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Flames hold off Hurricanes for 4-3 win

by John Kreiser
Miikka Kiprusoff frustrated Carolina shooters all night long, as the Calgary Flames held on to defeat the Hurricanes 4-3 for their fourth win in six nights, all on the road.
The Carolina Hurricanes ran out of comebacks before the Calgary Flames ran out of energy.
Carolina made up three one-goal leads by the Flames, but the Hurricanes couldn’t overcome a fourth after Dion Phaneuf scored with 8:12 left in regulation to give the Flames a 4-3 win on Friday night.

It was the Flames’ fourth win in six nights, all on the road. The Flames were outshot 36-21 and gave the Hurricanes eight power plays as Carolina buzzed around goalie Miikka Kiprusoff all game long. But one night after winning an ‘80s-style 9-6 victory at Tampa Bay, the Flames had enough to hang on.
''We've had a lot of travel and we've been getting in at 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the morning,'' said Flames coach Mike Keenan, who earned his 599th career victory. ''So you don't get much sleep, much rest. But we're a well-trained team, a fit team, and that's helped us. And you could see we had enough energy — just barely enough tonight — to get through it.''   
The Flames won at Chicago on Sunday and Florida on Tuesday before Thursday night’s victory at Tampa Bay. They visit St. Louis on Sunday and Columbus on Tuesday before heading home.

The win against a struggling Carolina team figures to be a confidence boost.

' 'We were playing a desperate team,'' said Phaneuf, whose game-winner came on a snap shot from top of the left circle after Matthew Lombardi won a faceoff ( 700K . ''It was a big win for our team to be able to just keep plugging and plugging and plugging, and get the win and persevere through a tough game of back and forth.''
The Hurricanes’ play was vastly improved Wednesday’s 6-0 home loss to Ottawa, a game veteran defenseman Glen Wesley called "unacceptable" and "embarrassing." But they were plagued by defensive breakdowns, allowing breakaway goals by Kristian Huselius 4:56 into the game ( 700K  and Jarome Iginla 25 seconds into the third ( 700K . The ’Canes also went just 1-for-8 on the power play.
''I thought that the effort was good,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said after his team lost for the seventh time in 10 games. ''The results were obviously not good. We looked for chances. We hunted them, worked for them and obviously came up with the short end of the stick.
''Tonight we showed up and worked, but ... maybe you have to just dig a little more.''
Goalie Cam Ward blamed himself for the loss.

“I thought we deserved a better fate, and I hold myself accountable,” he said after stopping just 17 of 21 shots. “I’ve got to make some saves to keep this team in hockey games. I can’t be giving up that third goal — even the fourth one.”

The Hurricanes answered each of Calgary’s first three goals. Chad LaRose beat Miikka Kiprusoff ( 700K  just 57 seconds after Huselius scored his fourth goal in two games to tie the score at 1-1. Dustin Boyd put Calgary in front again at 14:09 of the second period ( 700K , but Craig Adams’ goal 1:13 later made it 2-2 ( 700K ). Matt Cullen, who assisted on the Hurricanes’ first two goals, split the defense and beat Kiprusoff at 7:19 of the third to tie the game for the third and last time ( 700K).

Captain Rod Brind’Amour said the Hurricanes can’t win by playing from behind all game long.

“At the end of the day it’s a loss,” Brind’Amour said. “I would rather win a game we play horrible than play good and lose. A lot of guys played well. We just didn’t get a lot of breaks around the net early on, and any time you fall behind it catches up with you.”

Sabres 5, Capitals 3 | Video

Buffalo’s Tim Connolly wasn’t about to let a puck in the face keep him off the ice. Connolly took eight stitches in the face to close a cut after being hit by a puck in the second period, then came back and scored the tie-breaking goal late in the third ( 700K  as the Sabres won at the Verizon Center.

Connolly was on his knees in front of Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig when he backhanded a rebound into the net 3:42 left in the third period, breaking a 3-3 tie. Jochen Hecht hit the empty net with 1:14 left to wrap up the Sabres’ third win over Washington this season.

Connolly missed almost all of last season due to a concussion and was sidelined earlier this season with a concussion and an abdominal injury, so coach Lindy Ruff was nervous when Connolly was hit by the puck.

''You're scared that any player who has a concussion history gets a puck in the face,'' Ruff said.

