The low point of the Calgary Flames
' season came on Nov. 13, when they were embarrassed 6-1 by the Sharks at San Jose. Thursday night was sweet revenge.
The Flames became the first visiting team in 11 months to win in regulation at HP Pavilion by beating San Jose 3-2, ending the Sharks' home streak of getting at least one point at 31 games. Dion Phaneuf
's shot hit San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
and went past Evgeni Nabokov
with 3:57 to play to break a 2-2 tie.
"We've improved so much since that game," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said of his team's previous visit.
Phaneuf hadn't scored in 26 games since Nov. 11.
"I think it hit a stick. All I know is that it went in," he said of the less-than-artistic goal. "I'd been getting a lot of chances. It feels good to get one."
The Flames have won 11 of 13 overall while taking charge of the Northwest Division, and two wins over the Sharks in 10 days could be a catalyst for a club that's had mixed results against the league's elite this season.
"We want to keep climbing, moving up," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "We want to get to the next tier."
The Sharks lost defenseman Rob Blake in the first period when he was hit in the face by a puck. Coach Todd McLellan said Blake was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
San Jose had been 20-0-2 at home this season 28-0-3 at the Shark Tank since a 3-2 loss to Edmonton on Feb. 14. It looked like those streaks would continue when Ryane Clowe
beat Miikka Kiprusoff
from the slot 60 seconds into the game. Defenseman Dan Boyle
circled the net and fed Clowe for his 19th goal.
But the Flames, who beat San Jose 5-2 in Calgary last week, pulled even 2:02 into the second on Chris Conroy's goal.
"It wasn't the way we wanted to start," Phaneuf said. "But we responded very well. We kept going and going; we were skating and working. We didn't change anything."
put San Jose back in front when he beat Kiprusoff from the slot at 6:57, but Langkow again got the Flames even when he deflected a shot past Nabokov just eight seconds into the power play.
The Sharks weren't shedding any tears for the end of their streak.
"Those are the breaks. It was bound to happen," Thornton said. "Both teams played great. Who knows — we'll probably meet each other in the postseason. We knew the streak was going to end sometime, but we played hard. We're fine.
"I thought we were more physical than them. I thought we were quicker than them. I thought we should have won the game. I think we stack up pretty well against them."
Boyle, who assisted on both San Jose goals, said the Northwest Division leaders' improvement from their last visit was noticeable.
"They were much better than they were when we played them earlier in the season," he said. "They are where they are for a reason. They capitalized on their chances in the third period. They have good goaltending and a pretty solid defense. If they stay healthy, they're a team that's going to challenge."
Maple Leafs 6, Hurricanes 4 | Video
The Maple Leafs didn't let themselves get too excited after building a 4-0 lead — nor too deflated after blowing it. Thanks to Tomas Kaberle
and Jason Blake
, they left the RBC Center with two points.
Kaberle's power-play goal with 5:25 remaining in regulation broke a 4-4 tie and Blake finished off a hat trick and a five-point night by hitting the empty net as the Leafs outlasted the Hurricanes on Thursday night.
The Leafs led 4-0 with less than 90 seconds remaining in the second period. Just over 10 minutes of playing time later, it was 4-4 after goals by Matt Cullen at 18:31 of the second period and Tuomo Ruutu, Erik Staal and Scott Walker in the first 8:40 of the third.
But with the RBC Center crowd roaring, the Leafs regrouped, got a late power play when defenseman Tim Gleason high-sticked Nik Antropov, and went back in front when Kaberle's slap shot from the right circle hit Cam Ward's catching glove and popped into the net.
"We didn't put our heads down," Kaberle said. "It doesn't mean that (when) it's 4-4, you're going to lose the game. It was a good attitude on the bench, and it's a learning process."
It wasn't the most artistic win, but after four consecutive losses, Leafs coach Ron Wilson wasn't going to throw it back.
"I don't know if there is any bittersweetness for us," Wilson said, "but yeah, we found a way to win. We never should have put ourselves in that position, but we did."
The Hurricanes lost their fourth consecutive game after winning four in a row.
"We have to remember how we got those four wins before the four-game losing streak and play like that," Ruutu said.
For most of the first two periods, the Leafs could do almost nothing wrong. Ian White scored on a first-period power play, and Blake sandwiched a pair of goals around one by Niklas Hagman to give Toronto its 4-0 lead.
But then the roof fell in.
"We got lazy and we took some penalties," Blake said. "They've got a lot of offensive skill over there and they took advantage of it. We just obviously wanted ... to put the foot on the pedal and keep doing what we were doing."
