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Coyotes win fifth straight, end Wild's streak

Tuesday, 12.08.2009 / 1:57 AM / Roundup

By Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

A quick offensive burst midway through the second period made all the difference in the Phoenix Coyotes continuing their winning streak at the expense of the one the Minnesota Wild had entering the night.

Scottie Upshall and Taylor Pyatt scored 44 seconds apart and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all 28 shots he faced as the Coyotes won 2-0 on Monday at Jobing.com Arena, their fifth win in a row.

The Wild came in winners of five straight and 6-0-1 in their last seven, but were stymied all night long by Bryzgalov, who had beaten them just once in eight previous decisions. It was his career-high fourth shutout, and his 17 wins are one behind New Jersey's Martin Brodeur for the League lead.

''Yeah, I guess he's doing OK for us right now,'' Phoenix captain Shane Doan said with a smile. ''He's so confident and he makes the game look so easy even when it isn't. He always squares to the puck and guys are always hitting him in the middle of his body. As a shooter, that's so frustrating.

''When your goalie is the best player on the ice, it's a lot easier to play the game.''

Upshall scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season at 10:30 of the middle period off a set-up by Peter Mueller. Pyatt then added his fourth of the season, and third in as many games, when he took a pass from Phoenix captain Shane Doan and wristed a shot past Niklas Backstrom.

''It's definitely nice to be able to contribute and I feel like I have my confidence back,'' Pyatt said. ''I missed training camp and the first part of the season (with an injury) and now I feel like I have my legs under me and the jump back in my game.''

Martin Havlat had an opportunity to cut the lead in half in the third, but his backhand shot on a Minnesota power play went off the post.

''Bryzgalov made some good saves but our power play didn't generate anything tonight,'' Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. ''They were skating and we looked like we were stuck in the mud a little bit. If you don't score anything you're not going to win the game, and we've been offensively challenged for the last five games or so.''

Phoenix, which improved to 18-11-1, has its longest winning streak since taking five straight from Dec. 31, 2007 to Jan. 8, 2008.

Canadiens 3, Flyers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Peter Laviolette must continue to wait for his first win behind the Philadelphia bench.

Mike Cammalleri's team-leading 16th goal of the season snapped a second-period tie and Montreal went on to win despite taking just 13 shots on goal. The Canadiens allowed only 15, with each team setting a franchise record for fewest combined shots in a game.

"It felt a little bit weird out there," Cammalleri said. "I don't know what it looked like watching but it felt a little weird, like both teams were playing possum a little bit. Hey, we won the game."

Carey Price made 14 saves, allowing a first-period goal to Daniel Briere as the Flyers took a 1-0 lead. They couldn't hold it and lost their fifth in a row and second since John Stevens was fired as coach and replaced by Laviolette. His debut was an 8-2 home loss to Washington on Saturday.

"We played two decent periods of getting the puck in deep, grinding on their defense, grinding on their forwards, and created some decent scoring opportunities through that," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said. "But the few turnovers we made cost us one goal and then our inability to get the puck in deep in the third period didn't allow us to get any cycles and any of that grind game going."

Philadelphia took four of the five shots recorded in the first period and Briere scored unassisted at 7:28, flicking the puck past Price while being hauled down from behind by Montreal defenseman Ryan O'Byrne.

The Canadiens got even on their third shot of the game against Brian Boucher, as Tomas Plekanec threaded a pass from behind the net to Andrei Kostitsyn in the slot. He scored at 6:20 to tie the score, and Cammalleri finished off a 2-on-1 with Maxim Lapierre at 14:04 for a 2-1 lead. Georges Laraque also earned his 100th career assist on the play.

"If somebody would have told me when I started playing in the NHL that I would get 100 assists I wouldn't have believed it," said Laraque, who has 152 points and 1,119 penalty minutes in 679 regular-season games with Edmonton, Phoenix and Montreal. "I think for what I do, it's a huge milestone."

