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Burrows' shorthanded goal ends Canucks' skid

by Brian Compton
A few thoughts while Vancouver fans come in off the ledge:

Breakdance -- With one breakaway and one wrist shot past Cam Ward, Alex Burrows allowed everyone within the Vancouver city limits to breathe a sigh of relief.

Burrows' shorthanded goal with just 1:22 remaining in regulation broke a 3-3 tie, as the Canucks pulled out a much-needed 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. The victory ended an eight-game losing streak for Alain Vigneault's club.

"The streak was on everyone's mind," a relieved Vigneault said. "It had taken on a life of its own."

Indeed it did. It sure didn't help when the Canucks blew a 2-0 lead, but at least they finally found a way to earn two points in the standings. It was their first win since a 4-2 victory over Edmonton on Jan. 7, and their first at G.M. Place since beating Ottawa 3-0 on Dec. 28.

Obviously, they're feeling awfully fortunate that they remain in playoff position. Vancouver currently resides in seventh place in the Western Conference.

"We needed that one big-time," captain Roberto Luongo said. "I think the guys are relieved we got it out of the way. Now we can focus on winning some games."

Marty Gras
-- Marty Turco has found his game. It's no coincidence that the Dallas Stars are suddenly winning.

Turco, who struggled mightily for much of the first half of the season, stopped 24 shots to lead his team to a 3-1 victory against the Calgary Flames at the American Airlines Center. The Stars have now won five in a row, a season high.

''It's been a great sight to see, doing whatever it takes to win games, blocking shots,'' said Turco, who has allowed only 12 goals in his last seven games. ''We're starting to see what we're capable of and I think I'm coming around.''

So is the Stars' power play. Dallas began the night 25th in the League in power-play percentage, but Jere Lehtinen and James Neal both scored with the man advantage. The Stars have five power-play goals in their past three games.

''Our special teams have been good, Marty has been excellent and we are doing things that allow us to win,'' Stars coach Dave Tippett said.

It's a far cry from what transpired during a first half of a season that was highlighted (or lowlighted) by the Sean Avery fiasco. Clearly, though, the Stars have put the soap opera behind them. They are 9-1-1 in their last 11 home games.

''We've come together the last month,'' forward Brad Richards said. ''It took some time for everybody to get together.''

Not satisfied -- It wouldn't have been a shock to the system if the Chicago Blackhawks suffered a letdown following their impressive win in San Jose on Saturday night.

But three nights later night in Edmonton, they didn't even come close to doing that.

Instead, they outshot the Oilers 41-21 en route to a 3-1 victory. Martin Havlat had a goal and an assist, while Cristobal Huet made 20 saves to help Chicago improve to 3-1 on its eight-game road trip.

''I thought we had a lot of energy before the game coming out of the way we played in San Jose,'' Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ''We just didn't feel satisfied coming in here after a good game in San Jose. I thought we had a real good response.''

Huet agreed. Had it not been for his counterpart -- Dwayne Roloson made 38 saves -- the score could have been much worse.

''I think we played such a good game tonight,'' Huet said. ''I felt like ... without (Roloson) it would have been a three- or a four-goal game. We played hard and I tried to make the saves I had to make in the third and help them win the game.''

No longer feeling Blue -- Tuesday was the night that Brad Boyes officially snapped out of what was nearly a month-long funk.

The St. Louis Blues forward scored his first goals since Jan. 15, leading his team to a 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Boyes also had an assist for the Blues, who have recorded points in seven of their last eight games.

"It's been a while since I put one in so it felt good," Boyes said. "We've been playing well. We've been playing solid. For us right now unless everyone goes, we struggle. If everyone picks up what they've got to do, that's when we're successful."

It certainly was a gritty victory for St. Louis, which battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. It was the Blues' fifth straight win against Columbus.

"Guys are playing well and figuring out the style of hockey we need to play to win," said goalie Chris Mason, who made 33 saves. "We played teams really close and ended losing games and finding ways to lose. I think now we're just finding ways to hold on to games in the third period."
Four straight -- I'm not sure what's more remarkable … the fact that "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" is No. 2 at the box office, or that the New York Islanders have won four consecutive games.

Nonetheless, the Isles extended their win streak with a 3-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Coliseum. Yann Danis, who made 29 saves, has been between the pipes for all four wins. He's allowed only seven goals during this stretch.

''I feel like every puck is hitting me,'' Danis said. ''Even if I can't see the puck, I'm usually in proper position and it hits me.''

But the streak goes beyond Danis. Veteran defenseman Brendan Witt believes the younger players have simply moved further along in the maturation process.

''We're learning not to panic when the other team scores a goal,'' Witt said. ''We have a lot of kids here, and they need to go through something like that to realize it.''

Quick starts = wins -- The Nashville Predators know what they have to do win games … get an early lead.

Jason Arnott and Radek Bonk scored 45 seconds apart early in the first period and then held on for a 2-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes at the Sommet Center. With the win, the Preds improved to 12-0-0 when leading after the opening period.

"We came out really well in the first 10 minutes. When you get the first goal that means the other team has to get two to beat you. It is real important to get the first goal. You can build on that." -- Predators coach Barry Trotz
''We had a meeting after the break and said we have to start winning games,'' Bonk said. ''We have a lot of points to catch up. But nothing is impossible.''

