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Coyotes end slide vs. Wings with 6-3 win

by John Kreiser
The Phoenix Coyotes are going into the All-Star break on such a high their coach wonders if the time off is coming at a bad time.

The Coyotes concluded the pre-break portion of their schedule with their biggest win of the season, a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings that ended a nine-game losing streak against the defending Stanley Cup champs. It was also their first home victory over the Wings since Jan. 24, 2004 — Detroit had seven wins and a tie in its last eight visits to Arena.

Ed Jovanovski broke a 3-3 tie with a one-timer from the right circle that beat Ty Conklin 2:06 into the final period. Enver Lisin fired a shot from the slot past Conklin at 6:49 and added an empty-net goal with 1:14 to play, putting the Coyotes alone in fifth place heading into the break — heady territory for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2001.

"They're playing with a great deal of confidence. They're feeling really good about themselves," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It's almost a bad time for a break because we're playing as well as we have in a long time. I think a year ago we would have found a way to lose that game but maturity and want and will to win -- we've really come a long way here.

"But the other side of it is that the last part of the season is going to be harder. Every game is going to be harder. Every game is going to be like a playoff game, and the break will be good for them to regroup and get focused."

The Red Wings, coming off a 6-5 loss at San Jose on Saturday, entered the break having lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season. They were dominated in the third period after pulling even at 3-3 when Nicklas Lidstrom scored his second power-play goal of the game with 5.1 seconds left in the second period.

"I thought we really took the game over in the second period, had lots of opportunities," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We gave up too many gifts — turnovers, soft goals all around. We had lots of chances. We just went through two pages of scoring chances but you've got to play without the puck, too.

"The bottom line was that they had more zip than us, and they deserve full marks for the win."

The Coyotes now have 53 points and are 10-2-1 in their last 13 home games after finishing under .500 at Arena last season.

"We desperately need the points and I think everybody knows this," said Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 34 saves.

Mikael Samuelsson gave Detroit the lead 9:59 into the game when he slid a shot from the bottom of the left circle just inside the near post past Bryzgalov. Defenseman Derek Morris tied the game at 15:07 when he one-timed Shane Doan's backhand pass off the boards past Conklin from the top of the right circle.

Phoenix went ahead 2-1 at 4:09 of the second period when Keith Yandle corralled Lidstrom's poor clearing pass from the goal line and scored a power-play goal on a one-timer from the high slot. Lidstrom atoned from the error at 7:14 with his first goal, a wrist shot from just inside the top of the left circle as two-man advantage for Detroit expired, tying the game at 2-2.

Olli Jokinen's goal at 15:19 put Phoenix ahead again, but Lidstrom's second goal quieted the crowd and the Coyotes while sending the teams off the ice tied 3-3.

Lisin's first goal cane when he batted down a waist-high pass and raced behind everyone except Jiri Hudler. He then pulled the puck past Hudler on a backhand move and fired a shot between Conklin's pads while falling to the ice.

"He's a special athlete," Gretzky said. "Here was a guy who came over and we knew he had incredible talent. I know there are a lot of fast skaters, but I don't know if there is any faster than he is."

Sharks 2, Canucks 1 (OT) | VIDEO

The Sharks celebrated Claude Lemieux's return to the NHL after a 5 1/2-year absence with a dramatic victory. Devin Setoguchi tied the game with 39.1 seconds left in regulation and Patrick Marleau won it with a power-play goal 3:08 into overtime.

Lemieux had three shots and three hits in 7:08 of ice time as a fourth-liner.

"Claude did really well. He wasn't a liability out there," coach Todd McLellan said. "I think he has to feel good about himself."

McLellan and the sellout crowd at HP Pavilion weren't feeling good about much until the Sharks pulled Evgeni Nabokov and Joe Thornton fed Setoguchi, whose shot from the left circle found a small opening past Roberto Luongo.

The energized Sharks came out storming in overtime, and after Daniel Sedin took a hooking penalty, Thornton dug the puck out of a pileup in the crease and fed Marleau for a one-timer from the right circle for the win.

Before the last-minute heroics, the Canucks played an almost-perfect road game, nursing a 1-0 lead after Taylor Pyatt scored 12:38 into the game. They frustrated the Sharks at every turn and slowed one of the NHL's fastest-paced offenses to a crawl.

"I thought in general we played a pretty solid road game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "We didn't give them much. We got unlucky at the end. A great player made a great play. I think it was lucky that pass went through three players, and there wasn't much to shoot at.

"The way we played tonight is the way we want to play — the way we can play. When you're looking for a win, there are a lot of games you play well enough to win. We didn't."

The Sharks were coming off an emotional 6-5 victory over Detroit on Saturday — a game that resembled a track meet with up-and-down rushes and plenty of scoring. This game was nothing like that one.

"This was a tough game for us to play," McLellan said. "We weren't at our best. We were lucky to get the win. They had a real good game plan, they stuck to their guns and they got the first goal.

