Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
 
SHARE

Penguins top Thrashers 3-1 to end losing streak

Wednesday, 01.07.2009 / 1:25 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins solved their problems — at least for a night — by finding a team that was struggling worse than they are.

Petr Sykora snapped Pittsburgh's seven-game power-play drought and added an even-strength goal as the Penguins beat the Atlanta Thrashers 3-1 at Mellon Arena on Tuesday to end a five-game losing streak that has dropped them out of the top 8 in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh had been outscored 10-1 in embarrassing losses to the Florida Panthers on Saturday and the New York Rangers on Monday. But the Thrashers, losers of six of their last seven, proved to be just the tonic for the floundering Penguins, who for one night looked like the team that battled Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final last spring, rather than the club that reached the halfway mark outside of a playoff berth.

"The win feels good -- it's nicer the next morning to wake up and come to the rink," Sykora said. "Everybody goes through this, but the sooner you stop it, the better chance you have to come back from it. I think we made a good first step."

It was also a good first step for the Penguins' big guns. Sidney Crosby had a power-play goal and Evgeni Malkin assisted on all three Pittsburgh tallies.

Sykora ended Pittsburgh's 0-for-33 drought on the power play when he redirected Ryan Whitney's pass from the right point into the net at 17:10 of the first period.

"It was a matter of time, but it was getting a little frustrating," Whitney said.

Sykora made it 2-0 at 12:43 of the second period. Malkin controlled the puck after winning a faceoff and carried it to the net, where Sykora put a backhander past Kari Lehtonen for his 15th goal.

Malkin, the NHL's leading scorer with 63 points but held without a goal for a career-long nine games, appeared to score slightly less than three minutes later with a power-play slap shot from the right point. But Crosby's stick ticked the puck as it flew into the net for his 16th goal -- and only the 11th by Pittsburgh during that time. Crosby was held to one goal in his previous seven games.

Ilya Kovalchuk spoiled Marc-Andre Fleury's shutout bid by scoring with 5:40 left in regulation. Other than that, the Thrashers were generally listless. Atlanta is 13-23-5 halfway through the season, 29th in the 30-team League

''There are no words to describe the disappointment," first-year coach John Anderson said. "We have to pick ourselves up every day and keep pushing. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, because nobody else will."

Sabres 4, Senators 2 | VIDEO

Buffalo and Ottawa don't like each other, and Tuesday's game won't help mend relations. Derek Roy had a goal and a pair of assists to lead Buffalo, but the Senators' Jarkko Ruutu added a new chapter to the rivalry by biting Sabres' forward Andrew Peters' gloved thumb during a first-period scrap.

"It's a pretty goofy thing that happened," said Peters, who had a bandage wrapped around his right thumb after the game. "It's not the injury, it's the incident. Just the fact that that happened, it's unfortunate. It's not good for the game of hockey."

Ruutu denied biting Peters, and instead accused Peters of gouging him in the eye.

"Nothing happened there," Ruutu said. "His fingers were by my mouth, but I didn't bite him."

Peters said Ruutu broke his skin while biting him through the glove. Peters started the skirmish by rubbing his glove into Ruutu's face behind the play. Replays then showed Ruutu using his teeth to tear Peters' glove off of his hand. Peters immediately began shaking his hand and doubled over in pain clutching his thumb before heading to the Buffalo bench, where he was attended to by team trainers.

Peters was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for sparking the altercation, while Ruutu was not penalized.

Matt Ellis got the Sabres off to a fast start by beating Alex Auld 15 seconds into the game, and Roy set up Drew Stafford's goal at 16:01 for a 2-0 lead. When Roy scored an unassisted goal at 5:29 of the second period, it looked like the game could end in a rout.

But Jason Spezza scored twice in 32 seconds, at 7:02 and 7:34, to make a game of it. He had a chance to tie the game and complete his hat trick, but Ryan Miller robbed him with 4:25 left in regulation, stopping his slap shot from the right circle.

The Senators dropped to 1-5-1 during an eight-game road trip that ends at Boston on Thursday. Ottawa also dropped to 1-12-3 in its past 16 games away from home.

"It's tough. We're struggling," said Spezza, who has 5 goals and 5 assists in his past eight games. "We're in other teams' buildings and things aren't going our way. ... It hasn't been a fun trip."

The Sabres were glad to be able to build off a 4-2 at Boston on Saturday.

"Let's hope we can keep stringing these together and getting a good feeling about what it means to play as a team," Miller said.

