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Recchi's shootout goal lifts Thrashers past Penguins

Saturday, 01.12.2008 / 9:12 PM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Mark Recchi, playing against his former Pittsburgh teammates for the first time since his release, scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Thrashers a 3-2 win over the Penguins on Saturday night.
Watch highlights from the game: 700K 
Mark Recchi showed his former club he still has something left.

The Pittsburgh Penguins released the 39-year-old last month after he had just eight points in 19 games. The Atlanta Thrashers claimed him off waivers on Dec. 8, and on Saturday night, he was happy to show his old team that they gave up on him too soon.

Recchi, playing against his former Pittsburgh teammates for the first time since his release, scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Thrashers a 3-2 win over the Penguins on Saturday night.

“They doubted my ability to play,'' Recchi said. ''I wanted to go out and do well. For 19 years I've been doing that.''

Recchi also had an assist and now has seven goals and 16 points in 17 games with his new team while playing mostly with All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk on Atlanta's first line.

''I'm thankful that Don Waddell and the Thrashers gave me the opportunity to show I can still play,'' Recchi said.

He does still have warm feelings for his former teammates.

''There were a lot of smiles,'' he said. ''I still have some friends there.''

It’s not that the Penguins have missed Recchi — they came to Atlanta with an eight-game winning streak and now have points in their last nine games.

But Recchi enjoyed his role in snapping Pittsburgh's winning streak.

''It's nice. I'm not going to lie to you,'' he said. ''We needed the point more than they do right now. Obviously, it feels good.''

Recchi went fourth for Atlanta in the shootout after Slava Kozlov, Marian Hossa and Kovalchuk were stopped by Ty Conklin, who took his first loss in 10 decisions with Pittsburgh. Recchi hesitated slightly before putting a shot past Conklin into the right side of the net.

''That's kind of my bread and butter,'' Recchi said. ''I saw the other shots and he made good saves. I was pretty relaxed. I wanted to make sure I made the right move. I wanted to make him stop before I made the move.''

Conklin had won his first nine decisions since being recalled from the minors last month and was in goal for all eight wins during the Penguins’ streak.

Sidney Crosby scored two goals for Pittsburgh, but he and three teammates were denied in the shootout by Kari Lehtonen, who stopped Evgeni Malkin after Recchi’s successful attempt.

When asked if the loss felt any different because Recchi scored the game-winner, Penguins coach Michel Therrien said, ''Not at all,'' before adding ''it was a nice goal.''

Crosby ( 700K ) and Kovalchuk ( 700K ) exchanged first-period goals, and Crosby put the Penguins ahead early in the second period when he finished off a give-and-go with defenseman Kris Letang ( 700K ). Bobby Holik jammed a loose puck past Conklin 1:40 into the third period to tie the game again ( 700K ).

Devils 3, Sabres 2, SO | Video
Not even a 2-0 lead is enough for the Sabres when they play New Jersey. The Devils scored a sixth-attacker goal to force overtime, then beat Buffalo in a shootout for the third time in 15 days.

The Sabres fell to 0-4-5 in their last nine games, their longest winless streak since 2002-03. They’ve lost three in a row via shootout. The Devils are going the other way — they are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games and 19-5-1 in their last 25.

''For some reason we stayed in there and they didn't score that big goal they needed to take a big advantage on us,'' said Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who allowed two goals on the first five shots he faced. ''They let us hang around and we made them pay.''

Daniel Paille scored twice in the first 10:38 to put Buffalo ahead. He got a fluke goal 58 seconds into the game when Brian Campbell’s pass hit his skate and went into the net ( 700K ), then beat Brodeur from a bad angle nearly 10 minutes later ( 700K ).

Buffalo had plenty of chances to expand its lead in the second period, but the Devils got the only goal when defenseman Paul Martin’s floater from the right point hit Ryan Miller’s glove and went in at 13:47 ( 700K ). With Brodeur on the bench for an extra attacker, David Clarkson tied it when his pass from behind the net hit Miller and went in ( 700K ).

“We had more chances that you usually see in four games against that team,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We had seven or eight point-blank shots in the second period.”

Zach Parise and Patrik Elias scored in the shootout for the Devils, while Brodeur stopped Ales Kotalik and Thomas Vanek.

It's the fourth time the Devils have won this season when trailing by two goals.

''We found a way to win,'' forward Sergei Brylin said. ''Call it whatever you want, but two points is two points.''

Buffalo continues to struggle to score. The Sabres have just 11 goals in their past nine games and have lost the killer instinct they had while winning the regular-season title in 2006-07.

