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Filippula's late heroics lift Wings

by Brian Compton /
Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson can't stop Detroit's Valtteri Flippula from scoring the game-winning goal.
It doesn’t happen very often, but the Detroit Red Wings managed to pull out a victory at Rexall Place on Tuesday night.

And they practically waited until the last second to get it.

Valtteri Filppula broke a 1-1 tie with 24.4 seconds remaining in regulation as the Wings won their sixth straight with a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. ( 700K )  It marked just the third time in their last 16 visits to Edmonton that Detroit was able to record a victory. But with Chris Osgood between the pipes, could anyone have expected anything less?

Osgood improved to 6-0-0 on the season, as the Red Wings’ “backup” has now gone 18 games without a regulation loss (13-0-5). With Dominik Hasek sidelined by a hip injury, Osgood continues to show that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the NHL. Tuesday night was his 342nd career victory.

“Ozzie’s been real good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s been quiet. We don’t give up a ton of chances, but when we do, we can break down pretty good. He’s been there to make the saves. I’m real happy for him. He’s a big part of our organization.”

Henrik Zetterberg gave the Red Wings (10-2-1) a 1-0 lead with his 10th goal of the season four minutes into the second period. Zetterberg – who has at least one point in every game this season – took a brilliant feed from Nicklas Lidstrom and one-timed it past Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson for a power-play tally.

Zetterberg, however, deflected the credit to Osgood. "He gives us so much confidence," Zetterberg said of his goalie. "We know he is going to make the saves and we know we are going to get that break eventually.”

Edmonton (5-8-0) got even less than two minutes later, when Steve Staios fired a shot from the point that beat Osgood up high and to the stick side to make it 1-1. It was the only blemish against Osgood, who faced just three shots in the third period and finished with 15 saves.

"It's really frustrating, I don't know how else to put it," Staios said. "But it's something we have to bounce back from immediately. We did some good things tonight and we can't let one mistake discourage us when most of the game we did the right things."

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish was also frustrated, considering his team was extremely close to at least picking up one point in the standings. Edmonton will look to right the ship on Friday night when it hosts the Nashville Predators.

"We were all thinking it was looking like overtime," MacTavish said. "We had a bad change on that play. The lane was occupied and we changed with the rush coming at us and exposed a lane and Dick (Tarnstrom) got caught having to defend the wide lane. At the end of the day, when you play them and have a chance to win, it is very disappointing. To have that evaporate in the last 30 seconds of a game, that's tough."

Thrashers 3, Canadiens 2, SO | Video
Any time Atlanta goes to a shootout with Johan Hedberg between the pipes, the opposition is in deep trouble.

Hedberg improved to 6-0 lifetime in the breakaway session, as the Thrashers survived in Montreal despite surrendering a 2-1 lead with 1:58 remaining in regulation. The Canadiens’ win streak was snapped at four games, while the Thrashers improved to 3-2-0 on their season-long seven-game road trip and won consecutive games for the first time this season.

It also marked Hedberg’s first career win against Montreal, as the Thrashers’ goaltender entered the night with a lifetime record of 0-5-0 in six appearances against the Habs.

Making his second straight start for the first time in his career, Montreal goaltender Carey Price was once again forced to work overtime. On Saturday night, Price stopped all eight shooters he faced in a shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This time, in his Bell Centre debut, Price (31 saves) didn’t have as much luck. Ilya Kovalchuk,

Montreal's Tom Kostopoulos checks Atlanta's Tobias Enstrom during first period action.

who entered the contest with three goals and four assists in his last four games, got the game-winner in the shootout, beating Price with a wicked wrist shot in the third round. Hedberg followed that by taking up a lot of the net against Alexei Kovalev, and the Canadiens’ forward rang one off the post to seal Montreal’s fate.

Kovalchuk and the Thrashers will look to continue their winning ways on Thursday night, when they visit the Ottawa Senators.

''It's always great when you're winning,'' Kovalchuk said. ‘‘(Thursday), it's a new game. We're going to Ottawa and it's a long marathon of a trip. We need to stick together and play for each other – that's the most important thing.''

A late power play led to a game-tying goal by Montreal’s Chris Higgins. After Atlanta forward Todd White was whistled for hooking with 2:10 left in regulation, Higgins beat Hedberg after taking a nice centering pass from Saku Koivu to make it 2-2.

''We stole a point,'' Higgins said. ''We didn't deserve it at all. It was a pretty poor effort. I mean, we played decently in the third but still our power play wasn't working and the rest of our game, the first two periods, was pretty awful.''

Kovalev scored the game’s opening goal with his sixth tally of the season at 8:10 of the second period. After keeping the puck away from Thrashers defenseman Ken Klee, Kovalev fired a wrist shot that beat Hedberg to the far side.

Eric Perrin, a Montreal native, tied the game for the visitors a little more than eight minutes later when he took advantage of a miscue by Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov, who inadvertently placed the puck in front of the net. Perrin was there to capitalize, as he stuffed it home to make it 1-1.

Another defensive lapse – this time by Montreal blueliner Josh Gorges – led to Atlanta’s first lead of the night, as Vyacheslav Kozlov was the beneficiary of a giveaway and beat Price on a breakaway to give the Thrashers held a 2-1 edge. It was Kozlov’s fifth goal of the season. Gorges tried to make a no-look, backhand pass and paid dearly for it.

''It's a 10-, 15-foot D-to-D pass, and I just whiffed on it,'' said Gorges, who saw limited ice time following the turnover.

Atlanta improved to 4-2-0 since GM Don Waddell took over the coaching reigns from Bob Hartley following an 0-6-0 start.