Hurricanes 3, Devils 2 | VIDEO

Score one for the son. Brandon Sutter and the Hurricanes held off the Brent Sutter-coached Devils in the fifth matchup of a father coaching against his son.

"Once the game got started, which I kind of figure would [happen], my focus was behind the bench and making sure I was doing the right things," Brent Sutter said. "His focus was to play the game. I thought he played pretty well."

Brandon didn't score, but he did hit a post late in the second period.

"If he was paying attention to me, that's probably why they lost," Brandon Sutter said.

 
 
Sergei Samsonov scored his 200th NHL goal, Ray Whitney and Tuomo Ruutu also scored, and Cam Ward stopped 26 shots as Carolina won its fourth in a row.

Ruutu's goal at 9:58 of the third period gave the 'Canes a seemingly safe 3-0 lead. But Paul Martin broke up Ward's shutout with a power-play goal with 7:48 to play, and Patrik Elias made it one-goal game with 21.5 seconds left.

New Jersey pulled goalie Scott Clemmensen both times it got a power play in the third period, creating two 6-on-4 advantages. The ploy worked -- after Martin scored on the first, Carolina couldn't hit the open net on the second.

"You're not creating anything offensively, so what have you got to lose," Brent Sutter said. "If you're on the power play you've got a two-man advantage. We were down three goals. It wasn't like we were down a goal. We weren't generating a whole lot. We took the chance and it paid off."

The Hurricanes have turned around their season since Paul Maurice replaced Peter Laviolette behind the 'Canes' bench.

"Tonight was a huge win," Maurice said. "It's important to beat teams that are ahead of you in the standings. It gives you confidence that you're in the chase. You're not just necessarily fighting the teams that are behind you."

Red Wings 3, Blue Jackets 0 | VIDEO

Ty Conklin is enjoying life as a Red Wing, especially at Joe Louis Arena. He stopped 23 shots for his eighth career shutout and fourth this season — all at The Joe — as Detroit stretched its winning streak to four games.

Pavel Datsyuk scored a goal and set up the other two for Detroit. Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg also scored.
Conklin, who signed with the Red Wings this summer as a free agent after facing Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final with Pittsburgh last spring, stretched his home scoreless streak to 138 minutes, 46 seconds.
"I feel real good, period. I certainly feel a lot more comfortable than when I first got here," Conklin said. "The first couple games I was tentative and had some butterflies, but now I'm a lot calmer and I feel comfortable behind this team. Hopefully, it works both ways."

His best stop came about nine minutes into the game, when he robbed a wide-open Michael Peca by diving across the crease to stop what looked like an easy goal.

"That was basically a goal into an empty net and he made an unbelievable save," Hossa said. "The game could have gone either way. ... He saved a huge goal and then we started playing well a little after that."

Jackets captain Rick Nash left in the first period after crashing into the boards and didn't return.

"We'll evaluate him tomorrow," said Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock, who would only add that Nash had a lower-body injury.

Datsyuk broke a scoreless tie 3:45 into the third period, banging a power-play rebound past rookie sensation Steve Mason.

"He had lots of saves today to keep it 0-0," Datsyuk said about Mason. "The plan was shoot, go for rebound like always. Create traffic."

Hossa scored a power-play goal just 2:14 later when he beat Mason with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle for his 18th goal, which also broke his seven-game scoreless drought.

"We had been good up to that point," Mason said. "To give those two up definitely hurt us."

Zetterberg hit the empty net with 30 seconds left after Datsyuk made a perfect kick-pass to get him the puck.

Panthers 4, Maple Leafs 2 | VIDEO

The capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre started the game by booing ex-Leaf defenseman Bryan McCabe. They ended it booing the home team after a lackluster loss to Florida.

"They were really flat," said McCabe, who was dealt to the Panthers in the offseason and assisted on Florida's first goal. "We really outplayed them, got up a couple, and we really didn't look back from there. It was a good game."

The Panthers outshot the Leafs 10-0 in the first five minutes. Stephen Weiss's power-play goal at 10:16 made the shot count 11-0, and Ville Peltonen made it 2-0 by beating Vesa Toskala at 17:38.

"The boos weren't too bad out there," McCabe said of the reception from the fans he used to play in front of. "I got it much worse when I played here. It was fine."

"The guys around here have been booing him to get him prepared, kind of getting him immune to it for the last two days," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "I've got all the respect in the world for Bryan McCabe. I think he's handled the situation like a consummate professional and I can't say enough. I can't imagine anyone would handle the situation better than he has."

