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Caputi, Kulemin lift Leafs past Bruins in OT

by Brian Compton
Welcome home, Luca Caputi.

Playing in his hometown for the first time since being dealt by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the newest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs erased a 3-2 deficit 7:13 into the third period on before Nikolai Kulemin scored in the final minute of overtime for a thrilling 4-3 victory against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.

Wayne Primeau and Carl Gunnarsson also scored for Toronto, while Jonas Gustavsson stopped 26 shots for the win. Luke Schenn chipped in with two assists, one of which came on Caputi's game-tying goal.

"The fans gave me a pretty loud cheer there," Caputi said. "I can't really describe it right now. I think in the next couple days, hopefully it will sink in. I'm still in La-La land right now."

Kulemin's game-winner came during an odd-man rush with Mikhail Grabovski. Bruins forward Michael Ryder attempted to break up a pass, but wound up sliding into goaltender Tim Thomas as Kulemin picked up the loose pick and zipped a shot into the unguarded net for his 13th goal of the season.

"I was just waiting, I saw the puck and put it in," Kulemin said.

Mark Recchi and Marco Sturm each scored a goal and added two assists for Boston (29-24-12). Patrice Bergeron also scored for the Bruins, and Thomas made 30 saves.

"Toronto is a team that never stops working hard and they got the result tonight," Bergeron said.

"The fans gave me a pretty loud cheer there.  I can't really describe it right now. I think in the next couple days, hopefully it will sink in. I'm still in La-La land right now." -- Luca Caputi

Boston broke a scoreless tie just 2:47 into the game, when Recchi swatted a rebound past Gustavsson for his 13th goal of the season. It was the lone goal of the opening period as Boston outshot Toronto 10-5.

Primeau tied the game midway through the second when he beat Thomas through the pads, but Sturm restored Boston's lead during a two-man advantage just 3:15 later off a feed from Recchi. The Bruins held their second lead for less than five minutes as Gunnarsson tied it at 2 with 1:22 remaining on a shot from the point.

Bergeron gave Boston its third lead of the night 3:07 into the third as he poked a loose puck near the goalmouth past Gustavsson for his 13th goal of the season. 

"We stopped moving our feet and being hard on the forecheck," Bergeron said. "We were hard on their defensemen early and had success, but then we got away from that."

Predators 2, Thrashers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

The offense Atlanta was able to produce without Ilya Kovalchuk is now nowhere to be found. Two nights after being shut out on home ice against Carolina, the Thrashers were denied 30 times by Nashville goalie Dan Ellis in a loss to the Predators at Philips Arena. Atlanta has now lost three straight.

Colin Wilson and Ryan Suter scored for Nashville, which ended a two-game skid and put a stronger grip on seventh place in the Western Conference.

''In the backstretch, it's like playoff hockey,'' Wilson said.

Both of the Preds' goals came in the opening period. Suter gave Nashville a 1-0 lead 4:48 into the game when his shot from the point beat a screened Johan Hedberg on a power-play tally.

Wilson then made it 2-0 with 1:22 left in the period when he capitalized on a turnover by Thrashers defenseman Mark Popovic, who whiffed twice on an attempted pass before Wilson collected the loose puck and beat Hedberg on a breakaway.

''It was just a bad bounce,'' Atlanta coach John Anderson said. ''A little bump in the ice and he missed the puck and it ends up in the net.''

Atlanta cut the deficit in half just 29 seconds into the second period on Nik Antropov's 17th goal of the season, as he redirected Johnny Oduya's feed past Ellis to make it 2-1.

Atlanta appeared to have scored the tying goal before the period was over. Evgeny Artyukhin worked the puck in front, where Chris Thorburn pushed it past Ellis. But officials ruled the Atlanta forward was inside the crease and tangled up with the Preds' goalie.

''Quite frankly, I don't know the rule anymore,'' Anderson said. ''How many goals like that have we seen go against us? I don't understand what the ruling was. Was it goaltender interference? Why don't we have a penalty call?

