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Flames rally to burn Wild

by John Kreiser /
Alex Tanguay celebrates his game winning goal, which gave the Wild their first loss of the season. 
The Minnesota Wild’s bid to extend their season-opening unbeaten streak disappeared in a burst of Flames.

The Wild came to Calgary Wednesday night as the only team without a regulation loss, and needed less than 10 minutes to grab a 3-0 lead on goals by Brian Rolston, Mark Parrish and Wes Walz. That would seem like plenty of offense for a team that had allowed just 11 goals while going 7-0-1 in its first eight games and had never blown a 3-0 lead since entering the NHL in 2000.

But not this time.

Jarome Iginla triggered a three-goal burst in less than five minutes midway through the second period, and Alex Tanguay broke a 3-3 tie 3:46 into the third as the Flames handed the Wild their first regulation loss, 5-3.

“When we were down 3-0 after one period, the crowd wasn’t happy and the team wasn’t happy,” said Iginla, who was on the ice for Calgary’s first four goals. “We came out a lot stronger, and we got some good bounces.”

The Wild got off to their hot start despite not scoring more than three goals in any game this season. It looked like they would easily surpass that with their quick start.

“We played great in the first period,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We skated well and did lots of good stuff.”

The Wild still had their 3-0 lead midway through the second period when Tanguay jousted with goaltender Niklas Backstrom at the top of the crease, blocking Backstrom’s view as Iginla’s shot sailed into the net. Backstrom argued unsuccessfully for a goaltender interference penalty.

“We changed our game after that,” Lemaire said. “We weren’t as crisp, as sharp. We stopped doing the good things that brought us the lead we had.”

Tanguay set up Dion Phaneuf’s goal at 14:04, then tied the game 1:24 later on a setup from Iginla, giving the Flames three goals in less than five minutes.

The Flames took the lead to stay 3:46 into the third period when Iginla fed defenseman Adrian Aucoin, whose slap shot was tipped in by Tanguay. Robin Regehr added an insurance goal as the Flames totally dominated the third period.

“They came out and played the best third period I think I’ve seen them play all year,” Lemaire said.

The Wild fell to 3-12-4 all-time in Calgary.

“They’re a good team – they don’t lead the NHL for no reason,” Tanguay said. “We know the way they play. We have to be at our best to beat them.”

Red Wings 3, Canucks 2 | Video
It’s fun to play hockey when you have linemates like NHL scoring leader Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Just ask Tomas Holmstrom, who had two more goals as Detroit held off visiting Vancouver.

“I’m the luckiest guy in the NHL right now,” said Holmstrom, who’s tied with Zetterberg for the team lead in goals with seven. Zetterberg is tops in the NHL with 18 points and has at least one in all 10 games this season.

Holmstrom got the Wings’ last two goals, including the eventual game-winner at 15:40 of the second period on a tap-in after Datsyuk’s steal from Willie Mitchell and Zetterberg’s perfect pass.

“He doesn’t get enough credit,” Zetterberg said of Holmstrom, who does a lot of the dirty work for his slick-skating linemates. “He creates chances for me and Pavel.”

The Wings outshot Vancouver 39-15 and dominated play for long stretches. Only a superb effort by Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo kept the Canucks in the game.

“He’s a good goalie, we knew that going in,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we had a good plan against him and went after him hard. The guys were ready to play and we had some good speed, and then we had good traffic in front.”

The Canucks got within a goal 1:47 into the third period when Daniel Sedin scored on a power play, but had only three other shots in the third period.

“My job is to stop the puck and I try to do that every night. Unfortunately we came up short tonight,” Luongo said.

Hurricanes 6, Sabres 2 | Video
One reason the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t make the playoffs last season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2006 was their inability to beat the Buffalo Sabres. But this is a new season, and the Hurricanes looked like their Cup-winning selves as they blew open a 2-2 game with four goals in the third period.

Eric Staal celebrates with teammates after his goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the third period.

Eric Staal snapped the tie by diving to tap a loose puck past Ryan Miller at 5:48 of the final period. Jeff Hamilton, Cory Stillman and Bret Hedican scored as the Hurricanes turned a close game into a rout.

“Once they got one, it seemed like we stopped playing and felt sorry for ourselves,” said Buffalo’s Jason Pominville, who had both of his team’s goals. “That’s not a way to win.”

Carolina outshot Buffalo 43-21, including 33-12 over the last two periods.

“The best way to generate momentum is to keep pounding the puck in their end,” Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought we started to do that in the second period.”

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff wasn’t happy after his team’s third straight loss.

“We haven’t reacted well in tight games,” he said. “Some of our young guys handled it well, but some of them handled it poorly.”

Capitals 5, Lightning 3 | Video
There’s nothing like playing alongside Alexander Ovechkin to bring out the best in Washington’s Chris Clark.

Washington was averaging two goals a game through its first seven before coach Glen Hanlon put Clark back with Ovechkin. Clark promptly produced his first two goals of the season as the Capitals held off Tampa Bay, keeping the Lightning winless away from home.

“I got a couple of those goose eggs off my board,” Clark said, “but to come out with a win was huge.”

Clark spent most of last season on Ovechkin’s line and scored a career-high 30 goals. But he had been on a checking line in the early weeks of the season due to an injury to high-scoring forward Alexander Semin, who had missed six games with an ankle problem. Semin returned Thursday night, and Hanlon was able to move Clark from the checking line back to the top line with Ovechkin and Viktor Kozlov.

“He's our leader. He's a great guy in the locker room, an unbelievable player on the ice,” Ovechkin said of Clark, who scored on a quick backhander 6:33 into the game to give Washington a 1-0 lead. Clark’s second goal, at 18:42 of the second period, made it 4-2.

“It was a lucky bounce,'' Clark acknowledged, saying the puck went off his chest. ''I was trying to weasel my way to the front of the net to make something happen.''

After Martin St. Louis scored for Tampa Bay with 5:54 remaining, Ovechkin hit the empty net with four seconds remaining.

“We understand each other,'' said Ovechkin, who also contributed two assists. ''We played like we played the last two years: He scored and I scored.”

The Lightning fell to 0-3-0 on the road for the first time since 2000. They are 4-0-0 at home.

“It’s too early to say that it’s a struggle,” said goalie Marc Denis, who made 25 saves. “Last year, we were one of the best road teams in the whole league.”

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

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