''We're playing good hockey,'' Miller said. ''We're not just going through the motions. We haven't been getting the victories.''

Rangers 4, Canadiens 1 | Video
Playing Montreal has rarely been a way for the Rangers to break a slump — they have a poorer record against the Canadiens than any other Original Six team. But the Blueshirts ended a five-game losing streak by beating Montreal, which made a rare Saturday night visit to Madison Square Garden.

Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes had a goal and an assist apiece, and Henrik Lundqvist bounced back after a couple of poor efforts by stopping 18 of 19 shots.

New York's Chris Drury celebrates with teammate Scott Gomez after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens.

''It felt good to finally get a win and finally get rewarded,'' Lundqvist said. ''Parts of our game in the losses we had we played really well but then something happens that makes us lose a little focus, maybe a little confidence. Tonight we worked really hard.”

The Rangers, who were 0-4-1 since beating the Canadiens at the Garden in overtime on Dec. 30, got goals from Chris Drury ( 700K ) and Martin Straka ( 700K ) as they dominated the first period. Prucha deflected a pass from Dawes past Cristobal Huet at 5:51 of the second period to make it 3-0 ( 700K ), and Dawes scored during a delayed penalty call 21.1 seconds before intermission ( 700K ).

Lundqvist had been 2-5-2 with a 3.81 goals-against average in his previous nine games after going 16-11-2 with a 1.98 GAA and six shutouts in his first 29. He allowed six goals to Philadelphia on Thursday night.

''Last couple games, I've been off to a good start, playing on my toes, but then I let in a couple of goals and start playing on my heels,'' he said. ''That's what happens sometimes to me and also to the team when you're on a losing streak.”

The Canadiens, who came in with the NHL’s best power play, squandered a pair of long five-on-three opportunities and got their only goal in eight chances when Sergei Kostitsyn scored 7:10 into the third period ( 700K).

''They played a really good game, but we just didn't respond,'' Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. ''Our focus wasn't there, our passing was horrendous, we didn't skate with the puck, we didn't put the puck in the right place, and when the puck was there we just didn't battle for it.''

The game marked only the second time since 1964 that the Rangers hosted the Canadiens on a Saturday, traditionally a home day for Montreal. The previous time was Jan. 21, 1995.

Kings 4, Stars 3, SO | Video
Happily for the Kings, there are no penalties in shootouts.

Los Angeles survived a pair of five-on-three goals by Dallas in regulation and beat the NHL’s most successful shootout team on goals by Anze Kopitar and Patrick O’Sullivan.

The Stars took a 2-0 lead in the first 3:36 of the opening period. Jeff Halpern scored while Dallas was skating with a two-man advantage ( 700K ) and Loui Eriksson beat Jason LaBarbera 16 seconds later ( 700K ), just after the second penalty expired.

“We were pretty frustrated with the 5-on-3 for 2 minutes. It's tough to start the game like that," O'Sullivan said. "We took a few too many penalties. But even though we were down, we felt confident because we knew how we had to play against this team. We'd beaten then twice before in our building, so we just tried to stick with our game plan."

Alexander Frolov ( 700K ) and Derek Armstrong ( 700K ) scored 67 seconds apart midway through the first period to tie the game at 2-2, and Kopitar’s power-play tip-in of Rob Blake’s shot at 14:15 of the second period put the Kings ahead ( 700K ). But another five-on-three goal, this one by Matt Niskanen, tied the game at 7:23 of the third period ( 700K ).

Kopitar scored on the Kings’ first shootout attempt, and after Antti Miettinen beat LaBarbera in the third round to keep Dallas alive, O’Sullivan beat Marty Turco for the game-winner ( 700K ) — the Kings’ third win over the Stars at Staples Center this season "The biggest thing is staying positive," LaBarbera said. "When you get down two goals, before I would be negative. And you can't play that way. The rest of the game I tried to stay upbeat, not worry about what the score was, and just focus on the rest of the game and helping the team win."

The Stars lost for only the seventh time in 32 shootouts since the NHL began using them in 2005. Dallas played without All-Star defenseman Sergei Zubov, who sat out with a bruised foot as his team lost for the sixth time in eight games.

"It's all about the things that are easily controllable," Turco said. "We need to step it up defensively and work hard and avoid the simple mistakes that we're making."

Bruins 4, Flyers 3, OT | Video
Antero Niittymaki's hot goaltending helped the Flyers to three straight wins. His mistake in overtime against Boston cost them a loss.

