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Wings dim Stars for 30th victory

Thursday, 01.03.2008 / 1:48 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen congratulate Dallas Drake on scoring his first goal of the season.
As they reached the halfway mark, the Detroit Red Wings left little doubt about who’s the best in the West.

Detroit won for the 30th time in 41 games as Dan Cleary had a goal and an assist and Chris Osgood made 23 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.

''The guys have been real professional the first half,'' said Mike Babcock, who will coach the Western Conference in the All-Star Game in Atlanta on Jan. 27, by virtue of his team having the conference's best record. ''You win 30 in 41 games, you've got to be doing something right.''

The Wings have done almost everything right since opening night, and that trend continued against the Stars, who have the second-best record in the conference.

''I think we had some real good chances,'' Stars' coach Dave Tippett said. ''They had some too. Theirs went in, ours didn't.”

Lou Eriksson had Dallas’ only goal. Johan Franzen, Dallas Drake and Pavel Datsyuk also scored for the Wings, and Henrik Zetterberg had two assists in his return after missing four games with a back injury.

''We've been playing real good as a team, even though we've had some injuries to our top guys,'' said defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who also had two assists and reached the 700-point mark for his career.

Cleary opened the scoring 7:59 into the game, picking up a loose puck after his shot was blocked and beating Marty Turco ( 700K ). Franzen made it 2-0 at 7:28 of the second on a breakaway ( 700K ), and Drake ( 700K ) and Datsyuk ( 700K ) added third-period goals before Eriksson spoiled Osgood’s shutout with 6:11 remaining ( 700K ).

It was another tough night for Turco, whose career mark against the Wings fell to 1-9-5 — a fact he’s well aware of.

''You don't have to remind me,'' he said when asked about it. ''It's not just here, it's anywhere.''

Devils 3, Panthers 2 | Video
New Jersey finally got off to a fast start, scoring twice in the opening period after going eight games without a goal in the first 20 minutes, and held off the Panthers — one of the NHL’s hottest road teams.

Jamie Langenbrunner and call-up Noah Clarke gave the Devils a rare 2-0 lead after one period.

''It felt a little odd, I guess,'' Langenbrunner said. ''It had been a while since we scored in the first period. We finally did the things we needed to score goals. We were going to the net hard, especially in that first period. We were battling well and, if we keep doing that, it will continue to happen.''

Brian Gionta added a goal during a two-man power play in the third period and Martin Brodeur stopped 31 shots. Brodeur is now 6-0-0 in his last six games against the Panthers in Florida. He enjoyed the rare early offensive support.

''Having a lead is what you play hockey for,'' Brodeur said after the Devils’ ninth win in 10 home games. ''You always want to be ahead, but sometimes you can't control these things. It was definitely nice to come out and get two goals early in the game.''

Florida had won seven of its last eight road games.

Dainius Zubrus set up the first score by circling behind the Panthers’ net before feeding a backhand pass to Langenbrunner for the tap-in past Tomas Vokoun at 9:08 ( 700K ).

Clarke followed with his first goal as a Devil at 13:35, beating Vokoun through a screen with a wrist shot ( 700K ).

“We haven’t been scoring a whole lot in the first period,” Langenbrunner said. “Zubie made a great pass; I’m not going to miss many of those.”

David Booth made it 2-1 at 7:30 of the second period ( 700K ), but Florida was unable to get the equalizer despite a 14-5 margin in shots on goal.

Gionta’s tap-in of Zach Parise’s pass at 3:42 of the third made it 3-1 ( 700K ), but defenseman Jay Bouwmeester cut the margin back to one with a wrist shot past Brodeur at 5:06 ( 700K ). Brodeur preserved the win with a sprawling save on Stephen Weiss in the final seconds ( 700K ).

Although his team dominated most of the last two periods, Florida coach Jacques Martin wasn’t happy with the way everyone on his team competed.

''Some of the guys worked hard and some of the guys didn't work hard,'' Martin said. ''Against the Devils, you have to be patient and make the right decisions. I thought we had an outstanding performance from Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Nathan Horton. They had most of our chances.''

