Emotions ran high in the latest installment of the “Battle of Alberta,” but this time, the Calgary Flames
found a way to get the job done.
Veteran forward Owen Nolan scored twice and Miikka Kiprusoff faced only 15 shots as the Flames cruised to a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Saturday night.
''It got everybody into it and it shows the type of emotion our team can play with,'' said Nolan, who opened the scoring with 3:46 left in the first period, giving Calgary its first goal in an opening period in seven games. ''There's no limitations if we play that way.''
The victory was a far cry from what transpired on Monday night in Edmonton. The Flames were pummeled by a 5-0 score on that evening at Rexall Place. ''We have a big team but we don't always use that to our benefit,'' Nolan said. ''We can be physical and play that way the whole game. We did it tonight and that's why we limited their shots, they didn't want to go in the corners.''
The Flames went up by pair when Dion Phaneuf blasted a shot past Mathieu Garon 4:41 into the second period for a power play goal. Calgary had scored only once in its previous 19 opportunities with the man advantage – a span of four games. Nolan scored again at 12:44 of the second to make it 3-0.
Robert Nilsson finally got the Oilers on the board with his seventh goal of the season at 16:05 of the third, when he beat Kiprusoff on a breakaway. But Jarome Iginla iced the victory with an empty-net tally with 1:37 to go.
''I was happy with the way we answered the bell physically, but from a skilled perspective we failed early in the game,'' Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. ''We were looking most of the game for something good to happen to our hockey club and we were looking a long time. Finally, we get a break in the third and the momentum changes in the game. But at that point it was too little, too late.''
Rangers 2, Flyers 0 | Video
Not too many teams would rather face Henrik Lundqvist than Steve Valiquette, but Philadelphia just might.
Valiquette blanked the Flyers for the second time in less than two weeks on Saturday afternoon, as he stopped all 31 shots he faced in New York’s victory at the Wachovia Center. Valiquette recorded his first NHL shutout against Philadelphia in a 4-0 win on Jan. 31.
"It wasn't easy but our team played so well," said Valiquette, who extended his shutout streak to 122:30. "We really need to focus on winning at home, though. I felt ready. Preparation before the game is the most important thing for a goaltender. We really need to win games in regulation, that's the most important thing."
Nigel Dawes and Scott Gomez scored on the man advantage for the Blueshirts, who are 6-0-1 in the City of Brotherly Love since April 15, 2006.
''I don't think it'll stay that way, but I hope it does the rest of the season,'' Gomez said of the Rangers’ success in Philly. ''You have to realize coming into this building that it's a challenge. You have to take the fans out of it early.''
The win was New York’s fourth straight on the road, but it followed back-to-back losses at Madison Square Garden to Los Angeles and Anaheim, respectively. Philadelphia, meanwhile, dropped two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Atlantic Division race. The Flyers will visit the Pens on Sunday afternoon.
“Tomorrow is that much more important,” said Flyers goalie Martin Biron, who made 31 saves. “The back-to-back games against division opponents can go either way, and we have to look at tomorrow as a big challenge for us to get back on the winning track.”
Penguins 4, Kings 2 | Video
When Sidney Crosby went down with a high ankle sprain, Pittsburgh rightfully asked Evgeni Malkin to carry the load.
The Russian star has done just that, and then some.
Malkin scored twice and assisted on another, as the Pens won back-to-back games for the first time since Crosby’s injury with a victory over Los Angeles at Mellon Arena.
''I'm just trying to be the best player I can and I try to score as much as I can,'' Malkin said through interpreter George Firman. ''I don't focus on the fact that Sidney isn't here. I'm just spending more time on the ice.''
Malkin has certainly picked up the slack in Crosby’s absence. Since the Penguins’ captain went down on Jan. 18, Malkin has seven goals and 10 assists over a nine-game span. Saturday’s win improved Pittsburgh’s record to 5-2-2 since Crosby went down.
''Sid gets a lot of attention. Now that Geno's under the microscope, everybody is seeing how talented he is,'' Pens’ forward Ryan Malone said of Malkin, who has 69 points this season and 11 in his last four games. ''He's right up there with all the best players in the League. He's just proving it now. We all knew that before, but I think everyone else is realizing that as well.''
The win gave the Penguins sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division, as they moved two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. They also improved to 8-1 this season against Western Conference opponents.
After scoring 33 goals in his rookie season in 2006-07, Malkin scored his 30th goal of this campaign at 11:41 of the second period. It was his second goal of the game after he opened the scoring 11:09 into the first. Ryan Malone and Jordan Staal also scored for the Penguins. Malone’s goal came less than 24 hours after his wife, Abby, gave birth to the couple’s first son.