"It was nice to see our go-to people play like go-to people and get us a win."

Rangers 4, Ducks 2 | VIDEO

The Rangers' special teams sent New York into the All-Star break on a high note, as the power play scored twice and the penalty-killers chipped in with a pair of shorthanded goals.

Scott Gomez broke a 2-2 tie with 7:21 remaining by chipping Markus Naslund's pass behind Jonas Hiller for a power-play goal. Naslund was in the crease and somehow slid the puck to Gomez, who was at the side of the net but found an opening.

"It didn't look good," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said of his team's struggling power play that somehow clicked twice. "We really struggled on the power play, but two goals went in. It felt like they were not really sharp, but that's what happens sometimes."

The Ducks weren't happy that the goal should have counted.

"They made a play in the crease area and Naslund backed into our goalie and moved the puck over to the other side with both feet in the crease," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "Gomez was almost behind the net when he tapped it in."

Blair Betts added an empty-netter with 33.9 seconds remaining and the Ducks skating 6-on-4 after Rangers' defenseman Dan Girardi was called for delay of game with 1:57 remaining.

"Right now, we're just shooting ourselves in the foot," Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. "It's not fun."

The Rangers, playing their first home game following a 3-1-1 trip, hopped back over the New Jersey Devils into first place in the Atlantic Division. New York is now off for a week for the NHL All-Star break; the Rangers don't play until they host Carolina next Tuesday.

"It's a good little run of points here. It's such a tight division, it's such a tight race. Every night is a big game," Rangers captain Chris Drury said. "It's going to be a big test for us when we get back."

The Rangers twice took leads, only to see the Ducks pull even.

Naslund ripped a power-play blast from the slot past Hiller at 12:47 of the opening period to put New York ahead. Ducks rookie Bobby Ryan jammed in a rebound 59 seconds later for a power-play goal of his own to tie the game at 1-1.

Fredrik Sjostrom ended a 26-game scoring drought when he chased down Michal Rozsival's clearing pass and beat Hiller from the left circle at 3:22 for a shorthanded goal. However, the Rangers wasted three power plays after that before Corey Perry moved around Dmitri Kalinin in the slot and beat Lundqvist with 1:37 left in the period.

Thrashers 4, Canadiens 2

All of a sudden, the Thrashers are hot. Atlanta won its third in a row in a four-night span by jumping out to a three-goal lead and cooling off the Canadiens, who had won eight of their previous 10 games.

"We have worked hard the last couple of games," said rookie defenseman Zach Bogosian, whose third-period goal gave the Thrashers some insurance. "We need to not get a big head and keep things simple. Play every shift like it's 0-0."

Eric Christensen and Chris Thorburn scored 84 seconds apart early in the first period to put Atlanta ahead, and Rich Peverley beat Jaroslav Halak 3:48 into the second. Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau pulled Halak and replaced him with Carey Price, who'd been out for four games with an ankle injury.

Barely a minute after the change, Max Pacioretty got the Canadiens on the board with a power-play goal. Steve Begin made it 3-2 just 91 seconds later when Patrice Brisebois' pass hit his skate and went into the net at 6:25.

The Thrashers were reeling, but Kari Lehtonen was perfect the rest of the way.

"We got two quick ones but couldn't get the third one," Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev said. "It's always tough to play from behind. We just need to focus on our team and our game. We have showed up in the past."

Atlanta added an insurance goal with 11:05 remaining when Bogosian, the No. 3 pick in the Entry Draft last June, beat Price for his second goal in as many games.

"I am an offensive defenseman," the 19-year-old said. "I try to jump up in the rush and help things out, but I've got to make sure I take care of defense first."

Carbonneau confirmed that Price, one of four Canadiens who will start in the All-Star Game Sunday at Montreal, will be in goal Wednesday at New Jersey. Price was pleased to hear Carbonneau's decision.

"It was nice to get in there," Price said. "It was pretty close [before] a couple of bad bounces. The fourth goal was a bad bounce. What can you do?"

Hurricanes 2, Penguins 1 | VIDEO

Carolina's roller-coaster season is headed into the break on an upswing. The 'Canes won for the second time in as many nights following a five-game losing streak that came after a four-game winning streak as Cam Ward made 32 saves to shut down the Penguins.

"We were talking about using these last two games as a momentum-booster going into the All-Star break," said Ward, who made his 13th consecutive start. "We had a great effort last night (in a 2-0 win at Carolina) followed by another tonight, which was important to get that good feeling for the break."

Carolina spotted Pittsburgh a power-play goal by Evgeni Malkin 2:33 into the game, but stifled the Penguins the rest of the way to drop them into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

"That's a game that I thought we were going to win," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "I thought we were prepared, I thought we played well in the first period, we had chances.

"Cam Ward was outstanding and he kept their team in the game."

