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Auld backstops Bruins past Leafs in Boston debut

by John Kreiser
Boston's Alex Auld makes a glove save on a shot during the second period against the Maple Leafs. Auld made his first start for the Bruins since being acquired by the team Thursday.
Alex Auld says the Boston Bruins’ players made him feel welcome after he was acquired from Phoenix on Thursday. After the way he played in Toronto, maybe they’ll throw him a party.

Auld, who was playing in the minors before the deal, stopped 25 shots and helped Boston hold off a late charge by Toronto for a 2-1 victory at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, ending the Maple Leafs’ four-game winning streak.

''That's the great thing about hockey,'' Auld said after beating the team he grew up rooting for. ''All the players know what different players go through and how tough it can be when you get bounced around. I didn't know a lot of the guys, but they made me feel very welcome. That helps a lot."

The Bruins dealt for Auld after starter Tim Thomas went down with a groin injury on Wednesday. Auld had been playing in the AHL after the Coyotes acquired Ilya Bryzgalov last month.

“It’s been a while since I played on this level,” said Auld, who hadn’t played an NHL game since losing to San Jose on Nov. 15. “A couple of injuries here left me the opportunity to show what I can do.”

Auld didn’t get off to a fast start in the tight-checking game. Jason Blake raced down the left side and beat Auld from the circle with a wrist shot at 10:28 ( 700K ).

"He was coming down the wing pretty quick (when) he shot it," Auld said. "He just kind of caught me off-guard, and it's one that I definitely want back.

"But it's how you respond to these things, and I battled the rest of the way and we were able to get the win."

The Bruins tied the game on the power play less than two minutes later. Chuck Kobasew was in the slot when he ripped a wrist shot between Vesa Toskala’s pads at 12:25 ( 700K ).

Then it was back to the tight checking that marked the first 10 minutes, with little time and space for attackers on either team. ''They're a very defensive hockey team,'' Toskala said. ''They just sit back and wait for those turnovers. There were long periods where I didn't touch the puck.''

But the Bruins stunned the sellout crowd when defenseman Dennis Wideman beat Toskala at 9:25 of the second period ( 700K ) with a low slap shot from the blue line that glanced off a stick and went into the net, giving Boston a 2-1 lead.

The Leafs might have been able to tie the game if their power play had worked. But Toronto’s 28th-ranked power play went 0-for-6 and failed to convert on three chances in the final 13:15.

“We spent too much time looking for one shot,” Toronto coach Paul Maurice said of his man-advantage unit. “We didn’t move the puck very well. This was a grind-it-out game at 5-on-5, and the team whose power play generates (goals) wins — and theirs did.”

The tight checking continues and Auld’s confidence continued to grow as the game went on. He stood tall in the final minute, when the Leafs were on a power play and pulled Toskala for a 6-on-4 skating advantage. They buzzed around the Bruins’ zone but were unable to get the equalizer.

"The more confident you are, the more comfortable you feel," said Auld. "And consistency is huge.”

The victory was a boost for the Bruins, who ended a six-game road trip with a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss in New Jersey on Wednesday, then lost 4-2 at home to Montreal on Thursday.

"It was a big win for us tonight," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Our guys battled hard. We got great goaltending, with some great big saves at the end.”

Two streaks came to an end. Boston’s Marc Savard had his 12-game scoring streak snapped, and Toronto’s Mats Sundin failed to get a point for the first time in Toronto’s 17 home games this season.

Hurricanes 5, Canadiens 1 | Video
Montreal traditionally has been a tough place for visiting teams to win. The Hurricanes have become an exception. Carolina won its sixth straight regular-season visit to the Bell Centre as Ray Whitney scored twice and Matt Cullen had three assists.

Carolina is a perfect 6-for-6 in Montreal since play resumed after the lockout — and that doesn’t include three straight playoff wins in April 2006.

The Hurricanes dominated the game from the start, outshooting the Canadiens 18-8 in the first period and taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Eric Cole ( 700K ) and Eric Staal ( 700K ).

Andrei Kostitsyn scored a power-play goal for Montreal at 9:36 of the second ( 700K ), but Rod Brind’Amour put Carolina back up by two and took the air out of the crowd when he fired Chad LaRose’s pass behind Carey Price at 11:46 ( 700K ).

