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Wild get first road win with 2-1 victory at Pittsburgh

Sunday, 11.01.2009 / 12:54 AM / Roundup

By Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Minnesota Wild celebrated Halloween by doing something they hadn't done all season -- win a game away from home.

Niklas Backstrom stopped 34 shots and made first-period goals by Kyle Brodziak and Eric Belanger stand up for a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night -- keeping the Wild from becoming the first team in 17 years from starting the season 0-9 on the road.

"Backy was great," said Eric Belanger, who scored the winning goal in the final second of the first period. "You need your goalie like that to steal you a game on the road, and that's what he did for us tonight."

Minnesota beat the defending Stanley Cup champions (11-3-0), who own the NHL's best record, despite being outshot 35-15. The Wild (5-9-0) are 3-0 against Eastern Conference opponents, including a home win over the New York Rangers on Friday night.

"We played a simple game, played a great road game in a tough building to play in against a good team," Backstrom said. "We tried to keep it simple and play our game and battle for every puck. We did it for a whole 60 minutes, and the result was good."
The Penguins did everything right -- except score.

"It's weird how hockey works sometimes," said captain Sidney Crosby, who had a six-game point streak snapped. "We played probably one solid period last night (against Columbus) and found a way to get two points, and then tonight we played three good periods and they kind of steal one from us."

All the scoring came in the opening period, when the Penguins outshot Minnesota 16-4.
The Wild had only one shot until the sequence that put them ahead. Brodziak slapped a loose puck into an open net at 12:11 after a shot by Brent Burns from the point was deflected into Marc-Andre Fleury by Chuck Kobasew.

Pascal Dupuis tied it at 14:48 with a one-timer from the slot off a feed from Martin Skoula.

Belanger, who also scored in a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Friday, gave the Wild the lead for good with 0.6 seconds to play in the first. Martin Havlat found him wide open in the right circle, and Belanger fired a wrist shot past Fleury, who lost for the second time this season.

Pittsburgh dominated the second period, in which Crosby got the fourth fighting major of his NHL career when he traded slashes -- and then punches -- with Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky.

Backstrom was at his best in the third period, when the Penguins kept the puck in the Minnesota zone for shifts at a time. He stopped multiple Penguins during a flurry with about nine minutes left, then robbed Kris Letang two minutes later after Letang got in alone. The Penguins pressured the rest of the way, but couldn't score again.

"I think we can keep our heads up after this one," Crosby said. "If we outshoot a team 35-15 every game I like our chances."

Bruins 2, Oilers 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Boston has never been a fun place for the Oilers, and Saturday was no different. Tuukka Rask stopped all 19 Edmonton shots and the Bruins got third-period goals by Blake Wheeler and Vladimir Sobotka to beat the Oilers.

Edmonton is now 6-22-3-1 at Boston since entering the NHL in 1979. The Oilers also have been shut out in three of their last four games -- the exception being a 6-5 shootout win over Detroit on Thursday.

Rask, in his fourth start this season, gave Boston its third straight shutout of Edmonton and the Bruins' eighth win in a row over the Oilers, dating to 2000. He blanked the New York Rangers in his only start last season.

"I think that was the best game of the year for us," said Rask, who wasn't severely tested. "We were skating hard, moving the puck. A couple of turnovers in the first period and the second period, but overall I think it was a good game."

Nikolai Khabibulin matched Rask until Wheeler scored 2:47 into the third. Sobotka finished off a 2-on-1 break at 7:02. That was more than enough against Edmonton, which was missing several key players who are injured or battling the flu.

"We tried to match intensity early but they came hard," forward Shawn Horcoff said after the Oilers' fourth loss in five games. "You have to give them credit. They had four lines that work extremely hard. They had a good game plan.

"They're tough at home. Khabby again gave us a chance and held us in there until the third period. I think a couple letdowns too many, and it was only a matter of time till they got one."

Thrashers 3, Senators 1 |
HIGHLIGHTS

Ondrej Pavelec personally carried Atlanta to victory by stopping 50 Ottawa shots at Scotiabank Place.