Niittymaki came out of the crease to clear an errant pass, but shot it off the right boards — right into the path of defenseman Aaron Ward, whose slap shot hit the back of the net before the goaltender could get back ( 700K ).

Boston's Aaron Ward gets a hug from Marc Sarvard after scoring in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“He didn't have a chance to place the puck," Ward said of his goal 43 seconds into OT. "He just had a chance to knock it away. He was squeezed with the choice of coming out of the net. That's why I started going up because he had to get rid of it. It was a 50-50 chance of going to my side."

Niittymaki could've gloved the puck and risked a possible delay of game penalty or tried to shoot it into the corner.

"It was the only thing I felt comfortable doing. It didn't work," said Niittymaki, who made 28 saves, the least effective performance in his fourth straight start. He had allowed five goals in four games since Dec. 30, including a team-record 54 saves in a 3-2 win at Toronto last Saturday.

Niittymaki's recent play fueled talk of a goalie controversy. Flyers coach John Stevens already said Martin Biron will start at Washington on Sunday.

The sudden ending spoiled a comeback by the Flyers, who made up a 3-1 deficit midway through the third period. Scott Hartnell scored a power-play goal at 10:41 ( 700K ) and Daniel Briere backhanded Simon Gagne’s rebound past Alex Auld at 12:45 ( 700K ).

"It's a good feeling to come back and get a point," Briere said. "If we play the way we did in the third period, we're a dangerous team."

The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on Jeff Carter’s first-period power-play goal ( 700K ), but the Bruins dominated the second and grabbed a 2-1 lead on power-play goals by Marc Savard ( 700K ) and Marco Sturm ( 700K ). It became 3-1 at 4:51 of the third when Peter Schaefer deflected Zdeno Chara’s shot past Niittymaki ( 700K ).

"It's huge to win this game," Savard said. "Guys are working hard and Philly is one of the teams that's ahead of us, one of the teams we have to catch. We made the big plays when we had to and we got the two points."

Avalanche 5, Hurricanes 4 | Video
Carolina kept taking two-goal leads, but the Avalanche refused to fold. The Avs trailed 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2, but used three third-period goals to win in their first visit to the RBC Center in exactly five years.

Marek Svatos continued his hot streak by tying the game with 6:10 to go ( 700K ) and got the game-winner with 4:03 left ( 700K ) as Colorado improved to 12-0-3 in its last 15 meetings with the Hurricanes. Svatos reached around Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin to poke in a rebound and tie the game, then banged in a rebound for the game-winner after Cam Ward made a nice save but lost control of the puck.

“I got a couple of chances there in the third period and was able to put them in the net," said Svatos, who has nine goals in his last 10 games and 19 overall. "It was an open game, a crazy game. They made the most of their chances, but we came out skating hard in the third."

Erik Cole ( 700K ), Keith Aucoin ( 700K ), Chad LaRose ( 700K ) and Cory Stillman ( 700K ) scored for the short-handed Hurricanes in their second loss in a row at home. They have only two victories in their past eight games, thanks mostly to a lengthy injury list that includes Matt Cullen, Justin Williams and Bret Hedican.

"It's pretty obvious what's going on," Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour said. "We're depleted, for sure, and we don't have a margin for error. It's going to be a dogfight all year and we know that."

Still, the Hurricanes led 4-2 after two periods. But Cody McLeod made it a one-goal game by stuffing the puck past Ward at 10:23 ( 700K ).

Svatos did the rest.

“He has been scoring a lot of goals," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said, "and he doesn't need much of an opportunity."

It was another tough night for the Hurricanes, who’ve struggled after an excellent start.

"Any loss is deflating," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "We let it get away. We had it 4-2 with nine minutes to go and we let it get away. That's going to be a tough one to swallow."

Lightning 5, Panthers 3 | Video
Even when they win, the Lightning know how to make their coach nervous. Nick Tarnasky’s first two-goal game in the NHL gave the Bolts a 4-1 lead with less than six minutes to play, but Florida scored twice to make it close before Brad Richards’ empty-netter with 16 seconds left sealed the win.

Tampa Bay's Johan Holmqvist dives to stop a shot on goal by Florida's Nathan Horton.

"We had the game in total control but we continue to make things exciting," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella. "It's unbelievable how we just continue to keep teams in games."

Tarnasky scored twice for the first time in 132 NHL games as the Lightning won for just the third time in 14 games and for the second time in seven on the road.

"It's just exciting to be part of a win," Tarnasky said. "I haven't had a night like that since my second year in the American League.”