''Every time you get a goal scored on you, obviously you hear about it and you want to get that next one right away and we were fortunate enough that we did,'' Brind'Amour said. ''We kind of got the game back to where it was just our game, we didn't have to do too much, just keep them to the outside and not give up too many good chances, and we pretty much did that.''

Whitney scored a power-play goal with 34 seconds left in the middle period ( 700K ) and added his second at 6:23 of the third ( 700K ).

Price, a 20-year-old rookie, looked like one at times and was lifted for Jaroslav Halak after allowing four goals on 30 shots in two periods.

''I think he knows he needs to be better, but he's a 20-year-old who's still learning a lot, and on that he's probably ahead of the curve,'' Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. ''But unfortunately, in the situation we're in, we need him and everyone to play well.''

The Canadiens were booed throughout the third period as they lost their fifth straight at the Bell Centre.

''Toward the end of the game I was booing from the penalty box for the fans, just trying to start something for them,'' Cole said. ''We addressed it. You can get the crowd turned on them a little bit but it's different than in other arenas. Here, you've got to put one in the net. In other places you can slow the game down and you can lose the crowd but here it takes a little more, that's for sure.''

Islanders 3, Lightning 2, OT | Video
New York’s struggling power play finally came through on its second chance in overtime when Mike Sillinger scored with 27.7 seconds left ( 700K ), ending the Islanders’ five-game losing streak.

The Isles were 0-for-6 when the failed to capitalize on Filip Kuba’s penalty 45 seconds into overtime. But just as Kuba was coming out of the box, Paul Ranger slashed Sillinger, putting the Isles back on the power play. They had several good chances before Sillinger ripped a 15-foot wrist shot from the slot past Johan Holmqvist.

New York's Chris Campoli and Mike Sillinger celebrate Sillinger's game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2.

“Our objective was to work the puck around and get someone in front of the net,” Sillinger said. “They backed up a bit and Trent Hunter set a good screen.”

The Islanders were 0-4-1 in their previous five games and came to the St. Pete Times Forum after a lackluster 3-0 loss at Florida on Friday.

“We played with a little more desperation,” Sillinger said. “We didn’t create much in Florida. “We played with a sense of urgency.”

No one played better than Isles’ goalie Rick DiPietro, who made 32 saves and limited the Lightning to a pair of third-period power-play goals by Brad Richards.

"We were desperate for a win," DiPietro said. "We haven't been playing our best hockey, so to come into Tampa, it's a good win for us."

After Isles captain Bill Guerin scored his first goal in 17 games at 12:09 of the second ( 700K ), Richards tied it when his power-play wrister from the left point sailed through a screen and past DiPietro 3:51 into the third ( 700K ). Andy Hilbert beat Holmqvist from the slot at 10:45 ( 700K ), but at 13:39 Richards ripped a slap shot past DiPietro during a 5-on-3 advantage set up when DiPietro misplayed the puck and was called for handling it outside the trapezoid ( 700K ).

"We battled," Richards said. "It was a great effort. We got one point. We would have liked to have two, but we couldn't get that done."

Tamps Bay coach John Tortorella wasn’t critical of his team, either.

"I think we played hard, and battled back a couple times," Tortorella said after the Lightning’s three-game winning streak ended. "We did a lot of good things."

DiPietro bailed out his teammates early in the second when he stopped Richards' breakaway shot during New York's 5-on-3 power play ( 700K ). He also made a save on Mathieu Darche, who skated alone down the slot with 13 minutes left in the period ( 700K ).

"He's the reason why we have 14 wins (this season)," Sillinger said. "He's the backbone of our team. The best penalty killer. He demands a lot from himself. He's an elite goaltender in the league."

Capitals 6, Thrashers 3 | Video
One night after a sluggish first period cost Washington a chance to win in New Jersey, a solid opening 20 minutes made the difference for the Caps against the visiting Thrashers.

Interim coach Bruce Boudreau scolded his team for a listless showing that left them down 2-0 after one period against the Devils. His players must have listened, because the Caps came out storming. Nicklas Backstrom ( 700K ) and Jeff Schultz ( 700K ) scored 60 seconds apart midway through the period and the Caps were never threatened.

