating near enough. Say what you want, we’re not doing it. We’ve got to look at our lineup, the way we’re playing our players, the players that are out … whatever. We’ve got to take a hard look at ourselves right now and see what we can do to change.”
   
Thrashers 3, Blues 2, OT | Video  

Marian Hossa scored 19 seconds into overtime as the Atlanta Thrashers won their fourth straight with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Marian Hossa scored 19 seconds into overtime on a gift-wrapped breakaway, as Atlanta won its fourth straight and its first ever in St. Louis.
   
Hossa was alone to skate in on Blues goalie Manny Legace after defenseman Jay McKee was unable to control a puck that was sent into the St. Louis zone by teammate Eric Perrin. McKee couldn’t swat it out of the air, which provided Hossa with the golden opportunity ( 700K ).
   
''That's not a puck you want to control with a guy like Hossa bearing down on you,'' McKee said. ''Just when the puck hit the ice, it was a tough bounce and it's unfortunate in a game that we battled for ends that way.''
   
''I saw their defenseman had trouble handling it,'' said Hossa, who now has 13 goals on the season. ''It was just a lucky takeaway from him, and I just had to shoot it.''
   
It was the right decision for Hossa and these impressive Thrashers, whose winning streak has come over a span of only six days and follows a four-game losing streak. Atlanta was coming off a 3-2 shootout win at home over the Montreal Canadiens just 24 hours earlier.
   
''It would have been easy for us to roll over,'' Atlanta coach Don Waddell said. ''We could have been very satisfied with the weekend, but you could see the energy.''
   
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman opened the scoring with his first goal of the season at the 7:08 mark of the second period ( 700K ). After Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen couldn’t control a drive from Keith Tkachuk, Jackman picked up the rebound and fired it home as St. Louis took a 1-0 lead.
   
Ilya Kovalchuk continued his phenomenal campaign when his 29th goal tied the game on a power play tally at the 16:22 mark of the second ( 700K ). After Jackman was sent off on a holding-the-stick penalty, Kovalchuk fired a rocket from the left point past Legace to make it 1-1.

''I don't think I've ever seen a shot like that,'' Thrashers forward Mark Recchi said. ''Maybe Al Iafrate at one point. I think Manny got a piece of it even and it didn't matter, he shot so hard.''
   
The Blues regained their lead when Tkachuk scored on the power play 5:48 into the third period ( 700K ). With Niclas Havelid in the box, Tkachuk was able to redirect a shot from the point by Erik Johnson past Lehtonen to make it 2-1. It was his ninth goal of the season.
   
But Atlanta tied things up again when Recchi notched his fourth tally in seven games as a Thrasher on a power play goal at 10:42 ( 700K ). The veteran forward parked himself in front of the net and was able to poke a rebound past Legace to make it 2-2. Atlanta outshot the Blues 9-3 in the third period.
   
St. Louis coach Andy Murray was less than pleased with the effort his team gave following Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins.
   
''I'm not making excuses. I just didn't think we had energy,'' Murray said. ''But I knew this one would be tough.''
   
Blackhawks 3, Oilers 2 | Video
   
Brent Seabrook scored twice, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 25 saves as Chicago entered the holiday break winners of three straight.
   
It was Seabrook’s first two-goal game in the NHL, as the Blackhawks’ defenseman broke a 2-2 tie 1:20 into the third period ( 700K ). Seabrook also scored in Saturday’s come-from-behind win at Ottawa.
   
''We had a great game in Ottawa, a big win, and a great team effort tonight. We all came out, played hard for 60 minutes and did the little things.''
   
Patrick Sharp continued his torrid scoring pace, as the Chicago forward potted his 18th goal of the season late in the second period to erase what was a 2-1 deficit ( 700K ). After the game, the Blackhawks gave a stick salute to the season-high crowd of 20,151 at the United Center.
   
''I think we all expected a letdown today,'' Sharp admitted. ''To our credit we all showed up and played for three periods.''
   
The Oilers dropped to 0-2-1 in their last three games, despite another solid effort from goaltender Mathieu Garon, who made 31 saves. Tom Gilbert ( 700K )and Dustin Penner ( 700K ) found the back of the net in the first period but Edmonton, but the Oilers couldn’t solve Khabibulin the rest of the way.
   
''We played just as hard as they did,'' Penner said. ''The only difference is they won.''
   
Chicago will return from the break on Wednesday night, when they’ll host the Nashville Predators. Certainly, the Blackhawks will have smiles on their faces as they sit down for Christmas dinner this year.
   
''I thought we've played very well during this span,'' Blackhawks coach Denis Savard added.

''Everybody's really stepped up. It's all about desire, character, grit.''
   
