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Coyotes stay hot with 3-2 overtime win over Wings

Friday, 10.23.2009 / 12:29 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Phoenix Coyotes have been good during the early going. On Thursday, they were a little lucky, too.

The Coyotes made four wins in a row when Adrian Aucoin's harmless-looking wrist shot beat Chris Osgood 1:57 into overtime, giving the Coyotes a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

The surprising Coyotes (6-2-0) now own a four-game winning streak for the first time in nearly two years after beating Detroit for only the second time in their last 13 meetings. They've won six of their first eight games for just the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2000-01.

They did it by coming from behind in the final minutes of regulation -- Petr Prucha jammed the puck under Osgood with 2:40 left to force the overtime -- before Aucoin took a wrister from near the right boards above the circle and saw it hit Osgood and deflect into the net.

It was a tough loss for Wings coach Mike Babcock to swallow.

"It's very disappointing," he said. "I thought we had the game under control. We got a point and we did a lot of good things, but it's a disappointing loss."

Aucoin was also involved in the game's first goal. His 45-foot straightaway slap shot hit Osgood and popped into the air, where Matthew Lombardi swatted it into the net for a power-goal at 16:30 of the opening period.

Detroit tied it with 19.3 seconds left when Tomas Holmstrom tipped Henrik Zetterberg's pass behind Ilya Bryzgalov for a power-play goal. The Wings went ahead 7:45 into the second when defenseman Brett Lebda raced down from the left point into the circle and fired Pavel Datsyuk's perfect cross-slot pass into a wide-open net for his first goal of the season.

The Wings were less than three minutes from winning the opener of a five-game road trip when Martin Hanzal picked off a pass along the right boards and fed Zbynek Michalek at the left point. Michalek worked his way into the circle and backhanded the puck into Osgood's pass, where Prucha was battling a pair of defenders. Everyone piled into Osgood -- and the puck hit Prucha and trickled into the net. A video review allowed the goal.

"I like the way Prucha goes to the net," coach Dave Tippett said. "Those goals are hard -- you have to go into the hard places to get them."

Added captain Shane Doan: "We've had a couple of games at home where we were down going into the third, and we knew there were going to be ugly goals. We have to keep going to the net, keep throwing the puck at the net.

"We're going to go until the whistle blows, and when the puck's in there, we're going to keep swinging at it. It wasn't very pretty, but it counted."

Not surprisingly, Babcock saw it differently.

"I thought they pushed Ozzie into the net," he said. "The bottom line is that's what (the referees) decided."

The Coyotes, who are trying to rebuild their fan base after spending the summer in federal bankruptcy court, could use more games like this one.

"We've got a long way to go," Doan said. "It's important for us to have a good start to give the fans something to talk about."

Kings 5, Stars 4 (OT) |
HIGHLIGHTS

The Kings let a 4-1 lead get away before completing a two-game sweep of the Stars on Michal Handzus' goal 55 seconds into overtime.

Los Angeles beat the Stars 4-1 in Dallas on Monday and looked like it would cruise to the home-and-home sweep when Anze Kopitar completed his first career hat trick by beating Alex Auld at 9:55 of the second period. But the Stars refused to go quietly.

Jamie Benn and Mark Fistric scored in the first half of the third period to make it a one-goal game before James Neal beat Jonathan Quick with 2:46 left in regulation to stun the Staples Center crowd. The Stars got their three goals on just seven shots, leaving Kings coach Terry Murray unhappy with his goaltender.

"The goalie needs to be better," Murray said. "Who's kidding who here? Everybody sees the puck going into the net, on shots where he's getting a clear look. He's going down early. He's starting to maybe guess a little bit in those situations, and he's just got to toughen up."

However, Handzus sent the 15,025 fans home smiling when he led a 3-on-2 break, decided to shoot from the top of the left circle and blew a slap shot past Marty Turco for the game-winner.

Kopitar scored 3:54 into the game, then scored two goals 2:38 apart in the second period to complete his hat trick.

"It feels great," he said. "It almost didn't feel great, the way the game ended, but we got two points and that's the most important thing I guess, right now. We have to look forward and maybe forget the last period of this one and just keep going forward."

Dallas has yet to lose in regulation on the road (3-0-3), but the Stars have dropped all four games that have gone past regulation.