"We had a lot of energy. We talked about passion today, and I thought they played with a lot of passion," Boudreau said. "When you get that first goal, it illuminates the bench. For whatever reason, they feel stronger."

Defenseman Mike Green added a pair of goals for Washington ( 700K , 700K ), and Alex Ovechkin scored his 21st of the season ( 700K ). Todd White had a pair for Atlanta ( 700K , 700K ), which trailed 6-1 midway through the third period.

“They were a better team. They jumped on us quickly," Atlanta coach Don Waddell said. "They played much more desperate than we did.

"I wouldn't say this was one of our better efforts," Waddell added, echoing Boudreau’s assessment of the previous night. "When the other team is working harder, sometimes it makes you feel like you're working less."

Although the Capitals still have the fewest wins (10) and points (22) in the NHL, they're 4-3-1 under Boudreau, who took over for the fired Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22 after the Capitals turned in a poor performance in a 5-1 loss to Atlanta.

Wild 2, Blue Jackets 1 | Video
Minnesota left Nationwide Arena with a victory for the first time since Jan. 18, 2002, as Brian Rolston scored the tie-breaking goal in the third period and Nicklas Backstrom stopped 31 shots.

The Wild were 0-6-3 in Columbus since their only previous victory in their 12 visits to Ohio.

Minnesota's Derek Boogaard, rear, fights Columbus' Duvie Westcott for the puck.

''It's been a long time. We don't win here too often,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. ''They have a team pretty much like us. They play hard and every game is a close game.''

Rolston snapped a 1-1 tie with a hard slap shot from the top of the left circle that slipped inside the near post and past goaltender Pascal Leclaire at 2:22 of the third period ( 700K ).

''I just wanted to get it on the net,'' Rolston said. ''I think it might have hit off of one of their defensemen in front. It was just good luck, basically.”

Backstrom preserved the lead, handling a flurry of shots in the final minutes while the Blue Jackets pushed for the tying goal. Aaron Voros also scored for the Wild ( 700K ), who had been shut out 5-0 in Detroit on Friday and had just three goals in their last three games. Nikolai Zherdev extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with the Blue Jackets’ only goal ( 700K ), a one-timer past Backstrom a minute into the second period.

The Jackets had several chances in the final minutes, but coach Ken Hitchcock said his team lost the game because of the way it played in the first two periods.

''Tonight we played about 12 minutes of the way we have to play — that's what happens when you put skill ahead of work,'' he said. ''We've been guilty of that for a couple of nights now and tonight it caught us. We don’t have a team that can win on skill. We have to do it with hard work.”

Predators 4, Ducks 2 | Video
Nashville did just what any team wants to do when facing an opponent playing its second game in two nights and third game in four: Jump on them early. The Predators outshot Anaheim 19-6 in the first 20 minutes and scored twice — and the Ducks couldn’t recover. “You always want to have a strong first period, and I thought we were real good early in the game,” Preds coach Barry Trotz said. “They played last night, so we tried to jump on them early and we got some results there.”

Jordin Tootoo beat Jonas Hiller 5:53 into the game ( 700K ) after Vernon Fiddler won a faceoff, and Alexander Radulov deflected Marek Zidlicky’s pass into the net for a power-play goal with 15.1 seconds left in the period ( 700K ).

“The second goal really helped us keep it going in the second period,” Trotz said. “You learn from the past, and that might have been our best period of the year. We talked about the second because we knew they would come out with their best effort.”

Tootoo set up Ryan Suter’s power-play goal midway through the second period for a 3-0 lead  ( 700K ) before Shane Hnidy scored an unassisted goal to get Anaheim on the scoreboard ( 700K ). Nashville’s Jarred Smithson ( 700K ) and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf ( 700K ) scored shorthanded goals in the third period.

The Ducks hurt themselves by giving Nashville 10 power plays while getting only four.

'I have a feeling or a belief that fatigue is part of everyday life as a hockey player,'' Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. ''We are taking far too many penalties, and this is an all-too-familiar statement.''

Ducks captain Chris Pronger agreed.

''It's discipline to the rules, it's discipline to our structure, and the way we want to play,'' he said. ''We have to understand that not only are teams looking to egg us on, but the referees are looking at us too, and we don't help ourselves out in that regard as well.''

Beating the reigning champions was a big thing to the Predators.

“They are a real physical team — they come at you and finish a lot of their checks,” Fiddler said. “They are the Stanley Cup champs for a reason, and we just wanted to keep going at them.”

Sabres 7, Sharks 1 | Video
It took 16 years, but Buffalo finally won for the second time in Northern California. Paul Gaustad scored twice as the Sabres walloped the Sharks for their first win ever at HP Pavilion and the second road victory over the Sharks since they entered the NHL in 1991.

Buffalo had been 1-4-4-1 since winning 7-1 at the Cow Palace on Nov. 12, 1991. But though the Sharks are tied for first place in the Pacific Division and own the NHL’s best road record, they continue to struggle at home — they are now 4-6-2 and trying to figure out why.

Buffalo's Michael Ryan and Toni Lydman are congratulated by teammates after Ryan's goal against the San Jose Sharks.

"I don't know that we were ready to play mentally," Sharks' forward Mike Grier said. "We got lucky to have that one-goal lead into the second. They are one of the best transition teams in the league, and they made us pay."

San Jose jumped to an early lead when Sandis Ozolinsh scored 14:01 into the game. But the Sabres took complete control in the second period, scoring four times.

"I don't know if it was preparation or what but we didn't come to the game tonight,” Ozolinsh said. “We made too many mistakes. We weren't sharp.”

Ales Kotalik tied it at 4:06, Tim Connolly put Buffalo ahead to stay by beating Evgeni Nabokov on a shorthanded breakaway at 7:33, Mike Ryan tucked in Adam Mair’s pass at 12:26 and Gaustad scored on the power play at 17:14.

"We wanted to set the tempo tonight and we stuck to it all night," Gaustad said. "We were playing individual hockey against L.A. It was a combined effort tonight."

Derek Roy, Gaustad and Thomas Vanek scored in a 5:11 span of the third period to complete the rout, which followed a 4-1 loss in Anaheim on Wednesday and an 8-2 blowout in Los Angeles on Thursday.

"It feels nice to do what we did and bounce back the way we did," Roy said. "Obviously, the performance (in L.A.) was in the back of our minds. We're going to move forward from this and get better."

Coyotes 4, Kings 2 | Video
Los Angeles doesn’t see Phoenix and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov until mid-February. That gives the Kings about 10 weeks to find a way to beat him — something they haven’t been able to do this season.

Bryzgalov stopped 22 shots to beat the Kings for the fourth time since joining the Coyotes in mid-November, and Phoenix scored on its only two shots in the third period to continue their domination of L.A.

Bryzgalov has started all 11 games the Coyotes have played since obtaining him off waivers from Anaheim, allowing more than three goals only once. He made 28 saves in each of his other three starts against Los Angeles after joining the Coyotes, winning 1-0, 4-1 and 4-1.

“He’s given then a calming influence,” Kings defenseman Brad Stuart said of Bryzgalov. “He’s played very well every time against us. He’s settled them down back there a little bit.”

Defenseman Keith Ballard broke a 2-2 tie with 7:44 left in regulation when he raced down the slot and fired Shane Doan’s passout behind Jean-Sebastien Aubin. Doan added an empty-net goal with 14 seconds remaining.

Bryzgalov stopped 22 shots against a team coming off an 8-2 victory over Buffalo two nights earlier.

“Our goaltender played great — he kept us in the game and we got some timely goals,” defenseman Ed Jovanovski said.

Anze Kopitar put the Kings ahead 6:24 into the game with a power-play goal, poking a loose puck behind Bryzgalov. Mattias Tjarnqvist tied it at 18:30 when Jovanovski’s point shot hit his leg and went into the net.

Radim Vrbata put Phoenix ahead with a power-play goal 1:09 into the middle period, firing Martin Hanzal’s pass into a half-empty net. Michal Handzus beat Bryzgalov with a backhander at 10:39 of the third period to pull the Kings even, but Ballard scored 1:37 later to put Phoenix ahead to stay and ease the sting of Friday night’s 1-0 loss in San Jose.

“We thought we played well last night,” Ballard said. “It’s tough to score on those guys. We’re glad to get back on track.”

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

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