|Chris Osgood made 22 saves as the Red Wings bottled up Boston over the final 30 minutes in a 3-1 win over the Bruins.
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The Wings won their seventh straight game and NHL-high 40th of the season on Saturday, rallying for a 3-1 victory at TD Banknorth Garden. Pavel Datsyuk’s goal 1:53 into the third period broke a 1-1 tie and Brian Rafalski added an insurance goal on the power play with 5:58 remaining.
“We had great stick-to-it-iveness,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the Wings overcame an early 1-0 deficit before a sold-out crowd. “We capitalized on our opportunities.”
It’s the third time this season Detroit has had a winning streak of seven or more games. They won a season-high nine straight from Oct. 18-Nov. 9, and also won seven in a row from Nov. 27-Dec. 13.
"They are the best in the League for a reason," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "And I thought for at least two thirds of the game, we played pretty well against them. There were some little lapses here and there, but overall we played pretty well."
Detroit is also on pace to match the NHL record for victories in a season, set by the 1995-96 Wings, who won 62 games.
“I like winning,” Babcock said. “I’d like to win every day. I’m not playing to match a record. I just worry about getting this team better.”
At 40-10-4, it’s hard to picture the Wings getting much better.
“They can be a pretty frustrating team to play against,” Boston defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “There aren’t too many teams as good defensively as they are.”
“I knew we’d be in a little bit of trouble,” Babcock said. “We got in at 2 a.m. I thought we’d be OK if we could survive the first 10 minutes.”
The Wings didn’t give up anything else in the opening period, but Boston had a chance to extend the lead early in the second period when penalties to Andreas Lilja and Nicklas Lidstrom gave the Bruins a two-man advantage for 1:47. However, they managed only one shot, and the kill appeared to give the Wings a spark.
“I thought the 5-on-3 penalty kill was probably the biggest thing for us,” Babcock said.
|NHL.COM'S THREE STARS:
GAME OF THE NIGHT:
Injuries have limited the Toronto native to only eight games in 2007-08 — so you can understand why the 25-year-old was jubilant when he broke a 2-2 tie in the third period of Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre. ...more
The Wings went ahead when Zetterberg came racing down the middle and fired a wrister that Thomas stopped, but Datsyuk slipped the rebound past the goalie from the bottom of the left circle.
“Those two are the best offensive players in the League,” Wideman said. “Put them together and they’re quite the duo.”
Rafalski made it 3-1 when he beat Thomas with a slap shot from the point.
“They gave us all we could handle,” said Osgood, who improved to 22-3-2 and has allowed just three goals in winning his last three starts. “I like the way we’re winning. We don’t have to rely on flashiness. We can grind it out.”
The Wings are all but assured of finishing first in the Western Conference and are on track to finish first in the overall standings. But Osgood feels their path won’t be easy because most of the teams they play for the rest of the season are scrambling for playoff berths.
“We definitely have a target on our backs,” he said.
Flyers 3, Ducks 0 | Video
Playing on Philadelphia’s checking line did wonders for Mike Knuble’s offense. The 35-year-old forward had his first hat trick in 707 NHL games as the Flyers sent Anaheim to its sixth straight loss.
A two-time 30-goal scorer in 10-plus seasons in the NHL, Knuble triggered a rash of hat-throwing when he scored his 19th goal on a slap shot from above the right circle to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead at 5:57 of the third period.
''They are three great players and we kept them off the board,'' Knuble said. ''It was our night. Next time might be theirs.''
Knuble opened the scoring 5:46 into the second period when he poked a loose puck past Jonas Hiller. He made it 2-0 with 10 seconds left in the period, tipping in Mike Richards’ point shot for a power-play goal.
Anaheim has lost six straight, including a 1-0 shootout defeat at St. Louis on Friday night. The Ducks haven’t scored in seven periods and one overtime. It's been 155:20 since Perry scored in the second period of a 5-1 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday.
''We just can't find a way to create offense,'' Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. ''We had opportunities. We have to stay positive. We're not happy with the outcome, but we can take solace that we worked hard.''
The Ducks are almost halfway through their eight-game, 15-day road trip, the longest continuous stretch away from home in team history.
''We have a couple of days to get rested before the next one. We've got to scratch and claw to play well,'' defenseman Scott Niedermayer said.
|Colin White scored his first goal in 126 games and added an assist in the Devils' 6-3 win over the Kings.|
''I wouldn't expect it too often,'' said White, who missed 20 games after taking a puck in the right eye during training camp; he still has blurred vision and knows that the condition may never improve. ''It's nice to chip in every now and then. I stopped looking at the number when it reached 100 games. I hope it doesn't take this long for another one. Every kid growing up would love to be a goal scorer, to be Wayne Gretzky. That's not in everybody's cards.''
