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Ducks celebrate Cup, win home opener

by John Kreiser
Chris Pronger and the Ducks snapped a three-game skid with a 2-1 win against the Bruins.
For one night, the Anaheim Ducks didn’t need Teemu Selanne or Scott Niedermayer in uniform.

Both were on hand at the Honda Center on Wednesday night to help the Ducks celebrate their first Stanley Cup. But after the championship banner was raised to the rafters, they could only watch as the Ducks rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in their home opener.

Selanne and Niedermayer were serenaded with chants of “one more year” when they joined their teammates for the celebration. Both are deciding whether to return or retire, and each said he was moved by the ovations.

"It was pretty convincing," Niedermayer said after the first period. Selanne added, "It was pretty awesome. It was emotional, too."

The Ducks could use both of their stars. They went 1-3-0-1 in their first five games, splitting two against Los Angeles in London before going 0-2-1 in Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

"When things aren't going well, you'd like to be out there to help," said Niedermayer, last spring’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP.

The pregame celebration had barely ended when Chuck Kobasew beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a quick wrist shot 65 seconds into the game to put Boston ahead, 1-0.

But the Ducks, one of the NHL’s most physical teams, kept grinding away and tied the game midway through the second period when Ryan Getzlaf converted Kent Huskins’ rebound.

Getzlaf also set up the game-winning goal by Francois Beauchemin. He fed the defenseman, whose one-timer from the high slot deflected off Boston’s David Krejci and past goaltender Tim Thomas with 13:35 left in regulation.

Getzlaf said the pregame festivities were a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“It was great to have all the guys back from last year,” he said, “and great to pull together.”

The Ducks won the opener of a four-game homestand after their long road trip.

“We got going in the right direction in Pittsburgh,” Getzlaf said, “but we didn’t get the result we wanted. Tonight it was.”

Islanders 2, Rangers 1
Bryan Berard sure knows how to make a dramatic return.

Ten years after he won the Calder Trophy with the Islanders, Berard returned to Long Island and scored the winning goal against the Rangers in his first game back.

“A lot of people questioned if I was healthy this summer after two back surgeries and missing a lot of hockey the last two years,” said Berard, now 30. “I came in proving I’m healthy. I’m feeling good and I'm only going to get better.”

Berard missed most of last season after back surgery and came to camp with the Islanders without a contract. He missed the Isles’ first three games while waiting for a roster space to open and signed a one-year deal on Tuesday after Freddie Meyer was claimed off waivers by Phoenix.

“He showed us a lot by sticking in practice, paying his own way with no guarantee,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. “He earned himself a contract.”

With the Isles playing 5-on-3, Berard played catch with Bill Guerin before ripping a shot from the left circle past Henrik Lundqvist to break a 1-1 tie. Rick DiPietro made the lead stand up with 36 saves.

“We had chances – no question,” Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr said. “The potential here is very high. When we start clicking, we'll be a great team.”

One place the Rangers definitely aren’t clicking is the power play: They were 0-for-6 against the Islanders and are 0-for-15 in their first three games.

Canadiens 3, Penguins 2
The much-anticipated NHL debut of goaltender Carey Price more than lived up to its billing. The 20-year-old stopped 26 shots in his first game to lead Montreal to a victory in Pittsburgh. Two Montreal Hall of Famers – Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy – also started their careers with wins in Pittsburgh. Roy did it exactly 22 years to the night.

“I read it in the game notes,” Price said. “It’s kind of a coincidence. It’s kind of weird that’s how that worked out.”

Price led Canada to the World Junior Championship last winter, was named the top goalie in junior hockey in 2006-07 and backstopped Hamilton to the AHL title last spring after turning pro.

“If you look at the way he played in the past, like in the World Juniors, he played really well and in Hamilton ... when it was time to close a series, he was there and played well,'' Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. “Tonight was one of those games.”

Alexei Kovalev broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period and defenseman Andrei Markov scored what proved to be the game-winner early in the third.

Price did the rest, holding off the Penguins despite allowing Maxime Talbot’s goal.

“I thought he really looked confident,” Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. “And if he was nervous, he didn’t show it at all.”

The Penguins were impressed, too.

“The kid played pretty well, obviously made some big saves,” said defenseman Ryan Whitney, who got Pittsburgh’s first goal. “He won the game for them.”

Senators 3, Thrashers 1
Price wasn’t the only goaltender who enjoyed his National Hockey League debut Wednesday night.

From the time he was 7, Brian Elliott has wanted to be an NHL goalie. He made the most of his long-awaited chance by leading unbeaten Ottawa past winless Atlanta.

