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Canucks top Flames 4-3 in shootout

by Brian Compton
What transpired at Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday night truly was a shootout.

Eighty-four shots through regulation and overtime weren't enough to solve things, so Pavol Demitra helped out by beating Miikka Kiprusoff in the first round of the shootout before Todd Bertuzzi nearly evened the score with a brilliant backhand move in Round 3 -- only to hit the post behind Roberto Luongo. When it was all said and done, the Vancouver Canucks inched closer towards the Calgary Flames in the Northwest Division with a wild 4-3 win.

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa forced overtime by beating Kiprusoff with just 51 seconds left in regulation and Luongo on the bench for an extra attacker. It was an atonement of sorts for the Vancouver defenseman: Rene Bourque capitalized on a mistake by Bieksa to score his 20th of the season and put Calgary in front 6:52 into the third.

"I had three or four shots in a row, but they kept being blocked or I missed the net," Bieksa said. "But the puck kept coming back to me and I found a way to squeak one in there."

Ryan Kesler scored twice for the Canucks, who have won six of their last seven games, while Luongo stopped 41 shots.

Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow also scored for the Flames, who earned at least a point for the fifth consecutive game (3-0-2) following a four-game losing streak.

Kiprusoff finished with with 40 saves, including one of the best stops of the season midway through the third period. Vancouver forward Kyle Wellwood was literally all alone at the left post with an open net due to an out-of-position Kiprusoff, when the puck caromed directly onto his stick. As Wellwood began to guide the puck into the net for what appeared to be an easy tally, Kiprusoff came out of nowhere and flew across the crease before his outstretched paddle prevented the goal.

"He was the best player on the ice tonight -- that save on Wellwood was probably the best save in the League over the last two years," Bourque said of Kiprusoff, who faced 17 shots in the third period.

Added Wellwood: "I thought I had an empty net but somehow he was able to reach back and stop it right on the goal line. That's definitely the best save I've ever had to deal with. I've seen that kind of thing in road hockey, but to do it in a game like he did there was pretty impressive."



But Canucks coach Alain Vigneault blamed his own player for the missed opportunity.

"Kyle got what he deserves -- I mean, he is not bearing down and had an open net," Vigneault said. "He's shooting the puck two miles an hour. You have to bear down, you have to put your full weight into it and you have to shoot it. Obviously it looked like the goalie made a big save, but the player didn't have a great attempt."

Iginla gave the Flames a 1-0 lead 9:51 into the game, but Kesler responded with back-to-back goals. After scoring late in the first, Kesler put Vancouver in front when he beat Kiprusoff again with 2:55 left in the second. But Langkow made sure the Flames wouldn't trail heading into the intermission, as he chipped the puck past Luongo just 64 seconds later.

"I felt better this game," said Iginla, who scored for the first time in eight games. "I need to just keep building on this and start relaxing. Tonight, personally, it felt like a step in the right direction to get going again."

Bruins 5, Hurricanes 1 | Video

So much for the reeling Boston Bruins.

On a night when the Carolina Hurricanes raised Glen Wesley's No. 2 to the rafters of the RBC Center, the Bruins spoiled the party as David Krejci had a goal and an assist and Tim Thomas made 31 saves as Boston ended its four-game skid.

"Whenever you're in a slide as a team, you want to go back to doing the little things. That's throwing pucks at the net and crashing the net," said Bruins defenseman Shane Hnidy, who scored what proved to be the game-winner at 5:34 of the second period. "We needed to get some goals. It came easy for us at the beginning of the year, and in this slide, sometimes the bounces don't go your way. We threw pucks at the net and fortunately we got some goals tonight. We were rewarded."

Matt Cullen got the Hurricanes off to the start they were hoping for as he broke a scoreless tie 11:03 into the opening period. But Carolina failed to solve Thomas the rest of the night, and the Bruins rewarded their goalie by scoring five unanswered goals.

"That's four (games) out of six (nights) for us, so we were running on fumes pretty hard," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "It's disappointing, but we didn't get beat by a bad team tonight. They were just better than us at the end."

The Bruins put the game away with three late goals in the third period. Krejci gave Boston a 3-1 lead when beat Cam Ward shorthanded at 16:12. Chuck Kobasew scored exactly one minute later and Patrice Bergeron iced the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:09. It was his first tally since Nov. 21.

"Tonight was the night -- all I needed was no goalie," he joked.

Wesley spent 13 of his 20 seasons with the Hurricanes' franchise, and was the only player to play for them in each of their first 10 seasons after they moved from Hartford to North Carolina in 1997. The pre-game ceremony lasted roughly a half-hour.

