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Devils rout Flyers, 7-3

Tuesday, 01.22.2008 / 11:46 PM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - Columnist

Low scoring defenseman Johnny Oduya busted out with a goal and three assists as the New Jersey Devils cruised to a 7-3 win over the Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Watch Oduya dominate against the Flyers: 700K
For one night, New Jersey defenseman Johnny Oduya looked like Bobby Orr, and the Devils’ floundering power play enjoyed a record-tying evening.
Oduya, who entered the game with a goal and eight assists all season, scored once and set up three other goals as the Devils rolled to a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, putting New Jersey back on top in the Atlantic Division.

The Devils beat Philadelphia for the fifth straight time this season after losing their first meeting. They did it mostly with a power play that came into the game ranked 28th in the NHL but that scored five times in its first six opportunities after coming into the game on an 0-for-15 slide.
"It's nice to score," said Oduya, who recorded multiple points for the first time in 117 career games. "I don't get that many points. But I'm more happy for the win in a big game."
The Devils equaled the team record for power-play goals and fell one short of the franchise mark. New Jersey had five power-play goals two other times in club history. The club was known as the Colorado Rockies when they scored six power-play goals in an 8-6 win over the Flyers on Feb. 19, 1980.
"We put pucks on net, we directed pucks toward the net, and we had guys around the net," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "We moved the puck well, we got some rebounds, we got some screen shots and we made the most of our opportunities. We created chances by going to the net and we scored some goals in areas we need to score some goals in."
Oduya came in with nine points in 40 games this season. He scored New Jersey's first goal to tie it at 1 and assisted on three of the next four.
"It seems like always we have been struggling on the power play," Oduya said. "I think we played pretty good at times, but tonight we got the bounces early on there to get some goals."
After Daniel Briere scored a power-play goal 2:53 into the game to put Philadelphia ahead, Oduya pulled the Devils even with his second of the season at 6:10. Mike Knuble again gave the Flyers a one-goal lead at 7:45, but power-play goals by Jamie Langenbrunner and Dainius Zubrus late in the period put the Devils ahead to stay.
Oduya’s best move of the night came on the Devils’ fourth goal. He carried down the right side, fending off a checker, and whipped a perfect pass into the slot for Patrik Elias, who fired it past Antero Niittymaki.
Oduya’s third assist came on Zach Parise’s power-play goal, the Devils’ fifth of the night, at 14:33. Jeff Carter scored a power-play goal for the Flyers with eight seconds left in the period to make it 5-3, but Parise and Elias scored in the first 1:29 of the third period to put the game away.
The Flyers hadn't lost in regulation in their previous eight games and were 10-1-2 in the last 13. But they hardly looked like a team playing for first place.
"We had a total letdown," coach John Stevens said.
The Devils are now 15-1-1 in their last 17 games against the Flyers,
“It's kind of like a wake-up call,” Flyers forward Sami Kapanen said. “(It) lets us know we have a long way to go if we want to beat that team.”
Islanders 6, Hurricanes 3
| Video
Carolina was the first team to wrap up play before the All-Star break. This was not the way the Hurricanes wanted to head into a week off — they allowed three shorthanded goals, another on a breakaway and a fifth on a 3-on-1 rush to lose the second half of a home-and-home series with the Islanders.
The Hurricanes’ nightmare began midway through the first period, when Mike Sillinger scored on a shorthanded breakaway. They tied it 1:21 later when Eric Staal scored during the same power play, but fell apart early in the second when Richard Park and Sillinger scored shorthanded goals 43 seconds apart during the same penalty, giving New York a 3-1 lead.
“You can’t give up three shorthanded goals and expect to win a game,” defenseman Mike Commodore said. “The odd one once in a while is going to happen, but three in a game is unacceptable. Those are supposed to be opportunities for us to score.”
Sean Bergenheim’s breakaway goal at 7:52 gave the Isles a three-goal lead.
“Our second periods have been terrible — especially here,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’ve given up too much at the start. This one was no different. We came and took a penalty right away and then gave up goals.”
Carolina, which overcame a 2-0 third-period deficit in a 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders on Monday, kept firing away. Commodore’s slap shot deflected into the net off a defenseman and the knob of Wade Dubielewicz’s stick at 15:27, and Matt Cullen’s goal at 6:20 of the third period made it a one-goal game.
“We were on our heels a little bit,” admitted Dubielewicz, who faced 47 shots while giving starter Rick DiPietro a rare night off.
The Islanders, who had blown two-goal leads in losing each of their two previous games, survived a 20-shot third period by the Hurricanes and got some insurance when defenseman Brendan Witt beat Cam Ward with 2:35 remaining. Blake Comeau hit the empty net with 1:15 remaining, giving the Islanders their first six-goal game since opening night in Buffalo.
"You could tell the guys started tightening up," said Isles coach Ted Nolan. "But we learned from our previous experiences, when we didn't have tonight's composure.”
Dubielewicz, who hadn’t started since beating Carolina at the RBC Center on New Year’s Eve, played a couple of games with the Isles’ AHL team in Bridgeport over the weekend at his own request to get game-ready.
“It was nice to go down there and get a feel for the puck,” he said.
Of Tuesday’s effort, he said: “We bent but we didn’t break. We needed a win like this to get us out of that rut.”