"I just loved the way that we battled back," coach Marc Crawford said. "That’s a big point for us and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get it all the way. But I think that we learned something tonight as well -- if we stick to the habits that are going to allow us to be successful, then I think that will carry us a long way."

Canadiens 5, Islanders 1 |
HIGHLIGHTS

This is more like what GM Bob Gainey had in mind when he re-made his roster last summer. Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri, two of his big acquisitions, both scored as the Canadiens flattened the Islanders for their first regulation victory of the season.

Montreal started the season with two overtime wins and snapped a five-game losing streak with a shootout victory over Atlanta on Tuesday. No such heroics were needed against the Islanders, who got only 22 shots at Jaroslav Halak. Their lone goal, a shorthanded tally by Josh Bailey in the first minute of the third period, was due to a misplay by the goaltender behind the net.

Halak, who's allowed just two goals in the back-to-back wins this week, is making the choice of a starting goaltender tough for coach Jacques Martin. Regular starter Carey Price is 2-4-0 with a 3.36 goals-against average.

"Well, when it comes to goalies I usually wait until the night before to sleep on it," Martin said. "I get my bright ideas then."

The Canadiens outshot the Isles 43-22 to win in regulation for the first time since last April 4 against Toronto.

"We're making it hard on ourselves," Cammalleri said about the Canadiens' first multi-goal win. "That's something -- I didn't realize that until right now but that makes sense. Every game's been so tight, and it's important to try and win in tight games and find ways to win those games, but at the same time you can't do that 82 times a year and then however many games in the playoffs, so it was important to get out to a little bit of a lead and hang on to one tonight."

Gomez opened the scoring at 7:55 of the first period and former Islander defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron blasted a one-timer past Martin Biron for a power-play goal at 18:36, giving the Canadiens their first two-goal lead of the season.

Max Pacioretty made it a 3-0 game with his first of the season 3:34 into the second.

After Bailey's goal briefly gave the Islanders some life, Cammalleri restored the Canadiens' three-goal lead with their second power-play goal midway through the third. Maxim Lapierre added his first at 12:59 when he slapped home a loose puck in the crease during a delayed penalty.

It was the first game in Montreal for Islanders rookie John Tavares since he was taken No. 1 in the draft at the Bell Centre in June, but he had a quiet game. The 19-year-old was not credited with a shot on goal, had three blocked, missed the net with two more and was 7-for-16 on faceoffs while finishing with a minus-2 rating.

Tavares wasn't the only Islander who had a quiet night.

"We were a pretty easy team to play against," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "Defensively we were on our heels because of all our turnovers and it wasn't just in one area, it was coming out of our zone, it was situations where we had full control of the puck and we're not making plays. It's probably the worst that I've ever seen it tonight, and it's something that we've got to get better at."

Lightning 5, Sharks 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

It was a night of firsts for veteran goaltender Mike Smith, rookie James Wright and the Lightning. Smith earned his first victory in nearly nine months, Wright scored his first NHL goal and the Bolts beat the visiting Sharks for the first time since March 24, 2003.

Smith, who missed the last 32 games of 2008-09 with post-concussion syndrome, ended a personal six-game losing streak that dated to Jan. 27 by making 32 saves.

"I worked really hard in practice this week and things turned out great for us," Smith said. "I got back to fundamentals this week. I think it helped, so hopefully it can carry over."

Wright gave him an early lead by converting a pass from Martin St. Louis 30 seconds into the game for his first NHL goal.

"He's a breath of fresh air," coach Rick Tocchet said of Wright. "He's a 19-year old that does what you ask."

Ryan Malone redirected David Hale's shot into the net at 15:01 to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead. After San Jose rookie Ryan Vesce scored midway through the second period, Steven Stamkos made it 3-1 with an unassisted goal at 16:39.

Andrej Meszaros' first of the season at 2:54 of the period gave Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead. Dan Boyle's power-play goal with 6:19 remaining cut the deficit to two, but Stamkos hit the empty net with 19 seconds remaining.

The Sharks fell to 2-2 on their six-game Eastern trip.

"Once again our start isn't the way it should be, so as a coach I'll have some questions to ask some of the leaders," coach Todd McLellan said. "We'll be looking for some answers."

Capitals 5, Thrashers 4 | HIGHLIGHTS

Jeff Schultz’s 175-foot "shot" at 10:20 of the second period started the Capitals on a run of three goals in 88 seconds that proved decisive as Washington won in Atlanta to move three points ahead of the Thrashers for the Southeast Division lead.