''First of all, I was hoping no broken bones. A lot of times there, it can be an eye socket. Then, the second thought is concussion again.

''I still think there's more there,'' Ruff said. ''He's still working his way through the various injuries he's had.''
While Ruff was concerned, Connolly shrugged it off.

''I took a shot in the face,'' Connolly said. ''It was just a stinger.''
While Connolly's face was being repaired, he watched on television as the Sabres tied the score at 2-2, and rode an exercise bicycle before the third period.

''I felt pretty good. I just went back out there and went to work,'' Connolly said
Derek Roy ( 700K , Maxim Afinogenov ( 700K)  and Drew Stafford ( 700K ) also scored for the Sabres. Alex Ovechkin ( 700K ), Nicklas Backstrom ( 700K ) and Brooks Laich ( 700K ) had Washington's goals.
Kolzig allowed two bad goals. Stafford gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead 19 seconds into the third period when he brought the puck from the back of the net and sneaked it past Kolzig for his sixth goal of the season. Late in the first period, he came out of his net and whiffed on a clearing pass, giving Roy an easy shot into an open net for a shorthanded goal that tied the game 1-1.

''You can't gift-wrap two goals,'' Kolzig said. ''The first goal — I never go out and play the puck with one hand. It was just a rookie mistake. ... Third one was a bad break.''

Laich’s goal also came off a goalie gaffe. He tied the game 3-3 at 5:09 of the third period, putting the puck into an empty net after Ryan Miller misplayed a dump-in.

Wild 5, Ducks 2 | Video

Aaron Voros scored the opening goal of the game, and the Minnesota Wild never looked back as they cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. 
The 51st straight sellout crowd at Honda Center has to be hoping that Scott Niedermayer will make a difference when he returns — perhaps on Sunday — after the stomach flu-ridden Wild rode a four-goal second period to an unaccustomed blowout of the Stanley Cup champs.

Aaron Voros put the Wild ahead with an unassisted goal on a seemingly innocent wrist shot that sailed past Jean-Sebastien Giguere 12:08 into the game ( 700K)  — the 12th straight game in which Anaheim has allowed the first goal. The Ducks then got into penalty trouble in the second period — and the Wild made them pay, scoring four times on the power play for a 5-0 lead. That’s one more goal than Minnesota had scored in its four previous games combined.

"We had four tonight, there must have been a full moon," said Brian Rolston, referring to Minnesota's power play. "It was great, we came through on the power play. It was huge for us tonight with a team that has half the guys going on half-empty tanks."

With Chris Kunitz serving a double minor for high-sticking, Marian Gaborik beat Giguere from the right circle at 5:02 ( 700K ) and Erik Belanger converted Kim Johnsson’s pass 1:13 later to make it 3-0 and end Giguere’s night ( 700K ).

The goalie change didn’t help. Rolston beat Giguere’s replacement, Jonas Hiller, at 15:06 with a screened slap shot from the point during a 5-on-3 power play ( 700K ), and Brent Burns capped the outburst at 16:10 ( 700K ) by redirecting Voros’ pass behind Hiller. The Wild got their four goals on just nine shots.

“We didn’t play the game we planned, the game we worked toward yesterday,” said Ducks forward Brad May. “We came out flat. We can’t be down 5-0 and expect to come back.”

May spoiled Josh Harding’s shutout bid with 6:25 left by deflecting Mathieu Schneider’s shot into the net during a delayed penalty ( 700K ). Todd Bertuzzi added a power-play goal with 51 seconds remaining.

“I think we lacked emotion, intensity and we didn’t get the goaltending that was necessary to have success,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “I didn’t think our forecheck was strong enough. I didn’t think our penalty killing was good enough. There was a number of things that you can point to that we just weren’t good enough in. We have to accept responsibility for the way we played."

Before the game, the Ducks traded center Andy McDonald to St. Louis for playmaking center Doug Weight, a minor-leaguer and a draft pick — a move designed to free up money to allow the Ducks to bring back Niedermayer, who could be back as soon as Sunday against San Jose after deciding to put off retirement and return to the team he captained to the Stanley Cup last spring.

“We all knew something was imminent,” May said. “Andy’s going to a good organization, but trades are never easy. Hopefully Doug can come in and provide a spark.”

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