Rangers 4, Thrashers 0 | Video

New York Rangers' teammates Chris Drury (r) and Martin Straka celebrate Straka's second period goal in the Blueshirts' 4-0 victory over the Atlana Thrashers.

Atlanta’s first visit to Madison Square Garden this season didn’t turn out any better than its last two. The Rangers, who completed a four-game sweep of the Thrashers last April by winning Games 3 and 4, played an almost-perfect game.

Coach Tom Renney gave the Rangers a tongue-lashing after they lost a home-and-home series to Boston over the weekend, and the Rangers responded by outshooting Atlanta 39-14 and getting a goal and two assists from Jaromir Jagr.

Sean Avery and Brandon Dubinsky scored first-period goals, Martin Straka added one in the second, and Jagr finished the surge in the third to provide plenty of offense for Henrik Lundqvist, who earned his seventh shutout of the season.

"We had the lead. I think that was the key and we jumped on them right away," Jagr said. "We scored a quick two goals and that was the difference."

The Rangers came out with changes to their top three lines, and the moves paid off. Avery, playing with Jagr and Scott Gomez, got New York on the board at 12:12 when he found a loose puck in the slot and shoved it past Kari Lehtonen for his fourth of the season and second in four games since returning from his latest wrist injury.

Jagr earned his second assist 3:20 later, sending Dubinsky into the zone with a pass from inside the blue line. Dubinsky carried on the right side and eluded falling defenseman Alexei Zhitnik before scoring his seventh.

“Everybody seemed sleepy or tired," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "We've had slow starts a couple of games in a row and it's killing us."
Straka scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway midway through the second period and Jagr capped the scoring when he raced back from the bench with a new stick after breaking his and firing a wrist shot past Lehtonen at 4:03 of the third.
“I am glad we won, but we have a long way to go," said Jagr, whose team will reach the All-Star break not among the top eight in the East. "We have to win a lot more games to get in the playoffs."
Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk was given a boarding major and a game misconduct late in the first period when he hit Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival from behind. Rozsival wasn’t seriously injured and returned to the game. Kovalchuk should be back on Thursday when the teams meet again in New York.

“They were missing Kovalchuk, and he is a big part," Jagr said. "Next game they are going to be better."

