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Injury-plagued Pens beat 'Canes 3-2

Sunday, 01.23.2011 / 12:50 AM / Roundup

NHL.com

No Sidney Crosby? No Evgeni Malkin?

No problem.

Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu and Pascal Dupuis scored goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night at the Consol Energy Center for their first win in two tries without its injured superstar duo.

"When those guys are out of the lineup, it becomes more of a scoring by committee," said Jeffrey, called up from the minors earlier in the week to replace Malkin. "I think all of our forwards have to step up. We didn't do a very good job (in a 2-0 loss Thursday) in Jersey. As a group, we played a lot better tonight."

The Penguins limited Carolina's chances until Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal scored over the final 4:25. That made things interesting and brought back memories of two blown late two-goal leads this season at their new facility.

Twelve days earlier, Boston scored four times in the final 3:23, turning a 2-0 Penguins' lead into a home loss. Two months to the day before that, the Bruins won 7-4 despite entering the third down 4-2.

"It was a little frustrating when it's 3-0 and then such a short time later it's 3-2," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "It happened so quick, but we held on at the end and held them off."

No NHL team has more elite depth at center than Pittsburgh, but Crosby missed his eighth consecutive game due to a concussion. Malkin has sat out the last two because of a sore left knee and a sinus infection.

That left Jordan Staal as the Penguins' No. 1 center. Eric's younger brother didn't score, but he had an assist and was the only player on his team to be a plus-2 while getting 20:30 of ice time -- tops among Pittsburgh forwards.

Staal was on the ice during most of the final frantic minutes, directed to shut down his brother's line as Carolina pressed for the equalizer.

"Given that we've had that situation in the past of letting teams back in and giving up leads late, with (Jordan) Staal's defending ability down low against guys like (Eric) Staal, there's some comfort there," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Pittsburgh has won four of five and is 4-3-1 without Crosby. The Hurricanes have lost three of four and four of six.

Samsonov ended Fleury's bid for his second shutout of the season with 4:25 to play. It was his first goal in 10 games and ninth of the season.

Eric Staal then made the Penguins' 191st consecutive sellout crowd nervous when he cut Carolina's deficit to 3-2 with 58 seconds left. Staal scored a power-play goal, putting in the rebound of Joe Corvo's shot.

Six of the Hurricanes' 26 shots were recorded over the final five minutes.

"Too little, too late," goalie Cam Ward said. "You need that for the whole entire game."

Pressed into much more significant roles without Crosby and Malkin, centers Letestu and Jeffrey scored the Penguins' first two goals.

Jeffrey's came after 37:14 of scoreless hockey. It was his second goal in six games this season and third in 20 career contests.

"You knew that whoever was going to score first was probably going to get an upper hand," Samsonov said.

Just 72 seconds earlier, Carolina thought they had done that. Officials initially ruled Erik Cole's shot from the right circle was a goal, but a video review quickly confirmed that the puck hit the crossbar after deflecting off the end of Fleury's stick.

Letestu scored his 10th goal 2:22 into the second period on a shot while he was wide open in the slot. Letestu took a pretty feed from Chris Kunitz to finish the play.

It was the Penguins' first power-play goal in four games, since they scored four in a 5-2 win at Montreal on Jan. 12. Pittsburgh had only one power-play chance in each of the previous three games.

Dupuis made it 3-0 with 12:32 left, scoring his 10th of the season and second while the Penguins were short-handed. Dupuis flipped a backhander past Ward off a nice pass from Jordan Staal seconds after Fleury twice denied Staal's brother, Eric, who was alone in the slot.

"They were missing two key guys, but they played a gritty, hard-fought game," Eric Staal said. "They were backchecking real hard, creating pressure, making it difficult for us.

"We didn't generate as much as we wanted to."
 
Blue Jackets 5, Blues 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Andrew Murray, Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin each scored in the third period, and Columbus scored five unanswered goals to beat slumping St. Louis at the Scottrade Center.

Columbus, which came back from a 2-0 first-period deficit, has earned at least a point in five straight games.

"I thought we managed the game pretty well," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "We just kept going and really took over in the second period. It carried through the rest of the game. A real strong 60 minutes."

St. Louis has lost three of four.