''Even Whitey got one,'' Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. ''It's been a while for him and he's excited. We had a lot of different people scoring tonight.''
Clarkson’s goal 4:43 into the game gave the Devils an early lead, and New Jersey blew the game open with four goals in the second period for a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes. Visnovsky’s goal with 5:03 remaining in the game cut the margin to 5-3, but Brylin’s goal with 3:17 left ended their hopes.
“We were a little too casual,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “You need attention to detail in your play all the time. We got it in the third period and made a little bit of a push but that was the type of intensity we needed from the first period on.''
Boyle, an emergency recall from Manchester of the AHL, celebrated his NHL debut with a goal at 8:38 of the middle period, trimming the Devils' lead to 2-1.
''It's pretty neat,'' Boyle said. ''I'm still trying to take it in. It hasn't really hit me yet. It's nice to score, but you want to win, obviously.''
Canadiens 4, Islanders 1 | Video
Montreal’s Mark Streit would prefer to be a defenseman, but he’s just as valuable to the Canadiens when he plays up front. Streit had the go-ahead goal and an assist as Montreal polished off the struggling Islanders at the Bell Centre.
''It's not easy,'' he said of the transition. ''I really like to play on defense, but sometimes the coach has no other choice.
''I just try to keep things simple. This time, it was easy because the whole team played so well.''
Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau put Streit back at forward when he brought Patrice Brisebois and Mathieu Dandenault back into the lineup after sitting out several games. Streit broke a 1-1 tie at 7:32 of the middle period when he banged Saku Koivu’s rebound past Rick DiPietro during a power play.
“Turnovers are big when you play a team as talented as Montreal,'' DiPietro said. “They're a great transition team and they capitalize on your mistakes.”
The Isles have lost four in a row and six of their last seven games, and the losing may be starting to take a toll on their All-Star goaltender.
''It's getting old coming to the rink and losing all the time,” he said. “It's something we have to snap out of.''
Streit set up Dandenault’s insurance goal with 2:39 left in regulation, giving him eight goals and 28 assists — matching his 36 points from 2006-07.
After a scoreless first period, Kovalev picked off Bill Guerin’s pass and fed Tomas Plekanec for a shorthanded goal 37 seconds into the middle period. Blake Comeau’s backhander past Cristobal Huet at 5:01 drew the Islanders even.
Huet stopped 29 shots as the Canadiens improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games and 11-2-3 in their last 16.
''I think we try to stay with our game plan, play smart and outwork the other team,'' Huet said.
Sharks 3, Blackhawks 2, SO | Video
The Sharks are so dominant against the Blackhawks that they can even beat them in a shootout — something at which they’ve struggled. San Jose made it 10 straight victories over Chicago when Jeremy Roenick scored in the fifth round of a shootout and Evgeni Nabokov stopped Cam Barker.
|Jeremy Roenick scored in the fifth round of the shootout to give the Sharks a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks.|
The Sharks had won just five of their 19 shootouts since the NHL adopted the penalty-shot competition in 2005-06. Nabokov had won just four of 14.
Sharks coach Ron Wilson used his ace in the hole at crunch time and a familiar face to Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for the game-winner.
“Joe Pavelski has a great record,” Wilson said after Pavelski scored in the third round to keep the Sharks alive. “He’s 7-for-10. J.R. played a lot with Khabibulin in Phoenix in the past and I thought he’d have a pretty good idea what to do.”
San Jose, which finally moved over the .500 mark at home with a 12-11-4 mark, hasn’t lost to Chicago since Oct. 7, 2005.
"We might have started out a little excited at home, which we can't do, because the better teams will put you away," Pavelski said. "It's important to get it going at home, and hopefully we can keep this up while we're staying around for a while."
The Blackhawks opened the scoring with 70 seconds left in the first period when Patrick Sharp tipped home Barker's shot for his 23rd goal. The Sharks tied it during a two-man advantage at 5:35 of the second when Jonathan Cheechoo pounded home a pass from Joe Thornton for his 11th goal of a season.
Khabibulin saw his winless streak reach 10 games, although his 37 saves were largely responsible for earning Chicago the point for a shootout loss. Rookie Patrick Kane saw bigger achievements for his team.