''Right now I feel like Jacque Plante 50 years ago,'' said Pavelec, whose helmet flew off at one point after he took a puck to the face.

Ottawa had nothing to show for a game in which it outshot Atlanta 51-21.

''He was fabulous,'' Thrashers coach John Anderson said. ''One of the best games I've ever seen in goal. He made us win.''

The Thrashers, who have struggled early in games, took control by jumping out to a 2-0 lead after two periods on goals by Zach Bogosian and Rich Peverley. Maxim Afinogenov added a late insurance goal.

Pascal Leclaire stopped 18 shots and Mike Fisher scored the lone goal for the Senators (6-4-2).

''A couple of bounces didn't go our way, and it was just unfortunate,'' Leclaire said. ''The guys played a great game and we just ran into a hot goalie.''

Both Atlanta goals came after the Senators failed to win faceoffs in their own end.
Marty Reasoner beat Nick Foligno cleanly and slid the puck to Bogosian, whose shot got past Leclaire before the goalie could react at 12:13 of the first period.

The Thrashers made it 2-0 midway through the second despite being outshot 18-5 in the period. Peverley won a draw, and after a duel along the boards, Nik Antropov threw the puck out front where Peverley got a piece of it. The puck bounced in off Ottawa defenseman Chris Campoli at 11:51.

Flyers 6, Hurricanes 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Braydon Coburn scored twice and Scott Hartnell and Matt Carle each had a goal and two assists as Philadelphia ended a two-game skid with an emphatic win over Carolina at the Wachovia Center.

The 'Canes, who were never in the game and trailed 3-0 after 20 minutes, have lost eight in a row and are showing no signs of snapping out of it. Carolina (2-7-3), which got a goal from Brandon Sutter, is off to its worst start in 12 years and is 0-5-3 during this slump.

Hartnell broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal 8:04 into the game. With the Flyers buzzing in the offensive end, Hartnell redirected Chris Pronger’s shot past Michael Leighton to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. It was Hartnell’s third goal of the season.

David Laliberte then put the Flyers up by a pair in his first NHL game at 12:30 of the first, as he stuffed in a rebound that Leighton failed to control past the Carolina goaltender. Carle registered his 100th career point with 2:39 left in the period when he beat Leighton on a wraparound. Laliberte was promoted from the AHL on Friday to replace the injured Danny Briere.

"It feels great," Laliberte said. "It was my second shift. I was in good position and the puck just came to my stick. It was just instinct to shoot. I’m very happy."

"I felt a little rusty the first part of the game, but I felt good the second half," said Leighton, who made his first start of the season. "I let up a couple of goals early and I gave up some rebounds that I usually don’t give up."

Sutter briefly got the Hurricanes back in the game when he one-timed Sergei Samsonov's feed past Ray Emery (39 saves) 2:56 into the second period, but James van Riemsdyk restored Philadelphia’s three-goal lead just 14 seconds later.

"Guys are sticking up for each other and that’s a big part of hockey," said van Riemsdyk, as 25 penalties were called in the matinee. "We’re coming together as a team, becoming a cohesive unit."

Coburn scored both of his goals in a 90-second span in the third period. It was the first two-goal game of his career.

Panthers 4, Blues 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Apparently Tomas Vokoun just misses playing in St. Louis.

Vokoun, who saw plenty of the Scottrade Center during his time tending goal for Nashville, returned there and stopped all 34 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and first win in four weeks.

''I felt good,'' Vokoun said. ''Obviously every time you get a shutout it's a mix of good play and luck. The most important is the two points.''

Vokoun won his first start of the season against Chicago in Helsinki, Finland, but had gone 0-7-1 in his next eight. His career goals-against average against St. Louis was 2.01 coming in, though, and it only got better.

''Sometimes, it's hard to control your rebounds,'' Vokoun said. ''It all depends on the situations. I got to see the puck well today. Guys were blocking shots. It was a little bit easier than some other games.''

Cory Stillman, Stephen Weiss, Dennis Seidenberg and Nathan Horton all scored for Florida, which didn't have to sweat out this win following a 6-5 shootout victory over Dallas on Friday.

