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Capitals edge Hurricanes, end three-game skid

Thursday, 11.25.2010 / 1:28 AM / Roundup

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Capitals edge Hurricanes, end three-game skid
Washington snapped its three-game losing streak when Brooks Laich's third-period goal snapped a tie and gave the Caps a 3-2 win at Carolina.
Brooks Laich scored a power-play goal on a deflection with 7:58 left and the Caps snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 at the RBC Center on Wednesday night.

Alex Ovechkin set up all three Washington goals, two by Nicklas Backstrom, for the Southeast Division-leading Capitals. They blew a 2-0 lead in the third period but regrouped in time to avoid their first four-game slide in more than a year.

Laich's winner came five seconds into a slashing penalty on rookie Jeff Skinner. After the faceoff, the puck made its way to Ovechkin, who uncorked a hard wrist shot that Laich tipped past Justin Peters for his sixth goal.

"We bent a little, but we didn't break," Laich said. "It's a good sign when they tied it up that we still came back and pushed back and were able to score. Once we did, we didn't give them any chances to tie it up. ... Get the winning attitude back and get over this little slide that we had and go home feeling good."

Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal scored 4:01 apart in the third period to pull the Hurricanes even at 2-2.

"We've got to try to have a better start," Staal said. "We can't let a good team like that get two goals on you early in the game and expect to win."

Ovechkin went without a goal for the fifth straight game, his longest drought of the season, and he hasn’t scored against Carolina in eight consecutive games — his worst stretch against any team. But he generated plenty of offense for the Capitals, assisting on both of Backstrom’s goals before setting up Laich’s winner.

Semyon Varlamov, in his first appearance since Oct. 21, stopped 30 shots for Washington. He had played in only two other games this season because of a groin injury, but was solid and strengthened a defense that had allowed five goals in each of its previous three games.

"It was so important," Backstrom said of Varlamov's performance. "It's good for his confidence, especially when he has been down (in the AHL). ... It's good for him to be back and do those kind of saves and help us to win."

That slide included road losses to Atlanta and New Jersey by 5-0 scores. In between was a 5-4 shootout loss at home to Philadelphia. They avoided losing four in a row for the first time since October 2009.

Varlamov took a shutout bid into the third period before Samsonov beat him with 15:56 left to pull the Hurricanes to 2-1. Staal then tied it with 11:55 left when he muscled in a rebound on the power play for his 10th goal.

Peters had 35 saves for the Hurricanes, who have lost five of six and three straight, though the previous two were decided by shootouts.

"I think our compete (level) is pretty darned good," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "We're still learning not to do the things that slow us down -- turning pucks over, not putting them at the net -- but at the very least, they showed signs that they can change gears if they have to. It doesn't have to be. If the first 10 minutes are not going your way, that doesn't mean the night's over. They can build some confidence and know that they can come back in games."

Blue Jackets 4, Islanders 3 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

The winless streak continues on Long Island.

Jakub Voracek scored a rebound goal 2:31 into overtime at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to lift Columbus past New York, which has earned just three of the last possible 28 points (0-11-3). Antoine Vermette, Chris Clark and R.J. Umberger also scored for Columbus, which has won five straight. It's the Blue Jackets' best run since a five-game streak from Dec. 2-12, 2006.

The Islanders scored more than two goals for the first time in 12 contests and earned a point at home for the first time since Oct. 12. This is New York's longest stretch without a win since a 14-game skid in which the Islanders lost 11 times and tied three others between Feb. 13-March 15, 1990.

"It's a long season … you expect some highs and lows," said Isles goalie Rick DiPietro, who made 34 saves. "Obviously, not this kind of low."

Trent Hunter, Michael Grabner and John Tavares scored for the Islanders. DiPietro stopped Kris Russell's head-on shot before the trailing Voracek buried the rebound in overtime for his fifth goal.

"We played a consistent 60 minutes tonight," Isles interim coach Jack Capuano said. "We had our chances again. We couldn't find the net."

Mathieu Garon made 21 saves for Columbus, including stoning Frans Nielsen with a right-pad save a minute into overtime. Garon improved to 6-1-0 and Columbus moved to 4-0-0 against Eastern Conference teams.

"We weren't as crisp and clean as we have been," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "We won against a desperate team. Garon has been really good for us. Our road game is simpler. We're not out to entertain … just play hard and solid and win."

New York went scoreless on three power plays and hasn't gotten a man-advantage goal in seven games -- going 0 for 27.