"It's not about that," said Kane, who scored the Blackhawks' only shootout goal. "It's about how we played, and that's obviously a positive look at things. It would have been nice to get two in the shootout. We just had a couple of bad breaks on the breakaways, and what can you do about that?"
Hawks coach Denis Savard had benched Khabibulin before the All-Star break, but has used him in all three games since play resumed.
“His performance was incredible," Savard said. "I believe in him, and he's a battler. You don't win a (Stanley) Cup (by) not competing and not being as good as he is."
Wild 4, Blue Jackets 1 | Video
Minnesota has come back from the All-Star break firing on all cylinders. The Wild posted their second straight dominating performance, scoring three times in less than six minutes in the second period to break a 1-1 tie.
The Wild came to Columbus after blasting Anaheim 5-1 on Wednesday.
''We were talking about it during the break,'' said Marian Gaborik, who had his sixth multi-goal game of the season and lifted his season total to 28. ''We want to make a push. We're doing it. We played a great game against Anaheim and then a great game again tonight. We have to come back home and prove it against Detroit (on Tuesday night). Those are the challenges.''
Brian Rolston broke the 1-1 tie by scoring at 5:52, and Gaborik silenced the sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena when he connected at 10:25 and 11:44. The victory kept Minnesota on top in the Northwest Division, and Rolston said the Wild are primed for a stretch run.
''We're playing better,'' Rolston said. ''I think we're learning how to win and we're confident. We have to continue to build for the playoffs and that's what we're going to do.''
It was a season-worst third consecutive loss for the flat Blue Jackets, who were on the cusp of contention but are falling back after a bad week.
''The three games we've lost, we deserved to lose,'' forward Dan Fritsche said. ''The competitive attitude hasn't been there.''
After rookie Derick Brassard, Columbus’ top pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, scored his first NHL goal at 3:40, the Wild took control. Rolston one-timed Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s pass behind Norrena to put the Wild ahead to stay, Gaborik finished a three-way passing play by jamming Pavol Demitra’s pass into a near-empty net, and just over a minute later, Gaborik deked a defender and beat Norrena from the high slot.
''We were very good, excellent with the puck tonight, and made great plays,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. ''We didn't have a lot of shots, but they were great goals. It's how you execute, and we did it perfectly tonight.''
Thrashers 2, Capitals 0 | Video
With their own top gun, Ilya Kovalchuk, out with a knee injury, the Thrashers did a great job shutting down the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin on the way to a shutout at the Verizon Center.
|Kari Lehtonen stopped 36 shots in the Thrashers' 2-0 blanking of the Capitals.|
Kari Lehtonen stopped 36 shots and the Thrashers won despite a season-low 13 shots on goal. The only one that mattered was a shot from between the circles by Todd White that beat Olaf Kolzig with 8:26 left in regulation. Marian Hossa added an empty-net goal with 40 seconds remaining.
''We didn't want to get in a shootout tonight,'' Atlanta coach Don Waddell said. ''We didn't think that would be to our advantage. We really wanted to keep it tight. When you're missing your leading goal scorer, it's always a challenge. You have to change your game plan to play to your strengths.''
Kovalchuk has missed the Thrashers’ past two games after leaving Tuesday night’s 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh with a knee injury. Atlanta won both games without him.
Ovechkin came into the game with a League-leading 43 goals, including four in Thursday night’s 5-4 overtime victory over Montreal. But he was scoreless on seven shots as the Caps were blanked for the second time in five days.
''We have to get a work-ethic goal. Somebody's got to go to the net and maybe take one in the ankle or something to get those goals,'' Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''In the last five or six games we haven't had guys doing that. It's like they're sitting back and going, 'Alex, you score a couple goals and we'll win the game.' That's not how you win a division, make the playoffs or win consistently.''
The victory moved Atlanta into a first-place tie in the Southeast Division with Carolina. Both teams have 56 points, three more than Florida and Washington.
''It was a playoff-type hockey game because both teams knew what was at stake,'' Boudreau said.
Lehtonen was good enough to blank Ovechkin, which doesn't happen that often. In 20 career games against Atlanta before this one, Ovechkin had 16 goals and 16 assists.
''Everybody sees the highlights — him scoring four goals. I really have to watch him all the time,'' Lehtonen said. ''The biggest key was we didn't take penalties tonight; a couple in the first period and that was it. Those are the times when he's really, really dangerous.''
Panthers 3, Lightning 2 | Video
Richard Zednik made sure Tomas Vokoun’s goaltending heroics wouldn’t go for naught by scoring the tie-breaking goal with 1:05 left in regulation to give Florida a win at Tampa Bay.
