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Blackhawks start trip with 6-5 win at Columbus

Sunday, 01.17.2010 / 12:20 AM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - Columnist

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews made sure his team's eight-game road trip got off to a fast start.

Toews scored a pair of power-play goals in the third period and the Blackhawks rallied after blowing an early lead for a 6-5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday at Nationwide Arena, completing a home-and-home sweep.

"A lot of us -- me personally -- weren't shooting the puck at the right times," Toews said. "So we changed that up a little bit."

Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash snapped an 11-game goal drought by scoring twice, and they carried a 4-3 lead into the final 20 minutes.

But Toews got Chicago even during a man advantage at 4:07, Ben Eager scored the go-ahead goal at 8:29 and Toews added an insurance goal on another power play with 4:57 remaining. That held up as the winner after Raffi Torres got one back for Columbus with 2:22 left.

"We were waiting for that opportunity to get the power play going," Toews said. "It clicked for us at the right moment. That was a tough game, giving up that lead there during the second period, and we just knew we had to stick with it. It's nice when you shoot the puck and you see a couple go in."

It was a frustrating afternoon for Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team rarely gets five goals in a game.

"It was a wide-open hockey game," Hitchcock said. "I thought both teams' defenses were vulnerable. We had a lot of chances to score and they had chances. We poured a lot into today and didn't get the result."

Senators 4, Canadiens 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

The return of Daniel Alfredsson was just what the hockey gods ordered for the struggling Senators, who got a goal and a pair of assists from their captain to win at Montreal -- their second victory in three nights after five consecutive losses.

Alfredsson, who missed 11 games because of a separated left shoulder, and Chris Phillips scored 1:22 apart to give Ottawa a 3-2 lead 5:07 into the second period.

"It's a great boost for us, not only his skill but that's what his leadership is, by going out there and leading by example, working hard every time he's on the ice and being reliable," Phillips said. "That's what he's all about and it's a big mental boost for everyone to see him back in there."

Rookie Zach Smith scored his first NHL goal on a shorthanded breakaway 11:26 into the game, but Benoit Pouliot tied the game at 12:49. Tomas Plekanec put Montreal ahead at 2:05 of the second period, but the goals by Alfredsson and Phillips put Ottawa ahead to stay.

Alfredsson got his third point with his second assist as Mike Fisher scored into an empty net with 25.2 seconds remaining.

"It was a lot of fun to be back playing, obviously, and in a building like this as well," said Alfredsson, who set up Smith's goal. "Our penalty killing and goaltending were really solid and some timely goals for us as well. We scored at the right time and then I thought we weathered the storm really well."

Ottawa has won three of four against Montreal this season.

"I just wish we wouldn't have left it to a game where we had to tie it up in the last 2 minutes," forward Mike Cammalleri said. "I thought tonight was our game to come out and compete and win at home and we didn't do that."

Avalanche 3, Devils 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Craig Anderson outplayed Martin Brodeur, making 37 saves as the Avalanche won their third in a row and handed New Jersey its second loss in three days.

"Just being on the ice surface with a Hall of Famer there, it's just an honor to be playing against him," Anderson said. "They have a great team over there and he made some big saves to give them a chance to win.

The Avs gave Anderson two goals to work with in the first period on goals by Chris Stewart and T.J. Galiardi. He kept the Devils off the board until Rob Niedermayer scored 1:55 into the third period. New Jersey buzzed the Avs' for the rest of the period, outshooting Colorado 15-6 in the final 20 minutes, but couldn't score again. Wojtek Wolski scored into an empty net with 12.5 seconds left for the final margin.

"We ran into a good goalie," said New Jersey's Brian Rolston, who had a game-high seven shots. "We let them into the game in the first period. We were sleeping a little bit in the first period. You can't spot a team like that two goals. They're a good team and they have good goaltending. We were getting great shots on them at the end of the game and he was making big saves."

The Devils also lost forward Patrik Elias to an apparent head injury 38 seconds into the second period. Elias fell awkwardly into the boards following a clean check by Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson. Elias was strapped to a backboard and wheeled off the ice. He was examined at an area hospital and flew back to New Jersey with the team Saturday night before being evaluated further on Sunday.

Sharks 4, Oilers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Devin Setoguchi hoped that shaving his head would change his luck. He got everything he could have asked for, scoring twice in 98 seconds as the Sharks sent the visiting Oilers to their seventh consecutive loss and 14th in 15 games.

"I did it once in junior when I was 18-years old and hadn't scored a goal in a while," Setoguchi said of his new hairstyle. "I did it and scored two goals that night. So it's kind of weird. ... It's one of those things hockey players try to switch things up when they haven't gone well in a while."

Setoguchi ended a nine-game goal drought with a power-play goal at 18:44 of the first period, then made it 3-1 by scoring 22 seconds into the second. Patrick Marleau had his NHL-best 32nd goal in the first period, and Joe Thornton's goal late in the second put the game away.

Denis Grebeshkov and Patrick O'Sullivan scored for the Oilers, but coach Pat Quinn wasn't happy with rookie goaltender Devan Dubnyk's play -- especially on Marleau's goal, which went in off his skates.

