There's an old adage that says it's better to be lucky than good. The Pittsburgh Penguins
beat the Philadelphia Flyers
5-4 on Saturday because Sidney Crosby
was both lucky and
Crosby broke a 4-4 tie with 2:15 remaining in regulation on a goal scored with Flyers goaltender Martin Biron nowhere near the net. Biron drifted out toward the hash marks of the right circle to beat Pascal Dupuis to a loose puck. He sprawled on all fours, but failed to control the puck, which dropped to the ice as he tried to scramble back to his feet.
Dupuis controlled the puck and sent it toward the empty net, where Crosby was there for the gift goal, his 23rd of the season and second of the game.
"It was really a good break," Crosby said. "You can't really blame the goalie."
The largest regular-season crowd in Flyers history -- 19,992 fans -- might not agree.
Crosby had two assists and the first of three Pittsburgh goals in the second period that made it 3-1 before getting one of the easiest tallies of his career to win the game.
"When I saw (Biron) get rid of it, I went to the net, thinking Dupes was going to get to it first," Crosby said. "So I knew he was going to throw it right at the net, but Biron was out far. I just tried to redirect it."
Biron, who made 22 saves, said his reaction was simply to get rid of the puck.
"I made a bad play and it ends up in the net," he said. "Looking back, you say, 'Just get it to the corner. Get it to the boards. Even let it stay alive and let the guys recover,' but I just kind of got anxious and got rid of it.
"It ends up losing the game."
Or winning it, if you're the Penguins -- who earned their first road victory since winning at Philadelphia on Jan. 13 and their second win in three games under new coach Dan Bylsma.
"I think it says a lot about our group right now," said Bylsma, who replaced Michel Therrien last Sunday. "It's a tough go and a difficult situation. They've been attentive and hardworking, and tonight they were committed to doing it for 60 minutes."
The Flyers spent the third period playing catch-up. After Joffrey Lupul's goal midway through the first period gave them a 1-0 lead, Pittsburgh took control in the second on goals by Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko.
But like Thursday night against Montreal, the Penguins' couldn't hold a two-goal lead in the third period. Mike Richards' shorthanded breakaway at 3:07 made it 3-2 and Braydon Coburn's goal tied it at 6:37. Fedotenko scored again at 9:50, but Mike Knuble got the Flyers even again at 14:25, firing a touch pass from Richards behind Marc-Andre Fleury.
"It's a tough one," Richards said. "It's encouraging to see that we battled back but it still hurts."
Despite the win, the Penguins are still 10th in the East as they head to Washington for Sunday afternoon's nationally televised game against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
"It's big, but we want to make sure we have that playoff mentality to keep (chasing)," Crosby said of his club. "There's no choice for us. We've got to bear down and keep our energy up. I think we're trying to set the pace a little bit more. It was 'last goal wins' out there today."
Blackhawks 3, Stars 1 | Video
If Patrick Kane could play every game against Dallas, he'd lead the League in goals. Kane scored for the fourth time in Chicago's four games against the Stars this season as Chicago completed a sweep of the season series.
This wasn't as easy as last Saturday's 6-2 home win, but the Hawks were good enough to win their fourth in a row and complete a sweep of their three road games this week.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game and not as easy as the last time against them," Kane said. "To get a win here is pretty big."
James Wisniewski celebrated his 25th birthday by scoring a power-play goal on a one-timer from beyond the right circle 16:04 into the game. Kane got his 20th of the season at 7:23 of the second, beating Marty Turco from a sharp angle.
Kane also had four assists against Dallas this season. He said the Stars' physical play brings out the best in him.
"I think when you get hit a lot, it kind of gets you in the game and makes you try to create more plays," he said.
Matt Walker's deflection with 16 seconds left in the period made it 3-0. Steve Ott spoiled Cristobal Huet's shutout bid by scoring midway through the third period. Huet, making his fifth consecutive start, made 30 saves.
The Blackhawks wrapped up a stretch of 11 road games in a 12-game span, going 8-3 in the 11 road contests to improve to 19-11-3 away from the United Center. They have eight of their next 10 at home, starting Sunday against Minnesota.