"He's the cutest little thing -- I don't know if all the fathers say that -- but he's definitely adorable," Malone said.
Derek Armstrong and Brian Boyle scored for Los Angeles, which continues its eight-game road trip on Sunday at Columbus.
''He was the difference maker,'' Kings coach Marc Crawford said of Malkin. ''He wanted to play well, he had his parents in the crowd. He wanted to put on a show, and he did.''
Maple Leafs 3, Red Wings 2, OT | Video
Just like that, Toronto is thinking playoffs again.
Nik Antropov’s goal at 1:02 of overtime gave the Leafs their third win in four games as they picked up an impressive victory over Detroit at Air Canada Centre.
So with their last three wins coming against the likes of Detroit, Montreal and Ottawa, the Maple Leafs believe their season is far from over – although Toronto coach Paul Maurice isn’t about to make any predictions. His team returns to the ice on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
"Take it for what it is fellas," Maurice said. "Some of you will really like the win and some of you will think that it hurts our draft pick. Do with it what you want. We're just taking the points and playing again Wednesday."
Darcy Tucker gave Toronto a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal nine minutes into the game. The Leafs’ forward was actually trying to make a pass to Mats Sundin, but the attempt went off the skate of Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and through the legs of goalie Dominik Hasek.
"For all the bad luck that I've had this year, it was nice to see that one go in," Tucker said.
Lidstrom got some revenge when he tied the game with 3:01 to play in the second period, as he redirected Pavel Datsyuk’s feed past Vesa Toskala. Lidstrom then helped put Detroit in front when his shot went off teammate Mikael Samuelsson and past Toskala at 11:18 of the third.
"It was a slow start for us, but I thought we took it over in the second half," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said.
Sundin tied the game for the Leafs with 6:25 remaining in regulation, when he squeaked through the Wings’ defense and let go a soft shot from the circle that got through the pads of Hasek to make it 2-2.
Antropov scored on the lone shot on goal in overtime, as he redirected Anton Stralman’s slap shot past Hasek, giving the Leafs some added hope for a playoff push.
"It was a huge win for us," Antropov said. "We're still hoping we can make the playoffs."
Wild 4, Islanders 3, OT | Video
Sean Bergenheim’s goal with 4:05 remaining in regulation had New York believing its six-game losing streak was about to end.
Brian Rolston erased a 3-2 deficit with 3:24 to play, and Brent Burns scored 2:34 into overtime as the Isles’ skid reached seven games.
It was arguably New York’s best effort during this downfall that is dashing its playoff hopes. The Islanders outshot the Wild, 29-18 and controlled the tempo for the majority of the evening. On a positive note, the Isles did pick up a point in the standings for the first time since Jan. 22.
''We're definitely not happy with the result, but the game itself … I don't know how much better we could play,” Isles coach Ted Nolan said. “Our guys gave what they have.”
Minnesota’s Kurtis Foster scored the lone goal of the opening period, but New York captain Bill Guerin tied the game with his 19th goal of the season just 38 seconds into the second. Rolston restored the Wild’s lead at 11:10 of the second when he knocked in James Sheppard’s rebound with his skate.
"It went through two sets of legs. When things are going bad, usually that happens against you," Nolan said.
The Islanders again fought back to tie the game when Andy Hilbert scored 27 seconds into the third period. The defensive forward took a pass from Guerin and swatted it past Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom to make it 2-2.
Minutes after Jeff Tambellini was denied on a breakaway, Bergenheim put the Isles in front when he drove to the net and fired home a rebound for his fifth goal of the season. But 41 seconds later, Rolston tied things up as he put home Mikko Koivu’s rebound to make it 3-3.
"We're going in confident and know we can play the best of teams," Sheppard said.
Panthers 6, Bruins 3 | Video
An all-hands-on-deck approach has Florida believing it can play with anyone.
The Panthers proved that theory again on Saturday night.
Richard Zednik scored twice, while Olli Jokinen and David Booth scored just 14 seconds apart during the second period as the Panthers won for the fourth time in five games with a convincing victory at Boston.
All-Star goalie Tomas Vokoun put forth another sensational effort, as he made 38 saves and even chipped in with an assist. Glen Murray, Zdeno Chara and Marco Sturm scored for the Bruins, who lost their third straight game at TD Banknorth Garden.
''I think some people are finding the net, but also I think moving the puck out of our zone has helped,'' Florida coach Jacques Martin said. ''I think we have done a better job of going to the net.''
Things fell apart for the Bruins in the second period, when they surrendered 2-1 and 3-2 leads. Jokinen beat Tim Thomas – another All-Star netminder – via the power play at 16:23 before Booth slammed home a loose puck during a scramble in front.
