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Ex-Jacket Zherdev leads Rangers to win

by Brian Hunter
Nikolai Zherdev celebrated big-time in his return to Columbus, even if his coach wasn't behind the bench to witness it.

Traded to the New York Rangers during the offseason in a multi-player deal, Zherdev torched his former team for a goal and two assists as the visitors claimed a 3-1 victory Friday night at Nationwide Arena.

"It was a good team win," Zherdev said. "I was just happy to score."

The Rangers rallied despite the absence of coach Tom Renney, who was hit on the head by an errant stick during a collision among several players near the team's bench midway through the second period. Renney was helped off for medical treatment, but still did his post-game news conference.

"I wasn't great there for a while, but I feel good," said Renney, who hadn't seen replays of the incident. "I know I got hit in the head with a stick and that's all I need to know."

On the shift after Renney was clipped, Zherdev set up Dan Girardi for the tying goal. Zherdev also had the primary assist on Brandon Dubinsky's go-ahead score 3:38 later, and he completed his big night by scoring his third of the season with 6:12 left in the game, beating former teammate Pascal Leclaire.

"It's not easy going back to the team that traded you," Rangers captain Chris Drury said. "He seemed real focused. He just had a great night."

Henrik Lundqvist allowed a goal to Blue Jackets rookie Jakub Voracek in the first period but nothing more, finishing with 25 saves. The biggest was on a breakaway by Rick Nash early in the second period when Columbus led 1-0.

"We can't give enough praise to Henrik," defenseman Paul Mara said. "He played unbelievable back there, made some huge saves, and we just try to do what we can to deflect passes and shots, whatever we can do. But we know he's back there and that just boosts all our confidence."

Dubinsky's winner came during a 4-on-3 advantage for the Rangers and took video review to uphold. Zherdev slid a pass into the slot where Dubinsky deflected it past Leclaire by swiveling the heel of his right skate. NHL Rule 49.2 states "a puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player's skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident."

Panthers 4, Sharks 3 | VIDEO
The Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2000. Coincidentally, it had also been that long since their last victory over San Jose.

Cory Stillman scored two goals, including the game-winner late in the second period, and Tomas Vokoun made 47 saves as Florida took its second straight and beat the Sharks for the first time in nine tries.

"It's a big win for us," Stillman said. "It's the first time all year we've won back-to-back, especially against a really good hockey team. We fell behind early in the game, then we showed a little bit of attitude that we were going to compete."

Richard Zednik and Nathan Horton scored 36 seconds apart in the first period as Florida answered Joe Thornton's power-play goal 51 seconds in and built a 3-1 lead.

Ryan Clowe also scored on the man advantage for San Jose in the second and Patrick Marleau's shorthanded tally with 2:23 left in the period tied the score.

But Stillman got the lead back for the Panthers 37 seconds later, tipping in a wrist shot by defenseman Keith Ballard, who finished with three assists.

While the Panthers hadn't enjoyed any success against the Sharks since beating them back on Feb. 9, 2000, Vokoun — who used to face San Jose often while playing for Nashville — improved to 10-1-1 in his last 12 starts against them. He stopped all 16 shots in the third period, helping Florida preserve its one-goal lead.

"Tonight they shot everything," Ballard said. "There's not much we can do about that. That's why we have a goalie."

After winning 7-6 in Philadelphia via the shootout Wednesday despite yielding six regulation goals, the Sharks couldn't outscore their opponent for the second straight game.

"I hope we're figuring out that four is sort of the magic number," coach Todd McLellan said. "We're not going to win many games giving up four goals."

Red Wings 5, Thrashers 3 | VIDEO
Marian Hossa's first two-goal game for the Detroit Red Wings came against the team whose jersey he wore for most of the past three seasons.

Henrik Zetterberg also scored twice and Hossa added an assist to finish with a three-point night as the Red Wings held off Atlanta in their final game at Joe Louis Arena prior to a five-game road trip that starts Saturday night in Chicago.

"We used to see that with him, so it's good to see him doing it for us," Zetterberg said of Hossa. "He's had a lot of games where he's scored more than one goal. We're sure glad to have him with us."

After the Thrashers cut a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 with a pair of third-period goals, Dan Cleary scored into an empty net with 35 seconds remaining. Goaltender Chris Osgood contributed 30 saves to the effort.