Wisniewski said being on the road for so long actually helped the Blackhawks regain their focus.
"I think the road trip was the best thing for us," Wisniewski said. "We got back to playing playoff hockey, Chicago Blackhawk, high-intensity hockey. Just getting in there, flying around, buzzing around, and getting pucks on net, not being too pretty, too cute."
The Stars were 10-3-0 in their previous 13 games, but their inability to beat the Hawks cost them a chance to gain ground in a tight race for one of the last four playoff spots in the West.
"Every year you have one team who you can't get points against," defenseman Darryl Sydor said. "It's frustrating. But you have to swallow that pill and move on."
Coach Dave Tippett said the Stars needed a better effort to keep pace with the Hawks.
"They played a good game but in our situation we have little room for error," Tippett said. "If you have five, six guys not pulling their weight, that's a problem. We looked like a tired, frustrated team chasing the game. We can't have any weak links."
Sharks 3, Thrashers 1 | Video
Maybe it was because they were playing a team they knew almost nothing about, but it took the Western Conference-leading Sharks more than two periods to figure out the 29th-place Thrashers before scoring three times in the third period for their League-high 26th home win.
The Thrashers and Sharks hadn't met since March 22, 2007, and Atlanta hadn't visited HP Pavilion since Dec. 6, 2005. That unfamiliarity and the rare afternoon starting time in San Jose helped produce two periods of nondescript hockey before the Sharks took control in the third, scoring twice in the first 2:55.
They got a boost from Jeremy Roenick, who returned after missing 28 games with torn cartilage in his shoulder and assisted on Jonathan Cheechoo's goal that made it 2-0.
"Right from when I stepped on the ice for my first shift, it felt great to be out there with the boys," Roenick said after earning the 700th assist of his career. "I told (coach Todd McLellan) two weeks ago I was ready. ... I've seen some guys with the same injury this year out for four months. It's good to see the old guys can come back as fast, or even quicker."
McLellan teamed the 39-year-old Roenick with 43-year-old Claude Lemieux and 33-year-old enforcer Jody Shelley on a fourth line that promises to be one of hockey's most entertaining groups, if not its slickest any more.
"It's definitely the oldest line in the NHL," Roenick said. "We've got about 115 years of experience, so we must be doing something right."
McLellan is glad to have Roenick back for a four-game trip that begins Monday at Dallas and features stops at Detroit, Ottawa and Montreal.
"He's our Energizer Bunny," McLellan said of Roenick. "He's ready to go every shift. That will rub off on other players."
Bryan Little scored Atlanta's lone goal at 7:37 on a 5-on-3 power play, but Joe Thornton jammed in a rebound for a power-play goal with 6:42 remaining to give the Sharks some insurance.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 28 shots for the Thrashers, who dropped to 1-8-2 against the Sharks and are winless in six trips to San Jose. Coach John Anderson wouldn't use the unfamiliarity as an excuse.
"It's no different for them, (since) they don't see us," Anderson said after his team concluded a Western trip with a 2-1-1 record. "It's the same thing. There are no secrets in this League. There's enough video going around that you could start your own movie theater. You have to make adjustments, which our guys did. I was surprised how loud it was, though. It was my first time in here."
Coyotes 6, Kings 3 | Video
Olli Jokinen ended his slump just in time to revive the Coyotes' playoff hopes. Jokinen had a hat trick -- his first goals in a month -- as Phoenix won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January.
Jokinen scored twice in the second period against his former team to reach 500 career points, then added an empty-netter to complete his sixth career hat trick.
"I'm playing with good players and I got a lot of chances," Jokinen said after ending an 11-game drought. "It's nice to score, but the bottom line is to get two points and stay in this playoff race. It was a good solid road game and we got two big points out of it."
The Coyotes have won just three of 12 games since the All-Star break, dropping them from fifth in the West into the bottom five.
"It was a big win for us," coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We came in here against a team that's playing pretty well right now. They're one of the hotter teams in the NHL, so we knew it was going to be a tough game.
"I thought it was maybe the best we've played all season long, as far as getting traffic to the net. Our guys played really hard and we did a lot of good things. We got off to a good start and then got behind, but we kept coming back at them."
