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Crosby leads Penguins past 'Canes 5-4 in shootout

by John Kreiser
Sidney Crosby just wouldn't let the Pittsburgh Penguins lose.

Crosby, off to the hottest goal-scoring start of his career, scored his 14th of the season, assisted on Pittsburgh's three other regulation goals, then scored the clincher in the shootout as the Penguins survived three blown leads to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 on Friday night.

"It was a little more open than usual, a few more mistakes than usual, but it's a long season and you've got to worry about playing well," said Crosby, whose four-point night moved him into second place in the League scoring race with 33, one behind Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. "If you do, the points will come, but it's always nice to have a big night."

The Penguins' captain has had a lot of big nights recently -- he has 8 goals and 10 assists in his last eight games. The 14 goals are three more than he's ever had through 21 games; he had 10 in four of the last five seasons.

Kris Letang scored in the first round of the shootout against Justin Peters, and Crosby beat Peters with a backhander in the second round. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped both Carolina shooters for the win.

The Penguins led 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3, but Carolina answered each time. Jussi Jokinen, who also had a four-point night, tied it at 4-4 with his second of the game, a hard wrist shot from the right circle with 52 seconds left in regulation and Peters on the bench for an extra attacker.

"We battled back three times after being down, and that showed lots of character for our team," Jokinen said.

For the Penguins, the goal brought back bad memories of a 3-2 overtime loss Monday to the Rangers in which they led 2-1 with 90 seconds remaining in regulation.

"It was tough to let them back in the game again, like we did with the Rangers," said Fleury, who made 30 saves. "We definitely don't want that to happen too often, but in the end we got two points and we got the win, and that's what's good about it."

Kunitz gave Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead at 9:19 of the third with a power-play goal on a shot that Peters initially covered with his leg pad before it trickled across the goal line. The goal, his second of the night, was awarded upon video review.

"There were some strange plays, some crazy plays, lots of energy and lots of excitement -- and some strange calls," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "I'm pretty sure he (the referee) was right, because he had it at no goal."

Tyler Kennedy also scored for Pittsburgh, while Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer scored for Carolina. The Hurricanes lost their third in four games.

Flames 7, Blackhawks 2

Jarome Iginla and the Flames ended their eight-game losing streak against the visiting Blackhawks in a big way. Iginla had a hat trick and the offensively-challenged Flames torched Marty Turco for seven goals after Jack Skille gave Chicago an early lead.

Skille beat Miikka Kiprusoff 6:12 into the game on a blast from the right wing. But Kiprusoff robbed Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa before the period ended, after Niklas Hagman tied the game at 8:52, and the Flames went ahead for good just over three minutes later on a power-play goal by Moss, who shoveled a rebound past Turco.

Iginla had a pair of second-period goals, then completed his hat trick during a late third-period burst that saw Calgary score three times in 2:32 as the Hawks left Turco to fend for himself. The three goals matched his total through the first five weeks of the season.

The Flames ended a three-game overall losing streak by beating the Hawks for the first time since March 16, 2008. They beat Chicago at the Pengrowth Saddledome for the first time in eight games since Nov. 22, 2006.

"We knew needed this game," Iginla said. "We look at the standings and we need to climb. More importantly, we've got to start feeling better and start feeling good about ourselves and having some success … tonight we were a lot more confident and everyone came to play. It's one to build on."

Coach Joel Quenneville absolved his goaltender of any blame.

"He kept us in the game. He gave us a chance," Quenneville said after the Hawks fell to 10-10-2 and 1-1-0 on their six-game road trip. "Calgary played well, they played hard. We weren't up to par. This was one of those games where there is nothing to be happy about."

Sabres 4, Kings 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Buffalo solved the NHL's top penalty-killing unit twice and handed the visiting Kings their third loss in a row.

Tim Connolly jammed in a loose puck in the crease 2:10 into the third period to break a 2-2 tie. It was the Sabres' second extra-man goal of the game -- and came against a team that had allowed just seven in its first 17 games.

Not bad for a team that came in ranked 26th on the power play.

"We just wanted to work hard, be available to each other and get pucks to the net," said Connolly, who snapped a nine-game goal drought. "A lot of the games are decided by special teams. Ours are getting better."

Thomas Vanek added a power-play goal, and Andrej Sekera and Jochen Hecht also scored for the Sabres, who have won five of seven to improve to 8-10-3 after a 3-9-2 start.

"Our power play hasn't been the greatest," Vanek said. "We've had chances, but we just haven't buried them. Tonight we were able to."

The Pacific Division-leading Kings (12-6) are in the midst of their first slump of the season. After winning six straight, they've lost three in a row and have been outscored 8-2 in the third period of those three defeats. They led 1-0 and 2-1 on goals by Dustin Brown and Wayne Simmonds, but couldn't hang on. L.A. is now 1-10-0-1 in its last 12 visits to Buffalo. 

"I don't think we're playing every phase of our game right now," said backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, who made 22 saves in his second start in three games, and sixth overall behind Jonathan Quick, who's expected to play Saturday in Boston. "We just have to go back to the basics."

Blues 5, Senators 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

St. Louis snapped a five-game losing streak thanks to goals by defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo and Eric Brewer 35 seconds apart in the second period.

Ottawa led 1-0 midway through the second period before Brad Boyes tied it by putting a rebound past Brian Elliott at 10:13. Colaiacovo scored 51 seconds later to put the Blues ahead, and Brewer got his first of the season at 11:39 to make it 3-1.

The Blues entered the game with just four goals from their defensemen.

"All of the defensemen here have had a lot of opportunities, and nothing has gone in," Brewer said. "It's all going to change and it started tonight."

Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund added goals in the third period. Alex Pietrangelo and David Backes had a pair of assists apiece as the Blues improved to 13-0-1 at home, dating to last season, including 7-0-1 this season.

The Blues' outburst took the play away from the Senators, who had controlled the first period.

"We just got away from some of the things that we did in the first period to be successful," said forward Mike Fisher, who scored the lone goal of the opening period. "Once they got some momentum, the game turned right around."

Blue Jackets 4, Ducks 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Columbus completed a sweep of its two games in Southern California thanks to goaltender Steve Mason's third-period heroics. Mason stopped 24 of 25 shots in the final 20 minutes as the Jackets hung on at Honda Center.

"We found a way to get it done," coach Scott Arniel said after the Jackets improved to 11-6-0. "It got a little ugly in the third period, a little scrambly. But it's a road win. We'll take the two points."

Defenseman Mike Commodore got what proved to be the game-winner at 16:56 of the second period when his long wrister from the right point sailed through a maze of bodies and past Jonas Hiller.

"The forward was coming out at me," Commodore said of his first goal of the season, which capped a three-goal spurt by Columbus. "I just wanted to get it through, and I did. Obviously, the goalie didn’t see it."

Rick Nash had his sixth goal in six games, and Chris Clark and Jakub Voracek also scored for Columbus, which is off to the best start in franchise history.

Commodore's goal, the last of five scored in the second period, gave the Jackets a 4-2 lead. Corey Perry scored 7:22 into the third, but that was all the Ducks could manage against Mason despite outshooting Columbus 25-3 in the final 20 minutes. Saku Koivu and Bobby Ryan had the other goals for the Ducks.

"We had a little lapse in the second period and that cost us the game," Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said after his team's fourth consecutive loss following a six-game winning streak.

Coyotes 4, Oilers 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Phoenix rallied from a 3-0 deficit and extended its winning streak to six games when Eric Belanger scored in the sixth round of the shootout.

For's complete game story, click here.

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