It was the first game for Carolina coach Paul Maurice against his former team since returning to the Hurricanes' bench in early December. Maurice won 76 games in two seasons with the Maple Leafs before being fired after last season.
"I was pleased with the way they responded," he said of Carolina's rally, "but not very pleased that we had to respond to that matter."
Bruins 2, Islanders 1 | Video
The last-place Islanders did almost everything better than the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins — they outshot, outhit and mostly outplayed them. The only thing they didn't do was outscore them. Goals by Marc Savard and Martin St. Pierre were enough to give Boston its seventh consecutive road victory and hand the Isles their sixth loss in as many games in 2009.
"We got lucky tonight," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team was outshot 41-27 and outhit 35-20. "These guys battled hard. We didn't win that many battles. It was one of those games where you'll take the win, but our game wasn't there tonight. We were fortunate to come out with a win."
The Islanders outshot Boston 17-7 in the first period but weren't able to beat All-Star goaltender Tim Thomas. Savard opened the scoring 3:30 into the second period when he controlled the puck behind the net, came out to the left of Yann Danis and whipped home a shot from the bottom of the circle.
"I had some room to come out from behind the net," Savard said, "and I was just trying to get the puck on net."
St. Pierre got what proved to be the winner thanks to a funny bounce. Vladimir Sobotka's slap shot missed the net and came off the glass atop the end boards at a funny angle. St. Pierre got his stick on the puck and tipped it into the net.
"Luck went our way and we got that second goal," St. Pierre said. "Vladdy rimmed it in, we got the bounce and I put the puck in the net."
Thomas lost a chance for his fourth shutout when Bill Guerin's pass hit David Krejci's skate in front and deflected into the net with 53.2 seconds left.
For Islanders coach Scott Gordon, who coached many of the Bruins while running Boston's AHL team in Providence before coming to Long Island this summer, it was another learning experience for a young team.
"We just played two teams in first place," Gordon said about the game and Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Rangers. "We've started to put together more consistent 60-minute efforts. Obviously, it's only two games, but it's a very encouraging sign."
The game against the Islanders came two nights after an emotional win over Montreal and two nights before a showdown with Washington, which is second to Boston in the East. Julien said his team will have to improve its effort to beat the Capitals.
"We have to be a lot better against Washington if we want to win," he said. "They had some great opportunities tonight against our goaltender. It could have gone very differently tonight if we hadn't had a little bit of luck on our side. We need to adjust, and I think the guys will be OK next game."
Lightning 4, Flyers 1 | Video
After admitting that recent trade talk was taking a toll on him, Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier and his teammates went out and played one of their best games of the season.
The Lightning continued their domination of the Flyers by scoring three times in a 2:03 span late in the second period. Lecavalier added a penalty-shot goal in the third period as Tampa Bay improved to 15-3-1 in its last 19 meetings with Philadelphia.
"These last four or five days, I want to say I wasn't distracted but I was," said Lecavalier, a Montreal native who's been mentioned in numerous trade rumors, mostly involving the Canadiens. "I think anybody would."
Lightning GM Brian Lawton reiterated that the team is not seeking to trade Lecavalier.
"There's no plan to trade him," Lawton said. "He's not being traded today. He's not being traded tomorrow or anytime soon." (Watch Lawton's press conference)
"Vinny is a professional," said long-time teammate Martin St. Louis. "I thought he was great out there. It's just the nature of the business. We've just got to be strong mentally."
"Vinny is a professional. I thought he was great out there. It's just the nature of the business. We've just got to be strong mentally." -- Martin St. Louis on the trade rumors surrounding long-time teammate Vincent Lecavalier
The Lightning showed that kind of mental toughness as they rebounded from a 7-1 blowout loss at San Jose on Tuesday. Joffrey Lupul's power-play backhander 5:21 into the second period was the only shot to elude Mike Smith, who made 31 saves.
But after Lupul's goal, the night belonged to the Lightning, who moved up to 12th in the Eastern Conference but are still nine points out of a playoff berth.
"We're not paying a big enough price to win a hockey game right now," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said. "We didn't match their level of desperation and the result was indicative of that."
Martin St. Louis tied it at 1-1 by beating Martin Biron with a blast from the right circle with 5:12 left in the period. Andrej Meszaros made it 2-1 from the low right circle on the power play 25 seconds later, and Ryan Craig capped the burst with 3:09 remaining.
Lecavalier slid the puck through Biron's legs to score on a penalty shot with 7:26 remaining to assure the Lightning of its third win in four games.
"You don't like to hear rumors that go on, and obviously it's going to happen," Smith said. "The good teams don't worry about what's going on in the media, and try just to play hockey."