"The boos weren't too bad out there.  I got it much worse when I played here. It was fine." -- Bryan McCabe on his return to Toronto
Michael Frolik made it 3-0 at 14:18 of the second period. Gregory Campbell connected in the third to offset goals by Alex Ponikarovsky and Jason Blake, as the Leafs showed some life in the final 20 minutes but never seriously threatened.

"I was not very happy with the effort," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "We had zero energy at all from any veteran players, to show up and lead the way. It was a quiet room before the game, it was quiet on the bench.

"We've got to find a way to get a little bit more passion or energy when we play a team like that."


Avalanche 2, Predators 1 | VIDEO

Colorado coach Tony Granato moved Wojtek Wolski from left wing to center to help compensate for the loss of Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny. Wolski, who hadn't played there regularly since junior hockey, wound up getting both goals for Colorado, which handed the offensively starved Predators their fifth consecutive loss.

"It is like riding a bike," Wolski said after scoring his eighth and ninth goals of the season to help Colorado end a three-game slide. "Once you have done it for long enough, you are going to get used to it and it will come back quickly. With our coaching staff helping me all the time and giving me pointers it has been a lot easier."

Granato has no plans to move Wolski back to the wing anytime soon.

"He showed that he wants to be at that position and play with those guys [Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth]," Granato said. "He basically won the game for us, along with Andrew Raycroft."

Raycroft stopped 22 shots, allowing only Ryan Jones' rebound goal 7:30 into the game.

"We needed it," Raycroft said. "You never want to say you need a win in January, but it's nice to get it. This was a great example of what we needed to do."

Wolski tied it at 14:25 of the first when he one-timed Svatos' pass behind Pekka Rinne, then got the game-winner at 15:47 of the second with a high wrist shot from the low slot.

Preds coach Barry Trotz said little breakdowns were a big problem for his goal-starved team.
 
"We did some things, but we did lose the game," he said. "Our left winger did a poor job on the two goals, plain and simple. If we take care of the details, then they have two less chances to score and it’s a 1-0 game. I think if things are going our way, then that’s the way we are going to have to do it.

"Everybody’s going to have to adjust their game and however they have to do it. We directed 70 shots at their net. It’s not like we’re not shooting the puck. We need some guys to contribute."

Blackhawks 6, Coyotes 0 | VIDEO

With Patrick Kane out with a sprained ankle, Adam Burish got the chance to celebrate his birthday in style. His first goal of the season triggered a four-goal outburst in the first period as Chicago blew out the Coyotes in their own building.

"The guy I feel bad about right now is Kaner," Burish said. "I'm not sure how he's going to get his spot back. He's going to have to fight me for it."

Burish, Kris Versteeg, Colin Fraser and Ben Eager scored in a 4:36 span of the first period to take any drama out of the game. Jonathan Toews added goals in the second and third periods, and Cristobal Huet stopped 22 shots for his second shutout of the season.

"They couldn't do anything to get a goal," Burish said. "Huey was making saves he wasn't even seeing."

"We have to come out on a mission next game and make sure that come the first period we're ready and we're going to score.  If somebody has to eat a post to put it in the net, then that's what we're going to do." -- Kyle Turris
The Blackhawks won all four games against Phoenix, sweeping the season series for the first time since 1988-89 when the Coyotes were still the Winnipeg Jets. They outscored the Coyotes 20-4, including 13-7 in the first period.

"It was a game that we wanted to get off on a good start on this trip," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Guys have been really diligent in their preparation for this trip. It was exactly like that. No matter who the opposition is, we want to make sure we're consistent."

The Coyotes lost their second consecutive game, both by shutout.

"We have to come out on a mission next game and make sure that come the first period we're ready and we're going to score," Phoenix rookie Kyle Turris said. "If somebody has to eat a post to put it in the net, then that's what we're going to do."

Flames 5, Sharks 2

Calgary exacted some revenge for a 6-1 thrashing by the Sharks at San Jose in November by dominating the League leaders in the return match at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Flames have gone 15-4-3 since being embarrassed on Nov. 13 and completely dominated the Sharks in the opening period, getting the game's first 15 shots and grabbing a 3-0 lead on goals by Curtis Glencross, Daymond Langkow and Mark Giordano.

"It was the best first period we've played in a long, long time," Flames associate head coach Jim Playfair said.

Added Langkow: "Any time you're playing a great team like San Jose, you want to get off to a good start — and we did that.

"We felt good early and we came out strong. I thought we had a pretty strong 60 minutes."

The Sharks showed little of the drive and desire that have lifted them to the top of the NHL standings.

"There's not a lot of desperation in our game right now," said forward Ryane Clowe, who scored San Jose's first goal. "You come on the road and teams have you circled. They're trying to test their game against the top team in the League. Teams are going to be ready for us."