Jim Slater, Ron Hainsey and Brett Sterling had goals for the Thrashers, who received 41 saves from Kari Lehtonen.
"It's always great when the team wins, and especially against my former team. It's a kind of bonus, you know, I got two goals, which helps my confidence even more. I felt great out there." -- Marian Hossa

Hossa was a member of the Thrashers when they last visited Detroit in January, and he lit up the Wings for four goals that night. Not long after he was sent to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline and after facing off against and ultimately losing to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final, Hossa signed with the defending champs in the offseason. Friday's goals were his second and third as a Wing.

"It's always great when the team wins, and especially against my former team," Hossa said. "It's a kind of bonus, you know, I got two goals, which helps my confidence even more. I felt great out there."

Zetterberg and Slater traded goals in the first before Hossa put the Wings ahead to stay with 4:18 left in the period. He picked up a loose puck just inside the Atlanta blue line, cut in off the left wing, used a fake and a toe drag while cutting across the slot on defenseman Mathieu Schneider, a former Red Wing, and Lehtonen and put the puck into the empty net.

"I tried to take a shot and the defenseman bit on it," Hossa said. "I was surprised that Kari went out of the net a little far. I saw the open net."

Lehtonen's take: "He made us look very bad on that play."

Ducks 4, Senators 3 | VIDEO
One of the players Anaheim needs to get going finally responded. Ryan Getzlaf's second-period goal was not only important for him, but it turned out to be the game-winner as the Ducks held off a furious Ottawa rally to leave Scotiabank Place triumphant.

Brian Sutherby, Todd Marchant and Samuel Pahlsson had the other goals and Jonas Hiller made 27 saves for Anaheim, winners of three of its last four following an 0-4 start.

"We tried hard — we worked hard," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We stayed with our structure. We got a little bit sloppy into the neutral ice as the game wore on, a little too much stuff on our backhand, but I thought we pretty much stayed with the course and we got it out in the end."

Getzlaf, who missed the Ducks' previous game with a gum infection, made it 4-0 when he notched his first of the season midway through the second period off a Corey Perry assist. Getzlaf had 24 goals and a team-leading 82 points last season but, like most of Anaheim's top forwards, he's struggled in the early going.

"I hoped that it wouldn't make the difference," Getzlaf said, "but obviously we let things slip a little bit."

Daniel Alfredsson, Alexandre Picard and Chris Neil scored against Hiller during a 4:01 span of the third period to turn the game from a blowout into a nail-biter. As has often been the case, penalties came back to haunt the Ducks, who yielded a 5-on-3 and saw it promptly result in Alfredsson and Picard scoring 37 seconds apart to spark the Senators' rally.

Alex Auld made 28 saves for Ottawa, but his goaltending and the late comeback weren't enough to prevent the team's third straight defeat.

"We've just got to be more aggressive," Alfredsson said. "We've got to go out and win games instead of waiting for a good break for something to happen. Once we're behind, we play pretty darned good, so we've just got to get off to better starts."   


Kings 4, Blues 0 | VIDEO
From the moment the first puck dropped, Los Angeles goaltender Jason LaBarbera enjoyed a relatively easy night. His counterpart for St. Louis, Manny Legace, was unable to make it to his crease for the opening faceoff without incident.

LaBarbera stopped all 15 shots he faced for his third career shutout, while the Kings got goals from Kyle Quincey, Patrick O'Sullivan, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown to win their third out of four.

"It didn't seem like we gave them any room," LaBarbera said. "We just looked really good tonight."

Legace left after allowing two goals on 12 shots during the first period, but that was the least of his problems. While coming out on the ice to start the game, he stumbled on a carpet laid out for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who dropped the ceremonial first puck, and suffered an injury to his left hip flexor.

"I went to go step on the ice and the (Scottrade Center security) guy goes, 'Watch the carpet,' and he had his foot there holding it, so I figured it would be safe to step on," Legace said. "If he's holding it and I figured the other end's pretty much secure, I was just worrying about the carpet slipping (forward). As soon as I went to step down, he took his foot off the carpet. As soon as I stepped on the carpet, the carpet just shot out and my leg kept going and my other one was still on the bench. I felt it pull right away."

Quincey scored at 12:21 of the first, blasting one through a screen and past Legace. O'Sullivan beat him with a quick snap shot from the slot with 2:11 left in the period following a turnover.

Legace was replaced by St. Louis native Ben Bishop, who stopped 15 of 17 shots over the final 40 minutes while becoming the tallest goalie ever to play an NHL game at 6-foot-7.

"I thought the Kings played real well," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "I thought they had good structure. They were very good tonight, which we expected them to be. They play real hard. ... We knew we were playing a good team tonight."

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

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