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Bruins shred Leafs 8-5

by John Kreiser /
The Boston Bruins are so good at home that they can win even on their worst defensive night of the season.

The Bruins allowed five goals in a game for the first time all season but still won going away, as David Krejci's first NHL hat trick carried them to an 8-5 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

"If you give him some room, I think he can score some goals," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Krejci, who came into the game with just 8 goals — but 21 assists. "He's a good player who makes everyone around him better. Tonight he had a chance to make himself look good as well."

The B's avenged their only regulation home loss of the season and won their 12th consecutive game at a sold-out TD Banknorth Garden — their longest home winning streak since 1975-76. Overall, they're 12-1-1 in their last 14 games.

But for the defensive-minded Bruins, this was an unusual night — one in which they had no trouble scoring but almost blew a 5-1 lead. Like a closer in baseball, goalie Manny Fernandez came on in relief of Tim Thomas after Toronto's four-goal second period cut the lead to 6-5 and pitched a shutout the rest of the way.

"Fernandez came in and made the difference in the game," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "Obviously we didn't start the way we wanted to. It was obviously a good effort to get back into the game, but when you get down that many goals, it's tough."

It looked like the Bruins were on cruise control when Phil Kessel scored the first of his two goals at 4:21 of the second period, giving Boston a 5-1 lead. But the Leafs got goals from Alex Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov and Mikhail Grabovski in an eight-minute span to cut the margin to 5-4. Kessel scored again at the 18-minute mark, but Jason Blake whipped home Toronto's fourth of the period at 19:16 to make it 6-5.

The Leafs' big second period ended Thomas' night — he was replaced by Fernandez, who stopped all 13 shots he faced.

"Sometimes a change like that kind of calms everybody down," Fernandez said. "When there's a lot of goals scored, you just hold your stick a little tighter, try to do too much. Sometimes coaches use that (a goalie change) as a motivator for the team, and I think that's what happened."

The Bruins put the game away on third-period goals by Michael Ryder at 10:42 and Krejci at 15:44 — a tally that triggered a cascade of hats. But his most impressive was his second goal, when he came flying down left wing, made a shift and beat Curtis Joseph to the short side with a wrist shot.

"I've seen so many guys try it in the NHL, so I tried it," Krejci said.

Avalanche 2, Lightning 1 (SO) | Video

Colorado won a controversy-filled shootout without even putting the puck in the net. Milan Hedjuk was awarded a goal in the second round of the breakaway competition when referees Tim Peel and Brian Pochmara ruled that goaltender Mike Smith had thrown his stick.

Smith tried to poke-check Hedjuk and appeared to lose possession of his stick before making a blocker save. As Smith slid to his right, the stick seemed to hit his body and skittered away. After a conference among the officials, the goal was awarded. Andrew Raycroft then stopped Martin St. Louis for the win.

"They huddled to make the decision to see if they felt the stick was thrown," NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy said in a phone interview from Toronto. "And if a stick is thrown, as outlined in Rule 26.4, they can award a goal and that's what they did in this case. There was a strong feeling that his stick was thrown."

Smith, understandably, didn't agree.

"I couldn't hang onto my stick any longer," he said. "I had already made the save and the stick was coming out. You can't say I threw the stick; there's no way. The save was made and then the stick came out of my hand. It wasn't like I threw my stick at the guy's feet. It was after the fact."

Lightning coach Rick Tocchet was livid on the bench after the call was made and said afterward that what bothered him most was that he couldn't get a clear answer as to who had made the call.

"What I having a tough time with was that, when you go into a pile of referees, someone has to step up and say they made the call," he said. "I couldn't get an answer. They said it was a consensus that they thought maybe he threw the stick."

The controversial ending capped a goaltending duel. Paul Stastny scored for Colorado 3:46 into the game, and Jeff Halpern, playing his first game since knee surgery in May, tied it at 7:35 of the second.
Not surprisingly, Colorado coach Tony Granato said the referees' call was "gutsy" and "right."
"If the goalie throws his stick in an attempt to stop a penalty shot or shootout opportunity, it's an automatic goal," Granato said.

Canadiens 5, Flyers 2
| Video

Alex Kovalev's slump is over, and so is Montreal's three-game losing streak. Kovalev scored for the second game in a row after a 19-game drought and reached the 900-point mark for his career.

''I scored that first goal and now I've got 900 points,'' said Kovalev, the first Russian ever picked in the first round of the Entry Draft. ''I can't even think about it. It's hard to really imagine that I've been in the League 16 years and I've got 900 points. It probably takes a couple of days to really realize it."