Marc-Andre Bergeron added a power-play goal with 8:55 left in the third for insurance.

"Both teams played a tight battle so it was hard to really generate much offense," Price said. "Both teams were doing a great job of trapping it up. Our team blocked everything -- I don't know about their guys but our guys blocked a lot of shots tonight."

Maple Leafs 5, Thrashers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

When ex-Leaf Darcy Tucker returned to Toronto earlier this season, the team made him feel right at home. After the video tribute, Tucker and his new Colorado teammates made it a long night for the fans at Air Canada Centre.

Things are different with the Leafs these days, though – they welcomed back two more old friends in a more subtle fashion, then erupted for a five-goal second period to defeat Atlanta.

"When you score goals like that and they start going in for you, it's nice," said Matt Stajan, one of those to light the lamp for Toronto. "You're going to win a lot of hockey games (like that). It's the total opposite of last week when we played Buffalo here and couldn't buy a goal."

Lee Stempniak opened the scoring, Mikhail Grabovski also tallied and Alexei Ponikarovsky capped the outburst with a pair of goals 28 seconds apart as the Leafs rebounded from a 7-2 loss in Boston on Saturday.

Coach Ron Wilson was pleased with the performance and that he didn't even notice the "Welcome back" message on the scoreboard for forward Nik Antropov and defenseman Pavel Kubina, both of whom joined the Thrashers during the offseason.

"That's what it should be," Wilson said. "Nik played here a long time, Kubie three years -- (but) I don't think you put together a five-minute pump-up film for a guy when he comes back to Toronto. Most players are excited anyway to play here, former players in particular.

"It wasn't like the one with Darcy, that carried on too long. It got (Colorado's) power play all fired up, our guys were crying," Wilson said. "It was an emotional kind of a thing."

Instead, Stempniak seemed to fire the Leafs up by beating Ondrej Pavelec from the edge of the crease 2:49 into the second. Stajan scored off a 3-on-1 break at 4:55, Grabovski made it 3-0 midway through the period and Ponikarovsky struck twice in the latter stages. Pavelec was pulled after the second in favor of Johan Hedberg.

Vesa Toskala carried a shutout into the third before allowing a power-play goal to Bryan Little at 6:48 and a Marty Reasoner tally 35 seconds later. He stopped 22 shots.

"Toskala made some pretty good saves, especially early," Antropov said. "He really stood on his head for them."

Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

There's nothing Carolina can do about last season's Eastern Conference Finals, but the Hurricanes did something about their road losing streak Monday night.

Ray Whitney recorded a goal and an assist, Manny Legace turned aside 30 shots and the Hurricanes won at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh against the team that swept them out of the playoffs back in May.

Andrew Alberts and Jussi Jokinen also scored for Carolina, which started 0-10-3 away from home this season.

"It's sad that it's taken so long. What is it, Dec. 7?" Whitney said. "It's something to build on. Certainly we're not sipping champagne by any means, but it's a starting point."

Sidney Crosby and Mike Rupp scored 49 seconds apart for the Penguins in the second period, cutting their three-goal deficit down to a single goal, but Legace kept them from getting the equalizer.

"Really, in the first period, they just wanted it more -- they outworked us and that was the difference," said Crosby, who returned after missing the previous game with a groin injury. "We might have seen that they hadn't won a road game and thought it was going to be easy, and it's a good lesson for us."

Alberts opened the scoring with his first goal of the season and third in 292 NHL games. The defenseman skated in from the right circle and faked a pass before sliding a shot along the goal line that got past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Jokinen doubled the Hurricanes' advantage at 11:36 with a power-play goal, slipping between two defenders between the hash marks and ripping a shot under the crossbar. Whitney made it 3-0 at 2:26 of the second, snapping a shot past Fleury after taking a Joni Pitkanen feed.

"We know they're a dangerous team. I mean, that team went far last year and we know that they've just had a rough start and they're coming back," said Jordan Staal, younger brother of Carolina star Eric Staal. "And we weren't ready for it."

