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Bruins top Hawks 2-1 in shootout

by Brian Compton / NHL.com
On a special night that saw the Chicago Blackhawks retire No. 3 in honor of Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson, the Boston Bruins decided to be party poopers.

After a wild overtime that featured a failed penalty shot by Patrick Sharp, P.J. Axelsson scored in the third round of a shootout to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory against the Hawks at the United Center on Wednesday night. He faked Nikolai Khabibulin to the ice, then lifted in a backhand shot into the top corner.

''I've been working on it in practice,'' Axelsson said. ''I was a little lucky because he got a piece of it and it went in anyway.''

Boston extended its winning streak to four games, and, in the process, snapped Chicago's win streak at four. The Blackhawks, however, remain unbeaten on home ice in regulation this season, as their record now stands at 6-0-3.

Tim Thomas, who entered the game with a League-best 1.85 goals-against average, made 31 saves (18 in the first period) for the Bruins, who are 7-1 in their last eight games. Khabibulin was just as sharp, as he stopped 38 shots and made several key saves late in regulation and in overtime.

''Nik was playing real good for us,'' said Chicago forward Patrick Kane, who scored his team's lone goal in the shootout. ''It's unfortunate we couldn't score more for him. He stood on his head.''

Both teams went 1-for-7 on the power play, and the Blackhawks were forced to kill a hooking penalty on Cam Barker in overtime. Moments after the power play expired, Sharp skated in on a breakaway only to be hauled down by Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward before he could get a shot off. He was awarded the penalty shot, but was denied by Thomas on a weak wrister.

''We seem to get into a lot of exciting games,'' said Thomas, who lowered his GAA to 1.76. ''This certainly was one of them.''

Boston's Marco Sturm and Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored power-play goals in regulation. Sturm connected in the final minute of the second period, and Toews scored midway through the third. The Bruins also had a goal disallowed with 9:12 left in the third when it was ruled that Blake Wheeler interfered with Khabibulin in the crease.

''You've got to give Boston credit. They check well,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the Bruins, who outshot the Hawks 11-4 in the third and 8-1 in overtime. ''This was a good test for us. We weren't at our best, but we'll take a point.''

The Blackhawks scored 21 goals in their previous four contests, all victories.

''The last few games we had won by three of four goals,'' Quenneville said. ''That doesn't happen very often in this League.''

According to Bruins coach Claude Julien, the fast-paced action that had the sellout crowd of 22,092 roaring was an indication of two teams that are primed to be contenders this season and beyond.

''I think the game was a reflection of the direction both organizations are heading in,'' Julien said. ''There were a lot of shots and both goaltenders excelled at keeping the score low.''

Rangers 5, Devils 2 | VIDEO

For only the third time in 101 meetings with the Devils over 15 years, the Rangers faced a goalie other than Martin Brodeur.

The Blueshirts made the most of the rare opportunity, as Michal Rozsival and Nikolai Zherdev converted on separate two-man advantages during a four-goal second period en route to their ninth win in their last 10 games against New Jersey. New York is 9-0-1 against New Jersey since Feb. 22, 2007.

''He is such a mainstay and you don't think of the Devils without him,'' said Rangers captain Chris Drury, who scored his seventh goal of the season and added an assist. ''We're just trying to beat the whole team, not worrying about the goalie.''

The Devils came out strong and scored first when Travis Zajac beat Henrik Lundqvist at 7:04 of a first period that saw New Jersey outshoot its rivals 13-5. But the Rangers took over from there.

 
 
New York scored the next four goals, all of which came in the second period. Rozsival, Drury and Lauri Korpikoski — with his first NHL regular-season goal — scored in a span of 2:08 to turn a one-goal deficit into a 3-1 lead before 10 minutes elapsed in the second. Zherdev added New York's second 5-on-3 goal with 4:10 left to make it 4-1, as the Blueshirts ended Kevin Weekes' night after the second period, when New York outshot the Devils 20-9.