Matt D'Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn and Steve Begin scored as the Canadiens made short work of the Flyers, who had been 6-0-1 in their previous seven games. Kovalev scored in the second period and Guillaume Latendresse connected with 1:03 left in regulation for the Canadiens, who got 30 saves from Jaroslav Halak.

The Flyers' offense came from Arron Asham, who scored in the first period and set up Braydon Coburn's goal in the third.

"You can't win them all,'' Flyers center Jeff Carter said. ''We got off to a slow start, but we picked it up there as the game rolled on and we got some chances. We were shooting high and wide a lot, and their goalie played well. That's about it."

The Canadiens got a boost from the return of defenseman Mike Komisarek, who had missed 16 games with a shoulder injury. He assisted on Kovalev's goal.

''There's no feeling like being on the ice and getting in the mix of things and stirring things up a little,'' said Komisarek, who dressed in street clothes and helped out the coaching staff through the first four games of Montreal's recent seven-game homestand.

Capitals 4, Blues 2 | Video

Washington's Viktor Kozlov doesn't get the attention that flashier fellow Russians Alex Ovechkin or Alexander Semin receive. But Kozlov came up big against a team the Caps usually struggle to beat, scoring twice and adding an assist to help Washington to its fifth consecutive win.

"He's the unsung Russian," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said of Kozlov. "He just goes out and does his business."

Kozlov deflected the credit to the Caps' youngest Russian, rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov, who stopped 29 shots against a team that was 9-0-1-1 in its last 11 meetings with Washington.

"As long as we kept the winning streak going and got the two points, everyone's happy," Kozlov said. "We can't relax. We have to stay focused and play the same way."

Varlamov, playing in front of a crowd that included his father, won for the second time in as many starts since being recalled from the minors last week when Jose Theodore went down with a hip flexor injury.

"I try not to think about it, but it's great his dream was realized, his dream to see me play in the NHL. It was my dream as well," Varlamov said through an interpreter. "He's probably the happiest man in the world right now."

But Kozlov's second goal of the game at 17:06 of the second period broke a 1-1 tie, and Tomas Fleischmann scored again 40 seconds later.

Ovechkin added his 20th of the season 13 seconds into the third period before Brad Winchester scored for the Blues with 8:26 remaining. David Backes had a first-period goal for St. Louis, which has lost five in a row.

Blues coach Andy Murray was unhappy at the mistakes that led to goals for Washington, a team with a penchant for making opponents pay for errors.

"We know they're a good and dangerous team. I didn't like some of the things they did to allow them to get scoring chances," he said.

Penguins 6, Thrashers 3 | Video

The return of starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was just what the Penguins needed to end a slump. Fleury, returning after missing five weeks with a groin problem, stopped 28 shots to give the Pens only their second win in six games.

"He was phenomenal," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said after his team won despite being outshot 31-19. "He made key save after key save. I'm more than pleased with his performance."

Therrien also had to be pleased with NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin, who scored two goals and set up two more. He took some pressure off Fleury with a first-period goal that made it 2-0, assisted on second-period goals by Jordan Staal and Philippe Boucher as the Pens took a 5-2 lead after two periods, then hit the empty net with 27 seconds left — a play on which Sidney Crosby passed up an open-net chance and gave the puck to Malkin.

"As nice as goals are and as nice as empty nets are, you just have to trust your instincts," said Crosby, who hasn't scored in eight games but had two assists. "I saw him open and made a play."
The offensive burst made life easier for Fleury, who was able to put the injury out of his mind.

"I was a little nervous, but after a couple of shots, I was OK," Fleury said. "I was relieved when we got the first two goals. After that, I didn't think about it much."

"Sometimes a change like that kind of calms everybody down. When there's a lot of goals scored, you just hold your stick a little tighter, try to do too much. Sometimes coaches use that (a goalie change) as a motivator for the team, and I think that's what happened." -- Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez
Thrashers coach John Anderson said his team made too many mistakes to beat a talented team like the Penguins.

We can't let any mistakes creep into our game or else we pay for it," Anderson said. "We get so far behind that we can't catch up."

Hurricanes 2, Panthers 1 (OT) | Video

Joe Corvo deked his way to victory, faking Panthers to the ice left and right before backhanding the puck into a wide-open net with 43.3 seconds left in overtime to give Carolina its 15th home win over Florida in 16 games.

"I thought there'd be a goalie in there," Corvo said. "I don't know where he went."

Corvo took a feed from Ray Whitney in the high slot, faked to get around David Booth and lifted a high backhander past both center Gregory Campbell and goalie Tomas Vokoun for his second goal in two games.