"It's not good for our goaltenders to have easily missed plays there," coach Pat Quinn said. "It hurts the concentration. It hurts confidence and it builds fear. And if you play with a little bit of fear you are really in trouble."

Panthers 5, Lightning 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Tampa Bay got 49 shots, but Florida completed a home-and-home sweep of its in-state rival thanks to the goaltending of Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 47 of them -- including all 21 he faced in the third period.

"Vokoun was great, especially early in the third," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "The first five minutes of the third we got on our heels and he made some big saves and shut the door."

Florida got two goals by Cory Stillman in 10:28 on its first three shots, only to have the Lightning tie it in just over six minutes as Vincent Lecavalier set up goals by Alex Tanguay and Andrej Meszaros.

But defenseman Bryan Allen put the Panthers ahead at 17:03, just 31 seconds after Meszaros' goal, and Rostislav Olesz scored twice in the second period. Vokoun did the rest.

"We got off to a good start," Stillman said. "We got a power play we scored on right away, and then their defenseman missed the puck. After that I'd say it's all Vokoun. He stood on his head, he made some saves. It's a game where he's really the first star. It's a big two points for us."

With starter Mike Smith sidelined and Antero Niittymaki struggling, rookie Dustin Tokarski played the third period and made five saves in his NHL debut.

"That was exciting, for sure. I was nervous, but after a save or two, I felt pretty good," Tokarski said. "So it was a great experience and I'm glad they put me in there."

Blues 4, Rangers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

The Rangers put a puck in the net, but that wasn't enough to keep them from losing their third in a row as the Blues got a goal and an assist from Alex Steen and Roman Polak.

Brian Boyle's goal 7:37 into the second period tied the game at 1-1 and ended New York's goal drought at an even 172 minutes. But Polak scored 45 seconds into the third period to break the tie, Steen made it 3-1 at 8:45 and David Backes hit the empty net with 13 seconds left.

"We got back to St. Louis Blues hockey in the third," interim coach Davis Payne said. "We're just sticking with the plan. We're not there to change our game in the third period. There would be some times when you have to if you're chasing the lead, but when you've got one, it's about keeping your feet moving, it's about moving in sync."

The Rangers got just 22 shots on Chris Mason. Rookie goaltender Chad Johnson made 22 saves while giving Henrik Lundqvist the night off.

"I thought we played some good minutes tonight, but again, we just don't score goals," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We've just got to keep on grinding through this and try to find a way to have some sort of consistency.

"The big problem for me right now is our top guys are fighting it. ... I believe they're good people, and they'll work themselves out of it."

Thrashers 5, Hurricanes 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Ilya Kovalchuk did what captains are supposed to do -- get big goals when they're needed. After Atlanta blew a two-goal lead in the third period, he put the Thrashers back in front at 9:53 -- 44 seconds after Ray Whitney's tying goal.

Kovalchuk caught defenseman Joni Pitkanen on his heels and took a wrist shot near the left circle, beating Cam Ward to the glove side.

"It was 3-on-3 on the right, and we can't allow that guy that much room to get that shot off," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "It wasn't a bomb, but he has one of the best shots in the League, and he picks his spots."

Kovalchuk also set up Nik Antropov's empty-netter as Atlanta improved to 3-1-1 in its last five games.

Second-period goals by Jim Slater and Rich Peverley put the Thrashers ahead 3-1 after two periods. But Jussi Jokinen and Whitney scored 70 seconds apart to get the Hurricanes even -- briefly.

"It's the new NHL, the last five years, and no lead's safe, especially a two-goal lead on the road," Slater said. "I thought we played good, we had good chances, we got to the front of the net and we had control of the game."

Coyotes 6, Wild 4 | HIGHLIGHTS

Phoenix doesn't get many four-goal leads, so maybe it's understandable that the Coyotes nearly blew one. Guillaume Latendresse had three goals as the Wild rallied from a 5-1 deficit but couldn't get the equalizer before Radim Vrbata scored with 60 seconds left.

"Let's take all the negatives and put them over there," coach Dave Tippett said his team's second win in three nights. "I've been trying to do that since the game ended. Let's talk about the bright and sunny stuff."

That would include two goals by Petr Prucha and four assists by defenseman Ed Jovanovski in his return after a two-game suspension.

"Phenomenal," Tippett said of Jovanovski. "He just eats up so many minutes. The best thing I can say about him is your team loves him on the ice and the other team hates him on the ice."

The Coyotes led 5-1 after Vernon Fiddler's shorthanded goal at 9:36 of the third period. But just as they did in the same situation a week ago, the Wild refused to quit. Latendresse sandwiched his second and third goals of the night around one by Owen Nolan to make it 5-4 with 5:17 remaining.

"What happened against Chicago isn't going to happen every night," Latendresse said. "If we want to be on the playoffs we need these two points."

Vrbata's goal ended the comeback and capped a seven-goal period.

"We got what we deserved," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "A handful of guys were working and a handful of guys were trying to make a difference. You're not going to win games by missing seven, eight, nine guys."

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

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