Canadiens 3, Predators 2 | Video
Montreal's offense continues to produce enough to make backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak a winner. Andrei Markov set up the go-ahead goal in the second period and scored what proved to be the game-winner in the third as the Canadiens improved to 5-0-1 in their last six home games.
"We've been great lately and we've been scoring a lot of goals," said Halak, who got 22 goals' worth of support during a four-game winning streak that preceded the Canadiens' 3-1 loss in Boston on Tuesday night.
Halak made 23 saves as the Canadiens rebounded from the loss to their Northeast Division rivals.
"Every time you're able to bounce back after a loss it's a good two points," said center Lang, who assisted on Andrei Kostitsyn's go-ahead power-play goal at 8:46 of the second and Markov's goal 65 seconds into the third that put Montreal up 3-1.
J.P. Dumont and Vernon Fiddler scored for the Predators. Fiddler scored at 6:23 of the third to make it a one-goal game, but Nashville couldn't get the equalizer.
"We knew that they were going to come hard, they've got a lot of skills and speed, and there were a few bounces for them and it cost us the game," said Dumont, who ended a 16-game goal drought and tied the game 6:35 into the second.
The Preds were without high-scoring defenseman Shea Weber and captain Jason Arnott, both out with injuries.
"We missed those two guys but they're missing people, too, and we don't use that as an excuse," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We had some chances."
The Predators outshot Montreal 25-20 overall, including a 10-2 margin in the second.
"I think we made some mistakes in the second period and we didn't bury our heads down and we just kept working hard," said forward Guillaume Latendresse, who put the Canadiens ahead at 19:26 of the first period. "We knew we were facing a team that wouldn't quit and it was a hard battle, but we just kept working and doing the simple plays in the third that we weren't doing in the second."
Wild 5, Oilers 1 | Video
Niklas Backstrom's whammy on the Oilers continued. He made 20 saves to remain perfect against Edmonton in 10 career decisions as Minnesota beat the Oilers for the eighth consecutive time at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild got first-period goals by Krys Kolanos and Cal Clutterbuck, then blew the game open in the third period on goals by Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brent Burns and Eric Belanger. Minnesota has outscored Edmonton 29-9 in the eight wins at home.
"It's frustrating when a team beats you regularly and you're down 2-1 and then they get another goal you feel like, 'Not again,'" Lemaire said. "And you could see that the guys were undisciplined like that."
The goals by Burns and Belanger came in the final five minutes, as the Wild picked up their play and the Oilers looked like a beaten team.
"The last 10 minutes of the game it didn't really look like they were interested in even coming back at all," said Clutterbuck, who was credited with a game-high five hits. "If they're going to do that, go right ahead. They're not going to win many games."
"The last few minutes did get away from us. But up until the third goal, I thought we were right in the game." -- Edmonton's Sheldon Souray
Liam Reddox scored Edmonton's lone goal, midway though the first period. The Oilers took four penalties in the final 8:41.
"The last few minutes did get away from us," defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "But up until the third goal, I thought we were right in the game. We were pushing it hard and got some good opportunities. I thought through the first two periods we outplayed them. But it doesn't always reflect in the score."
Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish had a few nice things to say about his team's effort.
"Outside of the heinous defensive breakdowns and lapses on some of the plays, we played pretty good," MacTavish said. "And we battled hard. It was as hard as we've competed in a while."
Blues 5, Avalanche 2 | Video
Cam Janssen grew up watching the St. Louis Blues and wanting to score a goal for them. Now he has. The fourth-liner pushed in a rebound midway through the second period for the second goal of his career, helping the Blues beat Colorado.
"The puck was loose. It was right there," said Janssen, who grew up in nearby Eureka, Mo. "I just tapped it home. It wasn't pretty by any means but it was pretty to me. I'll take it.
"Growing up watching the Blues and seeing everybody score goals and how exciting it was to score goals, to get my first one at home is unbelievable. My mom and dad will be pumped up when I get home."
Janssen's other goal game 58 games ago, on Feb. 24, 2007, against Washington while he played for New Jersey.
Janssen's goal made it 2-0 and helped Manny Legace, who made 24 saves, to his 14th career victory over Colorado.
"I don't own the Avalanche; I think they have some investors," Legace said. "No one owns any team in this league. You just have to be ready to play every night."
Patrick Berglund scored in the first period for St. Louis. Brad Boyes made it 3-0 with a power-play goal 59 seconds into the third, and after goals by Cody McLeod and Marek Svatos cut the margin to one, T.J. Oshie scored a power-play goal with 5:08 left and David Backes scored shorthanded into an empty net with 2:02 to play.