''It's never pleasant,'' Weekes said of being pulled against his former team. ''We were on our heels the whole second period. ... They were making plays and their power play was hot.''

Lundqvist said he noticed a change in his team's play once Rozsival tied the game at 7:45 of the second.

''You could kind of tell the game turned,'' Lundqvist said. ''We started skating more, we got more confidence. One goal can change everything, one save can change everything.''

The Devils cut the lead to 4-2 when Jamie Langenbrunner scored on the power play at 4:19 of the third, but Zherdev restored New York's three-goal lead when he beat Scott Clemmensen less than six minutes later.

''We're playing hard and doing a lot of good things, but we're making too many mistakes,'' Langenbrunner said. ''They're killing us and we're not capitalizing on our opportunities.''

Not counting the game when Brodeur got hurt, the Devils are 1-4 without him. But New Jersey coach Brent Sutter isn't about to use the Hall of Famer's injury as an excuse.

''We've got to find a way to stay in the hunt,'' Sutter said. ''We're not going to use excuses. The easiest thing to do is say it's injuries. The bottom line is, the guys who are playing have to be rock solid.''

Capitals 5, Hurricanes 1 | VIDEO

Alexander Semin is making the case that there are two "Alex the Greats" in Washington.

Semin had 2 goals and 3 assists to take over the NHL scoring lead as the Caps cruised past Carolina at the RBC Center. Semin was also a plus-4.

''I hope he's going to play the same way — he's going to be the best player in the League,'' said linemate Alex Ovechkin, who had a goal and 2 assists, while Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and 3 assists. ''What can you say about our line? We controlled the game, controlled the puck.''

Semin's second multigoal game against the Hurricanes in six days gave him 17 career goals against Carolina — his most against any team. He had a hand in all five goals on Wednesday night, and scored his 13th of the season on a one-time feed from Ovechkin midway through the second period to move one ahead of Buffalo's Thomas Vanek for the League lead.

''You can tell the potential that (his top line has) when they're on top of their game, and I think all three of them were on top of their game tonight,'' Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Meanwhile, Carolina has been outscored 10-3 in losing two straight at home. The Hurricanes have lost three of four to fall two points behind Washington.

''We're only fooling ourselves if we think we're playing the right way now,'' said forward Scott Walker, who scored Carolina's lone goal.

Sabres 4, Blues 3 | VIDEO

After a three-goal first period, Buffalo found itself fighting for its life to come away with two points.

But Ryan Miller made 30 saves and Tim Connolly, Adam Mair and Henrik Tallinder each had a goal and an assist as the Sabres held off St. Louis for a win at HSBC Arena.

The Sabres appeared to have the game on cruise control early, as Mair, Connolly and Jason Pominville all beat Manny Legace before the game was six minutes old. But David Perron scored with 5:53 remaining in the first before Patrik Berglund cut it to 3-2 at 3:27 of the second.

''We weren't going to keep that pace up of three goals in 10 minutes for the rest of the night,'' Mair said. ''They started to take more risks and found their legs. It's important to be able to play with that pressure sometimes. It creates positive and good habits that can carry you through.''

"'I didn't stop the puck, simple as that.  It's no one's fault but my own." -- Manny Legace on a tough night in goal in Buffalo
Chris Mason played very well in relief of Legace after the latter was pulled following Pominville's tally. Mason, who stopped 24 of 25 shots, robbed Thomas Vanek on a breakaway in the second period and made another key save on Clarke MacArthur midway through the third after Tallinder had made it 4-2 at 3:34.

''He made some great saves,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said of Mason. ''We had some quality chances that could have put the game away for us.''

Lee Stempniak made it a one-goal game when he beat Miller with 11:52 remaining. But the Blues, who outshot Buffalo 11-8 in the third period, failed to get the equalizer.

''We wasted a lot of quality work,'' St. Louis coach Andy Murray said.