Ottawa Senators defenseman Joe Corvo celebrates his third-period goal against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Elliott, picked 291st in the 2003 Entry Draft, is on the Senators’ roster only because last season’s starter, Ray Emery, is recovering from wrist surgery. Martin Gerber played and won Ottawa’s first four games before Elliott got his chance in the first of back-to-back games.

''From age seven, this has been my goal,'' he said after stopping 27 shots in his NHL debut. ''He played great,'' Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen said. ''When they're going with a guy who's playing his first NHL game, you think you have the advantage. But he proved us wrong. He played tremendous.''

The Senators have a goal, too – to get back to the Stanley Cup Final and atone for last spring’s loss to Anaheim.

''We were hungry and excited to get this season started,'' forward Dany Heatley said.

''Everybody talks about a letdown after going to the finals, but I don't feel that.''

Antoine Vermette broke a 1-1 tie early in the third period as visiting Ottawa improved to 5-0-0 and dropped the defending Southeast Division champs to 0-3-0.

Sharks 2, Blackhawks 1
Chicago got another glimpse of the future when rookie Jonathan Toews scored in his first NHL game. But the present was not as nice – San Jose got a pair of goals by Milan Michalek to win at the United Center.

Toews, whose NHL debut was delayed for two games by a broken finger, scored on his first NHL shot, beating Evgeni Nabokov high on the glove side at 13:43 of the opening period.

“It was a great moment,” said Toews, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 Draft. “But the bigger picture is the game tonight, and I was disappointed not to come out on top.”

Toews took a pair of penalties and was in the penalty box late in the second period when Michalek beat Nikolai Khabibulin from between the circles to tie the game. Michalek tipped Matt Carle’s shot past Khabibulin with 3:31 left in regulation for the game-winner.

“We talked about having to work hard 60 minutes, and that's what we did today,” Michalek said. “We had all the chances and finally scored the second goal.”

Blue Jackets 3, Coyotes 0
The Columbus Blue Jackets have waited a long time for Pascal Leclaire to live up to his status as the eighth-overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft. The wait may be over.

Leclaire, who had only one shutout in 59 NHL games before this season, got his second in less than a week as Columbus blanked Phoenix. Dating back to last season, Leclaire hasn’t allowed a goal in 150:22.

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Pascal Leclaire, left, blocks a shot on goal by Phoenix Coyotes' Shane Doan.
“When you get a shutout, it's a team thing,” he said after stopping 32 shots.

“Everybody plays well and there's the reason you get a shutout. It's not only the goalie.”

Leclaire was injured for most of last season and lost the starting job to Fredrik Norrena. This may be the season he finally grabs the starting job.

The wildest celebration of the night at Nationwide Arena came when fourth-liner Jared Boll, a rookie, went in on a third-period breakaway and beat David Aebischer high on the glove side for his first NHL goal.

“I've dreamt about this my whole life,” he said. “To get my first NHL goal is pretty special. It's even better to get it on a night when we got a win.”

The Coyotes, playing their first road game of the season, have lost eight in a row away from home, dating to last March.

“They deserved to win the hockey game,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “They played well. They played hard.”

Lightning 2, Panthers 1
Tampa Bay has been looking for scoring from players other than Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Vaclav Prospal and Brad Richards. The Lightning finally got some against visiting Florida, as Chris Gratton scored twice on a night when the Panthers muzzled their big guns.

”When the big line isn't going, we found a way,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said.

The Panthers reacquired Gratton from the Panthers last summer for a 2008 draft pick.

“It's always tough to play your former teammates,” Gratton said after his 14th career multi-goal game. “It’s nice to chip in against any team in the league. Our line has got to help out with the offense a little bit.”

Johan Holmqvist made 30 saves for the Lightning and has allowed four goals in three games this season, helping the Bolts start 3-0-0 for the just the third time in team history. Florida fell to 0-3-0.

“That was probably our best game since the start of the season,” Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. “I think we created some more chances and made some good saves. We just didn't finish at times, but we did a lot of things better.”

Red Wings 4, Flames 2
The Detroit trio of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom is back in business as one of the NHL’s top scoring lines. They combined for two goals and Kris Draper broke a 2-2 tie late in the second period as the Red Wings doused the sputtering Flames.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood keeps an eye on the puck during a Calgary Flames offensive surge in the second period.
Coach Mike Babcock had used Datsyuk and Zetterberg, both natural centers, on separate lines to start the season. But when Johan Franzen injured his knee last Saturday, the line was reunited for Monday’s game against Edmonton.

“They create a lot," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. “We (his line) weren’t nearly good enough. They were skating.”

Zetterberg and Holmstrom scored against the Flames.

"Those guys can go head to head with the top lines in the league right now," said Draper, whose tip-in with 3:01 left in the second period broke a 2-2 tie. “Those guys are doing a fantastic job creating a lot of chances offensively and certainly doing great things in their own end as well.”

