The Bruins, who struggled through the early stages of the season, completed a perfect 4-0-0 road trip Wednesday night when David Krejci's goal in the fourth round of the shootout gave them a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Tuukka Rask made 28 saves through 65 minutes and three more in the shootout as the Bruins beat the Wild for just the second time in team history -- despite managing a season-low 16 shots.
"It's one of those things we probably needed with where we were," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We were a little frustrated even before that four-game winning streak. This road trip has been good for us and good for the confidence. Now it's up to us to go back home and bring that in our own building as well."
The Bruins host New Jersey on Friday afternoon and Ottawa on Saturday. But the way Rask is playing, it likely wouldn't have mattered where this game was held.
The rookie made his fifth straight start for the Bruins as regular goalie Tim Thomas remains out with an undisclosed injury. Rask stopped five shots in overtime, including a point-blank chance from Mikko Koivu, and three of four shootout chances to improve to 7-2-1 this season.
"They ran into a hot goaltender," Julien said. "I think he's one of those franchise goaltenders and we're fortunate right now to have two of those guys and it puts us in a position of strength."
The Wild, playing without five key players due to injuries and illness, still managed to outshoot the Bruins 18-7 through two periods.
"It's just one of those things that we've had to continually deal with," coach Todd Richards said. "We had opportunities, great opportunities. We had a couple swats at pucks where the puck was bouncing and just missed it."
"We can't be too happy because we didn't play nearly as good as we can, but we found a way," Bitz said. "Guys came up big in the shootout and our penalty kill did a hell of a job. We found a way."
The Capitals picked up Alex Ovechkin, instead of the other way around, as they beat the slumping Sabres at Verizon Center.
Ovechkin got the game's first goal in the opening period, but was given a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct after a hit on Patrick Kaleta early in the third. The Caps, who've struggled to hold third-period leads, tightened up and blanked Buffalo behind a 25-save performance by rookie Semyon Varlamov.
"You lose the most prolific scorer on the planet Earth, which is tough," Washington defenseman Brian Pothier said. "But you have to kill a five-minute penalty. As Ovi's skating off the ice, we're telling him, 'We've got this one for you.' He does so much for our team. Every night, he bails us out. We could sure do it for him."
They did, and Eric Fehr added an insurance goal to back Varlamov's first regular-season shutout.
"Varly was solid," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It was like he was saying, 'I'm not going to let this happen to me again in the third period.'"
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wasn't happy with the way his team played during the long power play.
"We didn't get organized. We got set up once ... and made a couple of bad passes," Ruff said. "And the couple of bad passes led to no zone time."
The Caps aren't expecting any supplementary discipline against Ovechkin, who didn't think the call deserved a major.
"I just go take a hit and (Kaleta) just fell into the boards. ... Max, it's got to be two minutes," Ovechkin said.
Pittsburgh (17-8-0) matched a franchise record for the most wins through 25 games as Sidney Crosby continued his mastery of Montreal with a goal and an assist.
Crosby, who grew up watching the Canadiens, had a hat trick against Montreal in the Habs' previous visit to Mellon Arena four weeks ago. This time, he scored a goal and set up another with a no-look pass.
"Offensively, they're as talented as any group in the league," Montreal defenseman Paul Mara said. "And we were playing defense pretty much all night."
"I saw Gonch coming late and I didn't really have an angle to pass it on the forehand, so I just tried to spin there and give myself a better angle," Crosby said. "It wasn't a great pass, it was in his feet, but he kicked it up to his stick and made a great move."
Max Pacioretty's third-period goal was far too little and way too late for the banged-up Canadiens.
It was the Canadiens' last scheduled game in the 48-year-old arena that was known as the Civic Arena when they were the visiting team for the Penguins' NHL debut in 1967. The Canadiens finished with 45 wins, 33 losses and 14 ties there. The Penguins will move into a new arena next season.
Patrik Elias, who's working his way back after offseason groin surgery, scored the go-ahead goal with 1:26 left in the second period as the Devils beat Ottawa in Newark.