"I loved it," said Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward, who won a Stanley Cup with Wesley in Carolina in 2006. "I wouldn't be telling truth if I didn't tell you that I was a little teary. I saw the video of the confetti coming down and us winning and I got a little choked up.

"He was a leader through and through -- both on and off the ice," Ward said of Wesley. "He commands respect and he gets it because he's a consistent person as a teammate. He's a good family man, too."

Avalanche 3, Senators 2 (OT) | Video

With one rebound attempt, Wojtek Wolski ended both a personal 15-game scoring drought and Ottawa's five-game winning streak.

Wolski put home his own rebound 80 seconds into overtime as Colorado cooled off the red-hot Sens at the Pepsi Center. Wolski shot a puck in from the blue line that bounced off the chest of Sens goalie Alex Auld. It caromed right back to the Avs' forward, who avoided some traffic in front of the net and knocked it in for his 12th goal of the season.

"I feel like I've been working hard and of late getting a lot of chances, breakaways almost every game, and I haven't been able to put it in the net," Wolski said. "It's nice to contribute."

The win moved the Avalanche into a three-way tie with Phoenix and St. Louis for last place in the Western Conference, an unfamiliar spot for them. Colorado (27-30-1) has never been below .500 this late in the season since moving to Denver. They begin a six-game, 11-day road trip on Friday night at Washington.

"We played pretty solid defensively against a team that was playing as well as anybody in the League," Avs coach Tony Granato said. "They play extremely hard and I know why they won five games in a row."

Early on, it appeared as if Ottawa was well on its way to yet another victory. Ryan Shannon scored his first of two goals just 30 seconds into the game, when his shot beat Andrew Raycroft through the legs. But Ian Laperriere evened the score with 2:55 remaining in the period to make it 1-1. It was his seventh goal of the season and second in as many games.

"I've given up a whole lot of those in my career," Raycroft said of the Sens' early goal. "It doesn't really rattle me much any more. You get upset. I felt frustrated for giving that up. I got caught in between and made a wrong decision. You don't want to do that right away."

Ryan Smyth gave Colorado some momentum early in the second period when he scored his 19th of the season at 1:13, but it didn't last long. Shannon tied the game less than four minutes later, just six seconds after Avs defenseman Adam Foote was whistled for high sticking.

"It was a nice to get a win against a team that's been playing pretty well as of late," Smyth said. "These are points that are very important for us. Hopefully we can get ourselves in the thick of things."

Ottawa, 5-1-2 under new coach Cory Clouston, managed to earn a point in the standings despite playing 24 hours earlier in Nashville. The Sens mustered only four shots on goal in the second period -- a clear sign that fatigue had set in.

"It was a gritty effort," Clouston said. "It was tough to lose it like that."

Panthers 4, Devils 0 | Video

Devils coach Brent Sutter had a feeling that Florida was going to use his team's visit to the BankAtlantic Center as a "measuring-stick" game. Judging by their performance, the Panthers match up just fine, thank you.

Tomas Vokoun stopped all 36 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the season, while Richard Zednik and Stephen Weiss each had a goal and an assist as the Panthers blanked New Jersey. Florida improved to 13-4-3 since Jan. 1 and ended the Devils' road winning streak at seven games.

"We were sloppy in different areas," Sutter said. "In the offensive zone, we just weren't sharp, and defensively our awareness just wasn't great. That was the difference. We didn't play like we needed to play to have success here tonight."

The Devils had won the first two meetings between the teams, 3-1 at New Jersey and 3-2 at Florida. The loss also matched New Jersey's most lopsided of the season. Even though the Panthers were outshot in each period, they managed to kill off all five of the Devils' power plays.

"If you beat a team like that, especially a team that's been on a roll, it's a confidence boost," Vokoun said after Florida's eighth shutout, tying it with Columbus for the most in the League. "It shows what you're doing works."

Weiss gave the Panthers the lead just 4:18 into the game, when he grabbed Bryan McCabe's rebound and fired a wrist shot past Scott Clemmensen for his 10th goal of the season. Zednik and Nathan Horton increased Florida's lead to 3-0 in the second period with tallies 2:38 apart. Cory Stillman put the game away with his 12th goal of the season at 17:06 of the third.

"We knew they were going to come out hard and we knew we were going to be in for a battle," Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador said. "It doesn't matter where we are in the standings, everyone's playing for points right now. We didn't get the results we wanted tonight."

Sabres 4, Maple Leafs 1 | Video

The Eastern Conference playoff race just keeps getting tighter.