Canadiens 8, Bruins 2 | Video
As has become the norm this season, the Canadiens could do nothing wrong against the Bruins. Tom Kostopoulos scored 14 seconds into the game, and Maxim Lapierre capped Montreal’s four-goal first period by scoring with three seconds left as the Canadiens made it 6-for-6 against Boston this season.
"I thought all four lines clicked well and played well and we worked hard and got some bounces," Kostopoulos said after Montreal’s ninth win in a row over the Bruins, dating back to last season. "It was nice to get everyone involved."
Andrei Kostitsyn, who also scored in the first, got his second goal of the game on a power play at 17:44 of the third period as Montreal set a season high for goals. Michael Ryder also scored for Montreal in the first as each of the Canadiens' four lines contributed a goal against Alex Auld, who only stopped three of seven shots.
Bryan Smolinski and Mike Komisarek added goals in the second against Tim Thomas, who replaced Auld to begin the second. Alexei Kovalev scored a power-play goal in the third to make it 7-1.
“We had a couple of good bounces to start off and all of a sudden it was 4-1," said Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet, who made 29 saves. "We played great and everything went our way. We had good bounces but we worked for it. The guys were putting everything in tonight."
Marco Sturm scored his 16th goal midway through the first to draw the Bruins to 2-1. Petteri Nokelainen added a power-play goal 13:17 into the third.
Boston, which had gone 3-0-1 since a 5-2 loss to the Canadiens on Jan. 10, failed to record a standings point for the first time in five games.
"We gave up eight goals on 24 shots. I think that explains a lot," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "You're not going to win games by giving up those types of goals. A lot of breakdowns and maybe some lucky bounces off legs. It's just one of those nights where you've got to be a little better, more resilient and find ways to be more concentrated on winning hockey games."
The Canadiens, who went 5-3-0 against Boston last season, have outscored the Bruins 21-7 in three games at the Bell Centre this season, including a 7-4 win on Nov. 17 and a 6-1 win on Oct. 22.
"I've been on the other side of those things so at the end of the day it's just two points, it doesn't matter whether it's in overtime or whatever," Smolinski said. "It's a very good team over there. I'm sure we'll see a different team the next time we see them — but our team played very well tonight."
Lightning 4, Oilers 3 | Video

Vincent Lecavalier and the Tampa Bay Lightning snapped a five-game home losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay snapped a five-game home losing streak, but not before getting a scare from the Oilers. Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists as the Lightning built a 4-1 lead, then had to hang on after Edmonton got late goals from Steve Staios and Ales Hemsky. The win was the Lightning’s third in a row overall, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
“I felt they needed to do that," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "Not just look at your record, look where you're at in regards to everybody else. There are so many teams fighting the way we are."
Brad Richards, Craig MacDonald and St. Louis scored in the first 9:18 of the second period to give the Lightning a 3-0 lead before Andrew Cogliano got one goal back for Edmonton at 10:08.
“In the second period, we were about a half-step late on a couple of plays that ended up in the back of our net,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.

Vincent Lecavalier scored on the power play at 5:51 of the third period, restoring Tampa Bay’s three-goal lead. The goal was his 30th, marking the fifth consecutive season he’s reached scored 30 or more.
But the Oilers made the Bolts sweat.     Staios slammed the puck past Johan Holmqvist with 7:05 remaining, and Hemsky made it 4-3 with 1:19 to play. The Oilers played the final minute with an empty net to no avail.

"Obviously, we'd like to finish better than that, but a win is a win," St. Louis said. "We'll address the mistakes. Sometimes you need to get a win like that."
Though they’re last in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning are within seven points of the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.
"It doesn't amaze me because it's been like that for the last two or three years," Lecavalier said. "There's a little more parity in the league. You've got to take it game by game and make sure we keep playing the way we are."
Panthers 5, Senators 3 | Video
Nathan Horton set up four of Florida’s five goals as the Panthers ended a six-game losing streak against the struggling Eastern Conference leaders.
Rookie Tanner Glass put the Panthers ahead to stay 6:42 into the second period when he redirected Horton's pass behind Ray Emery to snap a 1-1 tie.
"I'm not much of a passer, but I'll take it," Horton said.
All-Star Tomas Vokoun stopped 43 shots, and Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Gregory Campbell also scored for the Panthers. The Senators got a goal and two assists from Mike Fisher and goals from Dean McAmmond and Chris Neil, but lost for the fifth time in six games.
"It's frustrating," Fisher said. "It seems like every little breakdown or mistake, it's in our net. Defensively, we're not solid at all. Not playing strong, making some bad decisions and getting beat."
The goal was Glass’ first point after going scoreless in his first 21 NHL games.
"It's been a while," Glass said. "I've been waiting 22 games. It's a dream come true. It's great to get the monkey off my back, for sure."