The Lightning looked like they would breeze to an easy win when Richards blew a slap shot past Tomas Vokoun at 9:15 of the third period ( 700K ). But with 5:01 remaining, David Booth deflected a shot by Jassen Cullimore up and over Johan Holmqvist's shoulder and into the net ( 700K ). Brett McLean cut the margin to 4-3 when he deflected a shot by Magnus Johansson past Holmqvist with 1:29 to play ( 700K ).

"It was pretty wild there at the end, but you just have to stay calm and hope guys can come up with the big plays," Holmqvist said of the moments leading up to Richards’ empty-netter. "Fortunately, Brad was able to clear it and it went in."

Olli Jokinen put the Panthers ahead 38 seconds into the game ( 700K ), but Tarnasky tied it at 10:39 when he poked Craig MacDonald’s pass between Vokoun’s pads ( 700K ). Goals by Jan Hlavac ( 700K ) and Tarnasky ( 700K ) 66 seconds apart in early in the second period gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead.

"In the second period some guys didn't compete enough," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "(They) ended up costing us the game."

Blue Jackets 2, Predators 1, SO | Video
Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock finally had something to smile about after 12 straight losses to Nashville. Nikolai Zherdev set up the tying goal in the third period and scored the winner in the shootout.

In the games against Nashville, we've always been the first team to crack," Hitchcock said after the Jackets’ first win against Nashville since April 3, 2006. "We stayed with it, and that's what I was happiest about."

Alexander Radulov’s goal with 1:25 left in the second period put the Predators ahead ( 700K ). But Zherdev’s pass after a giveaway by defenseman Dan Hamhuis set up Rostislav Klesla’s snap shot from the slot that beat Chris Mason with 9:15 left in regulation ( 700K ).

“He made a good forecheck," Klesla said of Zherdev’s play. "I was kind of following the play, hoping the puck would get passed."

After Zherdev scored on the first attempt in the shootout ( 700K ), Pascal Leclaire stopped Radulov, Martin Erat and J.P. Dumont for the win.

"It's a pretty good feeling," Leclaire said after making 26 saves. "It doesn't really matter who it was, we need those points right now."

Preds coach Barry Trotz was philosophical about the loss.

"The more times you play, sooner or later (it was going to happen)," Trotz said. "Both teams played really well, played a real solid game. We had one turnover and they capitalized on it."

Sharks 3, Maple Leafs 2 | Video
Toronto completed a horror show of a California road trip by blowing a 2-0 lead in the third period at San Jose when the Sharks scored three times in just over 10 minutes against former teammate Vesa Toskala.

San Jose's Joe Pavelski scores the game-winning goal against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala.

The Leafs were outscored 10-2 in losses at Anaheim and Los Angeles, but took the play to the Pacific Division leaders and grabbed a 1-0 lead on Nik Antropov’s goal 3:19 into the game ( 700K ).

Pavel Kubina’s slap shot through Evgeni Nabokov’s pads at 1:42 of the second period made it 2-0 ( 700K ), delighting the Leaf fans in the sellout crowd at HP Pavilion.

“We came out flat in our own building,” said defenseman Craig Rivet. “That’s unacceptable.”

But the Leafs started a parade to the penalty box late in the second period and paid the price in the third. Patrick Marleau’s slap shot ticked defenseman Hal Gill’s stick and beat Toskala at 1:09 ( 700K ).

“I got a little help from their defenseman,” said Marleau, who scored just his eighth goal this season. “I’ll take them any way I can get them.”

Toronto’s Jiri Tlusty and Gill then took penalties 43 seconds apart and Rivet tied it at 8:31, ripping a shot past Toskala during the two-man advantage ( 700K ). Joe Pavelski’s tip-in at 10:21 -- seven seconds after Gill’s penalty expired -- put the Sharks ahead to stay ( 700K ).

“We finally got the power play going,” said Marleau, who set up Rivet’s goal.

Leafs coach Paul Maurice, who’s come under fire during his team’s 2-9-2 slide that includes a five-game losing streak, said the penalties killed his team.

“They played hard,” he said of his players. “We’ve got to stay out of the penalty box. We played hard, competed hard. We deserved a better fate, but didn’t get it.”

Toronto’s struggles have put heat on both Maurice and general manager John Ferguson, but Maurice said his team’s problem hasn’t been lack of effort.

“It’s wanting to do it so bad that you get paralyzed by it,” he said. “You try to do things that are out of character because you want it so bad.”

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

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