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Crombeen, Blues extend Rangers' woes

by Brian Hunter
The St. Louis Blues bolstered their chances at making the Stanley Cup Playoffs while dealing yet another blow to those of the fading New York Rangers.

B.J. Crombeen scored off a rebound with 5:14 remaining and Chris Mason continued his stellar play over the past month with a 19-save effort as the Blues edged the Rangers 2-1 on Monday night at Scottrade Center.

Carlo Colaiacovo also scored as St. Louis improved to 4-1-2 over its last seven games and pulled to within seven points of a Western Conference playoff berth.

"Everyone in that room believes we can do it," said Crombeen, who registered his 10th goal of the season and third game-winner. "We had a pretty rough December there where we fell out of things, but we still believe we're in this and we're fighting every night to get the points."

Barret Jackman took the shot that led to the winning goal. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made the stop on Jackman but was down on the ice, allowing Crombeen to skate around him and shoot the puck into the top of the net.

"I thought if I took a quick whack at it, he'd be probably putting his second effort in, flopping all over, and I didn't want to risk shooting right into him," Crombeen said. "So I tried to just wait an extra second and put it over him."

Lauri Korpikoski scored for New York, which remained sixth in the Eastern Conference, just five points ahead of ninth-place Carolina. The Rangers are on a 1-6-2 skid that has seen them been outscored by a 33-13 margin.

Lundqvist made 31 saves and played well one day after getting pulled on home ice during the second period of a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia, but given just one goal to work with he would've had to be perfect on this night.



He was for more than 30 minutes, matching Mason save for save, until Andy McDonald won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Colaiacovo scored on a drive from the point at 10:27 of the second period. The goal came immediately after Rangers coach Tom Renney had called his timeout to address the team.

"You see when they score a goal, we totally lose our composure and start running around," Lundqvist said. "It takes a lot for us to bounce back from a goal because everybody gets so tight."

Korpikoski got the Blueshirts even with 3:13 left in the second, getting the puck from Ryan Callahan near the left side of the net and whirling to get off a quick shot that beat Mason. It was Korpikoski's third goal and fourth point in the last four games.

It was also the only puck to get past Mason, who has rebounded from a disappointing first half to post a 6-2-3 mark since Jan. 19.

"The second half of the game, I thought we just totally dominated," Mason said. "We didn't give them anything in the third period, especially."

Senators 2, Predators 0 | Video

Wherever Ottawa plays these days, victories seem to follow.

First-period goals by Nick Foligno and Dany Heatley staked the Senators to a lead and the flawless goaltending of Alex Auld made sure they kept it, as he stopped all 24 shots he faced to blank Nashville at Sommet Center.

It was Ottawa's season-high fifth straight win under new coach Cory Clouston and the fourth in a row on a road trip that concludes Tuesday in Colorado.

"We got off to a great start in the first period," Fisher said. "Our neutral-zone play these last few games has been night and day different from before. We are creating turnovers and because of that we are allowed to use our speed and skill and go the other way."

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne also faced 24 shots and stopped 22 of them, but his teammates couldn't muster any offense. Nashville is 11th in the Western Conference and its 138 goals this season are the third-fewest in the League.

"We came out and stood around and watched a team that is playing very well right now," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We've done that four of our last five games, and we are 1-3 when we have done that. That's not a good recipe."

Ironically, the Senators are one of the teams with less, but they've scored 18 during the win streak and struck early against the Predators. Foligno opened the offense at 5:20 after Mike Fisher intercepted a clearing pass by Rinne, carried the puck down the right side and passed to Foligno in the slot. His wrister beat Rinne over the glove, just inside the post.

"I tried to get it off of the ice, but I didn't get it off of the ice and they had it on a two-on-one," Rinne said. "They put it in the back of the net. That is my mistake and that should not happen."

It was the second consecutive game-winner for Foligno, who has four goals in the last six games.

Heatley extended the lead at 13:56 with a wrist shot from the lower left circle that deflected in off Rinne's shoulder. The rest of the night belonged to Auld, who earned his sixth career shutout and first this season.

"We got off to a really good start, in the second we were a little bit complacent, and then in the third we played really well, really solid defensively," Clouston said. "I thought Alex looked really comfortable in goal and did exactly what we needed him to do."

Oilers 3, Coyotes 1 | Video

Edmonton moved from ninth in the West into a three-way tie for sixth with Columbus and Vancouver thanks to a tiebreaking goal by Sheldon Souray and 28 saves from Dwayne Roloson.

Souray put the Oilers ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal 5:33 into the third and Shawn Horcoff added an empty-netter with 23.5 seconds remaining, sending Phoenix to its ninth loss in 10 games since the All-Star break and its sixth in a row at Arena.

Ales Hemsky and Ed Jovanovski traded power-play goals late in the second period before the Oilers controlled play in the third and beat the Coyotes for the seventh straight time.