The victory was only the third in 11 meetings against his former team for Florida coach Jacques Martin.
Ottawa played its sixth consecutive game without second-leading scorer Dany Heatley, out with a separated shoulder. Leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson was back in the lineup after missing two games with a hip injury, but was held without a point.
Despite their slump, the Senators still lead the Eastern Conference with 64 points.
"I thought we were really good for two periods and I thought Ray was good for two periods," Ottawa coach John Paddock said. "In the third period, we weren't very good and I didn't think he was very good."
Blue Jackets 4, Stars 2 | Video

Rookie defenseman Kris Russell netted his first two NHL goals as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied back to defeat the Dallas Stars 4-2.

Rookie defenseman Kris Russell picked a great time to score his first two NHL goals. He started Columbus’ rally from a 2-0 deficit when he scored in the second period, then got the game-winner with 6:15 left as the Blue Jackets rallied to win in Dallas and snap the Stars’ three-game winning streak.
Russell had only five assists in his first 45 games.

"He's had so many scoring chances," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's a big relief. He puts so much pressure on himself to contribute offensively. It seemed like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. He's felt like he's let a lot of people down (by not scoring more). We kept him on the power play because we knew this day would come."
With the game tied 2-2 and the Blue Jackets on a power play, Nikolai Zherdev passed from the right circle to Russell streaking down the left side and toward the net, and Russell steered the puck past Stars goalie Mike Smith.

"It's pretty exciting," Russell said of getting his first two goals. "I felt like this took forever. I was lucky to get some opportunities. This is a big character builder."
Pascal Leclaire made 31 saves as Columbus beat Dallas for the first time in four tries, including a 3-1 loss in Dallas on Saturday.
“We haven't had a good record against them," Hitchcock said. "We've been snakebit in some of our games with these guys. This is a big step, to win on the road against a good opponent."
Dallas took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals by Brenden Morrow and Steve Ott before Russell’s first goal gave Columbus some life. Andrew Murray tied the game at 8:03, and after Russell’s second goal put the Jackets ahead, Rick Nash hit the empty net with three seconds to play.
Dallas coach Dave Tippett wasn’t thrilled with his team’s effort.
“There were some big swings in that game," Tippett said. "We didn't battle enough and we took offensive zone penalties and that killed our momentum. Our margin for error is so slim. We just didn't have enough work."
Predators 4, Avalanche 0 | Video
With Chris Mason playing well in goal, Nashville backup Dan Ellis has to make the most of his chances to play. He did just that in Denver, stopping 38 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.
"I know my role and I like it," said Ellis, who started for the first time in five games. "I'm comfortable making starts after Chris has played the night before and I feel good playing after not playing for several days."
Ellis, who improved to 11-5-1, gave the Predators their third straight win.
"I stay sharp by working on as much of my game as can in practice," Ellis said. "I stay calm by staying light and not too serious between starts and then really dial it in and become focused when I do start."
Mason had started the Preds’ previous four games, including Monday night's victory over St. Louis.
"You can see we don't have any drop-off when we start Dan," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "He gives us quality goaltending every time we need to give Chris some time off."
Martin Erat scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season. Shea Weber and Alexander Radulov also scored for the Predators, and J.P. Dumont had an assist to extend his point streak to 13 games.
Weber’s power-play goal 4:51 into the game was the only goal until Erat scored 59 seconds into the third period, converting a feed from Jason Arnott.
“Their second goal was huge," Colorado coach Quenneville said. "We had a terrible start to the third period where we had been pretty good lately, too."
Radulov scored at 2:19 and Erat connected again at 5:53.
"It was our intention to get quick strikes in the third period," Erat said. "Go right after them, take them out of their game and that's what we did."