Vokoun made 44 saves as the Lightning fired a season-high 46 shots. Coupled with Friday's 4-3 win over Vancouver, the Panthers moved within three points of front-running Carolina and Atlanta in the Southeast Division.
''If we want to go ahead of them, we have to win,'' Vokoun said. ''It's tough to win when you give up so many chances. We won, and that's positive.''
Zednik's 10th goal of the season came on a rebound after Jassen Cullimore's shot went off the end boards. Olli Jokinen had pulled the Panthers even at 2-2 with a power-play goal from the slot at 14:04 of the third.
''I don't look at Florida beating us, I look at us self-destructing,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. ''It's a tough one.
''We just can't have many more of these,'' Tortorella added. ''We're out of time.''
The Lightning outshot Florida 18-7 in the first period, but the Panthers got the only goal when Jay Bouwmeester finished off a three-on-one break three minutes into the game.
Gratton tied the game 4:12 into the second period, beating Vokoun on a rebound and Prospal gave the Bolts their first lead when he scored at 18:17.
Vokoun kept the Panthers within one midway through the third when he made a diving stick save on Brad Richards' rebound shot from the slot.
''I think we've got to find a way (to be) a little bit tighter defensively,'' Vokoun said. ''It didn't hurt us tonight. We have to play better, there's no question about that.''
|Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and set up two others during Pittsburgh's four-goal third period as the Penguins beat the Hurricanes 4-1.
With Sidney Crosby out with a high ankle sprain, Evgeni Malkin is becoming the Pittsburgh Penguins’ go-to scorer. Malkin scored a goal and set up two others during Pittsburgh's four-goal third period as the Penguins turned another strong game by goaltender Ty Conklin into a win at Mellon Arena.
The Penguins scored four times on nine shots in the third period after Cam Ward stopped all 18 shots he faced in the first 40 minutes.
''We kind of saved the best for last,'' said Erik Christensen, who got the Penguins going by scoring from the low slot 37 seconds into the third period. ''Once we get that one, everyone wants more. We were certainly frustrated in the first two periods.''
After Ryan Malone put the Pens ahead at 7:26, Malkin, surging offensively since Crosby injured his right ankle on Jan. 18, cut down the right boards and split defensemen Bret Hedican and Tim Gleason to score his 28th goal and put the Penguins up 3-1 — their third goal in a span of 9:05. Malkin drew his second assist of the game on Petr Sykora’s goal at 13:03.
Malkin has five goals and four assists in the six games since Crosby went down for six to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain. The Penguins, coming off a 4-1 loss Wednesday in Atlanta, are 3-2-1 without Crosby and still have not lost successive games in regulation since Dec. 11-13.
''There's a lot of good players on this team, a lot of guys are getting a lot more ice time, and those are the guys have been waiting for a chance,'' Sykora said.
Conklin made 27 saves and was perfect after Sergei Samsonov scored his fourth at 8:27 of the first period as he improved to 12-3-1 in 16 starts since coming up from the minors in early December.
''They just seemed to gain confidence as the game went on and our play seemed to slip as the game went on, and it was pretty evident in the third,'' Erik Cole said after Carolina's second loss in six games.
Predators 3, Coyotes 2, OT | Video
Nashville got a key extra point in the battle for eighth place in the Western Conference when Alexander Radulov scored with 49.2 seconds left in overtime, delighting a sellout crowd at Sommet Center.
Radek Bonk fired a slap shot from above the right circle that was stopped by Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. But the rebound bounced off Radulov's left shoulder and trickled across the goal line, moving the Preds one point ahead of Vancouver and two in front of Phoenix for the last playoff spot in the West.
“When it hit Bryzgalov, then it hit my shoulder, and after that I didn’t see it and it just slid into the net,” Radulov said after extending his goal-scoring streak to a franchise-record six games.
The Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime. David Legwand scored the only goal of the first period, and Martin Erat’s wrist shot from the right circle at 5:53 of the second put Nashville ahead by two.
The Coyotes missed a chance to tie the game later in the period when they had a two-man advantage for two minutes but were unable to score.
"We got our wires crossed there," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We didn't do the things we wanted to do and the things that we have worked on recently."
They did force overtime when Steve Reinprecht tapped in Peter Mueller’s rebound with 2:57 left in regulation.
"I think we're definitely glad we got the point," Reinprecht said. "We had a pretty bad first period, but we picked it up in the last half of the game."