The Kings took a 2-1 lead on Dustin Brown's unassisted goal 1:20 into the second period. But Jokinen sandwiched two goals around one by Viktor Tikhonov in a 6:02 span late in the second period. Tikhonov's goal and Jokinen's second tally both came after turnovers in the Kings' zone by Anze Kopitar.
"I think they just outwaited us," Kings defenseman Kyle Quincey said. "They had more patience than we did and they capitalized on our mistakes. They have good, young, skilled forwards and they showed it today. Around our net, they were more hungry than we were."
Mikkel Boedker's goal 1:31 into the third period made it 5-2. Jokinen hit the empty net with 2:04 after the Kings pulled Jonathan Quick during a power play. Derek Armstrong added a meaningless power-play goal.
The Kings start a five-game trip Tuesday at Minnesota. That might not be a bad thing for a team that's 1-5-2 in its last eight at home, including four consecutive losses.
"We came out better, but still not good enough," coach Terry Murray said. "We just couldn't find it; we just didn't have it. There is no excuse for it, you've got to have it this time of year and definitely looking at the standings, where we are, where they are, it's a pretty important game."
Islanders 4, Devils 0 | Video
There haven't been a lot of happy evenings on Long Island this season, but this was one. The 30th-place Islanders played perhaps their best game of the season. Goaltender Yann Danis stopped 40 shots for his second NHL shutout and became the first Isles goaltender other than Rick DiPietro to get a shutout since now-General Manager Garth Snow had one in December 2003.
It was also the first shutout for the Isles in exactly a year, since DiPietro blanked Tampa Bay 1-0 at the Nassau Coliseum.
"I came close a few times earlier in the season," said Danis, whose only other NHL shutout came in his NHL debut with Montreal on Oct. 12, 2005. "I just wanted to get the win, but with about 30 seconds left, I started thinking more about the shutout."
Danis preserved his shutout with about three minutes remaining when he stopped Islander-killer Zach Parise on a breakaway.
"To see him coming in and play well against a team that we've struggled against all season, and perform well, was great," coach Scott Gordon said.
Sean Bergenheim scored on a wrist shot from the right circle past Scott Clemmensen 3:50 into the game -- about three minutes after Clemmensen robbed him after leaving a bad rebound.
"That was a great save," Bergenheim said. "That really did not feel good for me. Luckily, I got the goal a little bit later, but for sure I should've have two."
Jon Sim turned a Devils giveaway into an unassisted goal 8:45 into the second period, capitalizing on a bad pass by Bobby Holik. Kyle Okposo and Bill Guerin put the game away with late power-play goals.
The Devils, who had beaten the Islanders in their last five meetings, including all four this season, head home off shutout losses against the Panthers and Isles sandwiched around a shootout win at Tampa Bay.
"We were playing against a team that had nothing to lose and we just didn't play enough Devils hockey," Holik said.
The Atlantic Division leaders have 15 victories in 20 games and had won seven straight away from home before this trip. But coach Brent Sutter wasn't happy with the run-and-gun game his club got into with the Islanders, even though the Devils had a 40-38 edge in shots.
"This road trip should be a good wake-up call for these guys," Sutter said. "I certainly hope it is. I haven't been overly pleased with how we've played. We got away with two points in Tampa Bay, very fortunate, but we didn't get away with it in the other two games."
Ducks 5, Blue Jackets 2 | Video
The Ducks know they're running out of time to make the playoffs, so rebounding after a loss at Detroit on Friday was so important to coach Randy Carlyle that he went back to starting netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere against the Blue Jackets.
It worked, as the Ducks ended a three-game slide.
"We described it as the most important game of the year," Carlyle said about his decision to go with Giguere for the second night in a row. "So are you not going to play your best people? Simple as that. It makes the decision easy."
Giguere had been manhandled in a 5-2 loss in Detroit and has struggled for most of the last two months.
"This feels great. After a tough loss yesterday, tonight was a must-win game," he said. "We answered the bell. We were physical, we fought, we scored some goals. It was a big road game. We have to have that kind of effort."