''It was a game-changing call. I didn't like it.''

Atlanta did its best to tie the game in the third, when it fired 15 shots on goal. But Ellis stopped them all and helped the Preds earn two huge points.

''He shut the door,'' Nashville's Jason Arnott said. ''He made saves that could have been goals.''

Canadiens 5, Lightning 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Scott Gomez had a goal and two assists and Mathieu Darche scored twice as Montreal continued its playoff push with a win against Tampa Bay at the Bell Centre.

Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves for the Canadiens, who gave coach Jacques Martin his 550th career win in the team's first home game since the Olympic break. The Canadiens have now won three in a row and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 72 points.

"That's what it takes to win -- everyone's chipping in,'' Gomez said. ''We're getting healthy bodies and we're starting to look like the team we should have been all year.''

With Boston getting a point in Toronto, the Lightning fell five points behind the Bruins for the No. 8 seed in the East. Steven Stamkos extended his franchise-record points streak to 17 games with his 41st goal of the season.

''None of that's going to matter if we're not in the playoffs,'' said Stamkos, who has 17 power-play tallies. ''I'm just trying to do my part and help this team win and that's creating offense. I'm going to keep doing that for the rest of the year.''

The Habs held a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Glen Metropolit opened the scoring with a power-play goal 2:50 into the game before Gomez beat Antero Niittymaki between the pads for his 12th goal at 12:02.

Stamkos cut the deficit in half 3:47 into the second, but Benoit Pouliot restored the two-goal lead 41 seconds later and Darche made it a three-goal game at 7:33, which chased Niittymaki from his crease. He allowed four goals on 13 shots.

The switch to Mike Smith (14 saves) temporarily lit a spark, as Matt Walker made it a 4-2 game with his first goal in 52 contests at 10:03 of the second. But Darche tallied his second of the night 3:26 into the third to restore Montreal's three-goal lead.

''You want to show them that they might have made a mistake by not bringing you back, but they have great players over there,'' said Darche, who appeared in 73 games for the Lightning in 2007-08. ''At this point of the year, I'm just happy to contribute to a win. If it's against your former team, it's just a little cherry on top of the sundae.''

Martin St. Louis rounded out the scoring with his 24th goal of the season at 18:53.

Panthers 3, Wild 2 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Cory Stillman scored the winning shootout goal and Florida held Minnesota to a franchise-tying low 11 shots on goal to win at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild also tied a season low for shots by a team in the NHL this season, matching the 11 by Columbus on Monday. Minnesota managed only 11 shots on Jan. 23, 2004, at Anaheim. The Wild's previous low for shots on goal at home was 13 against Vancouver on Oct. 14, 2005. Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves in the loss.

"I'll have to watch the tape, but my first impression is that Florida just did a good job," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "We were chasing them all night. Our best opportunities came in overtime."

Mikko Koivu and Robbie Earl scored first-period goals for the Wild, who found the back of the net twice on their first three shots. But after a scoreless second period, the Panthers rallied with a pair of goals in the third. Michael Frolik got Florida on the comeback trail with his fourth goal in three games at 2:02 before Stillman tied it with his 13th goal of the season at 10:40.

"We played a good game, and I thought we deserved two points," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "It was a good team effort. We stuck to our system and stuck to our game plan, kept grinding away even though we weren't getting rewarded for it. We finally got a couple."

The Panthers held a 31-9 shots advantage after regulation. It was Florida's third straight win and first over Minnesota since Feb. 7, 2001.

"On one side their goalie was standing on his head," Stillman said. "We continued to get pucks at the net. Get people to the net, and good things are going to happen."

Senators 4, Oilers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Chris Kelly had a goal and an assist and Brian Elliott made 18 saves as Ottawa used to a three-goal third period to beat Edmonton at Rexall Place.

Mike Fisher, Matt Cullen and Milan Michalek also scored for the Senators, who opened their three-game swing through Western Canada by ending a three-game skid.

"We got some goals in a flood at the end there and it was nice to get the run support," Elliott said. "We've lost a couple so a win like this lifts the spirits."