Murray broke a 2-2 tie by deflecting in a shot from the blue line by Jan Hedja at 3:40 of the third period. It was his third goal of the season and first since Dec. 27. Nash added a power-play score at 16:32 to give him a team-leading 22 goals this season. Tyutin scored an empty netter at 18:30.

The Blue Jackets won for only the second time in 12 visits to St. Louis. Their last regulation win in St. Louis was a 4-1 victory on March 27, 2007.

"This has been a real tough place for us to play -- no success here at all," Nash said. "We knew we had to do something to change things around."

Columbus, which rallied to beat Florida 3-2 in OT on Wednesday, won back-to-back road games for the first time since Nov. 19-20.

Eric Brewer and Patrik Berglund scored in a span of 1:23 in the first period to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead. Alex Steen assisted on both goals, giving him a career-best seven-game point streak. Berglund's goal was his 11th of the season and third in as many games.

"We came out and established our game," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "Then all of a sudden we decided to redefine ourselves. We were never able to stop the downhill slide."

Antoine Vermette and Jared Boll answered for Columbus. Boll scored his fifth goal of the season on a breakaway in the second period.

Columbus outshot St. Louis 14-5 in the second period. The Blues' first shot came 12:12 into the period.

"It was a little frustrating when you come in here and lose this many times," Boll said. "We were sick of it."

Steve Mason stopped 19 shots to improve to 15-11-2. He gave up two goals on the first six shots before rebounding to close the game with 15 straight saves.

Columbus defenseman Rostislav Klesla was helped off the ice in the third period with a knee injury. He did not return.

Flames 4, Canucks 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Alex Tanguay scored the winning goal in the third round of the shootout and Calgary beat Vancouver at Rogers Arena.
 
After both teams failed to score on overtime power plays, Jeff Tambellini and Rene Bourque traded goals in the first round of the tiebreaker before Tanguay's backhand in the final round was stopped by Roberto Luongo. But Luongo slid into the net with the puck stuck in his pads, requiring a lengthy video review to reverse the call.

"I've made that move a couple of times before," Tanguay said. "When I put it on my backhand, I have no idea and I can't see the puck go in. Whether it's in or not, I can't see it. I had no idea. I'll say they made the right decision, but I have no idea. I didn't see it."

"I didn't even know where the puck was," Luongo said. "I can't comment because I had no idea where it was."

Tim Jackman put Calgary ahead by firing home a rebound 6:42 into the third period, but Ryan Kesler tied it on a shorthanded 2-on-2 break three minutes later, taking a drop pass from Alex Burrows and firing his 26th goal in through Burrows' screen.

Brendan Morrison, on a power play, and Curtis Glencross scored 20 seconds apart midway through the first period, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 41 saves for the Flames, who were coming off a 7-4 home win over Dallas on Friday. Calgary has points in seven of eight games (4-1-3).

"We need these points a lot more than Vancouver does," Morrison said. "We battled hard. I thought we played smart. We stuck with it and got the win -- a big win."

Defenseman Alexander Edler scored twice, and Luongo made 30 saves for the Canucks, who are 1-2-3 since their 17-game point streak (14-0-3) was snapped. Vancouver is tied with Philadelphia with an NHL-best 67 points.

"I thought in general, our guys battled real hard," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Another tight game from start to finish. I really believe that as we move forward, this is going to make us a better team. You've got to be able to play in these and you've got to be able to make the plays at the right time. I think that is going to make us better."

Edler opened the scoring off the rush 3:32 in on the Canucks' first shot, a long one-timer from just inside the blue line that went through traffic and under a surprised Kiprusoff. But the Flames responded with two quick goals.

First it was Morrison, who played parts of eight seasons in Vancouver, lifting a rebound over a sprawled Luongo from a sharp angle on the power play. On the next shift, Matt Stajan won a battle behind the net and centered the puck to an unchecked Glencross for a quick backhanded shot that beat Luongo on the glove side.

Morrison saved a goal by sweeping a loose puck off the goal line after Kiprusoff did well just to get a glove on a point-blank shot from Mason Raymond with five minutes left in the first period, but Edler tied it 1:13 into the second.

After four cross-ice passes off the rush stranded Kiprusoff, Edler's shot was headed wide only to hit the blocker of the sprawling goalie and go in.

