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Flames win to cap perfect road trip

by John Kreiser
Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made 36 saves as Calgary completed a perfect six-game road trip with a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. 
The Calgary Flames left home 11 days ago with a 10-13-5 record after a shootout loss to Pittsburgh. They’re coming home in triumph after a perfect six-game trip, capped by a 3-1 victory in Columbus on Tuesday night.

Jarome Iginla continued his hot streak by scoring his 24th goal of the season, and linemate Kristian Huselius had two assists.
''It feels awesome,'' said Iginla, who entered the game second in the league with 48 points.

''It's one of the most enjoyable little stretches I've been on since being here.''
The Flames became the third team to go 6-0 on a road trip, joining the 1970-71 Boston Bruins and the 1982-83 Boston Bruins. The 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings also won six straight road games without a home game, but the streak was interrupted by the Winter Olympics.
Despite the record-tying trip, Calgary coach Mike Keenan will be glad to see the Pengrowth Saddledome again when the Flames host Dallas on Thursday.
''It's time to go home,'' Keenan said. ''They've put a lot of work in. We've had a lot of travel so they need a break now. Need to go home and get some rest, see their family.''
Keenan put Iginla, the Flames' captain, with Huselius and center Daymond Langkow on Dec. 1. Since then, they have combined for 22 goals, 20 assists and 42 points in nine games.
''We're finding ways to win and it feels great,'' Iginla said.
Curtis Glencross scored for Columbus, which had 37 shots but didn’t create many dangerous chances around the Calgary net.
''Our execution wasn't good,'' Blue Jackets' captain Adam Foote said. ''They're a team that takes away the easy play and wants you to make the hard play.''
Columbus didn't help its cause early, giving Calgary a lengthy two-man advantage. Aucoin fired a slap shot from the left circle over the shoulder of Pascal Leclaire, who was screened by Iginla, at 3:37 for his sixth goal to make it 1-0 ( 700K ).
Alex Tanguay beat Leclaire from the left circle at 3:49 ( 700K ) of the middle period to make it 2-0. Glencross cut the lead in half three minutes later( 700K ), but Iginla hammered in a rebound from a bad angle at 8:59 to restore the two-goal margin ( 700K ). He has 10 points in his last four games.
''We played a hard road game tonight again and Kiprusoff was good when we needed him,'' Keenan said. ''They pressed us hard and special teams had a significant difference tonight.''
Coyotes 3, Flyers 2 | Video
Phoenix wasn’t quite as good as Calgary, but the Coyotes will be more than happy to head west with three straight wins against Atlantic Division rivals after rallying from a two-goal deficit to win in Philadelphia.
Rookie Peter Mueller knocked in a rebound at 6:25 of the third period ( 700K ) to give the Coyotes their third straight win and fourth in five games on a road trip that began with a win in Los Angeles and ends Thursday night in San Jose.
''I've been trying to get my body in front of the goalie more and it worked out good tonight,'' Mueller said. ''The first shot I hit (Biron) in the mask and it bounced right back to me. I just did a kind of spin-o-rama and put it in.''
The Coyotes came to Philadelphia having won in New Jersey and New York after losing to the Islanders last Thursday. They spotted the Flyers a two-goal lead on Scott Hartnell’s power-play tally 12:03 into the game ( 700K ) and Mike Richards’ breakaway at 7:21 of the second ( 700K ).
But the Coyotes, who were outshooting the Flyers badly despite the score, kept firing away and Martin Biron and scored twice in a 2:31 span late in the second period to pull even. Rookie Keith Yandle banged in a rebound at 17:07 ( 700K ) for his first NHL goal and Fredrik Sjostrom tied it with a shorthanded goal at 19:38 ( 700K ).
Mueller then put Phoenix ahead when he scored during a goalmouth scramble after Biron had turned away shots by Zbynek Michalek and Steven Reinprecht.
''Getting wins against those teams ranks as a big accomplishment,'' Yandle said. ''They're not easy games to go into.''
The Flyers are 1-6-2 at home since opening the season 6-0 in Philadelphia, and the players held a 15-minute closed-door meeting after the game.
''We talked about it as a team that we need to refocus and individually bring our best games to our team game every night,'' Flyers captain Jason Smith said. ''We've got to play a lot better, compete a lot better, and capitalize a lot better. We can't be satisfied at working harder and losing games.''

Canucks 5, Devils 0 | Video

Markus Naslund netted a pair of goals to help lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
The much-heralded matchup of star goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo never developed as the Canucks scored three times in the second period to turn a close game into a rout.