Fernando Pisani scored the lone goal for the Oilers, who had won their previous two games. Edmonton, which received a 35-save effort from Jeff Deslauriers, has lost eight of its last 11 contests.

Pisani broke a scoreless tie when he poked Aaron Johnson's rebound past Elliott 4:27 into the second period, but Kelly tied the game with 3:42 remaining in the period when his shot went off the back of Deslauriers' pad and into the net to make it 1-1.

Cullen scored what proved to be the game-winner at 8:24 of the third. With the Sens on a power play, Cullen took a feed from Erik Karlsson and ripped a one-timer from the right circle past Deslauriers to make it 2-1.

Fisher doubled Ottawa's lead less than two minutes later when he capitalized on an Edmonton turnover and beat Deslauriers with a wrister from the right circle for his 21st goal of the season.

"Playing like that is what got us in trouble lots of other nights," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "We had a lot of turnovers and when you are a chaser you never establish the forecheck and spend lots of time in your own zone.

"When your forwards play the way ours did tonight it puts a lot of pressure on your goaltender and defense. We didn't win any battles. It would be hard to give any one of our forwards a good grade tonight."

Michalek put the game away during a two-man advantage at 13:09 of the third. It was his 22nd goal.

"We didn't play well the first two games after the Olympics, but we had a gutsy effort to build from in our last one with a bunch of guys sick," Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "That carried into tonight. I thought we played a strong game. The biggest thing was having a strong effort and getting the power play going in the third."

Blue Jackets 5, Ducks 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Antoine Vermette, Jakub Voracek and Fedor Tyutin each had a goal and two assists and Mathieu Garon made 36 saves as Columbus bounced back from a dismal loss in Los Angeles on Monday with a victory at Anaheim.

It was an impressive response by the Blue Jackets, who were playing without injured captain Rick Nash for the first time this season. Nash was scratched after suffering a lower-body injury during the first period of Monday's 6-0 loss to the Kings.

"I liked us … I thought we were good," Columbus interim coach Claude Noel said. "Garon was good. He made the save when he had to. I thought we did a lot of really good things."

Lubomir Visnovsky and Ryan Getzlaf scored for the Ducks, who remained without a win since the Olympic break (0-3-1). They'll continue their seven-game homestand on Friday against Nashville.

Jonas Hiller allowed three goals on 20 shots and was relieved by Curtis McElhinney in the second period.

"We seemed to be a very flat hockey club," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "For whatever reason, we didn't seem to be able to provide any energy for any extended period of time. Our execution level left a lot to be desired."

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring 8:55 into the game, when Derek Dorsett whacked a rebound past Hiller for his fourth goal of the season. Columbus added two more goals in the second period, as Voracek tallied his 10th goal on the power play with a wrister from the left circle at 8:14 before Tyutin made it 3-0 at 13:07.

Anaheim -- which went 0-for-7 on the power play -- tried to rally in the third, as Visnovsky made it 3-1 with a slap shot from the slot at 9:11. Getzlaf then cut the deficit in half with 5:04 remaining with a wrist shot from the left circle. It was his 18th goal of the season.

"I wish I had an explanation," Getzlaf said. "We have to have a starting point. We're going to start tomorrow in practice. It's going to be on us and our responsibility as a group. We're going to come to work tomorrow and get ready to go.

"We're in a do-or-die situation. We definitely have to get things rolling and get playing the way we want to. We've all been in situations where we've lost a few in a row here and there. The easy thing is to give up and get down. That is what we're trying to stop now and get our momentum going back the other way."

A hooking penalty against Ducks forward Saku Koivu with 2:31 left negated any chance of a full comeback, as Vermette beat McElhinney with a backhander for his 21st goal of the season with 1:58 remaining. Derick Brassard added another power-play goal at 19:43 to make it 5-2.

"We wanted to bounce back from (Monday) night," Garon said. "Our lineup was a little short, but we found a way to win. By working hard sometimes, you can do pretty much everything."

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

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