"I never felt comfortable once that whole game," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I ended up thinking, 'This is going to be 6-5,' but I ended up saying that in the middle of the second period. Somebody's going to win 6-5 because I just saw pucks bouncing and energy-wise for both teams wasn't what it should be. But we'll take the win."

Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, including once on a 6-on-4 with 38.5 seconds left in regulation, pulling Atlanta within one and tying him for the League lead in goals with Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin. Both players have nine.

Adding to the odd nature of the game was that Ovechkin, who entered with 23 goals and 26 assists in 30 career games against Atlanta, was held without a point for only the second time in nine games on the season and was relatively quiet on the night. He was even and was called for tripping with 30 seconds left in regulation, but had only four shots – 2.7 below his average of last season – in 24 minutes, 38 seconds of ice time.

The game turned in the second period when Schultz, one of four Caps to score his first goal of the season on Thursday, cleared the puck from his own right faceoff dot. The shot bounded the length of the ice, appeared to hit an Atlanta defenseman at his own blue line and then evaded the catching glove of Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

Matt Bradley converted a loose rebound of Schultz’s shot 1:14 later for his third goal of the season, then Washington captain Chris Clark netted his first of the season 14 seconds after that, leading Atlanta coach John Anderson to pull Pavelec for the first time this season. Pavelec, who entered with a 2.37 goals-against average in five games, yielded five goals on 14 shots in 22 minutes.

"Oh, it's probably going to be on the top 10 tomorrow [on ESPN’s SportsCenter]," he said. "But it was a long shot and lucky bounces and it hit the ice and changed direction straight over my shoulder."

Four Capitals – Schultz, Eric Fehr, Alexandre Giroux and Clark – all scored their first goals of the season. Semyon Varlamov remained unbeaten at 4-0, finishing with 22 saves.

Atlanta's new top line – an all-Russian trio of Kovalchuk, Maxim Afinogenov and Nik Antropov – finished with six points. Afinogenov scored an early power-play goal.

"When everybody speaks the language and we play together before -- it's real easy," Kovalchuk said. "It doesn't matter who you play with. When you work hard, good things happen to you."

Oilers 6, Blue Jackets 4 | HIGHLIGHTS

Dustin Penner continued his early-season success, scoring twice and adding three assists to rally the Oilers from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Blue Jackets.

"I was trying to set small goals first, I wasn't expecting to see my name up with the League leaders," said Penner, who now has 7 goals and is among the League leaders with 14 points.

"That would have to be the best game of my career, certainly statistically. The stars lined up for me and my linemates tonight. It feels really good. I don't know the last time I was on a team that bounced back from down as much as we were. That's one of the games where you know the true meaning of momentum."

The Blue Jackets had all the momentum early. After Sam Gagner scored the first of his two goals 58 seconds into the game, Columbus got goals late in the period from Kristian Huselius and Raffi Torres to take a 2-1 lead at intermission, and went ahead 4-1 on second-period goals by Huselius and Jason Chimera.

But Penner scored his first goal at 12:09, just 17 seconds after Chimera gave the Jackets a three-goal lead. Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock called it the turning point of the game.

"We played very well to get a 4-1 lead," he said. "The second goal gave them some momentum, and then we took some penalties."

Ales Hemsky, who also had four assists, scored on the power play at 18:55 to cut the deficit to one goal, and Penner tied it with another power-play goal 6:04 into the third period. Penner and Hemsky set up Lubomir Visnovsky's go-ahead goal at 10:43, and Robert Nilsson added a power-play goal into an empty net with 17 seconds remaining.

The newly formed Penner-Hemsky-Gagne line finished with 5 goals and 13 points.

"That was a pretty good line tonight," coach Pat Quinn said. "All three of them were excellent. They played against that Rick Nash unit most of the night and seemed to relish in the challenge. I think it helped them stay sharp. I'm really proud of the way we stuck together as a team and came back. It was a pretty good result at the end of the night, but I don't know if I want to do that roller-coaster every night."

Nash, the Jackets' captain, wasn't happy at letting one get away.

"We really shot ourselves in the foot," he said. "We had that game, up 4-1 on the road. We should definitely have won that. Our power play wasn't very good. We have to get over this one quick. We'll move on. It's a long season."


Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins