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Bruins rally for 4-3 shootout win over Isles

by Brian Compton and Brian Hunter
For nearly 52 minutes, the New York Islanders appeared to be well on the verge of winning their first game of the season. But the Boston Bruins had other plans.

Marc Savard, Byron Bitz and Matt Hunwick scored in a span of 5:27 late in the third period to erase a 3-0 deficit before Blake Wheeler and Savard scored in the shootout as the Bruins kept the Islanders winless in a wild 4-3 decision at the TD Garden on Saturday night.

''We're not satisfied with our game tonight,'' Boston coach Claude Julien said after watching his team win despite being dominated for more than 2 1/2 periods. ''We're happy with the win. A lot of it is about confidence. The confidence we gained from the third period will hopefully carry over to the next game.''

Meanwhile, one has to wonder if the Isles' confidence is already dwindling. Despite receiving another multi-point effort from rookie John Tavares, the Islanders failed to shut the door in regulation and Dwayne Roloson followed that up by failing to stop a shot in the shootout for the second time. Boston's only miss came when Patrice Bergeron hit the post in Round 2.

''If we look back at the start of the year and said to ourselves, 'We could be 3-0 with a bounce here or there,' we'd be happy with that, but it's obviously hurts to not get the two points tonight,'' said Isles coach Scott Gordon, who opted not to use his timeout during the third-period meltdown.

Jon Sim broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal at 4:04 of the second period, when he managed to poke Kyle Okposo's rebound past Tuukka Rask for his first goal of the season. Radek Martinek then made it 2-0 at 12:43 when his blast from the right circle beat Rask to the near side. Tavares scored his second goal of the season just over three minutes later with a dazzling wrist shot to culminate an odd-man rush.

But just as they did on so many occasions last season, the Islanders failed to seal the deal.

Savard cut into the Isles' lead with 8:01 remaining, and then Bitz really breathed some life into the Bruins when his backhander ping-ponged off defenseman Freddie Meyer and beat Roloson at 15:35. With the Garden crowd now roaring, Boston tied the game with 2:34 remaining when Hunwick's wrist shot found its way through a crowd and past Roloson to send the fans into a frenzy.

''I shot it and it found its way to the net,'' Hunwick said. ''Maybe we didn't play as complete a game as we wanted to, but I think the comeback is a testament to this team.''

The Islanders (0-0-3) will look for their first win of 2009-10 on Monday afternoon when they host the Los Angeles Kings.

''Right now it seems like we're finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win,'' Isles center Josh Bailey said. ''Something has to change here. You've got to give them credit. They came on strong. It's a tough lesson to learn, but we have to move on.''

Devils 3, Panthers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

David Clarkson broke a 2-2 tie with just 3:35 remaining via the power play to lift New Jersey to a thrilling victory and spoil Florida's home opener.

Travis Zajac had a goal and an assist for the Devils, who saw their 2-1 lead slip away less than two minutes before Clarkson's game-winning tally. Stephen Weiss erased the deficit for the Panthers on a tremendous individual effort.

''A team with leadership and good veterans will keep coming,'' Clarkson said. ''The way we did it shows our leadership right there. When they score late in the game to tie it up, we don't just give up and sit there. We came back out and made sure we were getting chances to come back and win the game.''

The effort certainly left New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire very pleased. The Devils went 2-for-6 on the power play and have won the first two games of their three-game road trip, which concludes on Monday night at Washington. Rob Niedermayer also scored for New Jersey, while Brian Rolston had two assists. Martin Brodeur made 19 saves.

''Overall, it's probably our best game from the first minute to the last,'' Lemaire said. ''Through the whole game, we probably had one average shift.''

It wasn't the home opener the Panthers were hoping for, as they've struggled following their season-opening trip in Finland. Florida dropped a 7-2 decision at Carolina on Friday, and failed again to come up with points in the standings 24 hours later. Rostislav Olesz also scored for the Panthers and Tomas Vokoun made 38 saves.

''They were sitting here waiting for you while you were on the road the night before, it isn't the perfect scenario,'' Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. ''Given the circumstances we gave ourselves a chance and it would have been nice to pick up a point.''
Senators 4, Thrashers 2

Mike Fisher had a goal and an assist and Brian Elliott made 27 saves in his first start of the season as Ottawa skated past Atlanta at Scotiabank Place.

It was another solid performance for Fisher, who scored 32 seconds into overtime on Thursday in a 3-2 win against the Islanders. This time, he broke a 2-2 tie via the power play to help his team earn two points in the standings.

Afterwards, he deflected the credit to veteran linemates Alexei Kovalev and Daniel Alfredsson.

''I'm feeling young,'' Fisher said. ''They create so much space, they both make great plays and they're strong on the puck. They made some great plays tonight -- we could have had a few more.''

Kovalev scored his first goal as a Senator just 43 seconds into the game, and Ottawa quickly took a 2-0 lead on a tally by Jarkko Ruutu just 1:42 later.

But the Thrashers fought back as Ilya Kovalchuk beat Elliott for his fifth of the season at 9:35, and Ron Hainsey completely erased the deficit before the conclusion of the period as he scored at even strength with 1:52 left.

''I don't think we showed up for this game,'' Kovalchuk said after his team fell to 2-1-0. ''I don't know whether we were ready at the start and then they capitalized on us and scored a couple of quick goals. We came back and in the second period we had a couple of chances to take the lead, but their goalie played well. That goal on the power play made the game.''

Chris Neil put the game out of reach when he beat Ondrej Pavelec 5:12 into the third period. Ottawa center Peter Regin left the game during the third period with an upper-body injury.

Penguins 5, Maple Leafs 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Toronto may be tougher in 2009-10, but a lack of discipline cost them dearly against the Stanley Cup champs. Sidney Crosby scored two of Pittsburgh's three power-play goals --  both set up by Evgeni Malkin -- as the Pens cruised past the Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

Toronto was outshot 14-2 in the first period and was clearly outmatched from the get-go.

''There are a lot of things we have to do better,'' Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. ''Clearing pucks is No. 1. ... I've never done it, but we have to somehow practice shooting the puck down the ice, because we just aren't very good at it.''

Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Sergei Gonchar also scored for the Penguins (4-1-0), who are in the midst of playing five games in eight days. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 shots to remain unbeaten.

''When you win the special teams, it was 3-0 for us tonight, that's a good recipe,'' Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Pittsburgh held a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, as Cooke scored just 3:20 into the game before Gonchar beat Vesa Toskala at 10:23 during a man advantage. Jay Rosehill cut the deficit in half 2:01 into the second, but a holding penalty on Matt Stajan allowed Crosby to restore the Pens' two-goal lead just 31 seconds later. Crosby added his second goal of the night -- and fourth of the season -- at 14:31.

Niklas Hagman tried to make things interesting early in the third, beating Fleury to make it 4-2 just 61 seconds into the period, but Staal quickly put the game out of reach with his second goal of the season at 2:08.

''It is depressing here right now,'' Wilson said after his team dropped to 0-3-1. ''We've got to find a way to get some momentum early in the game.''
Lightning 5, Hurricanes 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

It was a long time coming for Tampa Bay, but Ryan Malone's hat trick at the St. Pete Times Forum helped the Lightning earn their first home win in almost seven months as they cruised past Carolina.

Malone made it 3-2 with 9:14 to play thanks to a gorgeous feed from Martin St. Louis. After Steve Downie extended the lead to 4-2 less than two minutes later on a power-play tally, Malone completed his hat trick by hitting an empty net with 1:16 left.

When the final horn sounded, Tampa Bay had its first win on home ice since March 24 -- a span of 12 games.

''The guys did a good job of keeping it even keel,'' Malone said. ''That's what it's all about. So it's good to see everybody come together and get two points.''

Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour scored for Carolina, which took seven minor penalties in the loss -- a statistic that left Staal dumbfounded.

''I don't know what it is, if the referees don't like our new coach or what, but we've been the least-penalized team the last couple years,'' Staal said. ''We've got to find a way and make sure we stay out of that box.''

Paul Ranger also scored for Tampa Bay, ending a personal 22-game drought. Antero Niittymaki made 24 saves to win in his first start of the season.

With two assists, St. Louis has seven points in his first four games.

''We could have won the last three games,'' St. Louis said. ''Keep playing together, I like our chances to be successful.''

Kings 2, Blues 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Ryan Smyth continues to pay early dividends for Los Angeles.

Smyth opened the scoring with a power-play goal, Michal Handzus netted the game-winner and Jonathan Quick turned in a 29-save effort as the Kings won their third in a row.

''We put an emphasis on our defensive zone, blocking shots and limiting their amount of scoring chances,'' Quick said. ''Our PK did great tonight, which was good to see because we've been struggling the past couple of games.''

A shorthanded goal by Alex Steen ended Quick's shutout bid with 6:37 remaining, but the Blues still lost their second straight at Scottrade Center after returning home from a sweep of Central Division rival Detroit in Stockholm as part of the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere series.

''We're not coming out of the gate hard enough,'' Steen said. ''The way that we played towards the end of last season, no teams are going to get surprised by our team. They know how hard we work and we should go out there and give them what they expect. So far, we've been coming back the second and third periods, but it's not good enough. We haven't played a hard 60 minutes yet this year and it's hurting us.''

Smyth scored his fourth goal in as many games and the Kings' sixth power-play goal of the season at 10:47 of the first period. Drew Doughty's drive from the point bounced off the back boards to Smyth in front of the net. Blues goalie Chris Mason stopped his initial shot, but Smyth scored on the rebound.

''We're getting more people with that kind of a mindset this year to get the puck to the net more often,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ''There was a lot of good foundation work put in last year. A lot of the same people makes it a lot easier to move forward.''

Anze Kopitar also drew an assist on the play. The Kings' top line of Smith, Kopitar and Justin Williams has compiled 20 points in the team's first four games.

Handzus made it 2-0 with 4:05 left in the second when his attempted feed to Alexander Frolov went off the stick of the Blues' David Perron and past Mason.

''We have a lot of bad habits, and when you start off four games in a row like that, you have to take a look inside yourself and figure out what you can do to get yourself ready to play,'' Blues forward Keith Tkachuk said. ''There are no easy games. You have to be ready to go. When you look back, we're lucky to be 2-2 right now because of our starts.''

Mason kept Los Angeles from putting the game away by stopping Dustin Brown on a shorthanded breakaway and later denying Frolov on three separate scoring chances. Then St. Louis struck while killing a holding penalty to David Backes, as Steen put a high shot past Quick that was originally ruled no goal but was reversed after a video review.

Sabres 1, Predators 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

In another defensive battle between low-scoring teams, Mike Grier and Ryan Miller made sure Buffalo came out on top this time.

Miller stopped all 25 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and 13th of his career, and Grier scored the game's only goal with 3:25 remaining as the Sabres handed the Predators their first loss of the season.

''Mike Grier, you are my hero,'' said Miller, who has allowed just three goals in 183 minutes this season. ''Mike does a lot of things really well on the ice. He kept on telling us to trust the system and that we would get a breakthrough.''

Pekka Rinne, who earned his first NHL shutout last December in a 2-0 win over Buffalo, made 42 saves in his first start of the season after Dan Ellis recorded victories over Dallas and Colorado.

Grier finally solved Rinne with a wrist shot through traffic, off assists from Tim Kennedy and Chris Butler.

''Rinne was a good wall,'' Grier said. ''As a team we have just been trying to throw the puck at the net as often as possible. We knew if we kept on doing it we would get the puck in the net.

''Tim Kennedy made a good play from behind the net. I had a nice first shot. I don't know if it got to the net or if the defenseman tipped it. Luckily, it came right back to me.''

Rinne said he was just a little too late on the winning goal.

''There was a lot of traffic and it was by me before I could get to it,'' he said. ''They are a very deep team. They come at you with four guys at a time. They take a lot of shots and they create a lot of rebounds.''

Miller finished it off from there. After losing the season opener 2-1 in overtime, he carried a shutout into the third of his previous game against Phoenix before settling for a 2-1 win.

"He's been very solid," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think he's given our team a lot of confidence. We came through camp playing a lot of tight games, which I thought was important. The urgency in the tight games is real good, and I think we've carried that into the regular season."

Blackhawks 4, Avalanche 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

It took the longest shootout of the young season to decide a winner, but Andrew Ladd made sure the United Center fans went home happy in Chicago's home opener.

Ladd scored in the ninth round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker to secure the second point against Colorado. After Blackhawks goalie Cristobal Huet stopped Matt Hendricks, Ladd came skating in on Craig Anderson and put a forehand shot between his pads for the victory.

''I was just trying not to miss it. You stick with the one move you have and go for it,'' Ladd said. ''I know I'm near the bottom (of shootout shooters). Usually it doesn't go that long. Luckily enough, tonight I got a shot.''

Each side had gone 3-for-8 to that point. After Wojtek Wolski was denied to begin the shootout, the next four shooters all found the net -- Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg of the Blackhawks traded goals with Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos of the Avalanche.

Anderson then stopped Patrick Kane to send the shootout into sudden-death rounds, where both sides came up empty until Darcy Tucker scored in the eighth round for Colorado but Tomas Kopecky answered right back for Chicago.

''That was the deepest I think I've ever been (in a shootout),'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. ''Certainly we like the result.''

Hendricks scored his first NHL goal in a three-goal second for the Avalanche that also included tallies by Wolski and Hejduk.

"I was really, really proud of the way our guys competed tonight," first-year Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "I thought we worked extremely hard coming into this building tonight against a team like the Blackhawks. We did a good job, and it's a point. It's disappointing we didn't get two, but it's a good point on the road."

Cam Barker had a power-play goal for the Blackhawks, Duncan Keith lit the lamp shorthanded and Ladd also scored. Chicago was playing its first real home game after splitting a pair of contests against Florida in Helsinki, Finland, as part of the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere series, and losing a one-goal game in Detroit on Thursday.

Barker opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period, beating a screened Anderson from the right point with 2:08 remaining.