Despite allowing the Coyotes to go home with a point, Nashville coach Barry Trotz was pleased with the outcome.
“We would’ve liked to get the two points and give them nothing, but they only got the one point and the last thing we wanted was to lose that game,” Trotz said. “In the end, we gained a point on them and gained two points on some other teams, so it was real positive."
Nashville's J.P. Dumont saw his career- and franchise-high 16-game point scoring streak come to an end.
|Colorado's T.J. Hensick, right, scored twice in the Avalanche's 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Rookie T.J. Hensick and Ben Guite each had two goals for the Avalanche. Jaroslav Hlinka and Tyler Arnason also scored and Wojtek Wolski had two assists for Colorado, which was playing without Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth because of injuries and Paul Stastny due to an appendectomy.
Colorado, which had lost three of its previous four games, moved five points ahead of the Blues in the Western Conference standings.
''Big. Huge,'' Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said in describing the game. ''Last night (a 2-0 loss at Detroit), we were two minutes away from getting it to overtime. That was disappointing and a tough loss. I like how we rebounded.''
Hensick's power play goal a minute into the third period, his second goal of the game and third of the season and his career, stretched the lead to 4-2.
''It's a good feeling,'' Hensick said. ''It's been awhile since I've scored a goal. Two good plays by two very good players and I reaped the benefits.”
The Blues pulled to 4-3 on Andy McDonald's 10th of the season at 6:24 of the third period, and Keith Tkachuk nearly tied the game with 9:19 to play, but his deflection of Kariya's shot rang off the left goal post.
Arnason made it 5-3 with his sixth of the season when he beat Manny Legace with 8:44 to play. Tkachuk's 16th of the season and 489th of his career again brought the Blues back to within 5-4 with 7:43 to play. However, Guite's empty-netter with six seconds left sealed Colorado's win.
''I don't think we're going to take the consolation prize for this game,'' Blues defenseman Eric Brewer said. ''I think there's some things we need to shore up. Obviously, we had a few breakdowns and a few too many turnovers, but we did a lot of real good things.''
One night after his team beat Anaheim 1-0 in a shootout, Blues coach Andy Murray wasn’t happy with the way his team played against a weakened opponent.
''We reviewed the goals with the guys after the game,'' Murray said. ''(There were) some mistakes you can't make. You can't give up six goals in your building. It doesn't matter if you score four, you can't give up six goals. You can't win in this League like that.''
Stars 2, Flames 1 | Video
Dallas completed a three-game sweep through Western Canada and stayed atop the Pacific Division when Niklas Hagman scored 2:28 into the third period to break a 1-1 tie and snap Calgary’s four-game winning streak.
Marty Turco stopped 31 shots, allowing only Daymond Langkow’s goal on a rebound 5:37 into the second period. Dallas pulled even when Mike Ribeiro’s shot ticked off Brendan Morrow and went past Miikka Kiprusoff at 13:47. Hagman put Dallas ahead to stay when he collected Mattias Norstrom’s dump-in, wheeled in front and jammed a high shot under the crossbar.
It was the Stars’ 11th win in their last 15 meetings with the Flames, and their fifth victory in six games in Western Canada this season. Dallas won in Vancouver on Tuesday and Edmonton on Friday, and the Stars are now 19-5-3 over the past five years when playing all three teams on the same trip.
“All the focus is on hockey up here,” Morrow said when asked why the Stars do so well in Western Canada. “The whole environment, the snow, everyone here lives and dies hockey.”
Turco played all three games during the trip, stopping 92 of 97 shots.
“Marty has been our best player in the last three games,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett. “He’s been cleaning up a lot of hiccups.”
The Stars did a good job stifling Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who assisted on Langkow’s goal but was held off the scoreboard for the ninth straight game, despite taking six shots. He has just one goal against Dallas in the teams’ last 12 meetings.
“You’re not going to hold him off the scoresheet,” Turco said. “He makes other people around him better. It’s a fortunate night when we can stop No. 12.”
Turco got some help from forward Steve Ott, who made a nuisance of himself while harassing Iginla.
“Ott got under some of our players’ skin,” Calgary assistant coach Rich Preston said. “They’re a good road team, and they played hard. They outworked us. I thought the score flattered us.”
Dallas’ penalty-killers also did heroic work, killing off all seven Calgary power –plays.
“Our power play didn’t get the job done,” Preston said. “There were too many times we tried to find the perfect play instead of putting the puck on the net and trying to screen the goalie.”
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.