Boston coach Claude Julien admitted that he thought about removing Thomas from the game before changing his mind.
''There was some thought there. I'm not going to deny that,'' Julien said. ''But our whole club kind of collapsed there.''
Thomas – who was beaten between the legs by Stephen Weiss early in the third to make it a 5-3 game – finished with 21 saves.
''You usually get better as the game goes on,'' Thomas said. ''It just went backward. You've got to forget about it on one hand, but on the other you've got to make sure it doesn't happen again.''
Devils 6, Hurricanes 1 | Video
Paul Martin had his first two-goal game and Martin Brodeur made 22 saves as New Jersey routed Carolina at The Rock. The win – just their fourth in 10 home games – snapped a two-game slide for the Devils.
''The locker room before the game was a lot livelier than it's been in a while,'' captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. ''You could tell we were focused and ready to go.''
Brent Sutter tried something new before the game. The Devils’ coach shuffled locker-room stalls around in attempt to shake up his team. The move paid immediate dividends.
''We thought we would give it a shot and change things up a little bit,'' Sutter said.
New Jersey’s blue line chipped in offensively all night long. Colin White scored his second goal in five games on a slap shot just 3:08 into the game. Martin made it a 2-0 game with a power play goal at 5:53 of the opening period.
After Keith Aucoin cut the deficit in half for the Hurricanes, Johnny Oduya put the Devils up 3-1 on a rare end-to-end rush. The New Jersey defenseman found his way around five Carolina defenders before stuffing the puck past goalie Cam Ward for his third goal of the season at 15:47 of the first.
''I heard someone on the bench say Johnny Orr,'' Oduya said. ''It's all good fun. You don't get too many opportunities to make plays like that. It just kind of opened up and I skated through it.''
Ward was left puzzled as to how Oduya was permitted to skate the length of the ice with the puck. Oduya’s tally marked the first time the Devils scored three consecutive goals from defensemen since Dec. 31, 1991.
''He made a nice end-to-end rush,'' Ward said. ''There is no way we can let him enter the zone the way that he did. It just seemed like everything was easier for the Devils.''
Dainius Zubrus and Jay Pandolfo also scored for the Devils, who return to the ice on Wednesday night when they host the Ottawa Senators. Carolina, meanwhile, will look to turn things around on Tuesday night at Boston.
''We've got find a way to play with a little more confidence,'' Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour said. ''It's pretty obvious we are a little uptight out there with the puck. That's one reason we're not generating a lot of offense.''
Thrashers 2, Lightning 1, OT | Video
Atlanta defenseman Alexei Zhitnik scored just his second goal in 57 games 1:26 into overtime, leading the Thrashers to a thrilling victory over Tampa Bay at Philips Arena.
Once Zhitnik saw that Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba had lost his stick, Zhitnik moved around him and ripped a shot past goalie Johan Holmqvist in a huge game between Southeast Division rivals. It was Zhitnik’s first goal since Dec. 29.
|Atlanta's Alexei Zhitnik, right, scored just 1:26 into overtime to give the Thrashers a 2-1 win over the Lightning.
''I saw he didn't have a stick,'' Zhitnik said. ''I was going full speed. I don't think (Holmqvist) was expecting that. I made a move and shot the puck. ... It was a pretty shot, too.''
The Thrashers could have dropped to fourth place had they lost in regulation. Instead, they moved into a first-place tie with the Carolina Hurricanes in the ever-so-tight Southeast.
''Two points against a division team is really good,'' Zhitnik said. ''It's like a roller-coaster, in first place one day and in second place the next day. We're trying to find some consistency and put a winning streak together.''
Vincent Lecavalier scored the lone goal for Tampa Bay in the second period, giving his club a 1-0 lead as the Thrashers were held to just four shots on goal. The loss snapped Tampa Bay’s six-game road winning streak.
''We'll be right there,'' Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said. ''Everybody is beating everybody. They wouldn't have gotten that scoring chance if (Kuba) hadn't broken his stick. We played very resilient. ... We played a good game. We had our chances.''
Marian Hossa erased the 1-0 deficit 4:18 into the third period with his 24th goal of the season. The Thrashers conclude a four-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals.
''It wasn't our prettiest win, that's for sure,'' Waddell said. ''I thought we were really good in the first, but the second period was our worst period in six, seven or eight games. I didn't think we were very good at all. We turned the puck over a lot, we gave up a lot of opportunities. We weren't great in the third, but we battled back.''
Stars 6, Blues 2 | Video
Dallas entered Saturday night’s action with only nine goals in its last 78 power play opportunities.