Grabner and Tavares scored in a 1:33 span early in the second period to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead. Grabner used a toe-drag move to get open between the circles before beating Garon with a backhander at 51 seconds for his fifth goal.

Tavares chipped in a ricochet off the end boards just moments later. Bruno Gervais' blocked shot hit the wall behind the net and bounced in front of the goal mouth as Tavares pounced for his second goal in 12 games and his eighth this season.

"The most nervous we were was when they scored those two quick goals in the second period," Garon said. "Fortunately, coach called a timeout, and we played better after that."

Umberger quieted the crowd when he scored his seventh of the season at 6:46 to tie it at 3. Umberger logged his third multipoint game of the season. He has 9 points in seven games.

New York took a 1-0 lead for the just the ninth time in 21 games when Hunter squeezed a left-circle shot between Garon's glove and the right post at 10:16. That marked Hunter's first goal in 17 games this season.

Columbus responded by scoring two goals in 2 minutes. The Blue Jackets, bounced back from allowing their first goal in three games after Hunter ended the club's shutout streak at 142 minutes, 54 seconds.
"It's a long season … you expect some highs and lows.  Obviously, not this kind of low." -- Rick DiPietro

Vermette tied it 1-1 at 13:38 when he pushed in Derick Brassard's right-point pass for a power-play goal. Clark followed with a rebound strike for his fourth goal that made it 2-1.

Despite entering with the NHL's third-worst power-play unit, the Blue Jackets scored on special teams for the third time in four games for its opening goal. Matt Martin and Zenon Konopka were both sent off with penalties to give Columbus a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:54.

DiPietro stopped the first six shots on the power play before Vermette converted the seventh chance for his fourth goal at 13:48.

"We had some good chances on the five-on-three, and were able to cash in," Vermette said. "The Islanders are a dangerous team."

Moments later, DiPietro stopped Vermette's initial shot before Clark -- left unguarded by defenseman Dylan Reese -- fired in an open shot from the slot for his fourth goal.

Travis Hamonic, a second-round draft choice in 2008, made his NHL debut for the Islanders and nearly won it overtime when he drove to the net and fired a backhander wide. Hamonic received 19:40 of ice time from Capuano, who coached him in the AHL before replacing Scott Gordon in New York.

"Travis played extremely well," Capuano said. "He played almost 20 minutes tonight. He played like he played in Bridgeport when I was there. He's big, he's strong. He moved the puck real well and he jumped in offensively. I don't think he showed a lot of nerves tonight. I thought he was really poised."

Lightning 5, Rangers 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Steven Stamkos continued his torrid scoring pace and helped his team win its fifth straight.

Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 21st goal and had 2 assists, and Tampa Bay extended its winning streak to five games with a victory against New York at St. Pete Times Forum.

"It's a win, five in a row, and we take pride in that," Stamkos said. "We definitely don't feel as good as we would have after our play in the third."

Stamkos also has 17 assists for a league-leading 38 points in 22 games. The center has had a point in all but three games.

"I saw their best players -- they looked pretty good tonight," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I didn't see our best players."

Ryan Malone added two goals for the Lightning. He entered with just 3 goals in 33 previous games against the Rangers.

"They move the puck really well," New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves) said of the Lightning. "They're skilled. Their power play killed us tonight."

New York, which had won five of seven, got third-period goals from Steve Eminger, Brian Boyle and Derek Stepan after falling behind 5-0. The Rangers went more than 15 minutes without a shot from late in the first period until well into the second, and were outshot 25-7 through 40 minutes. Lundqvist was often left on his own for most of the first 40 minutes.

"There were a few people that threw their uniforms out there and played for him this evening," Tortorella said.  "We just looked brain dead in the first part of the game. Why? I don't know."

Penguins 1, Sabres 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves and Pascal Dupuis scored in the first period to give Pittsburgh a victory at Buffalo.

Dupuis scored with 4:56 left in the period. Sidney Crosby stole the puck from Luke Adam in the right corner and fed Dupuis, who one-timed a shot past goalie Jhonas Enroth.

"I didn't know if (Crosby) was going to slide it or try to bring it to the net himself," Dupuis said. "Obviously he made the right play. He always does."

Pittsburgh has won four straight and has earned at least one point in seven consecutive games. Fleury has been in net every game during the streak, rebounding from a rough first month of the season in which he appeared in no more than two straight games and went 1-6-0. He recorded his 17th NHL shutout and first of the season.

"It's a lot more fun, definitely," Fleury said. "Everybody's been contributing. When you win, nothing else matters."