Corey Perry led the Ducks with a goal and two assists as Anaheim scored five times against rookie Steve Mason on just 13 shots -- including both of its shots in the middle period.
"Mason would probably like to have a couple of them back, but he's saved our bacon more than anybody could imagine," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.
The Blue Jackets were playing their sixth game in nine days -- and ended up with their only regulation loss (4-1-1). They head to Western Canada next week for three games.
"We can't use that as an excuse," Mason said of the schedule. "Every team in this league has the same kind of schedule. We have to take it for what it is and get ready for the next game. It wasn't a very good game at all -- pretty brutal."
Chris Pronger and Brendan Morrison beat Mason to give Anaheim a 2-0 lead after one period. Rick Nash's power-play goal at 12:35 of the second period got Columbus on the board. But Perry beat Jackets defenseman Jan Hejda to a loose puck in the offensive zone and put a shot between Mason's pads at 14:38 on the Ducks' first shot of the period. Kunitz jammed in Perry's centering pass at 18:15 for a 4-1 lead.
Kristian Huselius made it a two-goal game with a power-play goal 1:57 into the final period, but Bobby Ryan beat Mason at 9:22 to put the game away.
"We scored on our chances, that's really the difference in the hockey game," Carlyle said. "Tonight pucks went in for us. We were fortunate. We made the most of our opportunities."
Sabres 4, Rangers 2 | Video
The Sabres got the two points they wanted by beating the struggling Rangers -- but their playoff hopes took a big hit when goaltender Ryan Miller left early in the third period with a high ankle sprain.
The injury, which occurred when Miller was upended behind his own net by New York's Scott Gomez, tempered any celebration in the Sabres' locker room.
"It's a tough blow for us," said center Derek Roy, who led the Sabres with a goal and two assists.
Miller said tests taken following the game were negative, but he's not sure how much time he'll miss.
"These are kind of things you have to feel out. There's really no timetable," said Miller, who stopped all 20 shots he faced and led 3-0 when he was injured. "It's really your comfort level. Right now I want to get through the night and into the morning to see how my body reacts."
The Sabres moved into a three-way tie with the Rangers and Florida for the Eastern Conference's final three playoff spots. All three teams have 68 points, three ahead of Carolina. But they'll have to rely on backup Patrick Lalime, who allowed both goals on 13 shots against New York, while Miller's out.
"Patty's' a good goalie. We'll get him up and running. Whatever length of time, we need to play in front of Patty," coach Lindy Ruff said.
Ruff was unhappy with the hit, accusing Gomez of deliberately crashing into Miller.
"I don't think there's any secret it was deliberate," Ruff said. "He knew what he was doing."
Gomez called the hit unfortunate, saying he lost his balance.
"I stopped and kind of lost my balance and we ran into each other," Gomez said. "I don't know what happened."
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made it though the game without being injured, although his goals-against average took a hit. Daniel Paille and Andrej Sekera scored in the first period to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead. Roy made it 3-0 with a power-play goal 13:42 into the second.
Markus Naslund scored just seconds after Miller left with his injury, but Jochen Hecht's backhander past Lundqvist with 8:07 left in regulation gave Buffalo some insurance. Nigel Dawes scored with 4:43 left, but that's all the Rangers got.
While the Sabres worry about their goaltender, the Rangers have concerns in all areas.
New York dropped to 2-7-2 in its past 11 games and is winless in its past eight on the road (0-7-1) since a 3-2 overtime win at Chicago on Jan. 16. The Rangers have been outscored 31-8 during the road slump, raising questions about coach Tom Renney's job security.
"We have to collectively get our heads around what it takes to win a hockey game. We're in a very desperate situation," Renney said. "Maybe we're scared enough now to go out and play hard."
They certainly didn't come out hard against the Sabres. The Rangers were outshot 13-7 in the first period, and held without a shot during an 11-minute stretch spanning the end of the first period and start of the second.
"We have to be better than this," Naslund said. "It's up to us if we're going to make the playoffs. A game like this was crucial."
Panthers 2, Bruins 0 | Video
As a goaltender, you know you're hot when you're stopping shots you don't see. Florida's Tomas Vokoun is that kind of hot.