''We talked about it as a group about the back-to-backs and we've got 18 of them this year,'' Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. ''We need to be able to pick up points and we haven't done a good job of that up through the early part of the season in these games.
 
''Tonight, we came out with a conscious effort to make good decisions with the puck and be patient and have some composure. I think we did all those things.''

The Blues, who also started the season overseas, are just 3-6-1 since returning to North America after a pair of big wins over the Red Wings. Even more troubling is their 1-5-0 record on home ice (not counting a "home" win credited to them in Stockholm), and the fact they've been shut out in consecutive games at Scottrade Center.

''When you're struggling to score like we are at this time, you've got to be so solid defensively,'' coach Andy Murray said. ''Unfortunately, we weren't.''

Predators 4, Stars 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

A three-goal third period, capped by goals from Patric Hornqvist and Kevin Klein just 43 seconds apart, rallied Nashville over Dallas at Sommet Center.

Steve Sullivan tied the score for the Predators early in the third and Pekka Rinne finished with 27 saves to stretch their season-high winning streak to three games.

''If you look at all of the goals, there is one common theme that there was someone right in front of the net,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ''Goals are hard to come by, you have to go to the hard places, and guys did.''

The Stars had built a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes on goals by Steve Ott and Brian Sutherby sandwiched around Shea Weber's score for the Predators. Alex Auld subbed for a flu-ridden Marty Turco for the second straight night and stopped 29 shots, but Dallas lost in regulation on the road for the first time after a 4-0-3 start.

''They came out with a lot of sustained pressure, and they scored three hard-working goals,'' Auld said. ''I would have liked to come up with some saves to hold the team in it, but I wasn't able to do that tonight.''

Hornqvist put the Predators ahead with 9:01 remaining on a wrist shot under the crossbar off a loose puck. Klein then scored his first of the season by beating Auld through traffic on a slap shot from the right point.

''For the first time in 10 games, I got it right on my stick,'' Hornqvist said. ''It was nice to get a goal again, and if we can keep playing like that we are going to have success the whole year.''

Ott returned from a two-game suspension to open the scoring on a power-play goal 3:31 into the first. Weber evened the score before the period was out on a Nashville man advantage with 7:16 remaining.

Sutherby scored for the second game in a row, at 2:15 of the second period, and Dallas carried that lead into the third but couldn't hold it.

''We thought that we were really taking the play to them so there was really no doubt in our minds that this game was ours for the taking,'' said Sullivan, who scored for the first time since the season opener in Dallas.

Coyotes 3, Ducks 2 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Radim Vrbata opened the shootout with a goal and Ilya Bryzgalov made it stand up with three saves as Phoenix tied a franchise record with its ninth win in October.

Teemu Selanne briefly silenced the Jobing.com Arena crowd when he put the Ducks ahead 2-1 with 9:47 left in regulation, but Vernon Fiddler answered that goal just 18 seconds later to get the fans rocking again.

"It was one of those games where you think you should be winning, but (Anaheim) kept hanging on, and hanging on," Fiddler said. "We knew they played (Friday night), so we wanted to keep going on them and wear them down."

Robert Lang of the Coyotes (9-4-0) and Corey Perry of the Ducks traded power-play goals in the first two periods for a 1-1 tie. Anaheim was looking to build off Friday's 7-2 rout of Vancouver that ended a four-game losing streak, but Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Selanne were all denied by Bryzgalov in the shootout.

"Right now, we're taking one shift at a time and small steps," center Todd Marchant said. "We just need to keep moving forward. I thought we played a solid road game, and can take positives from the effort."

Lang converted a Matthew Lombardi feed 3:52 into the first to put the Coyotes in front after the Ducks' Nick Boynton was called for hooking.

Penalties to defensemen Jim Vandermeer and Zbynek Michalek six seconds apart led to a 5-on-3 advantage on which Perry capitalized 8:01 into the second for the tying goal.

"We had a strong second period and overall sound effort," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We can't get too excited about a good road point, or down too low. We need to keep an even keel."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

Quote of the Day

When we started our journey we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization. There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago.

— Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz on signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to contract extensions