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Drury finds scoring touch

by Brian Hunter

A few thoughts while we relish the thought of getting to watch Luke Schenn skate in Toronto for the entire season:

Captain gets going -- Anyone who figured that 11 games into the season that Aaron Voros would be leading the New York Rangers with five goals and captain Chris Drury wouldn't have any -- well, that person probably also sat down prior to the start of the 2008 baseball season and picked the Phillies and Rays to meet in the World Series.

But strange things happen, and when the Blueshirts took the Nassau Coliseum ice Monday night to face the rival New York Islanders, there was Drury, a 37-goal scorer two seasons ago with Buffalo, still looking for his first. Luckily he didn't have to wait long, banking a shot into the net off Joey MacDonald just 56 seconds in, and he added a power-play goal later in a 4-2 Rangers win.

"It's tough to score in this League," Drury said. "I'll take them off my knee, off my head, any way I can get them."

It takes a lot more than a few bounces to explain why the Rangers currently lead the NHL with 19 points and the Islanders sit dead last with only four. Even still, Isles coach Scott Gordon has seen his team be competitive in most of its games and have opportunities to pull out wins. But once again, on Monday, that failed to happen.

"The first half of the game, I liked our chances better than theirs," Scott Gordon said. "I'm concerned why the game changed for us. It's not so much them, it's what we did to ourselves."

Making themselves comfortable -- For the Ottawa Senators, there's no place like the road -- at least if that destination happens to be HSBC Arena. After racing to a five-goal lead and defeating the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Monday, the Senators have taken eight of their last 13 in that building.

"We just get up for this team," said Jason Spezza, who scored two goals and assisted on another. "We know we have to be ready, so that's why we've had some success here."

And forget about the venue, the Senators were in desperate need of some success anywhere, coming to Buffalo mired in a four-game losing streak.

Complicating matters, starting goaltender Martin Gerber was sidelined recently and Alex Auld has stepped in to play the last three games. Auld carried a shutout deep into the third period against the Sabres before they dented him for a pair of meaningless goals.

"That was a good test for us," Auld said. "We feel we definitely played one of our top games of the year. When we play that way, it shows we can do a lot of very good things."

Next up for Ottawa is a trip through Florida, with games against the Panthers on Thursday and the Lightning on Saturday, before they return home Nov. 4 to play the Capitals.

It's a start -- When a team loses four straight and five out of six to start the season, the way the Anaheim Ducks did, it can often take months of the season to climb out of the early hole -- if it happens at all.

As sluggish as they looked in those first half dozen games, the Ducks made a big turnaround during a four-game road trip in which they garnered the maximum eight points. They also got back to .500 in the process, a feat that did not escape the attention of coach Randy Carlyle.

"There was a lot at stake for our hockey club to get back to .500," Carlyle said following Monday's 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. "After a rough start, now we're at .500. ... We're just going to savor this for about 10 minutes."

Anaheim rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to gain the two points, disappointing the crowd at Nationwide Arena and Carlyle's counterpart behind the Columbus bench.

"For us to win we had to play 60 minutes, full out, of great hockey and we played 50 minutes," Ken Hitchcock said. "It's not good enough -- you've got to win games 2-1. I hope they are, like I am, frustrated. To play this well and give it away, I'd be frustrated."


It's his crease -- Back when he was coach of the New Jersey Devils, Jacques Lemaire had a goaltender who expected to play upwards of 70 games per season by the name of Martin Brodeur. Could it be he's discovered another workhorse in Minnesota in Niklas Backstrom?

The Wild have played a total of 425 minutes this season and Backstrom has been in net for all of them. Making his seventh straight start of the 2008-09 campaign Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks, he was brilliant once again in blocking 34 shots for a 3-2 victory that left Minnesota as the last team in the League without a regulation loss.

"He doesn't give up bad goals," Lemaire said in raving about Backstrom's play. "They have to work for the goals they get."

With the Wild holding a 2-1 lead in the second period, the Blackhawks enjoyed a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:06 and couldn't come up with the tying goal. Mikko Koivu, who assisted on all three Minnesota goals, was huge in that penalty kill -- and of course Backstrom was there to make sure any shots that got through didn't find their way behind him.

"The goalie was good," Lemaire said. "He was in control. Every shot he was there. That (5-on-3) could have changed the game."

Roloson's return -- The good news for the Edmonton Oilers is that goaltender Dwayne Roloson is back in the mix and playing solidly. The bad news Monday is it wasn't enough for a win because they couldn't get him any offense.

Dennis Wideman's power-play goal with 1:42 remaining in overtime gave the Boston Bruins a 1-0 win at Rexall Place and handed the Oilers their fourth straight loss and four consecutive wins to start the season.

"It's always hard to take a loss," said Roloson, who made 35 saves in his second start. "It doesn't matter if that goal comes in overtime or on the first shift or the last shift of the game. It's always hard to lose a game. The parameters don't change. It's still frustrating."

"Roli kept us in it and we were going to put some window dressing on it if we were able to win the game in overtime or a shootout. But it would have just masked what has been plaguing us for the last number of games, almost since the inception of the season." -- Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish

Edmonton now embarks on a seven-game road trip and coach Craig MacTavish said the warm feeling generated by the team's early success is a thing of the past.

"I was expecting a lot more and I've seen enough not to expect it now," MacTavish said. "Roli kept us in it and we were going to put some window dressing on it if we were able to win the game in overtime or a shootout. But it would have just masked what has been plaguing us for the last number of games, almost since the inception of the season.

"We haven't, as a team, been able to dominate anybody. It's time for us to realize that. It was hidden in the record but that is over."

Playing stingy -- In looking to pinpoint ways the Detroit Red Wings could improve over the first few weeks, coach Mike Babcock zeroed in on the amount of shots they were allowing on their goaltenders.

Heading into Staples Center for Monday night's game against Los Angeles, the target was to allow the Kings no more than 21 shots. The Wings yielded just 19 through regulation and overtime, then went on to claim a 4-3 victory via the shootout.

"We've shown we have a pretty good team, we just have to keep getting better," Babcock said. "We talked a lot about it, if you limit teams' opportunities, we've got enough players that we're going to score some goals, so we've just got to continue to get better defensively and get everyone involved."

The Kings still managed to score on three of their 19 shots and were less than two minutes away from a regulation win before the Wings rallied. Babcock came away impressed by the job coach Terry Murray has done in his first year with a team that was dead last in the Western Conference last season.

"They've got six real, real good players up front and on the back end the Doughty kid (Drew Doughty) looked real good. I thought Quince (Kyle Quincey) looked good out there and they've got (Sean) O'Donnell to settle everything down," Babcock said. "To me, they look like a team that's going to be hard to play against."

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

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