"I'm feeling comfortable and starting to make the plays," said Elias, who missed the Devils' first 13 games and 14 overall while recovering from the surgery. "I'm getting chances and shots and that's a positive sign. On the other hand, I still don't feel 100 percent which is probably a good thing. But I keep making progress slowly and as long as I'm OK to play the next game, then that's all I could ask for."
The goal was the first for Elias in a regular-season game since he connected in a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last March 28. The Devils' all-time leading scorer now has 6 points in his last four games.
Langenbrunner added an empty-netter with 23.7 seconds left as the Devils extended their home winning streak to five games.
The Devils' captain said getting his first goal should relax Elias.
"He's a huge player for us and you could see he was pressing a little bit to get the goal but he's played well in the last few games and you could tell he's getting more and more comfortable," Langenbrunner said. "I think getting a goal will loosen the grip on that stick."
Brodeur was excellent in the third period, stopping all 12 shots he faced.
The Devils captain also credited Niclas Bergfors on the Elias goal -- despite the fact the rookie wasn't even on the ice.
"We didn't have any forecheck at all over the first two periods and in the third when we began to pressure, Marty was there for them," Michalek said. "We wanted to get more pressure and had some chances, but couldn't put them in on him."
Scott Hartnell sent the Flyers home from their five-game road trip with a win when he scored with 5:27 at the Nassau Coliseum to end Philadelphia's three-game losing streak.
Hartnell, whose needless first-period penalty resulted in Trent Hunter's power-play goal 8:05 into the game, took a pass from Jeff Carter and ripped a shot that deflected off the stick of Isles defenseman Brendan Witt and past Martin Biron.
"Getting two wins out of five games on the road, traveling cross-country and back … we had a lot of games in not many days," Hartnell said. "To get this win is huge. We didn't back down. We fought right to the end and we were able to hold on. "
The Islanders dominated most of the first two periods, but managed only Hunter's power-play goal. Philadelphia got even with 34 seconds left in the second period when Mike Richards scored on the Flyers' lone power-play chance.
That goal appeared to awaken the Flyers, who outshot New York 11-1 in the third period.
"The urgency level went up," Flyers coach John Stevens said of his team's play in the third period. "I thought we started to have a little more composure with the puck and we got more pucks deep when we had to. That gave us more time in the offensive zone."
Isles coach Scott Gordon was very unhappy with the way his team played in the final period after dominating for 40 minutes.
"In the first and second periods, we took the ice that was available," Gordon said after watching his team lose its first home game since Nov. 7. "In the third period, the only thing we wanted to do was make plays, and as a result we didn't generate any speed coming into the zone. We were easy to defend against in the defensive zone because there was no element of speed."
Atlanta won for only the second time ever at Joe Louis Arena thanks to goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped all 40 shots he faced for his second NHL shutout.
"It's pretty fun to play in front of this crowd and those people," Pavelec said of the loud crowd of 19,751. "They were loud."
Pavelec did his best to silence them with 19 first-period saves.
"No question Pavelec was outstanding in the first period," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "I thought we got better as the night went on."
The Wings, who are missing four key regulars due to injury, have lost four of their last five games, have scored only one goal in their last eight periods and only one goal on 80 shots in their last two home games.
We're getting some good shots off, we're getting traffic," forward Todd Bertuzzi said. "Something we can't really get frustrated about. I know it's hard ... It's something that doesn't sit well with the team. We've got to get out of this ASAP."
Nik Antropov opened the scoring 5:02 into the game when he tapped a cross-crease pass into a half-empty net for his second goal -- immediately after a flurry of great chances for Detroit. Former Wing Slava Kozlov's power-play breakaway goal at 9:08 of the second period doubled the lead.
With Pavelec in goal, two goals were more than enough against the struggling Wings.
"We tilted the rink pretty good and had a lot of opportunities. They're just not going in for us right now," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "There's no sense in getting frustrated. We just have to keep pushing and pushing. It seems like if we make a mistake, it's in our set, and we're not doing much at the other end."
Two nights after losing despite getting 61 shots on goal, Toronto won while getting only 35 when Matt Stajan broke a tie with a breakaway goal late in the second period.
Stajan's goal broke a 3-3 tie, and the Leafs played perhaps their best defensive period of the season to shut down the Lightning in the third.
