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Rangers outlast Hurricanes in shootout

Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 1:07 AM / Roundup

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Rangers outlast Hurricanes in shootout
The New York Rangers gained some breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race on Tuesday night.

Wojtek Wolski tied the game late in regulation, then scored the only goal in the shootout to lift New York to a 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

The Rangers had lost eight of 10, but they kept fighting after Jussi Jokinen scored two third-period goals to give the Hurricanes their only lead.

"We felt we were getting a lot of scoring chances, felt that we were playing well," New York coach John Tortorella said. "We just stayed with it, we just kept on playing, and I thought as the third period went on, we kept on grinding and shifted all the momentum playing in their end zone."

The victory gave the seventh-seeded Rangers 68 points, three more than Carolina. The 'Canes moved five points in front of Buffalo and Atlanta.

New York won in a shootout for the fourth time since Jan. 22, which accounts for all but one of its victories in that span. The Rangers contend the results haven't been a good measure of their effort.

"Everybody felt we could come back, and it was nice to finally get that bounce in the third period," forward Ryan Callahan said. "It's good for our morale and it shows character to stick with the game plan."

Henrik Lundqvist stopped the shootout attempts of Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Samsonov for Carolina, which squandered a 43-save night by Cam Ward and missed a chance to tie New York for seventh in the East. Erik Christensen and Mats Zuccarello missed their attempts before Wolski won it for New York.

"I was happy to be put in that position, and even more excited that we won," said Wolski, who ripped a high wrist shot past Ward's glove.

The Hurricanes left the ice feeling they had wasted a chance to gain on the Rangers, especially with Lundqvist denying the Hurricanes on two 3-on-1 rushes late in the game.

"It's frustrating, for sure," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.

Wolski's goal was originally credited to defenseman Michael Sauer, but a replay showed the puck went in off a Hurricanes player.

Callahan and Brandon Prust also scored for New York, 21-0-0 when leading after two periods.

New York carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, but Jokinen scored two goals less than three minutes apart on rebounds. He corralled Jamie McBain's shot off Lundqvist and scored the tying goal at 3:32. Then, after Lundqvist knocked away Jay Harrison's shot, Jokinen swooped in with a backhand for his 14th of the season.

Blue Jackets 4, Predators 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Steve Mason made 20 saves for his 18th NHL shutout and Rick Nash scored two of Columbus' four third-period goals to lift the Blue Jackets past Nashville at Nationwide Arena.

Nash, Matt Calvert and Antoine Vermette scored in a span of 8:38 early in the third to help the Blue Jackets move within two points of eighth place in the Western Conference.

Fedor Tyutin and Kris Russell each added two assists for Columbus, 10-3-3 in its past 16 games and 7-1-2 against Nashville at home in the past 10 meetings. Mason has shut out the Predators twice this season.

"We had to be patient against a team like this," said Mason, who is 12-4-1 in his past 17 starts. "I think they are one of the top two defensive teams in the league. We knew we were going to have to be patient for our goals to come. For myself, it was just to stay focused and make sure to make timely saves."

Nashville, which entered the night as the fifth-place team in the West, has lost two straight and three of four after winning three of four.

"We had too many turnovers and a lot of it was just soft on the puck," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "They kept forechecking and I don't think we managed after the first goal."

Pekka Rinne, who brought the NHL's second-best goals-against average at 2.10, made 26 saves, including a toe stop on R.J. Umberger's breakaway in the second period.

Nash broke through early in the third. He took the puck at center ice, fended off Kevin Klein along the right side and beat Rinne with a backhand-to-forehand move. The Blue Jackets are 16-3-3 when Nash scores a goal.

Then working on the man advantage a few minutes later, a dump-in by Russell popped off the end boards with Rinne out from his net to play the puck and it instead came right to Calvert, who had an easy empty net shot for his sixth goal.

"I think that's one of the big reasons why we're winning on the road," said Nash, whose team has won six in a row away from home -- a franchise record. "You get the forecheck established. You get lots of turnovers. We haven't really had that game at home very much. I think tonight was the first time it was really evident."

Vermette made it 3-0 at 9:49, finishing off a nice passing combination from Grant Clitsome at the point to Russell at the left circle to Vermette for a redirection from the crease. Vermette has 15 goals on the season.

"We talked about the importance of how we play on the road," Vermette said. "Basically what we did was play well defensively without the puck and try and play the little details right and stick to the system."