Langkow made it 4-0 at 1:26 of the second period by one-timing Rene Bourque's pass behind Evgeni Nabokov, who was lifted after that goal in favor of Brian Boucher.

Clowe and Mike Grier gave the Sharks some life with goals in the second period, but David Moss' goal at 10:06 of the third period assured the Sharks of their first regulation loss in seven games (4-1-2).

"When you get behind the eight-ball against a good team like Calgary, it's hard to come back," Clowe said.

Flames 5, Sharks 2 | VIDEO

Calgary exacted some revenge for a 6-1 thrashing by the Sharks at San Jose in November by dominating the League leaders in the return match at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Flames have gone 15-4-3 since being embarrassed on Nov. 13 and completely dominated the Sharks in the opening period, getting the game's first 15 shots and grabbing a 3-0 lead on goals by Curtis Glencross, Daymond Langkow and Mark Giordano.

"It was the best first period we've played in a long, long time," Flames associate head coach Jim Playfair said.

Added Langkow: "Any time you're playing a great team like San Jose, you want to get off to a good start — and we did that.

"We felt good early and we came out strong. I thought we had a pretty strong 60 minutes."

The Sharks showed little of the drive and desire that have lifted them to the top of the NHL standings.

"There's not a lot of desperation in our game right now," said forward Ryane Clowe, who scored San Jose's first goal. "You come on the road and teams have you circled. They're trying to test their game against the top team in the League. Teams are going to be ready for us."

Langkow made it 4-0 at 1:26 of the second period by one-timing Rene Bourque's pass behind Evgeni Nabokov, who was lifted after that goal in favor of Brian Boucher.

Clowe and Mike Grier gave the Sharks some life with goals in the second period, but David Moss' goal at 10:06 of the third period assured the Sharks of their first regulation loss in seven games (4-1-2).

"When you get behind the eight-ball against a good team like Calgary, it's hard to come back," Clowe said.

Ducks 3, Kings 1 | VIDEO

With Teemu Selanne injured and Corey Perry suspended, checking forward Samuel  Pahlsson is enjoying the chance to get some power-play time. His redirection of Scott Niedermayer's pass with 10:15 left in regulation broke a 1-1 tie as the Ducks took the opener of their home-and-home series against their Southern California rivals.

The Kings killed a 5-on-3, but were still down a man when Niedermayer threw the puck on net from the right circle and Pahlsson tipped it just inside the far post from the top of the crease.

"Scott had the puck on the right-hand side. I went to the far post, and I guess the puck hit my stick," Pahlsson said after his fourth goal of the season. "It was in the air and it went in. That is all that matters."

Rob Niedermayer put a 150-footer into the empty net with seven seconds left for the final margin.

"I’m usually not out there a lot on the power play, but I got a couple of chances there and it is fun.  It’s going to be tough to stay when we get some guys back here. I’m going to try to help out when I get my chance out there." -- Samuel Pahlsson
Pahlsson was promoted to the first power-play unit over the weekend after Perry drew a four-game suspension.

"I’m usually not out there a lot on the power play, but I got a couple of chances there and it is fun," Pahlsson said. "It’s going to be tough to stay when we get some guys back here. I’m going to try to help out when I get my chance out there."

Rookie Bobby Ryan opened the scoring at 17:32 of the opening period, one-timing a pass from Ryan Getzlaf behind Erik Ersberg, who played for the first time since Dec. 15 because Jonathan Quick was out with a throat infection.

The Kings tied it 1:14 into the second period when Kyle Quincey's screened blast from the top of the slot beat Jonas Hiller during a 5-on-3 power play. That was one of the few things that went right offensively for the Kings, who managed just 18 shots on goal — only three in the third period.

"Neither team had anything going on the offensive side," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "There were not a lot of pucks put to the net. Both teams came out with a checking mind-set and did a good job against the top lines.

"We just couldn't get (shots) through. They did a good job of shutting us down."
Hiller got the start after shutting out Phoenix on Sunday.

"With Jonas, any time a goalie pitches you a shutout, why fix it if it isn’t broken?" Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "Tonight, he didn’t have that much work, but he was called to make some big stops at critical times."

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




Quote of the Day

You could see out there that everybody was willing to compete, to sacrifice, even blocking shots to the end. Even in the third when we were up 5-0, guys were still working hard and blocking shots That's a nice feeling also for the future.

— Flames goalie Jonas Hiller after his team's 5-0 win over Carolina
Winter Classic sweepstakes