The Calgary Flames
gave Mike Keenan a great birthday present — their best defensive effort of the season … and a victory.
The Flames shut down the high-scoring Washington Capitals after an early goal, then got two of their own for a 2-1 victory at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday night.
Keenan has been upset at his team's defensive miseries and goaltending — the Flames came into the game with a 1-3-1 record and had allowed three or more goals in all five games. But Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 30 shots in his best game of the season as the Flames improved to 2-3-1.
"It was a big win," forward Curtis Glencross said. "We had lost games after getting leads. We did it a different way this time and it feels good."
It was the Flames' first victory over Washington in nine tries dating back to March 13, 1999, and the last at home since March 26, 1998. They had lost six games and tied two during that span.
The Flames completely shut down Alex Ovechkin, who assisted on Sergei Fedorov's goal 4:21 into the game but had only four shots on goal and now has just two goals after six games. Ovechkin did lead both teams with seven hits, but the Caps would unquestionably take goals over hits from the reigning Hart Trophy winner.
The Caps appeared to be ready to blow the game open shortly after Fedorov's goal when they received a nine-minute power play after Rene Bourque received two minors and a major penalty at 7:33 for attacking Washington rookie Tyler Sloan after Sloan leveled Daymond Langkow with a check.
"I didn't believe it at first," Kiprusoff said of the long power play against a penalty-killing unit that had allowed five man-advantage goals in 17 tries at home. "We had talked about how we had to be better at penalty-killing."
They were. Each team had four shots and Kiprusoff wasn't severely tested as the Flames killed the long power play — much to the consternation of Caps coach Bruce Boudreau.
"We tried to be too cute out there," he said. "You have to win battles against a big team like Calgary. If you don't win the battles on the power play, you won't win the game."
Calgary assistant coach Rob Cookson said the Flames said his team had "great sticks and great positioning. We didn't give up a lot of chances against a very skilled team."
With only a one-goal deficit to overcome, the Flames took advantage of a rash of Washington penalties to take the lead.
Jarome Iginla tied the game 60 seconds into the second period, jamming a rebound past Jose Theodore during one of Calgary's four consecutive two-man advantages. Matthew Lombardi took a drop pass from Dustin Boyd and rifled a wrist shot from the slot into the top corner at 2:42 — three seconds after another power play ended — to put the Flames ahead.
The rest of the night belonged to Kiprusoff, who stopped 30 of 31 shots in what was by far his best effort of the season.
"He looked very confident," Cookson said of Kiprusoff. "I thought he was very composed. We controlled rebounds. Washington players didn't get second chances."
The Caps also hurt themselves by trooping to the penalty box — they gave Calgary nine power plays, including five after the Flames took the lead.
Washington fell to 3-2-1 and lost in regulation for the first time since opening night.
"We have talent," forward Donald Brashear said. "Teams know we're a good team and play us hard. They treat us as one of the best teams in the League. We have to play hard every night."
Sabres 3, Bruins 2, SO | Video
Thomas Vanek was held off the scoresheet for the first time this season. But he found another way to contribute — by getting the winning goal in the shootout as the Sabres improved to 5-0-1.
Vanek came into the game with a League-high seven goals and a five-game goal-scoring streak. He saw that streak end after 65 minutes of play. But after Drew Stafford and Boston's David Krejci traded shootout goals, Vanek scored the winner when he drove to the net, faked a shot and let the puck float at his skates for a second before beating Manny Fernandez on the glove side.
Marc Savard then had the puck roll off his stick as he tried to send the shootout to a sixth round.
The Bruins led 2-0 midway through the game on goals by Dennis Wideman and Phil Kessel. Only the super play of goaltender Ryan Miller kept the Sabres in the game — Boston outshot Buffalo 16-6 in the first period and 26-18 through 40 minutes.
"He's made the big saves when we needed them, and those big saves give the team confidence, they give you momentum," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of his No. 1 goaltender, who improved to 4-0-0 this season. "He's been right there for us."
Kessel's goal at 11:48 of the second period was the first allowed by Buffalo's penalty-killers in 27 tries. But the Sabres got a power-play goal of their own at 13:33 when Clarke MacArthur beat Fernandez.
Stafford tied it six minutes into the third when he went down the left side and got around Wideman before cutting to the net and beating Fernandez on the glove side.
With 27 seconds left in overtime, Miller reached back with his stick to stop Marco Sturm's attempt to get around the goalie on the short side. Midway through the third period, Miller made a big glove save by snapping his arm up in time to rob Krejci's attempt to convert a rebound from the right circle.
"Yeah, happy to help," Miller said of his performance. "I thought the team did a nice job of settling down and playing."