Red Wings 3, Kings 0 | Video

The Red Wings blanked the Kings 3-0 on Tuesday night, marking Detroit's 16th victory over Los Angeles in their last 17 meetings.  

A visit to Staples Center was just the tuneup the Wings needed for Wednesday night’s game at Anaheim. Chris Osgood stopped 27 shots as Detroit beat Los Angeles for the 16th time in their last 17 meetings.
Osgood, who will play in his fourth All-Star game on Sunday, pared his NHL-leading goals-against average to 1.87 with his 46th career shutout. The victory was his 356th, moving him past former Kings goaltender Rogie Vachon into 15th place all-time.
''It's a real compliment to him and his career to pass Rogie Vachon and end up in the top 15 all-time,'' Wings coach Mike Babcock said. ''I mean, being in the top 15 at anything in the world is pretty special, so it's a real feather in his cap. It means he's played with good players, but it also means he's been a good goalie for a long time.''
The Red Wings were outshot 7-0 by the Kings over the first six minutes, but scored on their second shot of the game to take the lead at 6:57 of the opening period.

Holmstrom, who turns 35 Wednesday, beat Jason LaBarbera to the glove side with a 15-foot wrist shot for his 19th goal after Pavel Datsyuk threw a perfect cross-ice pass into the slot.
“They came at us pretty good in the first period,” Osgood said. “L.A. always plays us tough in this building. I thought we played pretty solid in the last two periods.”
Matt Ellis, inserted into the lineup because of All-Star Henrik Zetterberg's back injury, set up Detroit's second goal at 14:47 of the second period. He took the puck away from Derek Armstrong at the Detroit blue line and fed Mikael Samuelsson, who beat LaBarbara high to the glove side with a 25-foot wrist shot from the right circle for his eighth of the season.
Samuelsson, who missed Monday's practice because of flu-like symptoms, set up Johan Franzen's ninth goal with 17:05 remaining. He took a shot that went wide of the net, but Franzen played the carom off the end boards and stuffed the puck inside the right post while

LaBarbera and defenseman Brad Stuart were trying to smother it in the crease.
''They are the best team in the League for a reason,'' LaBarbera said. ''They probably didn't have one of their better games, but they found a way to win. That's the reason they are in first place and we're not.''
The Wings put on a good show for their dads, who are accompanying the team on its trip through California.
“It’s fun having them around,” Osgood said. “It gives us a little extra push on the road. We kind of hit a lull for a week and a half or two weeks. We’re back to playing the kind of hockey we’re capable of playing.”

Sharks 3, Blackhawks 2 | Video
San Jose ended its struggles at home by halting Chicago’s four-game winning streak behind Christian Ehrhoff’s first goal of the season and good special teams work.
The Sharks had lost the first two games of a four-game homestand and looked like they might make it three in a row when Chicago rookie Jack Skille scored 4:49 into the game. But Sandis Ozolnish’s power-play goal at 13:39, a backhander past Patrick Lalime, tied the game at 1-1.
Joe Pavelski put the Sharks ahead to stay at 13:14 of the second period when he scooted past Patrick Kane and beat Lalime for a shorthanded goal. Ehrhoff made it 3-1 at 15:56 when his power-play shot from the right point went past Lalime.
Adam Burish got the Hawks within a goal at 11:18 of the third period when he scored his first goal in 58 NHL games.
"We played (well) enough to win but the results are not there," said Lalime, who started his fifth straight game. "We've just got to get back on track and win at home the next game."
The Sharks, who have the worst home record in the Western Conference, beat Chicago for the ninth straight time.
"We still have another game before the All-Star break but we had to find a way to win tonight and we did it in an ugly way," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We wanted to be a little more aggressive. We got caught back on our heels, they were coming at us hard but we got our equilibrium about halfway through the first period. Fortunately, our power play and penalty killing was doing a great job and that decided the outcome of the game."

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

Quote of the Day

We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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