Enroth made 28 saves in place of Ryan Miller, who is still sidelined by a groin injury.

The depleted Sabres also played without centers Tim Connolly and Rob Niedermayer. Connolly left Monday's practice with a groin injury. Niedermayer is out following arthroscopic knee surgery.

Buffalo has dropped three of four after a 4-0-1 run. The Sabres are 3-8-1 at home.

Buffalo had back-to-back power plays early in the third period and fired six shots on Fleury, whose last previous shutout was March 18 at Boston.

"In a game like that, you can't miss the net on some of those good chances," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "You can't miss the net on the power play when you're dead in the slot. Those are ones you're going to have to convert if you're going to win hockey games."

Stars 2, Senators 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Brenden Morrow scored the go-ahead goal at 1:13 of the third period, Andrew Raycroft made 18 saves and Stars won at Ottawa. Trevor Daley also scored to help Dallas snap a four-game road losing streak.

"I think that was a great road game, almost a perfect road game," Raycroft said. "I was able to get in front of a couple and not give anything bad up and get a win."

Ryan Shannon scored for Ottawa, which has lost four of five. Pascal Leclaire made 24 saves for Ottawa.

"(Leclaire) kept us in for a lot of the game and made some big saves and we didn't generate a lot as far as quality chances and when we did, Raycroft was there," Sens forward Mike Fisher said. "We just didn't seem to have any spark or jump that we needed."

Daley opened the scoring at 6:14 of the second period, beating Leclaire high on his glove side.

The Senators tied it with 3:31 left in the second on an ugly goal. Shannon shot from just inside the blue line and the puck ended up bouncing behind Raycroft.

Dallas had a great chance to end the period with the lead, but Leclaire stopped Morrow on a breakaway with 35 seconds remaining.

In the third, Morrow scored his ninth goal of the season after some strong work by Mike Ribeiro to maintain possession deep in the Senators' end. Ribeiro spotted Morrow at the top of the slot, and the Dallas captain quickly beat Leclaire with a wrist shot.

"I was pleased with the way we played and the guys are pretty happy about it, too, so hopefully it will bode well for us on the road in the future," Stars coach Marc Crawford said.

Bruins 3, Panthers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Mark Recchi's latest milestone came at a good time for the Boston Bruins .

Recchi scored two third-period goals to become the 13th player to reach 1,500 career points and help the Bruins rally past Florida at the BankAtlantic Center.

Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal and Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots as the Bruins won for the eighth time in 10 road games. Thomas improved his record to 11-1-1.

The 42-year-old Recchi was already the NHL's active leader in games, assists and points.

One of 11 players to play in four decades, Recchi took pride in his latest milestone being meaningful for the team.

"It's pretty nice when it comes on a big win like that," Recchi said. "You get the two goals and it's two important ones and that makes it even more special."

Tomas Vokoun, whose mishandling of the puck led to Marchand's short-handed goal eight seconds into the third period, made 34 saves. Steve Reinprecht scored for Florida, which lost for the first time in nine games in which it led after two periods.

Marchand's hustle and Vokoun's gaffe enabled Boston to tie the score at 1. Zdeno Chara took the puck from the period-opening faceoff and fired it off the sideboards into the Florida zone. As Vokoun went behind the Panthers' net, the puck hit the goalie's stick and bounced in front of the net. Marchand beat Florida's Stephen Weiss and Dennis Wideman to the puck and put it into the open net.

"They were kind of waiting for the puck, but I was able to get the shot off and fortunately it went in," Marchand said.

Said Weiss: "They got a lucky break. Then we had a little bit of a sag, and they get one right away. Then we didn't have a response."

Boston went ahead 2-1 at 2:54 of the third when Recchi scored from in front. Recchi skated around Chris Higgins and got a pass from behind the net by David Krejci. It was Recchi's third goal of the season and No. 566 in his career.

Recchi scored again at the 16-minute mark with Boston on a two-man advantage.

Reinprecht, who missed the previous two games with a groin injury, scored his fourth goal to give Florida a 1-0 lead 2:14 into the second period. Michal Repik fired a shot from the top of the right circle. Thomas made the save with a crowd in front, but Reinprecht backhanded the puck into the net while standing to the goalie's right.

Blues 2, Predators 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Andy McDonald scored nine seconds into the game and in the fifth round of the shootout to give St. Louis a victory at Nashville. After losing five straight, the Blues have won three in a row, while the Predators have dropped their past two.

"On the road we had lost a few games with a high score, so we just need to keep it simple on the road," Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak said. "That was the type of game we were playing at the beginning of the season, so we just need to keep doing the same thing."

