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Habs' four in third stun Islanders

by John Kreiser /
Throwback night on Long Island turned into Comeback Night for the Montreal Canadiens.

The New York Islanders introduced the "new" third jerseys — actually, a throwback version of the jerseys they wore for their first two decades — for Saturday night's game against Montreal. For two periods, the NHL's worst team looked like the Isles of the dynasty days in the early 1980s — dominating play and skating off after two periods with a 4-1 lead.

But two periods do not a hockey game make — and in the third, the Isles looked more like the 1972-73 expansion team that also wore those jerseys. The Canadiens scored four times and turned the three-goal deficit into a stunning 5-4 victory, handing the Isles their sixth consecutive loss.

"The good thing about tonight is that we showed character and that we'll fight to the end," said Alex Kovalev, whose goal with 4:41 remaining capped the comeback. "Our biggest problem so far this season is that when other teams skate and put pressure on us, we get out of our game."

That's just what the Islanders did — for two periods.

After Kovalev gave the Canadiens the early lead by scoring at 2:03, the Islanders took over the game. Ex-Canadien Mark Streit tied it at 3:47 with a power-play goal and Jon Sim put New York in front at 12:27 when Carey Price whiffed on his 30-foot wrist shot from the left circle. It was the Isles' first lead in 317:04 of playing time, dating to Trent Hunter's OT winner at Tampa Bay on Oct. 16.

Bill Guerin made it 3-1 at 1:40 of the second period with a power-play tip and Frans Nielsen roofed a shot from just outside the crease at 16:43.

But the Canadiens were an entirely different team in the third period, holding the Isles without a shot for more than 13 minutes as they rallied against Yann Danis, a former Canadien farmhand playing his first NHL game in nearly three years. Danis could be in line for more action after the Isles announced that starter Rick DiPietro will miss 4-6 weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery — but he didn't do much in the third period to help his bid for more playing time.

"The biggest thing was there were a lot of shortcuts," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "It wasn't because of anything they did differently. The loosening up in front of the net and the shot area — that shouldn't happen."

Tomas Plekanec's tip-in at 7:48 got the rally started, and he beat Danis with a wrist shot 2:07 later to cut the deficit to one. Long Island native Christopher Higgins beat Danis at 14:06 for his fifth goal in six career games at the Nassau Coliseum. With the Islanders reeling and running around in their own zone, Kovalev completed the rally with a tip-in at 15:19.

"We played one period, and we won," Higgins said. "I wish the effort was more consistent for 60 minutes."

Streit said the Islanders stopped skating in the final 20 minutes.

"For two periods, we really played well," Streit said. "Then we didn't skate anymore. We just waited. We gave them space and time. We didn't forecheck, we didn't backcheck. We just watched."

Devils 6, Thrashers 1 | Video

One of New Jersey's easiest wins of the season could turn into its most costly.

Zach Parise's two goals led the Devils' rout of the struggling Thrashers, but New Jersey lost goaltender Martin Brodeur early in the second period with what the team called an elbow injury. With New Jersey leading 3-0, Brodeur sprawled to make a save and landed on his left elbow. He left the ice at 6:38, holding his left arm.

"He stretched out to make a glove save," coach Brent Sutter said. "Then he stretched out again. I don't know exactly what happened. He got hit earlier with a shot there, too."

Kevin Weekes stopped 14 shots in his first action of the season, though under the NHL's scoring rules, Brodeur got the victory — moving him within seven of Patrick Roy's career record of 551.

The Devils can only hope that the injury isn't serious. For now, they're not saying anything.

"You're asking me something I'm not sure of," Sutter said. "I just don't know what to tell you. We'll see where Marty's at tomorrow and we'll see how it goes."
The last time Brodeur was forced out of action was in 2005, when he missed six early-season games due to a knee injury.
"You don't want to see anybody go down," captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "Obviously, he's pretty important for us. We all hope it's not anything too serious."
Parise's pair extended his goal-scoring streak to six games as the Devils ended a three-game losing streak. Atlanta lost its sixth in a row and avoided its third shutout in 11 games when Slava Kozlov scored a meaningless goal at 6:30 of the third period after New Jersey led by six.

"We're a fragile team right now," Thrashers coach John Anderson said. "It's really tough right now."

Rookie Nicklas Bergfors got his first NHL goal at 14:10 of the opening period to put New Jersey ahead to stay before the Devils blew the game open with five goals in the second period. Parise capped the explosion at 19:53 by finishing off a highlight-film passing play with Paul Martin and Travis Zajac.


Blackhawks 4, Blue Jackets 3, SO | Video

Cristobal Huet was good to the last shot. After making 48 saves during regulation and overtime, he stopped all three Columbus attempts in the shootout and made Jonathan Toews' successful attempt in the penalty-shot competition stand up.

Toews scored in the first round and Huet stopped Kristian Huselius, Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek to improve to 4-1-2 under new coach Joel Quenneville.

"It's big for us to come in here and steal one on the road," said Toews after the Blackhawks won their first road game (1-3-1) of the season.

Huet said that despite the volume of shots, the Blue Jackets didn't overwhelm him with great scoring chances.

"They threw a lot of pucks at the net," Huet said. "We made a few mistakes, but overall I think most of their shots were from the outside, which is fine."

The 51 shots were the most in Jackets' history. They also had 10 power plays, but scored on just one.

"You can't dominate a game like we did tonight and get one point," center Michael Peca said. "This is definitely a case of the glass being half-empty."

The Blue Jackets actually had to rally to get that point. They trailed 2-1 after two periods despite outshooting Chicago 18-5 in the second. Fedor Tyutin's shorthanded goal at 8:18 made it 2-2, but Duncan Keith scored on the same power play to put Chicago back in front.

Huselius' wrist shot past Huet with 7:52 left in regulation sent the game into overtime — and Huet got the game into the shootout by making eight saves in the extra period. The Jackets also hit two posts.

Coach Ken Hitchcock's team has lost four of the past five — three by one goal and two by two.

"My ears are ringing with all the goal posts we hit today," he said. "[But] if we can continue to play like this, we're going to win a lot of games."

Bruins 5, Stars 1 | Video

The Stars continue to have trouble keeping the puck out of their net. They coughed up five goals for the second time in as many nights, this time against the offensively-challenged Bruins.

Marco Sturm, who came into the game with one goal, had two for the Bruins in a physical game that saw seven misconducts and 146 penalty minutes assessed by referees Chris Rooney and Don VanMassenhoven. Sturm's second goal of the night capped a three-goal, penalty-filled third period that blew a close game wide open.

"You get opportunities, but then make one mistake and it ends up in our net," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "It's a group effort. You win as a team and you lose as a team. We're giving away too many opportunities and we have to look at our lineup and evaluate it right through."

Sturm put Boston ahead 2:41 into the game on the first shot against Marty Turco, who was back in goal after sitting out two games. Sean Avery tied it by beating Tim Thomas with a slap shot at 7:55.
"It's a group effort. You win as a team and you lose as a team. We're giving away too many opportunities and we have to look at our lineup and evaluate it right through." -- Dave Tippett

But that turned out to be the only one of Dallas' 36 shots to beat Thomas. He was at his best in the second period, when the Stars outshot the Bruins 21-5 but couldn't score. Instead, Patrice Bergeron stole the puck from Brenden Morrow and stuffed it past Turco 1:52 into the second period to put Boston ahead to stay.

Phil Kessel, Mark Stuart and Sturm turned a nailbiter into a rout in the third period.

"I think they did a great job on the penalty kill and survived that period and came out in the third period and finished the job," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Had we lost our cool, it could have gone the other way."

The Stars, who lost 5-2 in Chicago on Friday, were frustrated by their performance.

"Tonight we were just stupid and it was one of the more embarrassing things I've seen, on the ice and with the fans," said center Mike Modano. "It got out of hand later, we blew it again and got ourselves into trouble. We took some dumb penalties and we are lacking mental toughness. We are spending more energy on the refs than on winning the game. You allow quality chances like we are and it doesn't matter who is in net."

Lightning 3, Senators 2, SO

Tough guy Evgeny Artyukhin turned scorer in the shootout, scoring in the eighth round to give Tampa Bay its third consecutive victory.

Artyukhin has four goals in 82 career NHL games, and none in his last 33. It was his first career shootout attempt.

"I just had a hunch about Arty," Tampa Bay coach Barry Melrose said. "I thought, let's put the big guy out there and see what he could do."

Artyukhin said watching the first seven rounds, in which each team scored twice, was a big help.

"I just watched the goalie and tried to shoot low," Artyukhin said. "That worked."

Matt Carle tied the game for Tampa Bay when he scored with 6:12 left in regulation, breaking a personal 40-game goal-scoring drought.

"Coming from behind like that, a big goal with a few minutes left, is a huge morale boost," said goalie Mike Smith, who made 28 saves.

Antoine Vermette and Dany Heatley had second-period goals, sandwiched around one by Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier.

Despite coming up short in the shootout, the Senators finished 2-1-1 on their four-game road trip.

"I thought we played a pretty solid game," Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg said. "When it gets to a shootout, you don't know what's going to happen. We did some good things. We've just got to continue to improve our game."

Sabres 5, Capitals 0 | Video

After two klunkers at home, the Sabres righted themselves against the Alex Ovechkin-less Caps as Thomas Vanek scored twice and Ryan Miller stopped 29 shots for his eighth NHL shutout.

The Sabres looked dreadful in 5-2 home losses to Ottawa and Tampa Bay earlier in the week.

"That was a lot better," Miller said. "We looked a lot sharper. We started off really well. To get a lead, protect it and battle through some penalty kills, it'll do more for us than coming back every night."

Vanek had his third multi-goal game of the season and now leads the NHL with 11 goals. He scored 1:12 into the game and got his second with less than three seconds remaining in the second period.
"Right now, I'm trying to stay hot. The pucks bounced my way. I got rewarded for it. I'm not trying to think too much, just play and get the puck on net and take care of my opportunities." -- Thomas Vanek

"Right now, I'm trying to stay hot," Vanek said. "The pucks bounced my way. I got rewarded for it. I'm not trying to think too much, just play and get the puck on net and take care of my opportunities."

Derek Roy and Jason Pominville followed Vanek to make it 3-0 after one period. Daniel Paille added a third-period goal.

The Capitals (5-4-1), who lost for the seventh time in eight games in Buffalo, played without Ovechkin for the second straight game. The reigning Hart Trophy winner was still in Russia visiting his ailing grandfather.

"I can definitely tell you there were guys out there not ready to play," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We've got some great players, but Mike Green wasn't ready to play," he said. "Sasha (Sergei Fedorov) didn't come to play, and Viktor (Kozlov), and you can go on with some of our skilled players not ready to commit to playing a complete game."

Predators 3, Panthers 2, SO

Martin Erat was disappointed that Nashville lost Tuesday night's shootout to Washington. He made sure it didn't happen again, beating Craig Anderson for the only goal of the penalty-shot competition to lift the Predators past Florida.

Erat, who tied the game with a goal midway through the third period, beat Anderson inside the left post in the second round for the winner.

"Marty is a very creative guy," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He always has a lot of ideas, and sometimes in a shootout he gets a lot of those ideas going.

"He has two or three key moves. When he does them I don't think that have a chance of stopping him. He really focused and realized we needed those two points."

Erat leads the Predators with six regulation goals.

"I'm just trying to do the same things all of the time," Erat said. "Right now, everything is working. But it's a long season. There are going to be bumps in the road."

Shea Weber gave the Predators the lead at 16:29 of the first period when he skated in from the left point and beat Anderson with a high shot to the stick side. Rostislav Olesz tied it 63 seconds later when he split the defense and beat Pekka Rinne low to the stick side on a breakaway.

Florida took the lead at 11:15 of the second period when Radek Dvorak knocked down a clearing attempt and Kamil Kreps picked up the loose puck. He fed Karlis Skrastins alone in the slot, and Skrastins snapped the puck past Rinne for his second goal of the season.

Erat tied the game by knocking David Legwand's rebound past Anderson.

"We went out and played a good road game against a good team," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought it was back and forth. We gave them a chance to hang around. Then they got the goal in the third.

"We had some good chances at the end of the second to put them away when we were up 2-1. Their goaltender made a couple of real good saves."

Flames 3, Kings 2 | Video

The Calgary Flames are the hottest thing going in the NHL these days, mostly thanks to Miikka Kiprusoff. He stopped 34 shots and held off Los Angeles during a wild last-minute power play as Calgary won its sixth in a row.

Daymond Langkow's goal with 3:37 remaining broke a 2-2 tie after the Kings' Oscar Moller evened the game with his second of the night with 5:55 to play in regulation. It was Moller's fourth goal and came in his 10th game, meaning the 19-year-old is staying with the Kings and not going back to junior hockey.

"It's a little bit of relief, but I can't get too confident or too comfortable," Moller said. "I can't slack off or anything. I've got to make sure that I stick around here all year."

Langkow's goal was his 19th in 40 career games against the Kings, who've lost six of seven to the Flames.

It's been a big turnaround for the Flames, who were 1-3-1 before the current winning streak.

"We were definitely disappointed in how the season started," center Wayne Primeau said. "We had a great preseason, and then we didn't get off on the right foot. But we've really paid attention to the details in practice with our forechecking and down-low coverage. I think the guys are starting to buy into it. And when you've get everybody on the same page, it's a lot easier out there."
"It's a little bit of relief, but I can't get too confident or too comfortable. I can't slack off or anything. I've got to make sure that I stick around here all year." -- Oscar Moller

Kiprusoff, who's been in goal for all six wins, was brilliant, especially the final 1:41 after Jarome Iginla was sent off for interference. The Kings pulled goalie Jason LaBarbera in the last minute but couldn't beat Kiprusoff.

"We weren't skating very well tonight," Langkow said. "(Kiprusoff) has been tremendous for us, especially tonight. We hung him out to dry a little bit. I hope we can give him more help tomorrow (in Anaheim)."

The Flames took a 2-0 lead on a first-period goal by Eric Nystrom and Adrian Aucoin's power-play goal at 6:50 of the second — his 100th career goal. But Moller cut the deficit in half when his pass deflected off Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf and into the net at 12:28. It was the only one of the Kings' 16 power-play shots to beat Kiprusoff.

"He's been a key reason for us being unbeaten in six games," Primeau said of the goaltender, who struggled in his first five games but has surrendered just nine goals in the six-game winning streak. "We need great goaltending to win. To be a good team, we have to find a way to win the not-so-great games, like tonight."

Wild 3, Coyotes 2

A trip to the desert was just what the Wild needed to snap a two-game losing streak. Eric Belanger's goal midway through the third period snapped a tie as Minnesota won its eighth in a row against the Coyotes.

Marc-Andre Bergeron picked off Peter Mueller's pass and bounced a pass off defenseman David Hale's leg to Belanger in the left circle. He wobbled a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov at 9:25 for the game-winner.

"We were forechecking pretty good and created the turnover," Belanger said. "I was in the right place at the right time. It went right on my stick."

Belanger has gotten more playing time due to injuries among Minnesota's forwards, and he's making the most of it.

"I feel good out there, and I'm playing with a lot of confidence," Belanger said. "My legs feel great. I'm playing in every situation, and as a player you can't ask for any more."

The Wild, already without Marian Gaborik and Owen Nolan, lost defenseman Brent Burns minutes before the game to an upper body injury sustained in warmups.

Asked how long he could keep patching together lineups, Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said: "Until I die. And it's coming."

Olli Jokinen had both goals for Phoenix. His second, with 2:33 left in the second period, tied the game at 2-2. While killing a penalty, Jokinen outfought Kim Johnsson for the puck near the Wild blue line, broke in and beat Niklas Backstrom with a backhander.

Jokinen's goal 7:17 into the game was the only one scored in the first period. Benoit Pouliot tied it 1:29 into the second, and Minnesota went ahead at 10:04 when Mikko Koivu beat Bryzgalov from the low slot.

"We had a lot of turnovers in the first half of the game," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Against a team with as strong discipline as they play, you just can't turn the puck over too many times."

Backstrom finished with 25 saves to improve to 7-0-0 lifetime against Phoenix. He hasn't allowed more than two goals in any of those games.

"It's been a while since we beat that team," Phoenix caption Shane Doan said. "As a group we didn't play a full 60 minutes. They did and they got rewarded for it."
Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report.

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