"Every game is so important right now," Hemsky said. "We need every point we can get."

Phoenix goaltender Mikael Tellqvist made 26 saves in his first start since Jan. 6, but he didn't have an answer for Souray's 15th goal of the season. After an interference penalty to Keith Yandle, it was a Hemsky pass that set up Souray at the blue line for a wrist shot that beat Tellqvist for a 2-1 Edmonton lead.

"We figured with the way they were making the calls tonight, we'd get an opportunity or two in the third," Souray said. "And it worked out that way."

Each team put 13 shots on net during a scoreless first period and the first goal didn't come until after Jovanovski took a hooking penalty with 5:17 left in the second. Exactly one minute later, Hemsky bounced a rebound from above the front of the crease off Tellqvist's right skate to put the Oilers in front.

They almost carried that lead into the intermission, but Jovanovski made up for his penalty by converting a power-play goal for the Coyotes with 2.7 seconds left in the period. Ethan Moreau had taken a goaltender interference penalty with 12 seconds left, and Jovanovski followed off the ensuing faceoff by taking a slap shot from the left point that bounced off Roloson's right pad before trickling over the goal line.

Otherwise, the Edmonton goalie allowed nothing.

"He controlled everything really well tonight and the other ones that were there we had a lot of people back," Souray said. "When he's making big saves and big first saves you don't want to give up a lot of second and third chances."

The Coyotes, who once occupied fifth in the West, have fallen all the way down to a tie for 13th with their prolonged slump.

"You need to score goals," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It's the time of the year where we count on guys to score big goals and we're not getting them."

Thrashers 7, Kings 6 (SO) | Video

Atlanta recovered after giving up the lead with five seconds left in regulation to prevail when Erik Christensen scored in the fourth round of the shootout, stopping Los Angeles at Staples Center.

Ilya Kovalchuk had two goals and an assist for the Thrashers, who held 3-0 and 4-1 leads in the first period and went up 6-3 in the third only to see the Kings storm back. Anze Kopitar, who recorded a four-point night, scored a pair of goals sandwiched around defenseman Denis Gauthier's first of the season. Kopitar connected on a power play with goalie Erik Ersberg pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage to tie the game and force overtime.


GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 4 | +/-: 0

After a scoreless five minutes Kopitar struck again, beating Johan Hedberg to begin the shootout, but Vyacheslav Kozlov tied it up for the Thrashers. Hedberg stopped Patrick O'Sullivan to start the fourth round and Christensen followed by wristing a shot that got by Ersberg.

Bryan Little, Todd White, Marty Reasoner and Colin Stuart also scored for Atlanta, which tied a franchise record by winning its fourth straight on the road. Hedberg finished with 39 saves.

"We're lucky we're scoring a lot of goals right now," Christensen said. "We allowed like 10 goals in the last two games and we still got two wins and we'll take them. We have to play with more consistency throughout the game."

Jack Johnson, Jarret Stoll and Alexander Frolov had the other goals as Los Angeles worked its way back to earn a point and tie Nashville for 11th in the Western Conference. Ersberg came on after Jonathan Quick allowed three goals in the first 7:41 and ended up making 17 saves.

"This time of the year you want to get two points, not just one," Kopitar said. "Maybe we're fortunate enough to get one but that's not enough. To give up six goals at home, it's hard and it definitely shouldn't happen."

Kovalchuk's second of the night and 29th of the season gave the Thrashers a 6-3 lead 3:32 into the third period, but Kopitar connected on a power-play at 7:30, Gauthier cut the deficit to one at 10:05 and after Ron Hainsey drew a delay of game penalty with 1:27 left, setting up Kopitar for the tying goal off a scramble in front.

"We're just doing things right. We're shooting the puck and creating some traffic in front of the net, and the puck is going in," Kovalchuk said. "But on the other side, we can't give up six goals a game and three in the last 10 minutes. We need to work on that."

Little started the scoring 1:11 into the first and Quick's life didn't get any easier after Brad Richardson and Gauthier took penalties to set up a 5-on-3 for Atlanta. Kovalchuk connected on the two-man advantage at 5:59 and White added a power-play goal for a 3-0 lead.

Ersberg entered and Johnson got the Kings on the board with a power-play goal at 14:56 only to see Reasoner answer for the Thrashers 33 seconds later. Stoll made it 4-2 before the first period ended, lighting the lamp on another man advantage with 2:26 left.

Frolov picked up the scoring at 5:01 of the second, but Stuart netted a shorthanded goal with 43 seconds left in the period to give Atlanta a 5-3 edge heading into the third.

"After the first period when we got that 3-0 lead pretty quick, I think we let up a bit and got outworked by them," Little said. "They were playing really desperate, and we were running around a bit. That's when they came back in the game, and that's something we've got to get better at."

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



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