Thrashers 5, Hurricanes 4 | Video
Carolina got off to a fast start while Atlanta struggled out of the gate. As the season nears the halfway mark, those roles have been reversed: The Thrashers moved within three points of the Southeast Division leaders when Marian Hossa scored a power-play goal with 31.5 seconds in overtime ( 700K ).

The Hurricanes overcame deficits of 3-1 and 4-3 in the third period, sending the game into overtime on Eric Cole’s power-play goal with 4:31 remaining.

Atlanta Thrashers' Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates with teammates Marian Hossa and Mark Recchi following Hossa's game winning goal in overtime against the Carolina Hurricanes.

But Ilya Kovalchuk made two big plays in overtime, drawing a hooking penalty from Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley, then skating in on the right side before sending a perfect pass to Hossa, who was cutting in on the left and easily beat Cam Ward from just outside the crease for the win.

It was another frustrating night for the Hurricanes, who continued their December slide into the new year. Carolina started the season 11-4-3, but lost nine of 15 games last month amid injuries and has seen its once-comfortable division lead shrink.

The Hurricanes trailed 3-1 entering the third period but rallied to force OT while outshooting the Thrashers 19-3 in the final 20 minutes and 36-14 for the game. But it wasn’t enough.

''I thought we competed for the whole 65 minutes,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. ''There's a process in order to win a hockey game and I thought the process was correct tonight, but the results were disappointing — definitely not satisfying.''

Kovalchuk finished with a goal and three assists for the Thrashers, who started this season with six straight losses. Vyacheslav Kozlov ( 700K ), Mark Recchi ( 700K ) and Bobby Holik also scored for Atlanta, which improved to 11-2 in one-goal games.

''We want to keep chasing them and keep winning those games,'' Kovalchuk said. ''They're huge games. They didn't play their best game and we're playing pretty good. We've got more chances to win.''

Carolina erased the 3-1 deficit with a quick flurry, getting a score from Eric Staal off a rebound ( 700K ) and a putaway from Andrew Ladd off a feed from Scott Walker less than 90 seconds later ( 700K ). After Holik scored off a pass from Kovalchuk ( 700K ), Cole forced overtime by slipping a rebound past Johan Hedberg ( 700K ).

''We knew they were going to come at us with a lot of offense,'' Atlanta coach Don Waddell said. ''I thought we did a great job, especially in the first two periods. I know we didn't get a lot of shots, but we had great scoring chances.''

Ducks 2, Blue Jackets 1 | Video
Like most defenseman, Columbus’ Ron Hainsey tries to block shots. He would have been better leaving Chris Pronger’s shot alone. Hainsey reached out and got his glove on Pronger’s harmless-looking shot and deflected it into his own net, giving Anaheim a home victory.

The Ducks' captain took what appeared to be a routine slap shot toward the net from the left point, and Hainsey tried to glove the fluttering puck. But as he jerked his hand away at the last instant, it deflected off him and past goalie Pascal Leclaire's glove with 14.7 seconds left in the middle period, breaking a 1-1 tie.

The Ducks began a stretch in which they play six of seven games at home, and goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said the defending Cup champs have to play better at the Honda Center before a stretch that will see them play 12 of 13 on the road.

“We need to win at home,” he said. “We need to pick it up. It’s fun to play here. We have to give it a little extra effort at home.”

Ryan Getzlaf gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead 3:03 into the game, beating Leclaire with a backhander ( 700K ). Rookie Andrew Murray tied it with his first NHL goal, grabbing his own rebound and beating Giguere from the lower right circle ( 700K ).

For Murray, the 242nd overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft and playing in only his third NHL game, getting his first goal was special, despite the loss.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” he said, “but getting the first one is still pretty exciting. I’m still getting my feet wet. Playing with Sergei Fedorov doesn’t hurt.”

The Ducks did some of their best work on the penalty kill, holding Columbus scoreless on five power plays.

“We didn’t allow them to get set up on the power play,” defenseman Francois Beauchemin said, “and Giguere was solid all night. This was the first game of the second half, and we wanted to start on a good note.”

Oilers 3, Blues 2, OT | Video
Edmonton is the best in the NHL at shootouts, but this time, the Oilers didn’t need one as Dustin Penner scored a power-play goal with 17.8 seconds remaining in overtime to end a six-game losing streak ( 700K ).