The victory put an end to a two-game losing streak for the Sabres, who also stopped an eight-game skid on home ice against the Blues that dated back to October of 1995.

''We got the start we wanted, and we had plenty of scoring chances. We could have easily scored a few more,'' Pominville said. ''It was a night where the goalies made good saves.''

St. Louis is winless in its last six, with five regulation losses in that span, to drop to 5-8-1. Legace allowed three goals on just seven shots in making his second consecutive start after returning from a hip injury.

''I didn't stop the puck, simple as that,'' Legace said. ''It's no one's fault but my own.''

Panthers 4, Lightning 0 | VIDEO

After making 45 saves in a 3-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, Florida goalie Craig Anderson was rewarded with another start. He made the most of his opportunity.

Anderson stopped all 24 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season as the Panthers blanked Tampa Bay at the BankAtlantic Center.

''It's not just the saves he made, but the timing of them,'' Florida coach Pete DeBoer said.

Gregory Campbell scored twice and added an assist for the Panthers, who have won back-to-back games after losing six straight. Bryan McCabe and Nathan Horton also scored, while Jay Bouwmeester had two assists.

With the Detroit Red Wings coming to town on Friday night, DeBoer indicated that he will once again go with Anderson rather than Tomas Vokoun, who is 3-7-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average this season.

''Anderson deserves to start again,'' DeBoer said. ''He had a couple of outstanding games, and it's about winning hockey games. We all know what Tomas is capable of. This isn't about him or competition or who's the starter. We need wins right now, and Anderson's hot.''

Anderson's play certainly didn't help Tampa Bay's scoring woes. The Lightning went 0-for-5 on the power play on Wednesday and have scored just six goals in their last four games. They closed out a five-game road trip with a 1-3-1 record.

''I thought our first period was good, but we could play here all day if we don't score a goal,'' Tampa Bay coach Barry Melrose said. ''We've got to manufacture goals somehow.''

Coyotes 5, Blue Jackets 2 | VIDEO

Shane Doan was denied a hat trick for 897th straight time, but his 30th career two-goal game paced Phoenix to its third consecutive win.

Doan had a golden opportunity to get his first-ever three-goal game, but his long empty-net shot went off the right post in the game's final moments.

''That takes a lot more skill to hit the post from there than to actually put it into the net,'' Doan said with a grin. ''I think this is my 900th game coming up and I still haven't gotten one. I've got so many two-goal games, it's ridiculous.''

Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky was stunned that Doan came up just short on the hat trick, but raved about his captain's performance.

''I thought there was no way he could hit the post about four feet up, as it's bouncing from our blue line. I thought for sure that it was going to go in,'' Gretzky said. ''He's playing as good as I've ever seen him.''

"That takes a lot more skill to hit the post from there than to actually put it into the net.  I think this is my 900th game coming up and I still haven't gotten one. I've got so many two-goal games, it's ridiculous." -- Shane Doan on nearly missing his first career hat trick
Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves for the Coyotes and stopped all 24 shots faced through the first two periods. Bryzgalov has won his last three starts and four of the last five, giving up just eight goals in those five games. He had a 4-0 lead before Rick Nash and Derick Brassard scored 5:12 apart in the third period to cut the lead in half.

''We played very sharp in the defensive zone,'' Bryzgalov said. ''Every player knows what to do and they did their jobs very well. There were players blocking lots of shots. It made my life more easy.''

Steve Reinprecht and Kevin Porter added goals for Phoenix, and Martin Hanzal converted the empty-netter after Doan's try caught metal. Keith Yandle chipped in with two assists. The Coyotes handed rookie goalie Steve Mason his first NHL loss after he won his first three starts last week.

''It definitely puts everything into perspective,'' Mason said. ''Obviously I still have a lot of hard work to do in order to stick around here. This is a good wakeup call for everybody; we have to come and play our best game every night.''

Material from wire services was used in this report.   




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