Luongo, returning after missing 10 days with a rib injury, was sharp early and late — he stopped Travis Zajac on a breakaway 15 seconds into the game and stoned Sergei Brylin in the final 10 seconds for his last of his 32 saves.

“You want to be ready,” Luongo said of Zajac’s breakaway after his fifth shutout of the season.

“Things like that can change a game around. If he scores, the game might have been different.”

Aaron Miller put Vancouver ahead 2:16 into the game ( 700K ), beating Brodeur with a deflected slap shot after Henrik Sedin won a faceoff. It was his first goal since Nov. 27, 2003 -- a span of 193 games.

Vancouver broke the game open early in the second period. Ryan Kesler swatted his own rebound off Brodeur’s pad and into the net at 1:09 after being stopped on a breakaway ( 700K ). Seconds after the Devils’ John Madden hit the left post, Trevor Linden scored on a long shot at 2:43 ( 700K ) and Markus Naslund made it 4-0 at 8:51 ( 700K ).

Naslund’s second goal at 7:44 of the third period was icing on the cake for the sellout crowd at GM Place ( 700K ).

“We’re not going to score five goals every night,” Luongo said. “When we do, it’s nice.”

It was Luongo’s 37th career shutout — but he’s still well behind Brodeur’s 94.

The loss marked the league-high seventh time this season that the Devils have been blanked.

“We need to find some offense,” Madden said. “Our power play wasn’t very good. We’ve got to find a way to score goals.”

Brodeur, who edged Luongo for the Vezina Trophy last season, stopped only 19 of 24 shots.

“It was one of those nights; we’ve got to try to forget it,” he said. “We took a lot of shots, a lot from bad angles. He made the saves he had to make. We played well in the first period, but we couldn’t get anything past Roberto.”
Rangers 4, Penguins 0 | Video
Maybe Pittsburgh should change divisions. Sidney Crosby & Co. never got untracked at Madison Square Garden as Scott Gomez scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist faced only five shots in the first 40 minutes.
The Penguins fell to 16-15-2 overall, but are just 4-9-1 in the Atlantic Division, the worst record of any team within its own division. They were thoroughly dominated in losing to their division rival for the third time in four meetings this season.
''It's not a game that we're too proud of. You're not going to get anything if your competition level isn't there,'' Crosby said after his team was shut out for the first time this season.
Pittsburgh was outshot 10-3 in the first period and 11-2 in the second before managing 13 shots in the final 20 minutes. Crosby, held without a point for the fourth time in six games, had two shots on goal and lost 15 of 23 faceoffs.

''I don't think we were ready to compete like we needed to,'' said Crosby, who has just one goal in nine games. ''You can play the system and do all those things, but you need to play with that willingness to win battles and second effort. For whatever reason, we didn't have it in the first two periods.''

Gomez put the Rangers ahead 72 seconds into the game when he fired home a rebound after Martin Straka’s shot hit traffic in front ( 700K ).

"That goal was big for us, but it was bigger for the team," said linemate Jaromir Jagr, who had the other assist. "We haven't played very well lately, so it was good for our confidence."
Straka tipped in Mark Staal’s shot at 10:30 of the middle period ( 700K ) and Gomez’s pass from the goal line deflected off defenseman Ryan Whitney and into the net for a power-play goal at 13:21 ( 700K ). Chris Drury added another power-play goal with 7:40 left in regulation ( 700K ).
"I think everyone picked up their game tonight, not just our line," said Gomez, who also recorded a team-high seven shots. "We played a smart game tonight and that's why good things happened."
Lundqvist, who sat out Sunday’s 5-1 loss to Phoenix with the flu, earned his sixth shutout of the season, tying him with Columbus’ Pascal Leclaire for the league lead. Lundqvist is now tied for the league lead in shutouts, along with Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"There were a lot of parts of our game that worked really well tonight — power play, PK, five-on-five — we just played really well," he said. "Most important is that we played a solid 60-minute game."

Senators 3, Bruins 2 | Video

Dean McAmmond of the Senators upends the Bruins' Vladimir Sobotka.  Ottawa defeated Boston 3-2.
A step up in class was too much for Boston, as Ottawa won its sixth in a row thanks to two goals by Jason Spezza.

The Senators, the best team in the Eastern Conference, broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period on defenseman Luke Richardson’s goal 10:38 into the second ( 700K ). Spezza added what proved to be the game-winner 8:19 into the third ( 700K).

It was an education for the Bruins, who’ve lost all three meetings with Ottawa this season, including both at TD Banknorth Garden.