Kristian Huselius had both goals for the visiting Flames, who’ve lost their first three games, one in OT.

“I think there’s a lot more in that dressing room than we're seeing,” Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "I hope so, anyway.”

Wild 2, Oilers 0
Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik have a message for Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire: Let us play with Mikko Koivu.

Koivu centered Demitra and Gaborik on Wednesday, and the line accounted for both goals as the Wild shut out Edmonton to improve to 3-0-0.

“I hope they're just going to keep him there for the rest of the season,” Demitra said. “We just need a couple games, and he can learn. Just see how Jacques is going to react tomorrow.” Lemaire was making no promises as Minnesota prepares for a four-game road trip after opening with three games at home.

“I’m trying to find chemistry. I’m trying to find lines that can go against anyone. I just don’t want the other team to take over,” Lemaire said.

Gaborik and Demitra set up defenseman Brett Burns’ first-period goal, and Demitra scored his first of the season in the second on setups by his linemates.

Rookie goaltender Nicklas Backstrom stopped 21 shots for his second straight shutout and third in his last three starts against the Oilers.

“We made it pretty easy for him tonight,” Oilers center Shawn Horcoff said. “I don’t think we battled too hard in front of the net. All we forced him to do really was make that first save.”

Blues 4, Predators 1
Blues principal owner David Checketts promised before his team’s home opener to deliver the franchise's first Stanley Cup in the "not-too-distant future." St. Louis then played like a Cup contender and buried Nashville – with some help from an ex-Predator.

Paul Kariya, who played for Nashville the last two seasons before signing with the Blues

St. Louis Blues' Brad Boyes, left, celebrates with goalie Manny Legace after the Blues defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1.
during the summer, set up a pair of first-period goals by Brad Boyes to spark his new team. Kariya has five assists in three games.

“It’s always a little different the first time you play the guys you played with,” Kariya said. “They're a really good team over there and a great group of guys.”

Playing before only their third sellout crowd in three seasons, the Blues also got goals from Ryan Johnson and Lee Stempniak to beat Nashville for only the second time in 15 games in the past two-plus seasons.

“It was great, it was neat,” Blues coach Andy Murray said of the enthusiastic full house. “I think the fans were entertained. They entertained us.”

Jordan Tootoo had the only goal for Nashville, which had won its first two games at home by a combined score of 9-1.

''They played extremely well,'' Nashville captain Jason Arnott said. ''They were playing well at the end of last year, too. They were hyped up and they had their fans going.''

Stars 5, Kings 1
Dallas swept all eight games from Los Angeles in 2006-07 and got a jump on the new season thanks to two goals from Niklas Hagman.

The defensive specialist is being counted on for more offense this season, and he delivered against the Kings with a pair of goals, one of them shorthanded.

“I have to concentrate on scoring a little more when I get a chance to play on a scoring line,” Hagman said. “Every game now I'm going to get a couple of good chances. I’ve got to be ready to bury them.”

Antti Miettinen, Mike Ribeiro and Joel Lundqvist also scored for the Stars (2-2-0), who've won both home games by a combined score of 9-2. Mike Modano went pointless and is still six away from breaking Phil Housley’s mark for most points scored by a U.S.-born player.

Kings coach Mark Crawford is tired of getting beaten by his Pacific Division rival.

''We've got to change that,'' Crawford said. ''There's no magic formula. We have to execute better. We had three giveaways and they all ended up in the back of our net, which isn't characteristic of our club.”

Marty Turco stopped 32 shots, losing his shutout on Kyle Calder’s goal midway through the third period.

Flyers 8, Canucks 2
If the Flyers ever struggle in Philadelphia, they might want to consider a move to Vancouver, a city in which it seems they never lose.

Philadelphia Flyers' Mike Richards slips the puck between the legs of Vancouver Canucks goalie Curtis Sanford during the third period.
Mike Richards had two goals and two assists as the Flyers extended their unbeaten streak in Vancouver to 13 games, covering nearly 19 years. The Canucks haven’t beaten the Flyers in Vancouver since a 5-3 victory at the Pacific Coliseum on Jan. 17, 1989.

Jeff Carter and R.J. Umberger scored 13 seconds apart in a four-goal first period that sent Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo to the bench after 20 minutes. Richards scored in a three-goal second period and added another tally in the third as the Flyers – last in the overall standings in 2006-07 – completed a swing through Western Canada with a 2-1-0 record. They play their home opener against the Islanders on Saturday.

The Canucks came out flat and never got any better.

“It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen this team play,” Vancouver captain Markus Naslund said. “We have to wake up. It’s embarrassing to lose like this. We didn’t do anything right.”


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