It was a tough loss for the Bruins, who also lost a shootout to Pittsburgh on Monday in their home opener and are 2-1-3 after six games, with three shootout losses.
"You almost feel like 'Groundhog Day' here," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We came up short again in the shootout. But we are that close, and if we can get over that hump it will make a big difference."
Lightning 3, Thrashers 2, OT
Barry Melrose finally has a win after five consecutive losses. Tampa Bay's new coach got his first victory since 1995, when he coaches the Los Angeles Kings, when Vincent Lecavalier scored a power-play goal 1:41 into overtime after the Bolts blew a two-goal lead in the third period.
"Right then you've got to get the guys on the bench going. You see their heads drop and shoulders drop and the body language was pretty terrible. It was the old 'here-we-go-again' scenario. That's why this win is so important."
-- Lightning head coach Barry Melrose
"I'd like an easier one," Melrose said. "I'd like a 7-0 or something. But this is probably a really important win for us because of us coming back and winning after giving up a 2-0 lead."
The Lightning lost their first five games under Melrose — all by one goal, and the last three in overtime or a shootout. It looked like his first win with the Bolts might be relatively easy; the Lightning led 2-0 after two periods after a first-period goal by Mark Recchi and a second-period tally by Vaclav Prospal.
But Colby Armstrong deflected Todd White's shot past Mike Smith at 6:37 of the third period to cut the margin to one. White's deflection with 35.5 seconds left in regulation tied the game.
"Right then you've got to get the guys on the bench going," Melrose said. "You see their heads drop and shoulders drop and the body language was pretty terrible. It was the old 'here-we-go-again' scenario. That's why this win is so important."
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However, after Bryan Little was called for tripping at 1:11 of overtime, Lecavalier saved the day for the Lightning when he took Martin St. Louis' pass and rifled a shot past Keri Lehtonen to give Tampa Bay its first win in six games.
"When you're up 2-0, you don't want to go to overtime," Lecavalier said. "But the guys stayed positive and we kept playing hard. We battled through and got the game."
Atlanta coach John Anderson wasn't unhappy to go home with a point in a game that looked like a regulation loss until White's goal.
"When you look at it, is the cup half-empty or half-full?" he said. "I'm glad we got a point. Very fortunate. Our comeback was excellent. But I guess the reality set in that we really only played one period. We didn't compete the first two."
One member of the Lightning who's still stuck on zero is Steven Stamkos. The No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft was held scoreless again and has no points through his first six NHL games.
Blue Jackets 4, Canucks 2 | Video
Vancouver is glad to be heading home after losing its third in a row and fourth game of a six-game trip by falling to the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Rick Nash had one goal and seti up another as the Jackets improved to 2-0 at home.
Jason Chimera and Kristian Huselius scored in the first 6:22 to give the Blue Jackets an early lead — and Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasn't happy with his team's slow start.
"We've talked about getting better starts and again that wasn't the case tonight," he said. "We gave up a two-goal lead and obviously it's an area we want to win on a regular basis, but we're definitely going to have to get better because it's definitely something that's been a deciding factor on this road trip."
Kyle Wellwood tapped Ryan Kesler's pass into a half-empty net at 7:55 for a power-play goal that cut Vancouver's deficit to one, but rookie Derek Dorsett made it 3-1 at 14:23 of the second period, knocking in a rebound after a hard-angled shot by defenseman Mike Commodore along the right boards.
"It was a huge relief, probably one of the biggest celebrations I've done after a goal," he said of his goal. "It's just really exciting, and I'm glad that I got it."
Kevin Bieksa rammed in Wellwood's centering pass 5:01 into the third period to make it a one-goal game again. Kesler missed a chance to tie the game moments later when he stole the puck from Fedor Tyutin but slid the puck across the crease instead of into the net.
Pascal Leclaire kept the Canucks from tying it until Nash was awarded a goal when he was hauled down on a breakaway with the net empty.
"He was a big factor tonight especially late in the game — he made a huge toe save," coach Ken Hitchcock said of his No. 1 goaltender. "I was happy for Pazzy, he was really in control today."
Hitchcock also was pleased at the way his team was able to hold when the Canucks applied the pressure after Bieksa's goal cut the margin to one.
"We're learning how to win right now," he said. "Vancouver has a big, strong, veteran hockey club. These are games you can grow your team from."
The Canucks will be happy to see GM Place again after losing four of six games on their first long trip of the season.
"Obviously the road trip didn't turn out the way we anticipated," Vigneault said. "We're still in the process of evaluating our team. With that being said, there are some areas that we are going to work on here in the next couple of days."
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report