Penner, who scored earlier on a breakaway (), dug the rebound of Jarret Stoll’s shot out of a pile in front and banged it in for the game-winner. Tom Gilbert also scored for the Oilers, while David Perron and David Backes had goals for St. Louis, which has lost four in a row at home.

Edmonton Oilers' Dustin Penner is congratulated by teammate Jarret Stoll after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime.

“I missed a chance in the last four minutes, so I was lucky to get a second chance,” Penner said after the Oilers’ first win in overtime to go along with 10 in their 12 shootouts. “I stood in front and hoped for a rebound, which happened to be there.”

Penner gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead 5:18 into the final period as he split Blues defensemen Matt Walker and Eric Brewer before sliding the puck past Hannu Toivonen's outstretched right pad ( 700K ). Backes tied the score at 2-2 when he took a backhand feed from Jamal Mayers and beat Mathieu Garon with a shot over the goalie's stick from the low slot at 11:04 ( 700K ).

Perron opened the scoring 4:12 into the game when he knocked in a loose puck after Garon misplayed Christian Backman’s wrist shot ( 700K ). Gilbert tied it 44 seconds into the middle period when he beat Toivonen with a slap shot from the top of the right circle ( 700K ).

The Oilers had been 0-4-2 in their previous six games, so the win was a relief for coach Craig MacTavish, especially after his team had to kill off three third-period penalties.

''The whole stretch that we've had here, the whole team has been playing well,'' he said. ''As a coach, you worry that the guys are going to get frustrated because of the amount of effort they're putting in every night. It was nice to see that we battled through some pretty good adversity in the third period in terms of the amount of penalties we had.''

The Blues were scoreless on seven power plays and missed several excellent scoring chances.

''I think we out-chanced them about four to one,'' Blues coach Andy Murray said. ''But I give credit to the Oilers. I think we had multiple chances to score, but some of the guys that we count on to do that didn't get it done for us. Those are the same guys that play on our power play.''

Coyotes 5, Avalanche 2 | Video
Phoenix started 2008 the same way it ended 2007 — by beating the Avalanche. Two days after a 4-3 shootout win at home, the Coyotes got three goals from Steven Reinprecht to beat the Avs at the Pepsi Center. Shane Doan broke a 2-2 tie with 3:11 remaining and added three assists to hand the Avs their fourth straight loss.

Coach Wayne Gretzky recently moved Reinprecht off Doan’s line — except on power plays — to generate more offense. So far, so good.

''It's fine,'' Reinprecht said of the switch. ''You will play with a lot of people. You have to mesh with the people you play with. The guys I'm playing with are easy to play with. The adjustment has been easy.''

Gretzky was simply hoping Reinprecht would understand when he moved him off Doan's line.

''A lot of guys would not have liked that,'' Gretzky said. ''He handled it more like a professional than anybody. He worked well with his new people. Doan faces the top defensemen and top defensive forwards every night. Maybe this has given Steven a little more room.''

Marek Svatos scored both goals for Colorado. But he was in the box for tripping when Reinprecht fed Doan for the game-winner past Peter Budaj. The Coyotes added shorthanded, empty-net goals by Radim Vrbata and Reinprecht in the final minute after the Avalanche pulled Budaj and Fredrik Sjostrom was called for high-sticking.

Reinprecht, a member of the Avs’ 2001 Cup-winning team, scored two goals 62 seconds apart in the first period to stake Phoenix to an early lead ( 700K, 700K ). His empty netter with 36.9 second remaining in the third gave him his first hat trick since April 1, 2006, at San Jose. He now has 11 goals this season, including four in two games against Colorado.

Svatos got one goal back at 17:40 of the first period ( 700K ) and tied the game at 2-2 by beating Ilya Bryzgalov at 8:02 of the second ( 700K ).

The Avalanche are definitely out of their flow. They’ve lost three straight at Pepsi Center, where the team had been virtually unbeatable earlier in the season.

''We're just looking for consistency across the board,'' Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. ''From young guys, old guys, that is what we want to bring.''

Colorado is without forwards Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic, but the Avs don’t want to use injuries as an excuse.

''We just need to find a way to win and put in extra work and be a little bit more dangerous around the net,'' Ian Laperriere said.

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure