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Boyes' goal gives Blues 4-3 OT win over Lightning

by John Kreiser
Brad Boyes turned what could have been a dispiriting loss for the St. Louis Blues into a scintillating victory.

Boyes' goal 27 seconds into overtime Friday night gave the Blues a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay after St. Louis blew a pair of two-goal leads in the third period. He moved into the left circle on the first rush of overtime and snapped a perfect shot that caught the top right corner, just under the crossbar.

"It's been tough for me recently to find the back of the net," said Boyes, who leads the Blues with 26 goals and nine game-winners but hadn't scored since Feb. 13. "Breaking away from the wall, it's just trying to find a way to get it in there."

The goal gave the Blues a huge two points as they scramble to stay in the Western Conference playoff race. They're in 12th place, but their 66 points are just four behind the three teams tied for sixth, seventh and eighth in the West.

"These are big points for us," Blues coach Andy Murray said after his 200th game behind the St. Louis bench. "We have the second-best record in the NHL in the last 20 games, so yeah, there's been a sense of urgency there."

The Lightning, 13th in the East and 28th in the overall standings, also showed some urgency down the stretch. The Bolts trailed 3-1 before Matt Pettinger's goal with 7:50 remaining gave them some life. With goalie Karri Ramo on the bench for an extra attacker in the final minute, No. 1 draft pick Steven Stamkos tied it when he ripped a slap shot from the top of the left circle through a screen and past Chris Mason with 15.7 seconds remaining.


But in the end, all they got was another painful loss. Tampa Bay is 4-11-2 in its last 17 games and is 8-24 in one-goal games -- including 13 losses in overtime or shootouts.

"You're just looking for certain guys to keep working," interim coach Rick Tocchet said. "There are a lot of jobs on the line."

After a scoreless first period, Boyes set up a pair of goals in the second to put the Blues ahead by a pair after 40 minutes. His pass on a 3-on-1 hit Keith Tkachuk and caromed into the net at 5:42, and he assisted on Andy McDonald's power-play goal at 9:25.

Martin St. Louis got the Bolts on the board with a power-play backhander that beat Mason 3:28 into the third period. But David Perron restored the Blues' two-goal lead at 6:10.

Sabres 5, Coyotes 1 | Video

Tim Connolly is giving the Sabres some early payback on their investment. Buffalo re-signed Connolly hours before Wednesday's trade deadline; he had an assist that night in a win over Montreal and added two goals and two assists as the Sabres whacked the Coyotes to move closer to the last playoff spot in the East.

Buffalo and Carolina now have 73 points, one behind Florida, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers, who are tied for the last three playoff berths. Montreal is fourth with 75.

Connolly figured in all of the Sabres' scoring in the first two periods. He tipped Jaroslav Spacek's shot behind Ilya Bryzgalov 7:07 into the game, then won a draw back to Andrej Sekera, whose blast from center point beat Bryzgalov at 8:25. Connolly made it 3-0 at 14:17 of the second period when he knocked in his own rebound for a power-play goal.

"Tim had a very good night," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said after Connolly matched a career best with four points. "He made a couple of special plays, scored a couple of goals."

Connolly is glad that his future includes two more seasons in Buffalo, rather than a trade.

"You try not to think about it, but obviously those [rumors] can creep into the back of your head," Connolly said. "The biggest thing is we now have our team set and we can focus on the last stretch here."

The revamped Coyotes, who won 2-1 at Boston on Thursday after remaking their roster at Wednesday's trading deadline, got on the board 6:52 into the third period when one of their newcomers, Matthew Lombardi, whipped a power-play backhander past Patrick Lalime. But the Sabres put the game away with late power-play goals 37 seconds apart by Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford after Phoenix got into penalty trouble.

Lalime improved to 2-2-1 since taking over after Ryan Miller went down with a high ankle sprain two weeks ago. He improved to 8-2-1 lifetime against the Coyotes with a 1.64 goals-against average. Lombardi's goal snapped his personal shutout streak of 129:44 against Phoenix.

"We had to rely on Patty for some really timely saves," Ruff said of Lalime. "He gave us a lot of momentum with some of the saves he made."

The Coyotes are still 14th in the West and fell nine points out of the last playoff berth. They've lost four of their last five and 13 of 17.

"We started really well and had some chances," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We got back into it at 3-1, but kind of came up short."

Despite the score, Ruff said he was impressed with the Coyotes and the way they played.

"They've got some good young players and good team speed," he said. "If you beat Boston in their building, you've accomplished something. We knew we had our hands full. Even when it was 3-0, we knew we were still in for a game."

Hurricanes 6, Flames 1 | Video

Scoring 300 goals is something Ray Whitney never thought he'd accomplish in the NHL. It's taken him 17 seasons, but the 36-year-old forward reached the milestone with a flourish by scoring three power-play goals against the weary Flames.

"I've been bought out twice, on waivers twice," said Whitney, drafted in the second round by the expansion San Jose Sharks in 1992 and now playing for his fifth NHL team. "I've seen it all, that's for sure, so 300, I'll take that. Probably a lot of people didn't think that would happen, myself included."

Whitney scored once in each period, reaching the milestone by beating Curtis McElhinney at 4:08 of the third period.

The hat trick helped make it a happy homecoming for Erik Cole, who was reacquired by the Hurricanes from Edmonton on Wednesday after being dealt to the Oilers during the summer. Cole's goal at 18:22 of the first period, 42 seconds after Sergei Samsonov scored, gave the 'Canes a 3-0 lead.

"He didn't disappoint," Whitney said of Cole. "He played the game that we thought he would. Getting a goal, I thought, was big for him to ease any pressure he might have felt."

Scott Walker also scored for the Hurricanes, who remained tied with Buffalo. Both teams moved within one point of the three teams tied for the last three playoff spots in the East.

Cam Ward made 21 saves, losing his shutout when Jarome Iginla scored with 3:49 left in regulation.

"I think it just goes to show the potential we have as a team," Ward said. "It was a true test against arguably one of the top teams in the League, and we played a complete 60 minutes tonight."

The Flames, who won 5-1 at Philadelphia on Thursday, were playing their fourth game in six nights and showed the effects. The Hurricanes got a break when coach Mike Keenan sat No. 1 goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and played McElhinney, who has yet to win in 13 NHL appearances.

"Unfortunately, he's had a lot of  'one of those games,'" Iginla said of McElhinney. "He made a great save off the start and it could have been a game-breaker save, but unfortunately we didn't respond. We all feel responsible, and it's hard to accept for him."

Calgary fell to 2-7-1 on the second night of back-to-back games. Each of those games has been away from home.

On Saturday, it's the Hurricanes' turn to be on the road for the second night of a back-to-backer -- they visit Tampa Bay. Coach Paul Maurice likes the way his team is playing, but doesn't expect the same sort of offensive outburst he saw Friday.

"We're not (always) going to score six," Maurice said. "You can't plan on that. You gotta plan on the grind."

Stars 3, Ducks 2 | Video

Thanks to Loui Eriksson and Marty Turco, Dallas rebounded from an awful loss in Los Angeles on Thursday by hanging on to beat Anaheim and move into sole possession of eighth place in the West. Eriksson scored two goals for the Stars and Turco stopped 36 of 38 shots as the Stars bounced back after blowing a two-goal lead in the final 3:18 of regulation in L.A. before losing in overtime.

"Last night was extremely disappointing. We had a big lead and let it go to waste with a lot of stupid penalties," said forward Steve Ott, who set up the Stars' first two goals. "Tonight we talked about locking it down, playing our way and making it five out of six points and go away with a heck of a road trip. That's exactly what we did tonight."


GOALS: 2 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 2
SOG: 5 | +/-: +1

The win gives Dallas 70 points and sole possession of eighth place in the West. The Stars, Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets all have 70 points in 65 games, but Nashville has 33 wins, Columbus has 32 and the Stars have 31. All three teams are one point ahead of Edmonton and two in front of the Ducks.

The line of Ott, Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro provided all the offense for the Stars, who were outshot 38-16 but got a big performance from Turco, who's struggled in recent games.

"I think with the number of chances that we did create and the pucks we directed at the net, he made some big stops," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said of Turco. "Some stops he didn’t even see. But that is when things are going your way as a goalie and things are hitting you. You have to take your hat off to him. He battled and had made the stops for their hockey club."

Ott's superb pass set up a one-timer for Ribeiro, who hit a half-empty net for a power-play goal 1:15 into the game. Ott helped make it 2-0 by finding Eriksson with a perfect pass to finish off a 3-on-2 at 14:39 of the second period, giving Eriksson 30 goals for the season.

"That whole line was excellent," Stars coach Dave Tippett said.

Defenseman James Wisniewski, one of Anaheim's Deadline Day acquisitions, finally got the Ducks on the board with a slap shot from the top of the left circle that went through traffic and past Turco at 7:31 of the third. But just 77 seconds later, Eriksson picked up a loose puck in his own zone, raced down ice and whipped a high shot from the left faceoff dot that caught the top right corner for a 3-1 lead.

"That was a great shot at a key time," Tippett said. "That's something that can be very demoralizing to the other team, if they feel like they're coming at you and then you get the one that pushes you two (goals) ahead. That's a big boost for our team."

Anaheim rookie Bobby Ryan made it a one-goal game with 2:28 to play with a spectacular goal, racing down the left side and cutting past Stephane Robidas before tucking the puck behind Turco. But the Ducks were unable to mount any more sustained threats, leaving them on outside looking in at the top eight.

"Everybody is going to beat each other and it’s going to be real tough," Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "Obviously, we want to get the points here at home. It’s not about the other team right now, it’s about us trying to win games and trying to put ourselves in a good situation. It’s up to us."

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

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