''That's the way to look at it — a good lesson,'' Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara said. ''The team we played tonight, Ottawa, is challenging. We have to get better. We're much better than we showed tonight.''

The Bruins, who’ve been winning with defense and goaltending while struggling to score, had three early breakaways, but scored once — on Chuck Kobasew’s goal at 14:40 of the first period ( 700K ).

''Defensively they've bought into that close-checking style,'' said Spezza, who opened the scoring at 12:25 ( 700K ), beating Alex Auld with a one-timer off a pass from Dany Heatley. ''We expected them to be a lot better this year because they had so many guys that had to get used to each other.''

Coach Claude Julien said the loss, Boston’s second in six games, showed just how far his team has to go to join the NHL’s elite.

''When the game was over, it shows you where we're at,'' Julien said. ''We still have some work to do.''

Thrashers 6, Lightning 2 | Video

The struggling Thrashers, losers of four in a row, got well by feasting on a team in an even bigger slump. Six players scored as Atlanta handed the Lightning its third straight loss and fifth in six games.

Garnet Exelby ( 700K ), Mark Recchi ( 700K ) and Slava Kozlov ( 700K ) scored in the first period as the Thrashers jumped on the Lightning early. Tampa fell to 3-12-1 on the road.

''It was an excellent first period,'' said Thrashers coach and general manager Don Waddell.

''The key tonight was our start. I thought we took the game over right off the bat.''
It was also a big game in the Southeast Division.

''These are four-point games. In our own division you can make up a lot of ground,'' Waddell said. ''Two points we get are two points they don't get.''
Atlanta sent Tampa Bay goalie Johan Holmqvist to the bench after the big first period — the third time in four games he’s been replaced by Marc Denis before the end of the second period. Chris Thorburn beat Denis 5:20 ( 700K ) into the middle period, and Ilya Kovalchuk ( 700K ) and Pascal Dupuis ( 700K ) added third-period goals.
But the Thrashers’ fast start made the difference.
''It was a huge game. We got a good start, a quick couple of goals put them on their heels,” Kovalchuk said.
Vaclav Prospal ( 700K ) and Jason Ward ( 700K ) scored for the Lightning, but league scoring leader Vincent Lecavalier was held without a point.
''It was a pretty rough first period,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. ''We have to keep on trying. We just have to find a way to grind through this.''
Panthers 3, Canadiens 2 | Video
Jozef Stumpel celebrates with teammate Olli Jokinen after scoring a goal in the Florida Panthers' 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens
Florida may not have the 24 Stanley Cups that the Canadiens have, but they do own one thing no other NHL team has — a winning record against the winningest team in NHL history. The Panthers improved to 27-16-6 with four overtime losses against the Canadiens by building a 3-0 lead and surviving a late Montreal rally at the Bell Centre.
Jozef Stumpel and Brett McLean scored first-period goals for Florida and Tomas Vokoun, a former Montreal draft pick, made 22 saves as the Panthers improved to 4-1-1 in their last six games. They won both visits to Montreal this season.
Stumpel finished off a 2-on-1 break with Olli Jokinen at 14:13 ( 700K ) and McLean got a gift goal at 18:12 when he scored after Montreal goalie Carey Price overplayed the puck and wound up giving it away ( 700K ).
''I was just trying to help my D-man out and tried to move it as quick as possible and it wound up on the wrong stick,'' Price said. ''I'm not going to change my game at all. It's something that I can utilize and I just made a mistake. It's part of hockey.''
Weiss made it 3-0 when he beat Price from the left side 7:05 into the third ( 700K ).
Vokoun lost a bid for his third shutout in five games when Markov scored at 8:25 of the third period ( 700K ). The defenseman scored again with 23.7 seconds remaining and Price on the bench for a sixth attacker ( 700K ), but the Panthers held on.
''Everybody's trying to push and get closer and score a goal, especially a home game, they're just not going to give it to you and sit back and say, 'Oh well, you win tonight,''' Vokoun said.
Wild 3, Predators 2 | Video
Jacques Lemaire’s 1,000th game as an NHL coach was one he’ll never forget after Minnesota rallied for three third-period goals to overcome a 2-0 deficit.
''This will be a great souvenir for me,'' said Lemaire, who has 475 career wins, 275 with the Wild, and is the 14th coach to reach the 1,000-game milestone.
Marian Gaborik ignited the comeback by scoring just 41 seconds into the final period ( 700K ). Eric Belanger tied it six minutes later when he finished off a 2-on-1 by beating Dan Ellis with a slap shot ( 700K ), and Brian Rolston completed the comeback with 1:08 remaining when he chipped a rebound over Ellis for his 600th career point ( 700K ).
''I just think that we paid the price a little bit more around the net,'' Rolston said after scoring his third goal in three games. ''That's what you have to do. On the last goal, it was just getting in front of the net and being in the right place. That's where goals are scored these days.''
Nashville, which has lost four straight, led 2-0 after two periods on goals from Jason Arnott ( 700K ) and J.P. Dumont ( 700K ). The Predators controlled the play until the Wild took command in the third.
''One game we should've had was tonight, and we gave it to them in the end,'' Arnott said. ''It's pretty frustrating. There are some mental breakdowns we have to correct or it's going to be a long year.''
Nashville has been on the wrong end of a Wild third-period rally before. The last time Minnesota came back from two goals down in the third was a 7-6 shootout win over the Predators on Nov. 16, 2006.
Stars 2, Oilers 1, SO | Video
Dallas goalie Marty Turco stopped all three Edmonton shooters he faced in the breakaway competition as the Stars edged the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Tuesday night.
The best shootout team since the NHL adopted the breakaway competition two years ago got the better of this season’s shootout sensations when Sergei Zubov scored the only goal ( 700K ) to give Dallas a win at Edmonton.
The Oilers were 10-1 and had won each of their last three games via shootout. But Dallas is now 24-6 — the best record in the history of the shootout.
“The record shows we’re pretty adept at shootouts,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said.
Tippett tweaked his lineup, dropping Zubov, who usually shoots first, to the second slot. He was rewarded when the 37-year-old defenseman skated in and beat Dwayne Roloson with a wrist shot just under the crossbar.
“You’ve got to have people ready to execute in that situation,” Tippett said. “Zubie found a way.