Nash snapped home his second of the game, on the power play, at 19:09 for his team-leading 29th goal of the season.

The Blue Jackets outshot Nashville 13-3 in the final period.

"The whole game had a playoff atmosphere to it -- the first two periods were kind of a slugfest," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "We brought that road game that we were playing ... and we did a lot of those things that we had been doing on the road."

Maple Leafs 2, Islanders 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Phil Kessel's goal with less than five minutes to play snapped a tie and gave Toronto a victory over the Islanders at the Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs have gone 2-0-1 in their last three games despite scoring just four goals, largely because of the solid play of James Reimer. The rookie goalie made 28 saves against the Islanders, denying Jack Hillen with his glove just before Kessel scored the winner.

"I think the key to the game for us was definitely James in goal," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "He played great and made himself big."

Kessel skated the length of the ice and scored his 23rd of the season at 15:19, beating Al Montoya with a screened wrist shot from the high slot.

Clarke MacArthur had the other goal for Toronto, 7-2-2 since the All-Star break.

Reimer battled nausea during Tuesday night's game. He even told untested backup Ben Scrivens to be ready during the first intermission, but managed to stick it out and earn another victory.

Reimer was feeling so bad at one point, he was concerned he might vomit on the ice. The team doctor gave him some medicine after the first period that calmed his stomach.
"I was feeling pretty sick during the first period and start of the second, too," Reimer said. "I wasn't feeling very good. It was a mental battle out there, just trying to be conservative and not do too much.

"It was a tough little bit to play."

Matt Moulson scored for the Islanders, giving him four goals in two days and six in his last three games. Moulson had a hat trick in New York's 5-1 home victory over Florida on Monday.
The game was tied 1-1 heading into the third period as two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference tried to keep up their push for a playoff spot.

Defensive gaffes resulted in prime scoring opportunities at both ends, but solid goaltending from Reimer and Montoya kept the game tight.

Montoya, the No. 6 pick in the 2004 Entry Draft, made his 10th career NHL appearance at age 26 -- and started for the third straight time for the Islanders. He stood tall early, denying Joffrey Lupul's bid for his first goal with the Maple Leafs in the opening minutes before turning aside an open look from Nikolai Kulemin.

He was beaten 10:13 in by MacArthur's well-placed wrist shot off the rush. That gave the Leafs winger a career-high 18 goals this season.

Reimer was coming off a rare shutout loss -- Ottawa beat the Leafs 1-0 in a shootout on Saturday -- and appeared to have luck on his side. Blake Comeau hit the crossbar on a clear breakaway early in the second while Reimer was playing without his stick.

"He made some big saves," Moulson said. "He was in the right place on the one Jack Hillen had, there was a lot of traffic. I don't even know if he saw it, but it went in his glove. He just seemed to be in the right place."

The Maple Leafs withstood an early parade to the penalty box, but it eventually caught up with them.

Moulson cashed in on the Islanders fourth power play, gathering a rebound at 8:09 of the second period and sliding it past Reimer. It was his sixth goal in three games and 27th of the season.
Toronto is six points behind eighth-place Carolina with a game in hand.

"It's a process we're going through," Wilson said. "Every game is the most important game to play."

Wild 4, Oilers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Pierre-Marc Bouchard's spin-o-rama tally highlighted a three-goal, third-period outburst for the Wild in a victory against Edmonton at the Xcel Energy Center.

Martin Havlat, Kyle Brodziak and Jared Spurgeon also scored for Minnesota, which has beaten Edmonton 15 straight times at home. That ties the Nashville Predators' home dominance of Columbus for the longest current streak in the NHL

Niklas Backstrom stopped 20 shots to improve his home record against Edmonton to 14-0, the longest current home streak by a goalie against one team. He is 17-2-1 overall against the Oilers.
Kurtis Foster scored for Edmonton, which lost for the first time in four games.

The Wild, who moved into a three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference, have outscored the Oilers 55-19 during their home-winning streak, including 22-4 in the third period and overtime. Edmonton has scored more than two goals against Minnesota just once.

"We weren't our best for the first two periods," Brodziak said. "There were a lot of execution things we weren't happy with. We were turning the puck over a lot. We knew, just talking it over with everyone, we had another level to get to. We definitely took it there in the third."