Hendricks started a back-and-forth second by tying the score at 2:35, getting his milestone goal on a backhander after T.J. Galiardi was stopped. Wolski tipped a Scott Hannan shot past Huet at 5:45 to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead.

Ladd deflected a John Madden drive just 29 seconds later to get the Blackhawks even. Hejduk temporarily put Colorado back in front by converting a 5-on-3 advantage, but on the ensuing second half of the power play, Keith scored off a Versteeg feed and it was 3-3 after two periods.

Oilers 3, Canadiens 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin wouldn't let this one get away.

After an opening week to the season that included a pair of heartbreaking one-goal losses at home to rival Calgary, the Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead Saturday and held off Montreal for a one-goal victory at Rexall Place.

"It's a long season so you can never really panic, especially early in the year," Khabibulin said. "We have new coaches and a new system so we've got to get used to the system. There's really no reason to panic, especially when we were getting some points, too. It's not like we started 0-3. We could have had six (points), of course, but it's still early on and there's a lot of hockey to play."

Calgary edged Edmonton in the Oilers' season opener when Khabibulin came out of his net and misplayed a puck, leading to the winning goal with less than a minute left in regulation. In a rematch five days later, the Oilers were 1.5 seconds from a win before the Flames scored to force overtime and eventually won in a shootout.

Khabibulin finished with 33 saves, making sure Patrick O'Sullivan's goal midway through the second period stood up. Mike Comrie and Jean-Francois Jacques also scored to build the Oilers' cushion.

The Canadiens, coming off a 7-1 loss in Vancouver on Wednesday, got back in the game when Brian Gionta scored with 50 seconds left in the middle period. A Roman Hamrlik shot skittered past Khabibulin with 3:22 to play in the third, conjuring up memories of the Flames rallies, but the Oilers were able to hold on.

"Early on we had a couple tough breaks," Comrie said. "We gave away one point in the first game and we gave away another point in the third game to Calgary, who's in our division, in our conference. I think early in the season you have to learn from that. You see teams at the top of the standings … those types of teams, they know how to win, and it's so important to learn to play and make the right decisions."

Comrie beat Carey Price on a partial breakaway with 1:20 left in the first period to open the scoring. Jacques tipped Ladislav Smid's shot through Price's legs 3:32 into the second and O'Sullivan capped the Oilers' offensive outburst at 8:10 after the Canadiens turned the puck over to Ryan Stone in their own end and Stone got a pass in front to O'Sullivan.

"Where we lost the game was mistakes," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "Two mistakes cost us two goals. It's disappointing because a win here tonight would have made the trip a lot better. We just have to regroup at home now."

Sharks 4, Wild 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Following up on a hat trick in his first home game with San Jose, Dany Heatley connected on the game-winner Saturday in a comeback against Minnesota at HP Pavilion.

Patrick Marleau was front and center for the Sharks with a pair of goals, Jed Ortmeyer scored his first of the season and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov stopped 38 shots.

Andrew Brunette and Owen Nolan staked the Wild to an early 2-0 lead, but the Sharks came from behind for the second straight home game to win.

"It's not something we want to get accustomed to, that's for sure," Marleau said. "But it's nice that we got back on track there in the second and came back and got the win."

Nolan's power-play goal 9:03 into the second, a shot from the circle that deflected off the stick of Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle and past Nabokov, put Minnesota ahead 2-0, but it also seemed to wake San Jose up.

Ortmeyer cut the Sharks' deficit in half just 2:12 later, one-timing Jason Demers' blind pass from behind the net past Niklas Backstrom, who made 25 saves. Marleau also drew an assist on the play.

"Patty made a great play with his skate, and when that guy's skating there's not too many guys that can stick with him," Ortmeyer said. "Demers made a great pass out front and I was just able to slide it underneath (Backstrom)."

Marleau then tied the game at 13:56 by knocking the rebound of his own shot past Backstrom. Heatley gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead with 1:16 left in the second, taking Boyle's pass in the slot and scoring a power-play goal, his fifth goal in as many games with his new team.

Marleau capped the scoring with an insurance goal just nine seconds into the third.

"That was nice. We wanted to get out to a strong start in the third and that started it all out for us," Marleau said.

Minnesota, trying to earn the win in coach Todd Richards' return to San Jose, got on the board first when Brunette tipped a Shane Hnidy shot from the point past Nabokov. Richards was an assistant on Todd McLellan's staff last season. The Wild had a myriad of other opportunities early against Nabokov, but he denied Nolan and Petr Sykora in close.

"We put 40 shots on him and a lot of them were good scoring chances," center Kyle Brodziak said. "He did a good job for them tonight. We talked about it again, if we keep playing like that, we're going to be a successful team."

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

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