In the tiebreaker, none of the shooters scored in the first four rounds. In the fifth round, McDonald slipped a backhand through the pads of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. Sergei Kostitsyn was Nashville's fifth shooter, but his wrist shot hit the post next to Halak -- giving the Blues the win.

"There will be nights where we get outplayed a little bit and go into a shootout and get the extra point," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "This one's tough to take because we really deserved the two points tonight I thought."

McDonald scored nine seconds after the opening faceoff with a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Rinne high to the glove side. The team record for the fastest goal to open a game is 8 seconds set by Greg Paslawski on Oct. 29, 1985, at Washington and matched by Alex Steen against Colorado on March 16, 2010.

St. Louis finished with just 15 shots for the game.

"I think it was rolling and we got kind of a bounce," McDonald said of his goal. "It's nice to get one early, it's a tough building to play in."

Nashville also found some first-minute fortune when Jerred Smithson drew the Predators even at the 22-second mark of the second period.

Joel Ward carried the puck into the St. Louis zone along the right boards. His shot from the right circle was stopped by Halak, but the rebound landed in the slot, where an unchecked Smithson fired it into the open net for his second goal of the season.

Halak made 29 saves for St. Louis.

"We overhandled some pucks, we underhandled some pucks, and there was some play that they applied pressure in our own zone that we got ourselves running around a little bit," St. Louis coach Davis Payne said. "In the end, we will take this as two points knowing that we snuck out of here with an extra one or two."

The Predators were 0 for 3 on the power play. It was the fifth consecutive game they failed to score with the man advantage.

"We definitely played well enough to win," Nashville captain Shea Weber said. "It was just one of those games where we couldn't produce anything offensively. We needed to score goals."

Flyers 6, Wild 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Danny Briere, Ville Leino and Andreas Nodl each had a goal and an assist as Philadelphia cruised to a convincing victory in Minnesota.

James van Riemsdyk, Jeff Carter and Jody Shelley also scored for Philadelphia, 12-2-1 in its past 15 games. The Flyers, tied with Washington atop the NHL standings with 32 points, entered with a League-best 3.5 goals per game. They have scored 39 in the past eight.

"We don't have an (Alex) Ovechkin or a (Sidney) Crosby on our team," Briere said. "If you look down our lineup, I think we can throw many waves at you that can be dangerous. We're not an easy team to match up against because we have so much firepower up front."

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 15 shots for his 12th win, one behind league-leading Carey Price of Montreal. Bobrovsky sat out the previous two games after he allowed four goals in one period of last Thursday's 8-7 loss to Tampa Bay.

"He didn't have a lot of work, but he had to make some big saves," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of his goaltender.

Patrick O'Sullivan, claimed off waivers Tuesday from Carolina, had the lone goal for Minnesota.

Van Riemsdyk and Carter gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the first period. After O'Sullivan cut the deficit in half in the second, Briere scored in the period's final minute. Nodl, Leino and Shelley scored in a 3:25 span midway through the third.

"We're working our cycles hard. We just try to shoot it as often as possible," Nodl said. "We try to play with a little bit of an edge, drive the net and play physical. Right now, it just seems like things are going our way. It's Hockey 101."

Alone at the post, van Riemsdyk scored at 3:18 on his third whack at a loose puck that goalie Niklas Backstrom and defenseman Greg Zanon were trying to cover. The left wing scored the winning goal Monday against Montreal to end a 22-game scoreless drought.

A little more than two minutes later, Carter picked up a loose puck near the right boards, cut through the circle untouched, and put a backhander between Backstrom's pads.

Minnesota entered 28th in the NHL in scoring with 2.42 goals per game, and the Wild offense didn't generate a shot for nearly 19 minutes between the first and second periods before O'Sullivan scored.

"We're kind of losing our focus, and they're capitalizing," Wild center John Madden said. "There's some good things going on out there, but the good things have to outweigh the bad things, and right now we're not getting enough good things."

Briere scored in the final minute of the second, completing a give-and-go with Scott Hartnell to put the Flyers ahead 3-1.

Philadelphia blew open the game in the third period. The Flyers have scored at least five goals in nine games. Minnesota has five goals in a game just once.

Devils 2, Flames 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal in the shootout as New Jersey beat Calgary at the Prudential Center and earned back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

To read NHL.com's full recap, click here.
Quote of the Day

He's able to play now, we just want to see other guys. We know what he can do.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on not rushing Steven Stamkos onto the ice