"You can't lose your cool there," Legace said. "We came back and scored two goals. We didn't panic."
Legace made some big saves early, including a 2-on-1 break at the beginning to thwart the Avalanche.
"I'd say Legace made the big saves in his net and gave them a chance to get going and they capitalized on their opportunities," Colorado coach Tony Granato said. "Special teams was the difference tonight."
Sabres 5, Stars 4 (SO) | Video
Dallas appeared to be ready to build on Monday's 5-4 come-from-behind win over Detroit when it raced to a 3-0 lead against Buffalo. But the Sabres kept coming, forced overtime with three third-period goals, then won the shootout on Jason Pominville's goal in the sixth round.
"It was a gutsy win," said Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, who stopped five of six Dallas attempts in the shootout. "You could see that hunger. The boys showed up. It was good to see."
The Sabres, who played poorly in a 4-1 loss at Chicago on Wednesday, didn't look any better at the start against the Stars. Matt Niskanen and Steve Ott had power-play goals in the first period, and Trevor Daley scored 2:47 into the second period to put Dallas up by three.
But instead of folding, the Sabres took control of the game, outshooting Dallas 30-13 through the end of overtime.
"We started to take play over in the second period," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "From the second period on, I thought we deserved to win the game."
Ott said the Stars got away from the type of play that had earned them a lead.
"It was a gutsy win. You could see that hunger. The boys showed up. It was good to see." -- Buffalo's Ryan Miller
"The one-on-one battles we lost, and the consistency of our game did a complete 180. It's an embarrassment and a joke," Ott said. "We came to the first period and we dominated. We knew the task at hand and it slipped. It's plain not good enough. We shot ourselves in the foot when we started turning pucks over."
Paul Gaustad's tip-in cut the deficit to 3-1 after two periods. Jochen Hecht scored early in the third to make it a one-goal game before a goal by Brad Richards at 3:49 restored Dallas' two-goal lead. Gaustad and Clarke MacArthur got the Sabres even by scoring 15 seconds apart midway through the period.
"We drove the net pretty hard the last two periods," Gaustad said. "We stuck to the system, so those wins are always fun to get."
Jere Lehtinen put Dallas ahead by scoring in the fifth round of the shootout, but Derek Roy answered for Buffalo. Pominville won it with a wrist shot through Marty Turco's pads.
Dallas coach Dave Tippett wasn't happy after his team saw what looked like an easy victory disappear.
"We let momentum get away from us, we took bad penalties, we turned the puck over and they took that momentum and ran with it," he said. "We needed to bear down and do the things that make you win games, not lose games."
Red Wings 4, Kings 0 | Video
Detroit made the second half of its Southern California sweep look easy, scoring twice in each of the first two periods to back Ty Conklin's fifth shutout of the season as the Wings continued their domination of the Kings.
Kirk Maltby, a healthy scratch for Wednesday's 4-3 win at Anaheim, jammed in a feed by Kris Draper 7:40 into the game to start the Wings on the way to their 19th victory in 21 meetings with Los Angeles. Johan Franzen, stationed at the left of the crease, finished off a three-way passing play by burying Jiri Hudler's perfect pass at 16:44.
"Once we got through the first 10 minutes, I thought we controlled the play," Conklin said.
Wings coach Mike Babcock said his team was good right from the start.
"Conks made a real good save right off the hop on a 2-on-1," he said. "After that, the power play was good, the penalty kill was good and I thought we were real professional in how we approached things today."
Mikael Samuelsson made it 3-0 at 9:43 of the second period, one-timing another Hudler pass, and Kris Draper finished off Tomas Kopecky's pass at 13:59.
Getting a pair of goals from the Draper-Maltby-Kopecky unit was a bonus for the Wings.
"Any times you get two goals from your fourth line, that's a positive," Babcock said.
Kings forward Kyle Calder said his team was too respectful of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"We didn't respond to the challenge," he said. "They're a good hockey team, but we gave them too much respect. They came out and skated and handled the puck — the things we wanted to do. I think we kind of stood around a little bit and watched what they were doing, instead of playing our game."
The Kings lost the third in a row and will spend most of the rest of the season on the road — 27 of their last 39 games are away from the Staples Center. Coach Terry Murray said his team will have to work harder to avoid falling out of the playoff race.
"We have to get ourselves out of this. We're bringing a lot of the problems on ourselves with puck management," Murray said. "We're turning pucks over and not getting enough pucks to the net. We've got to be much hungrier to get to the net, to put more pucks to the net and look for something, maybe an ugly goal, just to get us started."
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.