Drew Stafford scored twice and Ryan Miller made 27 saves as Buffalo moved into a fifth-place tie in the East with a win at Toronto. The victory gives the Sabres 66 points, tying them with Florida, Montreal and the New York Rangers.


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

With Thomas Vanek expected out until at least early March with a broken jaw, the Sabres are looking for someone to step things up offensively. Stafford did just that on Tuesday night, as he scored a pair of power-play goals to help his team move up in the standings.

"As long as I'm contributing, especially now with Thomas out, we're going to need all the goals we can get and if that's what I'm going to be contributing, than so be it," Stafford said. "I know it's not going to happen every night, but we have a lot of guys in here who can contribute in the goal-scoring department, so I'm just trying to do my part in that aspect as well as trying to be solid everywhere else."

Stafford's first goal opened the scoring at 12:40 of the opening period. He beat rookie goalie Justin Pogge following a turnover by John Mitchell. Daniel Paille made it 2-0 less than two minutes later, and Matt Ellis widened the gap with his fifth goal of the season at 17:44.

Toronto intends to keep Pogge (26 saves) around for the rest of their current homestand and may even start him Thursday against Columbus or Saturday against Vancouver.

"This is great for him to go through this," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "If it was easy, I'd be worried about him being over-confident. This is going to force him to work harder on his game and that's what he needs to do."

Pavel Kubina tried to give Pogge some help when he scored a power-play goal 7:28 into the second period. But Miller was perfect the rest of the way, and Stafford tallied his second goal of the night 7:37 into the third. Stafford, who narrowly missed scoring a hat trick when a third-period backhander sailed wide, has eight goals in his past 11 games.

"He's been making some plays, moving his feet down low," said Derek Roy, who centers Stafford's line. "He's a strong body in front of the net on the power play and we need that from him. He's playing really well, he had a couple more chances to score some more goals tonight."

Sharks 4, Oilers 2 | Video

So long, losing streak.

Patrick Marleau scored twice and Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves as San Jose snapped a three-game skid with a gritty win against Edmonton at HP Pavilion.

Joe Thornton also scored, and Joe Pavelski extended his goal-scoring streak to four games as the Sharks finally figured out how to beat longtime nemesis Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers' goalie has been a thorn in San Jose's side for much of the past four seasons.

"Pretty gutsy effort," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Guys were asked to play out of position and on lines they'd not normally be on. They all found a way to contribute. It was really good to see."

Claude Lemieux got back into the swing of things -- literally -- in the second period. The veteran forward, who returned to the ice earlier this season after a 5 1/2-year layoff, dropped the gloves with 21-year-old Theo Peckham during a fight-filled period.

"It's not about fighting," Lemieux said. "It's about being physical and being intense. Coming home from a long road trip, teams sometimes have a tendency to play flat, but we have to work through that. Being a veteran player, you learn some things over time about how to inject some passion into the game."

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish was pleased with the way Peckham handled himself against the 43-year-old Lemieux.

"Theo handled it fine," MacTavish said. "It's not a senior's league, and Theo probably doesn't know that much about Claude Lemieux. He's just playing the game. That was always Claude's forte, to be an antagonizer. That was the wrong guy for him to antagonize in that situation. Theo's a tough kid."

Both of Marleau's goals came in the second period. Trailing 2-1, the Sharks' captain tied the game at 1:48 and then put the team in front when he beat Roloson again -- this time shorthanded -- at 5:43 on a brilliant feed from Mike Grier. The goal came only moments after the Sharks had killed a 5-on-3 power play.

"We did some good things in the second period," Marleau said. "Everybody had each other's back tonight, and that was nice to see."

Thornton gave San Jose a two-goal lead when he tallied his 14th goal of the season at 19:06 of the second. The Sharks peppered Roloson with 17 shots in the middle 20 minutes. Thornton was convinced the physical play was just his team needed to shake off some early cobwebs. Zack Stortini and Erik Cole scored for the Oilers in the first period.

"They were pushing, and we just pushed back," Thornton said. "Sometimes, that's how hockey games are. We needed that to kind of get some emotion in the game. We handled it well. They woke us up, and you don't usually want to do that with us."

Truth be told, McLellan expects it to be even more physical down the stretch as every team in the Western Conference still has a legitimate crack at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's that time of year," McLellan said of the physical play. "The points mean a lot to every team. We're going to see that more and more where teams are really scrapping to get the points and set themselves up for a playoff position. It's good for us to play in those games, because that's how the playoffs are going to be."

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


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