Vokoun made 41 saves -- 40 on shots he saw and one with his leg on Patrice Bergeron's wraparound in the third period, which he didn't see -- for his sixth shutout of the season and second in three games.
"I didn't see it because I was facing the other way. I just knew that the guy was try and wrap it and I was just trying to at least put some part of my body in the way," Vokoun said. "Playing this game, you need, sometimes, really good fortune. That was definitely a lot of luck."
Play was briefly halted to review Vokoun's save. Had Bergeron's shot been ruled a goal, the game would have been tied at 1-all, and Radek Dvorak's second goal of the night would have been disallowed.
"That particular play, you think about the change in momentum if that's in," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "Our goal's disallowed and they get a goal and it's 1-1. So obviously, that's a pivotal moment in the game. And he was outstanding tonight, nothing short of that. Gave us the chance to win and that's the type of goaltending we need down the stretch."
The win moved the Panthers into a three-way tie with Buffalo and the New York Rangers for the final three playoff spots in the East.
Dvorak scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 1:44 in the third period to give Florida a 1-0 lead, beating Tim Thomas with a high wrist shot from the right circle. Before the whistle could blow after Vokoun's stop on Bergeron, Dvorak scored again at 6:44, finishing off a pass from Gregory Campbell.
"It's a great feeling, especially when you're winning," Dvorak said. "Any time you have a chance to help the team win a hockey game, it's great."
Thomas made 27 saves for Boston, which has been dominating the Southeast Division -- and the Panthers -- this season. The Bruins had already defeated the Panthers twice, recording a 4-2 win on Nov. 21 and a 4-0 victory on Dec. 6. They were 12-0 against the non-Washington members of the division before Saturday.
"I thought we skated well, we had the energy to do it," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "As the game went we got sloppier and sloppier. There comes a time in the season where you have to convince your guys to start doing the dirty work. Maybe things have been too good for us, maybe it's time we got our noses dirty again."
Wild 5, Red Wings 2 | Video
There was an unusual sight at the Xcel Energy Center. Jacques Lemaire was happy with the way his team played. Not that there was much wrong with the Wild, which ended a three-game losing streak and scored more than three goals for the first time in eight games.
As the Wild skated off the ice with a 2-0 lead after one period, Lemaire looked at an assistant coach and said, "All of a sudden I like the team because everyone's working and everyone's doing what they were supposed to do, and I know we have a chance when they do this. Now it's a matter of doing it."
They did it well enough to keep pace in the wild West, where 11 points separate fifth place from 15th.
"Tonight we made better plays and we got good shots on net," Lemaire said.
Owen Nolan scored both first-period goals, and after Tomas Kopecky got Detroit on the board early in the second, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Martin Skoula scored 91 seconds apart late in the period for a 4-1 lead.
The Wild took advantage of rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard, who got the call because the Wings gave Chris Osgood some time off in hopes of getting him out of his slump. Howard, who hadn't played an NHL game in nearly a year, was beaten through the pads from the right dot by Nolan at 2:55 and on a backhander at 8:15.
"It definitely didn't go as planned," Howard said. "I'm still going to take some good things out of this game. I wish I could've done more with the opportunity I received here, but I still believe in myself and think that I'll be an NHL goalie one day."
Ville Leino tipped in Brian Rafalski's shot from the blue line with 5:15 left in regulation, but Stephane Veilleux added an empty-netter with 1.8 seconds left.
The Wings' League-leading power-play went 0-for-5 against Minnesota, which entered the night tied for the penalty-killing lead. Niklas Backstrom made 35 saves for the Wild.
"They box in the neutral zone, they get above and below you. And their goalie made a ton of saves. Its not like we didn't have opportunities, he just played well. Your best penalty killer is always your goaltender and I thought he was excellent tonight," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Predators 1, Blues 0 (OT) | Video
Turnabout is fair play, so perhaps it was only just that the Preds avenged a home loss in overtime to the Blues on Thursday by winning in OT at St. Louis.
Shea Weber's shot at 2:36 of OT somehow squeezed past Chris Mason to end a goaltending duel.