After the Oilers failed to score during 91 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play midway through the third period, Bouchard took a pass from Cal Clutterbuck and went in alone on Nikolai Khabibulin.
Clutterbuck faked to the forehand, stopped just before the crease, spun 180 degrees back to the right, and tucked a backhand into the open net.

"From the blue line I saw one of their defensemen fell down, so I knew I had time to make that move," he said. "From the blue line I knew I was going to do it, so I'm pretty glad it worked."
Edmonton coach Tom Renney was disappointed in the grit of the Oilers' power-play unit in a clutch situation.

"When you got a 5-on-3, you want to make sure you get traffic at the net so you at least feel like it's a good idea to shoot," he said. "It always looks pretty when you get to look at highlights and see nice tuck-in goals or whatever, but the bottom line is you got to get greasy, you got to get dirty, you got to get the puck to the net with bodies."'

Brodziak scored the winning goal 1:28 into the third period, taking a pass from Nick Schultz as he cut across the crease and lifted a backhand over Khabibulin into the top corner.

Spurgeon, who grew up in Edmonton, scored his first career goal five minutes later on a slap shot from outside the left circle. Brodziak screened Khabibulin on the play.

"It's sort of cool that everyone back home will get to see this one," Spurgeon said. "That's something to remember forever."

Havlat gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead midway through the second. He cut to the middle of the ice, took a pass from Greg Zanon at the Edmonton blue line, split Tom Gilbert and Theo Peckham in the Oilers zone and beat Khabibulin with a wrist shot between the pads. It was his third straight game with a goal.

Foster beat Backstrom late in the middle period to tie it. He took a pass from Linus Omark and scored with a wrist shot to the glove side to give him his first goal in 32 games.

"It's frustrating," Oilers center Shawn Horcoff said. "We just need to put it behind us."

Devils 1, Stars 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Nick Palmieri scored on a deflection with 5:37 left and Johan Hedberg stopped 19 shots for his 17th NHL shutout as the Devils extended their season-high winning streak to eight by beating the slumping Stars at the American Airlines Center.

With newly acquired Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski in the penalty box for high-sticking, Ilya Kovalchuk broke his stick on a shot from the left point. But Palmieri was set up to the right of the net and he deflected the puck past Kari Lehtonen for his sixth goal.

"I was in front of the net trying to set a screen," Palmieri said. "Usually that shot coming from the point is a little harder than that, but a broken stick might have thrown their goalie off a little bit and I just happened to get a little tip on it. There weren't a lot of chances on either side, so we'll take the goal any way we can get it.

"There's a strong belief in this locker room we can compete with any team in the league and we've been doing that in the last little while."

It was the kind of defensive game that is the trademark of Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, who has been behind the bench during the surge after taking over for the fired John MacLean on Dec. 23.
"That's exactly the kind of game you expect -- tight-checking. They don't give you much," Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said.

The Devils are 16-1-2 in their last 19 to move closer to playoff contention in the Eastern Conference -- they are 13th but trail eighth-place Carolina by nine points.

"It's the whole group that plays hard and bears down on the little things that makes this team better," Lemaire said. "They have intensity. Everyone is on the same page, it's a lot easier."

It was Hedberg's second 1-0 victory in three games. He also topped the New York Rangers on Friday night as he fills in for Martin Brodeur as the No. 1 goalie recovers from a knee injury.

Lemaire gave Hedberg his seventh straight start even though Brodeur is ready to play after missing more than two weeks because of a sprained knee ligament. Hedberg has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last seven starts.

Lehtonen had 22 saves, but the Stars' season-worst losing streak reached five games. Dallas is 2-10-1 in its last 13 games to fall out of first place in the Pacific Division.

Goligoski made his Stars debut after he was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, skating on the top pair with Robidas. He had a tough night with two penalties, including the third-period call that set up the only goal.

Stars forward Brian Sutherby had a near-miss with about 2:30 left in the second period, but Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov stopped the puck at the goal line.

Dallas right wing Jamie Langenbrunner played against the Devils for the first time since the former New Jersey captain was traded on Jan. 7. Langenbrunner waived his no-trade clause to rejoin the Stars, the team that drafted him in 1993.

"It was definitely a little weird (playing against the Devils), but we played a pretty good hockey game," Langenbrunner said. "We did a lot of what we wanted to do, but didn't bury our opportunities and then they got a pretty lucky bounce there at the end."

Material from wire services and team media 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