"I think everyone thought he was going to shoot it, and then he tried to fake," Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour said. "Then I thought he was going to fall down, and I thought their guy was going to go the other way.

"Then, he got it and he made one move, and I thought he was going to shoot it," he added. "And I was in front, just saying, 'C'mon, put it at the net,' and he just walked down the defenseman and made a great move on the goalie."

Justin Williams scored his first goal since last November when he scored during a power play 14:52 into the game. Ex-'Cane Cory Stillman tied it when he jumped out of the penalty box, picked up a pass and beat Cam Ward on a breakaway.

"Tomas gave us a chance to pick up a point tonight," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "If you're only going to give up one (goal in regulation) on the road, that's pretty good goaltending."

Ward stopped 19 shots in helping Carolina's Paul Maurice get the better of DeBoer, his best friend, in their first coaching matchup. The Hurricanes have picked up points in six of the seven games since they rehired the coach who led them from 1995-2003.

Stars 6, Blue Jackets 5 (SO) | Video

Columbus had the apparent winning goal overturned early in overtime, giving the Stars the chance to win the game on shootout goals by Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro.

The Blue Jackets overcame 4-2 and 5-3 deficits to get to overtime, then appeared to win the game when Manny Malhotra knocked a rebound past Marty Turco. But referees Stephane Auger and Kerry Fraser ruled that Malhotra kicked the puck into the net and waved off the goal.

"I couldn't have kicked that if I tried," Malhotra said. "I was going to the net. I got the shot off that I wanted, on the backhand, and was just basically trying to stop my momentum, with (Dallas defenseman Darryl) Sydor pushing me into the net. It was a falling motion.

"I really had no intention of kicking it. The puck happened to go off me."

Loui Eriksson had the first three-goal game of his NHL career and became only the second player in Stars history to score five consecutive goals. He had both in Dallas' 2-1 overtime win against Phoenix on Tuesday and scored the first three against Columbus.

"It was awesome, a great feeling," Eriksson said. "It was a good way to win too, picking up the win late. We have to work hard to get the points right now, and we found a way to win."

Richards, who set up all three of Eriksson's goals and scored 8:57 into the second period to give Dallas a 5-3 lead, agreed that his team was fortunate.

"We got a lucky break in overtime, but we found a way to win," said Richards, who had just one point in his last seven games. "Tonight it was nice to get rewarded and help the team out. The last two weeks have been hard. "

Kristian Huselius scored late in the second period to make it a one-goal game, and Rick Nash forced overtime by scoring his second of the night, beating Marty Turco with 2:46 left in regulation.

"We said last game, and I'll say it again, it's not pretty but we'll take it," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "The ice was tilted against us in the third, but the guys hung in there and found a way to get the win."

Coyotes 2, Predators 1
| Video

Phoenix is expecting big things from Kyle Turris, the No. 3 pick in the 2007 Entry Draft. Turris looked every bit like a franchise player against the Predators, scoring both goals as the Coyotes passed Nashville and moved into seventh place in the West.

"You can't win them all. 'We got off to a slow start, but we picked it up there as the game rolled on and we got some chances. We were shooting high and wide a lot, and their goalie played well. That's about it." -- Flyers center Jeff Carter
Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said Turris and Joakim Lindstrom have shown great chemistry since Lindstrom was acquired from Anaheim on Dec. 3.

"Lindstrom and him seem to feed off each other," Gretzky said. "They play a similar style, move the puck to the open man, go to open areas to get pucks back. It's a nice combination right now and they're doing a nice job for us."

Lindstrom didn't get an assist on the scoresheet when Turris took Ed Jovanovski's home run pass scored on a breakaway with 9.7 seconds left in the first period. But he did give the rookie an assist — Lindstrom had advised Turris to watch how far Ellis comes out of his crease and to wait for the goalie to make the first move.

"That was the first thing I thought about coming down the center," Turris said.

After Nashville's Vernon Fiddler tied it midway through the second period by banging in his own rebound, Turris jammed in a second rebound from the top of the crease after Ellis had stopped the original shot by Enver Lisin.

It was Turris' second two-point game in the NHL and the first since he had a goal and an assist in the Coyotes' second game of the season on Oct. 12 at Anaheim.

"I feel the best I've felt all year," Turris said. "I feel great, I have my legs under me and I'm feeling very confident."

Rich Peverley missed a chance to tie it with 2:40 left when he hit the post with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov down and out of the play. Nashville has scored two or fewer goals in six of its last nine games.

"The bottom line is we haven't scored a lot of goals lately," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We've got to get some production from our top guys. We have gotten zero from them the last few games. There are some guys not pulling their weight, and they need to step up."

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

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