"We were talking about using these last two games as a momentum-booster going into the All-Star break.  We had a great effort last night (in a 2-0 win at Carolina) followed by another tonight, which was important to get that good feeling for the break." -- Cam Ward

Ray Whitney tied it with a power-play goal on a slap shot through traffic at 14:30 of the opening period, ending the Penguins' shutout streak at 99:52. Eric Staal converted a pass from Justin Williams 8:05 into the second period for the game-winner.

Carolina killed off four minutes of power-play time over the final 4:15 after Tim Gleason was given a double-minor for high-sticking Malkin. Ward's finest stop during that span was on Malkin from point-blank range with 24.1 seconds to play.

"It's frustrating," said the Penguins' Jordan Staal, Eric's younger brother. "At times, our power play has been great, and at times it has been not-so-great. And there it's a big moment for our power play to clinch a point for us. We should be able to go out and do it."

In addition to the streaks during the past three weeks, Carolina's season already has also included four- and three-game winning streaks, two three-game losing skids and a stretch in which the Hurricanes earned at least a point in six straight games.

"It's the emotions of our season," coach Paul Maurice said. "[Two weeks ago] we had just won four in a row and were on our way to winning the conference. Ten days later, we were going to finish 15th. Those are the emotions you deal with back-to-back games. At least now we can take the All-Star break, enjoy the time off and come back excited."

Kings 5, Wild 2 | VIDEO

The Kings' best offensive night in six weeks came at the right time, as the NHL's lowest-scoring team connected five times for the first time since Dec. 11 to end a four-game losing streak.

The Kings are eight points out of a playoff spot in the West, and with more road games the rest of the way than anyone else, they need wins to stay in the race.

"We've got to get some momentum going and get on a roll," defenseman Matt Greene said. "Everybody else is winning, and we've just got to get some points and stay in the hunt."

Los Angeles ended an 0-for-26 power-play drought when Anze Kopitar's man-advantage goal at 7:18 of the second period broke a 1-1 tie, and Dustin Brown made it a 3-1 lead 74 seconds later when he beat Niklas Backstrom. Rookie defenseman Drew Doughty set up both goals.

After Marek Zidlicky cut the margin to 3-2 with a power-play goal at 11:22, Derek Armstrong restored the Kings' two-goal lead when he scored at 15:54.

"That goal by Armstrong was huge," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "When you get a goal from your fourth line, that's a pretty big lift."

Patrick O'Sullivan added an empty-netter with four seconds left for the final margin.

The Wild came home after stunning the Blackhawks in Chicago on Monday, but showed little of the zip they'd had the night before.

"Sometimes you can say it was our game last night, but then you say, 'Well, how come last night, after two periods, we can skate?" Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "So I have a hard time with using last night's game as an excuse."

Minnesota got both its goals on the power play and continues to struggle offensively at even strength. The Wild, last season's Northwest Division champions, miss last season's top scorer, Marian Gaborik, who's out with injuries, and departed forwards Brian Rolston and Pavol Demitra.

"I think we should be a little higher in the standings before the break," Minnesota defenseman Martin Skoula said. "It's only up to us. We're not where we're supposed to be."

Oilers 4, Blue Jackets 3 | VIDEO

Ales Hemsky sent Edmonton into the break on a high note by scoring his second goal of the night with 34.9 seconds remaining as the Oilers turned what looked like it was going to be a disappointing loss into a stunning victory that lifted them into eighth place in the West.

The Oilers trailed 3-2 before Hemsky got his second assist of the night by setting up Denis Grebeshkov for the tying goal with 4:42 left in regulation. The Czech native then gave the Oilers the victory when he raced down the right side and beat Steve Mason up high for his second two-goal performance in as many games since returning Sunday after missing 10 games with a concussion.

"That was unreal, I haven't seen anything like that in a while," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said of Hemsky's performance. "Two goals and two assists. We've seen that before. But not where all four are world-class plays.

"It couldn't have come at a better time. He single-handedly willed the win for us."

Hemsky downplayed his performance.

"When you have four points or something like that you are always asked if it is the best game in your career," he said. "For me every game we win is what I feel good about. I just want to go out there and do my part. It felt great to win the game. It's a great feeling in this room right now."

"That was unreal, I haven't seen anything like that in a while.  Two goals and two assists. We've seen that before. But not where all four are world-class plays." -- Oilers coach Craig MacTavish on Ales Hemsky's incredible performance
Before those heroics, it looked like the Blue Jackets would escape with a victory. Mark Methot tied the game 2-2 at 10:54 of the second period, just 92 seconds after Hemsky's first goal. Jason Williams put Columbus ahead for the first time when he beat Roloson from close-in.

Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock wasn't happy after his team saw two points vanish.
"We turned it over twice in the neutral zone and we gave it away," he said. "They had nothing going, we were completely controlling the hockey game. We gave it away. We had a turnover with 47 seconds left. You can't do that.

"We had a great third period, and we gave it away. Bottom line."

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

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