We had been going with him first for a long time. Tonight we changed it up — and it worked.”
Marty Turco stopped all three Edmonton shooters, finishing with a flourish by denying Shawn Horcoff, who had scored on all four opportunities this season.

“I didn’t put the puck where I wanted,” Horcoff said.
Both teams scored in the first period. Jeff Halpern put Dallas ahead at 3:21 ( 700K ), firing Mike Modano’s pass behind Roloson into a half-empty net. Penner tied it at 18:22, chipping a shot over Turco ( 700K ) after fighting off two defenders.
The Oilers became the first team to play four consecutive shootouts; seven teams have played three.
“Both goalies were good — there were a lot of quality chances,” Horcoff said. “We took it to them early, and we should have had more in the first period.”

Ducks 2, Sharks 0 | Video
Two days after losing to the Sharks in a shootout at home, Anaheim got even in San Jose as Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 20 shots for his 26th career shutout.
Second-period goals by Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan gave Giguere all the support he needed as the Ducks beat their Northern California rivals for the third time in four meetings this season and the fourth in a row at HP Pavilion.
“I don’t know why,” Giguere said when asked why the Ducks were so successful at the Shark Tank. “We try to bring our ‘A’ game against them, and when we do that, we’re good enough to win in any building.”
Mike Grier had two great chances for the Sharks in the first period. Giguere stopped him on a breakaway ( 700K ), and a defenseman later cleared the puck off the goal line after his rebound skittered past Giguere ( 700K ).
''Every time we play Anaheim, it seems like it's a really tight game,'' Sharks rookie Torrey Mitchell said. ''One goal, one hit or one bounce can win the game for you.''
Perry beat Evgeni Nabokov 2:40 into the second period ( 700K ) when he fired home Chris Kunitz’s cross-ice pass. Rookie Bobby Ryan added a power-play goal from the slot at 17:28 ( 700K ) . Ryan had the only goal in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Sharks.
“I've played most of my games against the Sharks now, and you can tell it's a rivalry. The second you walk on the ice, everybody is booing.''
Ryan is making a big impression on his new teammates.
“He’s very skilled and has a great shot,” Giguere said of Ryan, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 Entry Draft. “It’s good to see the young guys contributing.”

There were only 36 shots on goal in the game, as each team made the other fight for every inch of open ice.
“We played a great game,” Giguere said. “We stayed with the game plan, and we showed a lot of confidence.

San Jose lost for only the third time in 10 games, but the Sharks' lifeless effort in the final two periods concerned coach Ron Wilson.

''You shouldn't play the way we did in a big game like this,'' Wilson said. ''We had an opportunity to put some distance between ourselves and Anaheim, and we didn't do it. ... It's inexplicable to me not to have the extra passion tonight.''

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.
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