St. Louis decided to lend a hand.
Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen all scored with the man advantage as the Stars extended their winning streak to six games with a win over the Blues at the American Airlines Center. The three power-play tallies came on just three shots.
''The last few games, we've been passing it on the power play,'' Ribeiro said. ''Tonight, we shot. When you shoot, you get a lot more chances. Our penalty-kill and goaltending have been great all season. But our power play has been in a big slump, so tonight was good for our confidence.''
Antti Miettinen scored twice for Dallas, while Mike Smith made 27 saves. Smith started in place of Marty Turco, who is suffering from a sore neck.
''That's who we are as a team,'' Stars coach Dave Tippett said. ''Scoring by committee, that's the way we play. When we're clicking, we're going to get a lot of people contributing. It makes us a hard team to play against.''
It was a hard game to watch for Blues coach Andy Murray, who was forced to put Manny Legace between the pipes midway through the game after backup Hannu Toivonen allowed four goals on 15 shots. Legace is battling the flu.
''We didn't want to have to play him,'' Murray said. ''He was sick.''
That being said, Murray was not about to point fingers as to what caused the Blues to go just 1-for-4 on the penalty kill. Clearly, adjustments will be made before St. Louis returns to the ice on Sunday night against the Minnesota Wild.
''I'm not going to play the blame game,'' Murray said.
Avalanche 6, Canucks 2 | Video
Despite missing three of its top players, Colorado still somehow managed to find a way to chase Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo on Saturday night.
Marek Svatos had two goals and an assist, while Tyler Arnason had a goal and two assists as the Avs (who were missing forwards Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny) peppered Luongo – who was replaced by Curtis Sanford to start the third period – en route to an impressive win at GM Place.
Luongo was fuming after the loss. He stopped 17 of 22 shots before seeing his night end prematurely.
"I'm a goalie not a defenseman," Luongo said. "They know what they need to do out there. I try to make the first save and then sometimes the guys have to take care of the stick at least so I can find the puck sometimes. We got outworked in front of the net at both sides. And that's why we lost."
The team-wide effort Luongo was hoping for was clearly visible on Colorado’s end of the ice. Six different Avalanche players had multi-point nights.
“Everyone’s picking up the slack,” Arnason said. “You’ve got T.J. Hensick scoring a lot of goals on the fourth line. Every line’s chipping in a couple of goals every game, so it adds up.”
Jose Theodore made 23 saves for Colorado, which won for the fourth time in six games to remain within a point of first-place Minnesota in the Northwest Division.
“We’ve got a lot more toughness,” Clark said. “Teams can’t walk over us anymore. That’s a big bonus for us right now. We’re starting to take it to a lot of other teams, and that’s great.”
Sharks 4, Predators 3 | Video
Jonathan Cheechoo saw to it that Saturday night would be an evening Ron Wilson won’t soon forget.
The San Jose forward’s third goal of the night broke a 3-3 tie with 4:55 remaining in regulation, as Wilson won his 500th game as an NHL coach with a victory over Nashville at HP Pavilion.
“It’s pretty special,” Wilson said. “You’re in there with some all-time greats like Toe Blake. You can’t get here without having a lot of great players and, more than anything, great people to work with. Lots of guys that I’ve just enjoyed being around. It’s been an incredible ride. Hopefully I’ve got a few more wins under my belt.”
The hat trick was the ninth of Cheechoo’s career. His third tally came via the power play, as he put a backhander past Nashville goalie Chris Mason for his 14th goal of the season.
“It’s been coming along nicely,” Cheechoo said of his offensive game. “Anytime you work on something, it’s bound to improve. It’s been a while coming, but I’m glad to finally be able to contribute.
"It's a special milestone for him to reach 500, it's pretty amazing," Cheechoo added. "It's nice to help that out."
Joe Thornton had three assists for the Sharks, and needs just one more for 500 in his career. Milan Michalek scored the other goal for San Jose, which came 7:17 into the third period.
Vernon Fiddler scored twice for the Predators, while Scott Nichol tied the game at 3-3 for Nashville with 8:19 to play. The Predators failed to register a point in the standings for just the fourth time in their last 19 contests. Mason – who finished with 23 saves – is winless in seven games against the Sharks.
"We did not play very well,” Mason said. “We have a tough time in this building. If you're not going to come in here and be willing to work, it is going to be tough to get a lot of shots and a lot of pressure. They did a great job. We were right there until the end and then just broke down in the last half of the third period."
All-Star goalie Evgeni Nabokov struggled for San Jose. He stopped only 10 of 13 shots in the victory. The Predators were outshot by a 12-2 margin in the second period.
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.