Weber took a pass from J.P. Dumont and fired a shot from the slot that trickled through Mason's right side and into the net for his first goal in 15 games.
"I thought he squeezed it," Weber said. "I thought he got enough of it to squeeze and then as I skated by, I saw it running down his leg. I was very fortunate."
It was a painful loss for Mason, who had beaten his former team 2-1 two nights earlier.
"It just kind of bounced out to (Weber) and he just kind of sweeped at it," Mason said. "It just kind of caught me off guard there. It's just the way the play happened. I squeezed it and it dropped behind me and snuck in."
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 30 shots for his fifth shutout. He preserved the tie with a glove save on Andy McDonald's shot from the slot 96 seconds into the third period and got a break when Alex Steen rang the crossbar with 7:55 remaining.
"It was an excellent hockey game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "It was a typical St. Louis and Nashville game -- it took more than 60 minutes." The win gave Nashville 60 points, two more than the Blues in the tight Western race.
The game, played before a sellout crowd at Scottrade Center, had a playoff-like atmosphere.
"A real tight game," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "We certainly had ample opportunity to score some goals and we didn't do that. ... It was a one-goal hockey game and whoever was going to score that next goal was going to win the game. That's the way it felt for a lot of the hockey game tonight."
Flames 3, Oilers 2 (SO) | Video
Miikka Kiprusoff brought Hockey Day in Canada to an end by poke-checking Ales Hemsky in the third round of the shootout to make Todd Bertuzzi's first-round goal stand up as Calgary stole two points at Rexall Place and handed the Oilers their third consecutive loss.
Bertuzzi scored the only goal of the breakaway competition on the first attempt, using his long reach to poke a one-handed backhander past Dwayne Roloson -- a move that looked like it came straight out of a pond-hockey game.
"He's always working on new moves at practice," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said of Bertuzzi. "He's got so many moves. I think he said he changed his mind at the end. That's a huge goal-scorer's goal. He's got such good hands."
Edmonton's Sam Gagner then lost the puck on his attempt, and Kiprusoff poke-checked both Robert Nilsson and Hemsky to give the Flames a win in a game they never led.
"Our confidence is growing, especially from the start of the season," Iginla said. "We've been finding ways to win this type of game."
The Oilers were 65 seconds away from a 2-1 win in regulation when Matthew Lombardi beat Roloson through a screen to tie the score.
"It was a mis-execution on the game-trying goal," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "It was a nothing play. We had done a good job checking in the last five minutes of the game but we came out of our defensive formation and they capitalized. Lombardi put a nice shot in to tie it. It was tough to recover from."
Calgary nearly won the game in the final seconds of OT, but Roloson denied Mike Cammalleri after Iginla sent him in alone during a bad line change.
"I think we caught them by surprise," Iginla said. "I was surprised he was so wide-open. Rollie made a good save on him."
The win moved the Northwest Division-leading Flames eight points in front of second-place Vancouver. The point gave Edmonton 63 and moved the Oilers into eighth place in the West -- they're tied with Anaheim but have played two fewer games.
The Oilers didn't convert on their first power play but opened the scoring seven seconds after it ended when Erik Cole snapped a shot past Kiprusoff.
Calgary got even at 16:40 of the second on its 20th shot of the night. Defenseman Cory Sarich raced up the right side and fed a quick pass to Iginla, who redirected the puck past Roloson for his 22nd goal.
Hemsky put the Oilers back in front on their first shot of the third period, beating Kiprusoff with a snap shot from a sharp angle. The sellout crowd at Rexall Place was getting ready to celebrate a victory over their Alberta rivals, but with Kiprusoff on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, Lombardi used Curtis Glencross as a screen at 18:55 to beat Roloson and send the game into overtime.
Neither team did much until the final seconds of the extra period, when Cammalleri found himself alone in front, only to be denied by Roloson. "Over the course of 82 games you are going to lose a couple in the last minute or two," said Oilers center Shawn Horcoff, who assisted on both Edmonton goals. "We'll take the point and move on at this point in the season. We don't have any time to sit and dwell on negatives. They are a good hockey team and we played a good game against them. Obviously we would like to have two points but we only got the one."
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.