Falling behind by three goals seemed to wake them up, however. Crosby scored his 20th and eight in four games at the six-minute mark, then Rupp notched his career-high ninth to bring the crowd back to life.

"Our guys just weathered the storm," Legace said. "You knew it was coming. You know it's going to come three or four times against these guys."

Oilers 3, Panthers 2 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

This game had a familiar ring for both sides, but only Edmonton came away happy about that.

Shawn Horcoff netted the decisive shootout goal for the second straight game as the Oilers won their third in a row. Horcoff also had a power-play goal in regulation.

"It's always nice to have your number called and produce in a shootout," Horcoff said. "You'd like to get it done before that, and we had our chances in the overtime, but you'll take the points, for sure."

Florida, meanwhile, saw a third period lead slip away for the fourth time in its last five games. The Panthers have lost eight out of nine overall.

"This is like Groundhog Day," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought we played a pretty good game. I think most nights that you play like that you're going to win."

Dominic Moore responded to Horcoff's second-period goal by scoring twice. His second came on a Florida power play and gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead 1:25 into the third, but Dustin Penner responded at 4:33 by deflecting Lubomir Visnovsky's point shot past Tomas Vokoun.

"We have to continue to be positive," Moore said. "It's easy to get down when you don't get the results you think you deserve."

Robert Nilsson and Rostislav Olesz traded shootout goals before Horcoff came up with the decisive tally. He also beat Dallas in the penalty-shot tiebreaker on Saturday.

"It's a good night any time you come away with two points," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "We just hope that continues and we find a way to keep improving as a team."

Edmonton goalie Jeff Deslauriers stopped 33 shots in making his ninth consecutive start, while Vokoun made 26 saves for Florida.

"We played well tonight and that took some of the pressure off me although I would like to have that first goal (they scored) back," Deslauriers said, "but you can't dwell on that."

Avalanche 4, Blues 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Peter Budaj is making the most of his opportunity to finally start some games for Colorado.

Budaj made 35 saves and recorded his eighth career shutout as the Avalanche completed a successful road trip by winning in St. Louis on Monday. Chris Stewart scored a pair of goals, including a power-play tally with 10.9 seconds left in the first that would be all the offense Budaj needed.

"Shutouts are always great," Budaj said. "The win was the most important for me because I haven't played in a long time. … I was able to show the coaching staff that I can play here and be in the net, but the shutout is an entire team result."

Budaj had started just two games all season until Craig Anderson went down with a neck injury in overtime of a game against Florida. He stepped in to help the Avalanche go 3-1-1 on the trip and move back into first place in the Northwest Division, a point ahead of Calgary, which lost at Los Angeles later Monday.

"To be 3-1-1 on this road trip is something to be proud of," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "We have a winning record on the road (10-7-4) so the guys should feel proud of what they've done."

Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene also scored and Wojtek Wolski added three assists for the Avalanche.

Stewart's first goal came off the deflection of a Kyle Quincey point shot. Stastny extended the lead 6:08 into the second, sending a rebound into an open net after a St. Louis defender knocked a Colorado player into goalie Chris Mason. Stewart added his second of the game at 13:53 by redirecting a John-Michael Liles point shot.

"I think it just went off the inside of my leg and in," Stewart said. "Good things happen when you go to the net and it was definitely a good result tonight."

Duchene continued his recent tear when he closed the scoring with 7:16 left in the third. The rookie center has six goals in as many games.

The Blues were coming off back-to-back shootout wins on the road, but Scottrade Center has not been a friendly venue this season. They dropped to 5-9-3 on home ice, the worst record in the League.

"For some reason, we just haven't been able to get it done at home," Blues defenseman Erik Johnson said. "You have to at least be .500 at home to be a playoff team. Your home record has to be your bread-and-butter. You have to take pride in your home record. For whatever reason, we just haven't gotten it done."

Material from wire services was used in this report.



Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets