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Flyers rally to stun 'Canes

by Brian Hunter /
Scott Hartnell started the comeback for the Philadelphia Flyers. Simon Gagne finished it. The Carolina Hurricanes may still be trying to figure out exactly what hit them.

Hartnell recorded a hat trick Thursday night, including a pair of third-period goals that trimmed a 5-1 deficit to two goals. Scottie Upshall drew them closer with just under five minutes left in regulation, and Gagne forced overtime by scoring with 1:44 remaining. Gagne and Mike Richards then beat Michael Leighton in the shootout and Antero Niittymaki stopped both attempts by the Hurricanes to complete an improbable 6-5 win at the Wachovia Center.

It was the Flyers' biggest rally in 20 years, dating to an 11-6 win against Detroit on Feb. 23, 1988, when they also came back from 5-1 down.

Even coach John Stevens was amazed at this one.

"I just asked them to go out and play 20 minutes the right way," Stevens said when asked what he told the team before the start of the third period, which started with the Flyers down by four. "I never had any idea that we could come back from that kind of a hole from a team that was playing so well."

Eric Staal had his 20th career two-goal game for Carolina, including a power-play tally that gave the Hurricanes a four-goal cushion with 4:47 left in the second period. Matt Cullen, Sergei Samsonov and Joni Pitkanen also scored for the disappointed 'Canes.

"Obviously, it's not what we envisioned," Staal said. "We got on our heels, they kept attacking, and they were able to capitalize on their chances."

All four goals in the third for the Flyers came off rebounds. Hartnell's second of the night came during a shorthanded situation at 1:42 and he lit the lamp again at 7:12 to complete the hat trick. But the Hurricanes still carried a two-goal lead into the final five minutes.

Upshall made it 5-4 with 4:52 to play and Gagne tied it with his 15th goal. Gagne and Richards then easily beat Leighton in the shootout as the Flyers won the breakaway competition one for the first time this season after two losses.

"We came in [after the second period], and [Stevens] basically said you’re playing like a bunch of pansies, and we didn’t get the team game in motion in the first 40 minutes," Hartnell said. "They had a lot of young defense back there, but we weren’t getting the puck in deep, we were turning it over, basically playing losing hockey. We turned it on for 20 minutes; you get one quick, you never know what’s going to happen.


"We stuck with it, got a couple of great goals late, and we were able to get the extra point out of it."

Staal had the lone goal of the first period, scoring just 1:01 after the opening faceoff, and the Hurricanes took it to Niittymaki and the Flyers in the second. Cullen made it 2-0 at 2:10 when his shot from the goalmouth bounced under the goalie's armpit and trickled in; then, after Hartnell cut the lead in half on a power play at 9:17, Samsonov scored off the rebound of Staal's shot 11 seconds later.

Carolina kept coming, as Pitkanen and Staal added power-play goals 3:08 apart. Pitkanen capitalized at 15:08 with a slapper off a 5-on-3 advantage, then Staal created what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, but wasn't.

"We played just some fine hockey for 40 minutes, and in the third we got a lesson in forecheck pressure," said Carolina coach Paul Maurice, now 1-1-2 since taking for Peter Laviolette. "We had a difficult night moving the puck and our feet stopped moving. We ran a few guys in the back end there awful hard and they probably ran out of a little gas."

Lightning 3, Canadiens 1 | Video

Tampa Bay snapped its nine-game losing streak in an unlikely fashion, beating Montreal at the Bell Centre behind a pair of goals by Martin St. Louis.

Captain Vincent Lecavalier had the other Lightning goal and Olaf Kolzig made 31 saves as the team won for the first time since beating Nashville 4-1 on Nov. 21 -- since then, Tampa was 0-7-2 and found itself in the middle of more fallout from the firing of Barry Melrose when the former coach appeared on a Toronto sports radio station Tuesday.

Melrose said he hoped "Tampa Bay doesn't win a game in the next year," and that almost seemed possible at times over the past several weeks. But the Lightning put together a solid effort against the Canadiens, who opened the scoring on a Patrice Brisebois power-play goal but fell to 4-1-1 on their franchise-record seven-game homestand.

''It feels good,'' said St. Louis, whose two goals gave him five in his last five games. ''I'm playing with confidence now and I'm trying to spread that around.

''The team is going in the right direction now.''

St. Louis, on a six-game point streak, made it 1-1 at 10:49 of the first with a shot from the left side that hit the left pad of Jaroslav Halak and squeezed through the goalie's legs. Lecavalier, who assisted on the goal, put Tampa ahead to stay 1:14 later. The Bolts improved to 2-7-4 since interim coach Rick Tocchet took over for Melrose.

"We don't really listen to what (Melrose) says anymore," Lecavalier said. "He said it when he got fired, and he said it again a couple of weeks after so we don't really pay attention to that. We have great players here, a great coaching staff with Rick Tocchet, (Mike) Sullivan and (Wes) Walz, and we're going forward."

St. Louis made it 3-1 with a shorthanded goal 8:31 into the second, scoring on a breakaway against Halak, who stopped 19 shots in his second straight start.

Brisebois' second of the season gave the Canadiens a brief lead. The defenseman took a pass from Alex Kovalev 5:34 in and beat Kolzig on a wrist shot from the slot.

''It's disappointing to pass up on an opportunity like that,'' Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. ''I didn't like the way we started or the way we played.

''They had lost nine in a row and we didn't respond to their work ethic.''

Blue Jackets 2, Predators 1, SO | Video

Goals weren't easy to come by at Nationwide Arena, but Jakub Voracek was able to pop one in when it counted most. Voracek scored on a backhander in the third round of the shootout, beating Nashville goalie Dan Ellis, and when Steve Mason followed with a save on Martin Erat, Columbus went home with the valuable second point.

"He quickly stretched it out to the backhand and brought it right back, right away," Ellis said of Voracek's move. "A lot of times, a lot of guys will bring it over there and go up, or they'll bring it over and keep going. He quickly made the move and slid it right across as I was pushing."

Voracek had watched Kristian Huselius, who was stopped, and Rick Nash try similar moves, and had a plan formulated before he skated in on Ellis.

"They both went wide and he had space between his legs," Voracek said. "So I was sure I was going to put it there. I think I hit his pads a little bit. I was a little lucky that it went in."

Nash and Vernon Fiddler had exchanged goals in the second round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker. The teams had played nearly 50 minutes of scoreless hockey during regulation before Erat and Mike Commodore traded goals 3:32 apart during the third period.

The 0-0 score was nothing new to the Predators, who have seen four of their past nine games head into the third period without a goal on the scoreboard. However, it was the first time all season the Blue Jackets had found themselves in such a situation.

Erat scored his eighth of the season at 9:37 with a hard shot from the left wing during a 4-on-4 situation. Commodore tied it with his first goal in 59 games and first for Columbus, as he used R.J. Umberger as a screen and drove a shot past Ellis one second after Nashville had finished a penalty kill.

"I knew I was going to shoot it even before I got it," he said. "I didn't even look at the net, to be honest with you. I was just looking at the forward coming out. ... I was just trying to shoot it along the ice and hit that gap as hard as I could. And it went in. I didn't really expect that. Maybe I should shoot it like that more often -- not look at the net."

Ellis made 35 saves through overtime while Mason stopped 25 shots and improved to 7-4-1 in his rookie season.

"It was definitely huge," Mason said of the victory. "Everybody was truly disappointed with how it (the road trip) turned out. We put in a great 60-minute effort here. We were rewarded for it."     

Panthers 2, Oilers 0 | Video

Now that he's grabbed the spotlight, Craig Anderson doesn't seem inclined to give it up anytime soon.