''I think the biggest difference right now is we're getting a good effort from everyone,'' Waddell said. ''Kozlov wasn't scoring, Kovy wasn't scoring the way he's scoring right now, and it's our big guys who are coming through for us. Marian Hossa’s still a little bit snake bitten. He had some great chances again. The last two games we can't find the back of the net, but our veterans are doing a great job for us.''

Coyotes 2, Blues 1
For the first 52:35, things weren’t looking too good for Wayne Gretzky’s squad.

But Mike Zigomanis and Fredrik Sjostrom scored late in the third period, sparking the Phoenix Coyotes to a victory at St. Louis.

The Coyotes have won their last five games at the Scottrade Center, as the Blues have been unable to defeat Phoenix on home ice since Feb. 16, 2004. Ironically, Phoenix entered the game having been outscored by a 13-7 margin in the third period thus far this season.

Phoenix improved to 4-6-0 with the victory, but only one of those victories has come on home ice. After picking up their third road win of the season, Gretzky had an idea for his Coyotes.

Phoenix Coyotes' Fredrik Sjostrom celebrates his game-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues.

''Maybe we'll stay at a hotel Saturday when we get home,'' he said.

Brad Boyes broke a scoreless tie with his ninth goal in 10 games this season at 5:52 of the third. The Blues’ forward took a pass from behind the net by Paul Kariya and fired a shot past Phoenix netminder Mikael Tellqvist.

But Zigomanis got the Coyotes – who outshot St. Louis 15-4 in the third period – on the right track when he beat Manny Legace on a breakaway with 7:25 remaining. After taking a pass from Zbynek Michalek, Zigomanis skated in alone on Legace and tied the game with his second goal of the season.

''At home, we're going to turn it around sooner or later,'' said Zigomanis, as the Coyotes had won only two of their past eight heading into Tuesday’s game. ''At home, you want to be close to perfect, and it's something we have to work on.''

Sjostrom put Phoenix in front with only 2:58 left in regulation when he beat Legace on a wraparound. It was a goal the Blues’ netminder said he’d like to have back, and it ultimately led to his fourth straight loss.

''It was a bad goal,'' Legace said. ''He got lucky. It cost us the game. This was probably the toughest loss so far.''

Meanwhile, the Coyotes enjoyed a breakout night, at least as far as the third period is concerned. After being badly outplayed in the final period for the majority of this season, Gretzky’s team found a way to score a couple of goals and pick up a victory.

''I just think our guys realized we're not going to score if we don't throw pucks at the net, and if our defense doesn't get into the play,'' Gretzky said. ''We had a nice penalty kill and that seemed to turn the tide a little bit, and away we went.''

St. Louis coach Andy Murray was less than thrilled to see his team fail to put the Coyotes away, considering the Blues held a 21-12 edge in shots after two periods. St. Louis will look to bounce back on Thursday night at Minnesota.

''I'd say it's a very tough one to swallow,'' Murray said. ''As I've said before, you get what you deserve.''

Flames 5, Predators 1 | Video
Only hours after the ink dried on his new six-year, $35 million contract extension, Calgary goalie Mikko Kiprusoff made 39 saves to help his team earn a victory over Nashville.

Kiprusoff got some help from his captain as Jarome Iginla scored twice for the Flames, who improved to 4-1-1 on their seven-game homestand.

Calgary coach Mike Keenan obviously was happy with the win, but he’d have liked to have seen Kiprusoff have a lighter workload. The Flames allowed 28 shots on goal over the final two periods, including 15 in the last 20 minutes.

“We’re trying to make some changes, particularly in our defensive zone coverage,” Keenan said. “We saw some good energy up front, puck pursuit. It’s our job to get the small battles and big battles going in our own end. It’s getting better. It’s human nature when you have a lead, you want to let up a bit. They kept pushing us. We have to be mindful of that. We gave our goaltender a little bit too much work tonight.”

Alex Tanguay, left, and Jarome Iginla celebrate after Tanguay's third-period tally.

Meanwhile, the Predators’ (4-7-0) offensive woes continue. Alexander Radulov’s goal at 2:31 of the third period ended a road scoring drought that lasted 177 minutes and 44 seconds. Of course, facing a goaltender of Kiprusoff’s caliber surely didn’t help matters.

“Our commitment was the difference in the game,” Nashville assistant coach Peter Horachek said. “When you out-chance and outwork your opposition on the road like we did tonight, you have to bear down and capitalize on your chances. It may have to be goals from scrums, dirty goals and rebound goals, but we have to find ways to score.”

Kiprusoff was sharp right from the opening faceoff, as he was forced to come up with big saves against David Legwand and Rich Peverley moments into the contest. He also kept Nashville off the board in the second, robbing Legwand from about 10 feet out on a shorthanded chance.

Iginla needed only 3:59 to give Calgary the lead, as he found the back of the net just seven seconds after Jerred Smithson was whistled for tripping. With Smithson in the box, Iginla took a pass from Daymond Langkow and one-timed it past Nashville goalie Chris Mason for his seventh goal of the season.

Matthew Lombardi and Kristian Huselius scored less than four minutes apart in the second period to give the Flames a 3-0 lead. After Radulov finally solved Kiprusoff early in the third, Calgary pulled away on goals by Eric Nystrom and Iginla.

“Every single goal we gave up tonight was simply us not being committed to our decisions, including two power-play goals,” Horachek said. “Someone has to have to have that puck and that stick covered on the second goal.”

It wasn’t exactly the Nashville was looking to start a five-game road trip. The Predators have dropped all five games away from the Sommet Center this season and have been outscored 21-3.

“If you weren’t getting chancing it would be something, but we are getting all kinds of opportunities on the power play and we just have to bear down and finish those chances,” Horachek said. “We have to find ways to score and can’t make excuses.”

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

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