Senators 3, Rangers 1 | Video
   
The struggling New York Rangers have now dropped five of their last seven games after they fell 3-1 to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.
All New York wants for Christmas is offense.
   
Not even the return of Sean Avery could ignite the Rangers’ offense, as Scott Gomez provided the lone tally 3:42 into the game ( 700K ) against an otherwise-solid Martin Gerber, who sparked Ottawa to its first win since Dec. 18 with a 34-save effort. The Sens entered Madison Square Garden coming off back-to-back losses.
   
''It definitely was good for us to bounce back,'' Gerber said.
   
The victory gives Ottawa 50 points on the season, which is impressive considering this is a team that was once mired in a seven-game skid.
   
''You look around the league and you see teams in first in their division and then in a few days they're out of the playoffs,'' Gerber said. ''It goes so quick. You have to try to come back and jump on the wagon.''
   
Ottawa was able to jump back on the wagon after Gomez gave the Blueshirts an early lead. Jason Spezza tied the game at 16:42 ( 700K ) before Chris Kelly shoveled home a loose puck past Henrik Lundqvist 7:44 into the second period ( 700K ).
   
“I think we played really well tonight,” Lundqvist said. “The bounces right now are just not going our way. It’s tough. We just have to battle through this. A lot of teams go through this. It’s a long season. It’s not like we’re playing bad. We’re really trying here.”   
   
But it wasn’t enough on Sunday, as Mike Fisher gave the Sens a two-goal lead at the 9:08 mark of the third period ( 700K ). It was a bad break for Lundqvist, as Fisher’s shot from the point went off New York defenseman Marc Staal before going into the net to make it 3-1.
    
“I just took a quick shot,” Fisher said. “Their ‘D’ tipped it top corner for me.”
   
The lone bright spot for the Rangers was the return of Avery, who, as expected, provided plenty of energy after missing the past 11 games due to wrist surgery.
   
“He looked like a fire hydrant every time he came off the ice,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said of Avery. “The furnace was up pretty high. It’s just a matter of him getting his feet under him again.”
   
That being said, Renney expects more out of a club that has lost five of its last seven games. New York returns to the ice on Wednesday night, when the Carolina Hurricanes visit MSG.
   
“You’ve got bring an ‘A’ game every time,” Renney said. “You’ve got to persevere. Until we’re ready to really embrace that, these nights are going to happen more than we want them to.”

Stars 4, Canadiens 1 | Video
   
Mike Ribeiro admitted there were pre-game jitters as he faced his former club on Sunday night.
   
He sure didn’t play like it.
   
Ribeiro, who was dealt by Montreal to Dallas prior to the start of last season, had a goal ( 700K ) and two assists to lead the Stars to their sixth win in seven games.
   
''I was very anxious to play this game,'' Ribeiro said. ''We had a good start and it went from there. (His teammates) expected a lot out of me and it was a big challenge.''
   
It also marked the return of Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau to Dallas. Carbonneau played with the organization for five years and helped it win a Stanley Cup in 1999. Carbonneau – who is also the father-in-law of Stars captain Brenden Morrow -- was disappointed with the effort the Habs gave right from the opening faceoff.
   
''I'm really disappointed for everything it meant to a lot of people,'' Carbonneau said. ''We talked about it before the game. I can accept losing when you show up and give the effort, but tonight there was only a little bit of that.''
   
Carbonneau was staying behind to spend the Christmas holiday with Morrow and his daughter. Montreal resumes a six-game road trip on Thursday night at Tampa Bay.
   
''It was strange,'' Carbonneau said of coaching against Morrow. ''But once the game starts, the emotion goes away. I know I'll hear about it (from Morrow) for the next few days.''
   
''I'm sorry to ruin Carbo's Christmas, but I didn't want to let him ruin ours,” Morrow said.
   
The line of Ribeiro, Morrow and Antti Miettinen had another solid game for Dallas. They have either scored or assisted on 20 of the Stars’ 30 goals that have been tallied in the nine games they’ve skated as a trio.
   
''You have to give the guys a lot of credit coming off a long road trip, coming home and getting the win, led by Ribeiro,'' Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. ''There were a lot of sub-plots in this game.''
   
Montreal entered with a 3-1-2 record in its last six games, but fell in an early 2-0 hole and was unable to recover.
   
''It seems we have too many of these games where we don't win the battles on the boards,'' Canadiens forward Chris Higgins said. ''They were just the hungrier team. Our passes were terrible tonight. We don't have focus. Instead of firing away like the puck is a hand grenade, make the right play and take the hit.

''With the history between these two teams, there was a lot going on. You'd think we'd come with a very strong game but that wasn't the case.''

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.
Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness