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Hats off to Crombeen as Blues win

by Brian Hunter /
B.J. Crombeen entered Monday's game with two goals in 32 career NHL games. He was playing only his 10th game as a member of the St. Louis Blues after starting the season with Dallas. Safe to say Crombeen had a night he'll always remember and made a nice impression on the Scottrade Center fans in the process.

Crombeen recorded a hat trick, including the game-winning goal with 3:43 left in regulation and an empty-netter to seal things, and the Blues handed Pekka Rinne his first loss of the season in a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators.

''I can't say I was expecting that going into the game,'' Crombeen said. ''Right spot at the right time on the first one. (Alex Steen) made a beautiful play on the second one and obviously, an empty net on the third one. It was a good night. The best part of it was we got the win.''

Making it a little more special for Crombeen, his father Mike -- a seven-year NHL veteran -- played for the Blues from 1978-83, although he never scored three times in a single game.

''I'll have to call him up and see what he has to say about it,'' Crombeen joked.

Steen, Patrik Berglund and Brad Boyes also scored for St. Louis, which beat Nashville for the third time in as many tries this season. Manny Legace made 18 saves.

Rinne, who was 6-0-0 this season and 7-1-0 in 11 career games for the Predators, stopped 20 of 25 shots. Antti Pihlstrom, Kevin Klein and J.P. Dumont had goals as Nashville led 1-0 and 2-1, then rallied from a 3-2 deficit to enter the final minutes of the third period tied.

Crombeen put the Blues ahead to stay with his second of the night, taking Steen's pass and beating Rinne from the slot. Boyes deflected Barret Jackman's point shot 45 seconds later for his team-leading 14th of the season, making it 5-3, and Crombeen completed the hat trick with half a minute remaining.

''I had a lot of speed so I figured I'd try (to beat the defender) and it's successful,'' Steen said of his play on the go-ahead goal. ''B.J. had a good finish. It's fun when those plays work.''

Pihlstrom started the scoring for the Predators midway through the first with a power-play goal, but Crombeen tied the score with 41 seconds left in the period after the Blues took advantage of a turnover and kept the puck in the zone. Crombeen beat Rinne at the side of the goal.

Klein's breakaway goal made it 2-1 at 6:32 of the second before the teams combined for three goals in a 2:01 span late in the period. The Blues went ahead for the first time as Steen and Berglund scored power-play goals 1:26 apart, but the Predators quickly got even as Dumont beat Legace with 3:03 to play before intermission.

''I'm not sure what happened (late in the game),'' Predators defenseman Shea Weber said. ''A little mental lapse, a little miscommunication. That's something we can't do, especially late in the game. We have to salvage at least one point.''

Bruins 5, Lightning 3 | VIDEO

Boston looked fairly ordinary for much of the game, but it didn't matter. A three-goal burst in the first 11 minutes staked the Bruins to a comfortable lead, and they held on for the win Monday night at TD Banknorth Garden, extending Tampa Bay's losing streak to eight straight.

Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel and Michael Ryder scored in the opening 10:46 for Boston, winners of five in a row and 14 of its last 16 games. Zdeno Chara added a power-play goal in the second period and P.J. Axelsson added an empty-netter with 10 seconds left after Tampa nearly rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits.

"We're not playing the way we usually play against teams," Chara said. "Just because we worked hard in the first period -- we played a little too comfortable, I guess. Maybe we're a little too confident."

Adam Hall, Martin St. Louis and Paul Szczechura had goals for the Lightning, last in the League with 20 points. Szczechura's first NHL goal came with 17.2 seconds remaining and goalie Mike Smith on the bench for an extra skater, pulling them within one, but Axelsson quickly answered off the ensuing faceoff with Smith still on the bench.

"Maybe. It does matter. It shouldn't," Dennis Wideman said of a possible letdown. "That's something that shouldn't happen. You look at the elite teams like Detroit, when they get leads like that they keep coming at you."

Lucic opened the scoring on a Boston power play 6:44 into the first. Positioned at the top of the crease, he redirected a Wideman pass for his seventh of the season.

Kessel, who has been the poster boy for the Bruins' surge, made it 2-0 with his 17th of the season and extended his point streak to 12 games (10 goals, 5 assists). His shot caromed off the stick of Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger at 9:29, then Ryder struck 1:17 later on a wrist shot from the left circle.

After outshooting Tampa 13-5 in the first, Boston took only 11 shots the rest of the way and allowed 24 on their own goalie. But Tim Thomas was solid, making 26 saves to improve to 8-1-1 in his last 10 starts.

"Once we got a comfortable lead, we decided to get cute," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

Hall got the Lightning on the board 13:06 into the second before Chara restored the Bruins' three-goal advantage by one-timing a rising shot during a 5-on-3 advantage with 1:17 left in the period. St. Louis made it a 4-2 game at 9:27 of the third before the Lightning drew closer in the final minute on Szczechura's goal -- just not close enough.

"I don't know if we're a dumb team or we just don't get it, or we don't deserve to be in this League," Smith said. "I mean, we're making the same mistakes we talk about, game in and game out."

Panthers 4, Senators 3 (OT) | VIDEO

Craig Anderson and Florida are making their move in the Southeast Division.

Anderson made 35 saves in his sixth straight start and Stephen Weiss scored with 9.1 seconds left in overtime as the Panthers won at Scotiabank Place on Monday night to improve to 5-1-2 in their last eight games and climb within two points of Carolina for second in the division.

Weiss drove a shot from just over the blue line past Alex Auld, who finished with 36 saves, to put the Panthers ahead on the scoreboard for the only time all night.

''All year I've been hearing 'shoot the puck.' I was just trying to get it at the net,'' Weiss said.

Chris Kelly, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza staked the Senators to separate one-goal leads that the Panthers answered with tallies by Nick Boynton, Michal Repik and Jay Bouwmeester before Weiss scored the winner.

''It's annoying to lose with that little time left. It would have been nice to stop that one,'' Auld said.

Kelly and Boynton scored 3:55 apart in the first, with Kelly's goal needing video review to confirm it, as teammate Nick Foligno fell into the net as Kelly pushed the puck across the goal line. Referee Tom Kowal informed the crowd it was "a good hockey goal."

Repik undoubtedly felt the same about his goal, which came in his first NHL game. After Heatley put the Senators up 2-1 at 2:32 of the second, Repik scored off the rebound of Keith Ballard's shot from the left corner 1:20 later. Ballard retrieved the puck while Repik, recalled from Rochester of the AHL earlier Monday, skated back to the bench.

''I just went to the net and the puck was in front of me,'' said Repik, who was leading the Americans in scoring before his call-up.

Spezza stayed hot with his seventh goal in six games and 12th of the season at 8:20 of the middle period, but this lead lasted all of 1:38 before Bouwmeester drew the Panthers even for the third time by scoring on the power play.

''We knew what this team was all about," Auld said. "They work extremely hard and they put a lot of pressure on us. We had the lead a few times and let it slip away, but to lose like that with I don't know how many seconds left, that's no fun.''

Maple Leafs 4, Islanders 2 | VIDEO

Jason Blake had a big night at the expense of his former team, netting the go-ahead goal and setting up two other scores as Toronto doubled up New York on Monday at Air Canada Centre.

Blake, a 40-goal scorer in his final season for the Islanders in 2006-07, snapped a tie with 1:39 left in the second period, then set up Jeremy Williams for the lone goal in the third. Nikolai Kulemin and Ian White also scored for the Leafs.

"Obviously every one knows I'm here to provide offense and scoring and it hasn't come together here," said Blake, who has five goals and 11 assists this season. "It's disappointing -- believe me, I'm just as disappointed as everybody else. I pride myself on a lot of things and it's just nice to contribute."

Bill Guerin and Mike Sillinger quickly wiped out one-goal deficits with goals for the Islanders, but they still lost their fifth in six games despite 33 saves from Joey MacDonald in his 17th straight start.

"Obviously every one knows I'm here to provide offense and scoring and it hasn't come together here.  It's disappointing -- believe me, I'm just as disappointed as everybody else. I pride myself on a lot of things and it's just nice to contribute." -- Jason Blake

"Give them credit," Islanders forward Doug Weight said. "It was two teams that needed the win and we didn't come out and play that way early."

Kulemin started the scoring four minutes into the first when he came off the bench on a line change, drove to the net and put home an Alexei Ponikarovsky pass. Guerin answered 16 seconds later by tipping a Freddy Meyer point shot and surprising goalie Vesa Toskala.

The teams traded power-play goals in the second, as White scored from the point at 12:56 off an Anton Stralman feed only to have Sillinger tie the score again at 16:07 for his first of the season.

Blake's game-winner came 2:14 later when he took a brilliant thread pass from Williams while cutting in from the right wing and beat MacDonald to his stick side.

"I thought Jeremy fit in real well," said Blake. "He's a very talented kid and he's got a great shot. The pass that he made to me, that's just a great pass on his backhand. All night he made smart decisions with the puck."

Blake returned the favor by sending a cross-ice feed that Williams converted for his first of the season 8:21 into the third. Williams played in parts of three previous seasons for Toronto, including a pair of single-game stints in which he scored a goal.

"I guess he's done this a few times in the past, had a good first game," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "Now the big thing for him is not to let it get to his head and keep doing the things he was doing tonight."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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