Especially if Nashville can find a way to score early.

''We wanted to get off to a good start and try to build off of it,'' Predators coach Barry Trotz said. ''We came out really well in the first 10 minutes. When you get the first goal that means the other team has to get two to beat you. It is real important to get the first goal. You can build on that.''

Shoot the puck!
-- Michael Nylander has always had the ability to score goals. Getting him to shoot the puck is an entirely different matter.

But after being stressed by Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to shoot more often, Nylander scored twice in a 5-2 victory over New Jersey at the Prudential Center that snapped the Devils' eight-game winning streak.

''I should have done that for many years,'' said Nylander, who now has 207 career goals. ''It's good when you are shooting to see the puck go in. I know I think we played pretty good as a team.''

Indeed they did. Although he was held to one shot on goal, Alex Ovechkin contributed with two assists in the victory. More often than not, when Nylander's shooting the puck, No. 8 is.

''He doesn't like to shoot,'' Boudreau said of Nylander. ''We have a few of those guys, and then we have one guy who shoots every chance he gets. He makes up for those guys.''

Mike Green, who has goals in each of his last four games, is confident that Tuesday night's performance could get Nylander on a roll.

''He is potentially one of our top forwards,'' Green said. ''He has been finding his game in the D-zone and finally finding offensively. He has been a big part of our wins lately and hopefully, he'll continue it.''

Take that, Toronto! -- I can't say for sure, but it's a safe bet that fans in Toronto were less than pleased with Bryan McCabe on Tuesday night.

The former Maple Leafs defenseman scored at 3:30 of overtime to lift the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 win at Toronto, much to the dismay of the fans he played in front of 41 times a year from 2000 until last season.

''I was just thinking hit the net -- don't miss or else they're going the other way,'' said McCabe, who was booed every time he touched the puck at the Air Canada Centre. ''I got lucky, you know? I'll take it.''

He took the boos like a champion. After being named the game's No. 1 star, McCabe gave a hearty wave to the disgruntled crowd and tossed his stick over the glass. It didn't do much to change their minds.

''There was some mixed reviews in the star selection,'' said McCabe, whose team is 8-2-4 since Jan 1.

Overcoming adversity -- Injuries have hit the Montreal Canadiens as of late, but that didn't stop them from putting forth a 60-minute effort and earning a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.

"Tonight was a good example of how to play with all 20 guys together.  I think against Boston we played well, but not well enough." -- Roman Hamrlik
Montreal's lineup needed a facelift after center Robert Lang and left wing Guillaume Latendresse were lost to injury in the third period of Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Lang had surgery Sunday night to repair a torn Achilles' tendon and is out indefinitely. Latendresse suffered an upper-body injury after slamming into the boards late in the game.

''Tonight was a good example of how to play with all 20 guys together,'' Habs defenseman Roman Hamrlik said. ''I think against Boston we played well, but not well enough.''

Canadiens captain Saku Koivu was pleased to see his teammates step up despite the losses of Lang and Latendresse. Carey Price made 23 saves as Montreal won for the second time in three games following a season-high four-game losing streak.

''Obviously, the hits and the injuries are a part of the game,'' said Koivu, who missed 17 games from Dec. 13 to Jan. 20 because of a high ankle sprain. ''Whenever you face some adversity, it's a chance for a lot of guys to step up and get some more ice time.''

New coach, same result -- So, what will Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray do now?

 Looking to shake things up, Murray fired coach Craig Hartsburg on Sunday night and replaced him with Cory Clouston. Judging by what transpired at Scotiabank Place in Clouston's NHL debut, the players didn't get the message.

Instead, the Sens were blanked on home ice in a 1-0 loss to Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings. Ottawa, which also lost 1-0 to Columbus on Friday, has dropped three in a row.

"(Clouston) did a good job behind the bench getting us fired up," center Jason Spezza said. "It's unfortunate we didn't score a goal. It's going to be a learning process for us here for the next couple of weeks."

A new coach should be nothing new for most of the players on Ottawa's roster. Clouston, 39, is the team's fourth bench boss since the Sens lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.

''You had to expect them to come out with a bit of jump with the new coach there,'' Quick said. ''They had a good first period and in the second period you could tell they were really trying to pour it on put the defense played great.''

Congrats, Gravy -- The New York Rangers may not have played inspired hockey after watching Adam Graves' No. 9 go up to the rafters at Madison Square Garden, but that doesn't mean the people who filled the arena on Tuesday night didn't love every minute of it.

Graves was deservedly cheered throughout the touching ceremony that culminated with both Graves and his son Logan in tears while No. 9 was being raised.

"I stand before you humbled and incredibly appreciative because I am truly blessed," Graves said. "Blessed to have the talent to play in the NHL and blessed to have the ability to share that ability for 10 years with the people of New York."

Afterwards, though, the team he used to play for came within 10.7 seconds of being shut out in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Rangers had been shut out for 125 minutes, 54 seconds -- dating back to the third period of a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh last Wednesday -- before Markus Naslund erased a 1-0 deficit. Nonetheless, the Blueshirts pulled to within four points of the Devils for the Atlantic Division lead.

"It would have been tough to lose this one 1-0 again, but we came up big in the last minute," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "It's a big point for us, but we definitely needed two. It's pretty disappointing."

Contact Brian Compton at:

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