Calgary forward Tom Kostopoulos returned after serving a six-game suspension for a Jan. 7 hit that broke the jaw of Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart. He knocked Vancouver defender Kevin Bieksa out of the game during a first-period fight.

Kostopoulos dropped Bieksa to his knees with an early punch. Though Kostopoulos popped back up and served his penalties, including an extra two minutes for cross-checking, Bieksa went to the dressing room and didn't return.

"We've played a bunch of games in a row where they've been decided by one goal," Luongo said. "Right now, we seem to be ending up on the wrong end of it. We're collecting points, but we definitely want to get the 'W's.'"

Sharks 4, Wild 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Devin Setoguchi scored a pair of goals in the second period to help San Jose match a season high with its fourth straight win as it defeated Minnesota at HP Pavilion.

Logan Couture and Benn Ferriero also scored for the Sharks, who had lost six straight before this current win streak put them back in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Antti Niemi made 23 saves for San Jose.

"Four games in a row is nice," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It reminds me a lot of heading into Christmas. We had our game going well. We were able to play well that last game and went into the break and somehow forgot everything over a 48-hour period, so there is concern there. We only have three more periods left and then guys will get their opportunity to rest and to get focused for the last ride."

Mikko Koivu scored two power-play goals and Brent Burns had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who also had won three in a row. Minnesota outscored the opposition 14-1 during the winning streak but fell short for the first time in three meetings this season against San Jose.

The Sharks used a dominant second period to get this win. They had the first 10 shots of the period and peppered Niklas Backstrom with 25 overall to take a 3-2 lead.

"We're playing well right now," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "All these teams we're beating right now are ahead of us in the standings, so they really are must-win games right now. We have to get points. That's another huge game for us tonight."

Backstrom came up big throughout the period just to keep Minnesota close, with perhaps his best save coming early when he slid across the goal mouth to rob Joe Pavelski on a one-timer to preserve a 1-1 tie.

That didn't last long as Setoguchi struck twice after going nine games without a goal. His first came after a great effort from Patrick Marleau, who took a long pass from Dan Boyle and stickhandled though a couple of Minnesota defenders before getting the puck to Setoguchi. Backstrom stopped Setoguchi's first shot but Setoguchi stayed with it and knocked the rebound into the empty net.

Then with Clayton Stoner off for holding, Setoguchi artfully deflected Joe Pavelski's point shot past Backstrom to make it 3-1 with his ninth goal. That goal wasn't official until after a video review determined Setoguchi's stick was not too high for the deflection.

"It felt good to be able to contribute," Setoguchi said. "But at the same time, I've got to be on the same wave length as the top couple of guys and get the chances to score some goals and make some good plays."

Koivu answered with his second goal of the night when his backhander trickled through Niemi. But the Wild could not get the equalizer on a late power play, which was a bad omen considering they had won just once in 19 games this season when trailing after two periods.

That win came against the Sharks late last month, when Minnesota used three third-period goals against Antero Niittymaki to beat San Jose 5-3.

There was no such comeback this time as the Sharks killed off an early power play, Niemi made a tough stop on a point shot from Stoner and then Ferriero added the insurance goal early in the third after Joe Thornton did a good job keeping the puck in the offensive zone.

Burns got Minnesota back within a goal with 3:25 to play, but the Wild could not complete the comeback.

The teams traded goals in the first period. The Sharks took advantage of a bad line change for Couture's goal. The Wild capitalized on a penalty for too many men on the ice to get Koivu's goal on the two-man advantage.

"We had trouble handling their speed," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "They were coming. You have to give credit to them. In the first period, I thought they had a couple more opportunities. But I still felt that a 1- 1 score coming out of the first was a decent period."

Devils 3, Flyers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Patrik Elias scored twice and Johan Hedberg made 26 saves as New Jersey beat Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center.

For NHL.com's full recap, click here.

Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Tomas Kopecky had a pair of goals and Corey Crawford stopped 36 shots as Chicago cruised past Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.

For NHL.com's full recap, click here.

Bruins 6, Avalanche 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Mark Recchi scored a goal and added a pair of assists to lead Boston past Colorado at the Pepsi Center.

For NHL.com's full recap, click here.

Material from wire services and team media 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