Anderson stopped all 41 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season and Florida made a second-period goal by Stephen Weiss stand up as they beat Edmonton night at Rexall Place.   

Radek Dvorak finished things off by scoring into an empty net with three seconds remaining and the Panthers improved to 6-1-2 in their last nine games.

"We're going good," Weiss said. "We're doing the little things really well. We're blocking shots and everyone's on the same page and we're all moving in the right direction, the same direction.

"When you get 20 guys playing that way, you're going to have a good chance to win every night. With the goaltending we're getting, hopefully we can just keep going."
"We're doing the little things really well. We're blocking shots and everyone's on the same page and we're all moving in the right direction, the same direction." -- Stephen Weiss

The Oilers enjoyed a 41-16 advantage in shots but weren't rewarded on the scoreboard thanks to the continued stellar play of Anderson, now 6-1-3 in his last 10 decisions and 10-1-4 lifetime when facing 40 or more shots in a game. Ales Hemsky had a chance to get Edmonton on the board with a breakaway in the second, but was denied.

"The one thing we did really well was clean up the rebounds and let me see the first shot," he said. "Our defensemen did a really good job and even our forwards coming back to clean up some of the rebounds and beating their guys to the puck. It helped the team get the win."

Weiss provided Anderson with all the offense he would need by beating Mathieu Garon with 5:04 left in the middle period. With the Panthers on a power play, Weiss one-timed a feed from Bryan McCabe into the net for his fifth goal of the season.

Edmonton outshot Florida 13-3 in the third, but the only goal was Dvorak's empty-netter.

"We might have had five chances in the game that were real opportunities," Edmonton defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "The other ones we were just kind of floating in there.

"There were no rebounds. [Anderson] was seeing everything. He made the saves he had to make, but I don't think he really stole the show for them. We just didn't pay the price enough."

Coyotes 3, Wild 1 | Video

Beating Minnesota has been a tall order for Phoenix the last couple years, but the recently-returned and red-hot Olli Jokinen helped make sure it happened.

Jokinen tallied with 1.9 seconds left in the second period after Zbynek Michalek had broken a scoreless tie just 22.7 seconds earlier, and the Coyotes rode those two late goals to their first win over the Wild in nine tries.

"The way we've played the last couple of games, we have to bring that game every single night," Jokinen said. "It's been the 'A' game for us."

Joakim Lindstrom added a goal in the third as Phoenix also won for the fourth time in its last five games at Arena. Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves, coming within 12 minutes of a shutout before Antti Miettinen scored for Minnesota, which has dropped a season-high three in a row and scored just twice in the process.

"It was a pretty shocking end to the second period," Miettinen said. "I thought we were controlling the game pretty well until then."

Niklas Backstrom was matching Bryzgalov save for save before Michalek got the Coyotes going in the final half minute of the second. He took a pass just inside the blue line from Shane Doan, took a stride to his right and beat Backstrom over his blocker for his second of the season.

Jokinen, who returned Wednesday from a six-game absence to score twice in a win at Dallas, scored his 10th goal and what proved to be the game-winner by beating the horn with a one-timer to complete a 3-on-1 break. Jokinen took a pass from Peter Mueller and swept the puck into the open right side of the net.

"It was an unbelievable pass," Jokinen said. "I just happened to hit the net. I mean, it was an empty net."

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said of Jokinen: "Obviously we're a better team with him in the lineup. He has helped take a lot of pressure off a lot of guys on our team."

Lindstrom, acquired just last week from Anaheim, got his first of the season after a video review confirmed the puck had gone into the net after he chipped it over Backstrom's shoulder from the front of the crease. Referee Don Koharski had initially signaled no goal on the play 4:41 into the third.

Miettinen got the Wild on the board with 8:25 remaining, with Mikko Koivu drawing his 100th career assist on the play.

"We had our chances on the power play," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We got a couple of rebounds around the net that we couldn't get a hand on. We don't score on the power play and then they get a quick goal and another after that, but at that point I thought we were fine. There were just a couple of things we didn't do well."

Sharks 2, Ducks 0 | Video

It's going to be extremely tough for anyone to unseat San Jose from its perch atop the Pacific Division, and the Sharks pushed their chief rival a little farther back.

Evgeni Nabokov picked up his first shutout of the season and the 41st of his career with a 31-save performance, and Patrick Marleau's goal with three minutes left in the first period stood up in a physical game against Anaheim at HP Pavilion.

''We're playing each other a lot, and I guess we don't like each other too much,'' Nabokov said. ''It's kind of a rivalry. We obviously want what they had, and that's the Stanley Cup. That's why it's such a great rivalry. Our guys care about each other, and that's great to see.''

Devin Setoguchi added his team-high 14th goal in the second for the Sharks, who won for the 10th time in 11 games and opened up a 13-point lead in the division over the Ducks. They were playing for the first time since an overtime loss to Edmonton on Saturday ended their nine-game winning streak.
"We obviously want what they had, and that's the Stanley Cup. That's why it's such a great rivalry. Our guys care about each other, and that's great to see." -- Evgeni Nabokov

Nabokov, who missed three weeks earlier in the season with an injury, hasn't lost in regulation since Oct. 24. He punctuated his night with a big kick save on Corey Perry during the final minute of play.

''The shutout was just icing on a cake,'' Nabokov said. ''Everybody chipped in.''

Marleau started the scoring with a long shot late in the first period, his 13th of the season. That put him in a temporary deadlock with Setoguchi for the team goal lead, which his teammate promptly reclaimed 9:45 into the second by whipping home the rebound of a Marleau shot.   

''It's tough to play against the Sharks right now,'' said Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller, who made 25 saves. ''We know we have to put pressure on them, get a body on them. We showed we were able to play better in the third, but we need to play that way for 60 minutes.''

Kings 6, Blues 2 | Video

Dustin Brown recorded his first career hat trick, notching a pair of power-play goals 1:12 apart in the second period and sending the hats sailing onto the Staples Center ice in the third when a Jarret Stoll shot deflected in off his shin pad.

Anze Kopitar scored twice and Alexander Frolov had the other goal for Los Angeles, which received 26 saves in goal from Erik Ersberg and improved to 3-0 this season against St. Louis.

"We competed, and that was right through the lineup. Everybody competed hard," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "Ersberg was really good in net. He competed hard. It was a good, solid win for us."

Cam Paddock and Carlo Colaiacovo had goals as the Blues cut a 4-0 deficit in half before Brown and Kopitar tacked on some insurance. Chris Mason was pulled after two periods, allowing four goals on 24 shots, and Ben Bishop finished up with six saves.

''We played terrible hockey and let each other down,'' Blues center Keith Tkachuk said. ''It was just a horrible game. They have our number.''

The Kings went 3-for-6 on the power play, scoring their first three goals of the night with the man advantage. Frolov had the lone goal of the opening period when he redirected Kyle Quincey's wrist shot from the point with 9:42 left.

Brown and Kopitar combined to make it 4-0 by combining for three goals in a span of 3:03 in the second. With Los Angeles enjoying a 5-on-3, Brown connected for goals at 7:32 and 8:44, then Kopitar scored at 10:35 with the teams at even strength.

Paddock responded for the Blues at 13:23 after Roman Polak's slap shot deflected first off the stick of Kings defenseman Sean O'Donnell and then off Paddock's blade. Colaiacovo made it 4-2 at 8:19 of the third, but that was as close as St. Louis would get.

Brown, who hadn't scored in eight previous games, got his third of the night and 11th of the season with 7:15 remaining as he found himself in the right position to redirect a shot by Stoll, who finished with three assists. Kopitar capped the scoring 37 seconds later.

"Just standing around the net, and when you're around the net good things happen," Brown said. "It just happened to go off my shin pad and in the net. I'll take them any way I can get them."

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

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