"The whole third period, I think, that was the best play we've shown so far this season when we've had the lead," said goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who made 28 saves but faced just six shots in the final 20 minutes. "We took total control of the game."
"It feels like we're getting our legs under us a little bit better," Hagman said. "We're creating more chances."
Tampa Bay, which returned home after a 2-1-1 road trip, got goals from Andrej Meszaros, Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Malone. The Lightning, 5-1-4 at home, were the last Eastern Conference team without a home loss in regulation.
"Coming back from the road trip I knew it was going to be a grind for us," coach Rick Tocchet said. "I think a couple guys looked tired, but we hung in there. We weren't mentally sharp."
Nigel Dawes ended a 12-game goal drought by scoring with 5:44 left in regulation as the Flames beat the visiting Coyotes.
Dawes, stationed in the left circle, took a brilliant no-look feed from David Moss behind the net and buried a wrist shot this hit the shoulder of Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov and flew into the top corner of the net.
"Obviously, when you're in a little bit of a slump, it's nice to get that one," said Dawes, who hadn't scored since a two-goal performance against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 24. "I hadn't been getting to the areas I needed to. There have been times I've been making plays, and setting up goals, but I've got to get close to the net, because that's where I'm going to have my success and score my goals."
The Coyotes, who lost 4-0 at Edmonton on Monday, nearly went without a goal in their two-game trip to Alberta. Keith Yandle's goal midway through the third period tied the game at 1-1 after Daymond Langkow had given the Flames the lead late in the second.
"Very disappointed. We know the quality of team that they are, but we didn't play our game. I think we let points slip away," Phoenix defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "We're not a team that's going to score the pretty ones. We've got to work harder. We need to be smarter and more poised with the puck."
"We had two games at home that we lost where we didn't work as hard as we should have, so that was our goal tonight, to come in and play a solid 60 minutes," Simmonds said. "I think we did that and it was a big character win for us."
"That was a big one," Greene said. "Mind you, any goal for me is a big one. They don't come too often. It was a good feeling to get a game-winner against my old team. I was just trying to shoot it hard. I had no idea where it was going."
Simmonds tied the game 6:38 into the second period. Frolov put the game away with an empty-netter.
Ryan Potulny's goal late in the first period was all the offense for the Oilers, who are now 10-12-3 and have won just four of their last 16. The Oilers also lost center Ales Hemsky to an upper-body injury in the second period after a hit by Michal Handzus.
"It was one of those games that was up there for grabs by one of the two teams and they got it and we didn't," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "We played just poorly enough to not win it and they played just well enough to win it. They're going home with two points and we are sucking wind."
The road continues to be inhospitable to the Hurricanes. Carolina remained winless away from the RBC Center and set a franchise record with its 12th consecutive road loss as Petteri Nokelainen broke a tie with 7:27 remaining.
"Every loss stinks," Carolina goaltender Manny Legace said after the 'Canes dropped to 0-9-3 on the road. "It seems like we played that third period not to lose. You've got to go out and play hard."
Nokelainen's goal gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead, and Teemu Selanne provided insurance by beating Manny Legace with 1:32 remaining. That proved to be the game-winner when Brandon Sutter whacked in a loose puck with 53 seconds to play.
“We were patient the whole game, played our system until the end and Nokie got a big goal for us,” center Ryan Getzlaf said after the 300th home victory in Ducks' history.
Carolina's Tom Kostopoulos scored on the first shot by either team in his 400th NHL game. The 29-year-old right wing made his NHL debut on Dec. 29, 2001, and scored on his very first shot on net for Pittsburgh against Ottawa. He has only 17 goals since then.
Scott Niedermayer's power-play goal with 49 seconds left in the second period tied the game. Corey Perry assisted on the goal to extend his career-best points streak to 16 games, the longest in the NHL this season and one off the franchise record set by Selanne in 1998-99.
"We played pretty well tonight," said goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 27 shots for his second win in three days. "They were a desperate team and played a good game. We kept with it. There were stretches where it didn’t necessarily go our way, but we didn’t panic. We ended up scoring some big goals."