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Hawks keep up winning ways

by Brian Hunter / NHL.com
The Chicago Blackhawks are seeking their first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven years. They now have their longest winning streak since then.

Duncan Keith scored off a rebound 23 seconds into overtime Friday night and the Blackhawks made it six in a row with a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The win gave them a 2-0 mark on a three-game swing through Western Canada that concludes Saturday night in Vancouver.

''We go into every game confident about what we can do but most of all, not high on ourselves, not high on what we've accomplished so far,'' captain Jonathan Toews said. ''We're never satisfied, there's always something we can do a little better.''

On the winning goal, Toews dragged the puck through the crease and couldn't get a shot off, but swept a centering pass back for Keith, who backhanded the puck into an open net with Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff out of position.

''It was a nice play by Toews to bring it to the net and I was kind of lucky, it squirted right out to me,'' Keith said.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 32 shots in improving to 10-0-4 since losing his first start, and Chicago got goals in regulation from Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks last won six straight during the 2001-02 season, which marked their most recent postseason berth.

"Our goaltending's been a key for us and we've been relying on it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's been predictable, dependable, and it kind of gets us in games here."

Rene Bourque and David Moss scored for the Flames, who got 28 saves from Kiprusoff. They took over the Northwest Division lead, jumping one point ahead of idle Vancouver, but that wasn't good enough as far as at least one player was concerned.

"We definitely wanted the extra point," defenseman Adam Pardy said. "It's a tight race in the Northwest Division. We were glad to get the point, but we needed the extra point and we didn't get it."

Bourque, who spent the past three seasons with Chicago before being dealt to Calgary last summer, put the Blackhawks in an early hole when he scored 6:44 into the first period.

Bolland tied the game 1:08 into the second and Kane scored on a power play at 6:24 when his wrist shot from the top of the right circle found the upper corner of the net with Toews in front screening Kiprusoff. But the lead lasted just 2:08 before Moss capitalized on the rebound of Bourque's shot, putting the puck into an open net after it hopped over the stick of defenseman Brian Campbell.

''Both teams played well, both goalies played well when they had to,'' Bourque said. ''We had a lot a chances to finish -- I myself had a few chances -- in the third, but we didn't finish. It's definitely tough to lose like that on the first shift of overtime.''

Sabres 5, Kings 0 | Video

Ryan Miller had to work extra hard to record his 10th career shutout.

Miller made 40 saves, the most stops he's ever made in a no-goal game, and five different Sabres scored as they beat the Kings to snap a two-game losing streak at HSBC Arena.

"Ryan looked really good. He was there for every shot, and that might be as good as he's looked all year," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "And he made a lot of it look easy, which tells you that he was in the right place all night for us. We had a couple lulls, and he made the difference for us."

Derek Roy finished with a goal and two assists, while Drew Stafford had a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who moved into a tie for eighth in the Eastern Conference with Carolina. Also scoring were Adam Mair, Clarke MacArthur and Matt Ellis.

Miller responded after giving up five goals in a loss to the Devils on Wednesday, looking especially solid over the first two periods as the Kings enjoyed a 25-13 advantage in shots.

"Against New Jersey I got out on the wrong foot because a rebound didn't go where I wanted it to go," Miller said. "It put us back on our heels right away, and I've got to be the guy early on who does things right and makes the intelligent play every night so we can get off to a good start."

Roy gave Miller the only goal he would need by scoring his 10th of the season with 3:55 left in the first. Roy tried to send the puck in front from behind the goal line, but it hit off the leg of Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera, was deflected by defenseman Kyle Quincey and went off LaBarbera's leg a second time and into the net.

Mair and MacArthur extended the lead to 3-0 in the second. Mair scored at 2:33 by banging home a loose puck in the crease after a drive by Chris Butler, who played his first NHL game. MacArthur then snapped a 17-game goal drought by redirecting a pass from Stafford at 6:56.

"It was good to get one and hopefully I can get rolling from here," said MacArthur, who has seven goals.

Stafford's power-play goal 3:01 into the third spelled the end of the night for LaBarbera, who gave up four goals on 14 shots before Los Angeles replaced him with Jonathan Quick. Ellis capped the scoring with 5:27 left, picking up his first of the season.

 
 
"We didn't play bad, just nothing went right for us," LaBarbera said. "We got absolutely no bounces around their net."

Wild 4, Islanders 1 | Video

A pair of struggling teams met at Xcel Energy Center, and Minnesota snapped a franchise-record six-game losing streak while keeping New York winless in the month of December.

Colton Gillies sparked a three-goal third by scoring for the first time in the NHL and Niklas Backstrom made 15 saves, finally getting some offensive support after the Wild managed only seven goals during the skid.

"The guys just needed a little confidence boost out there," said Gillies, the Wild's 2007 first-round draft pick and the nephew of Isles Hall of Famer Clark Gillies. "I mean if I can score, anyone can score, right?"

Stephane Veilleux wiped out an Islanders' lead late in the second period and Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard added insurance goals as Minnesota finished with a season-high 39 shots.

"It's a good sign for us. Every line got chances. We all got some momentum in their end," Koivu said.

Joey MacDonald made 35 saves but New York was limited to Richard Park's goal on a 5-on-3 advantage early in the second as it lost its eighth in a row.

"You have to throw pucks on net and hope for those ugly goals," MacDonald said. "You're not going to score if you don't throw anything on net."

Derek Boogaard, who had nine points in 174 career games, set up the winning goal with a shot MacDonald stopped, but Gillies pushed in the rebound 4:28 into the third period. Koivu put the Wild ahead 3-1 at 12:10 and Bouchard scored 2:24 later to cap the scoring.

Doug Weight set up Park's goal at 3:28 of the second with a precision cross-crease pass. The Islanders carried that 1-0 lead into the final minute of the period before Veilleux scored with 57 seconds remaining off a feed behind the net from James Sheppard.

"You're trying, you're trying, and you don't get results. But you've got to keep a positive attitude," Veilleux said in describing Minnesota's recent struggles.

Added Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire: "It's like everyone had 100 pounds off their shoulder. Everyone was skating, enjoying the game, having fun. ... Didn't happen too many times the last couple of weeks."

Ducks 3, Oilers 2 (SO) | Video

Backup goaltender Jonas Hiller stole the show for Anaheim, tying a franchise record with 51 saves through regulation and overtime, then stopping all three Edmonton attempts in the shootout to make Corey Perry's goal in the first round stand up.

"We definitely wanted the extra point. It's a tight race in the Northwest Division. We were glad to get the point, but we needed the extra point and we didn't get it."
  -- Chicago defenseman Adam Pardy
Kyle Brodziak and Erik Cole scored third-period goals to rally the Oilers from a 2-0 deficit, but Hiller also turned aside 19 shots to give the Ducks a chance to win.

"It happens sometimes," said Hiller, who is starting while Jean-Sebastien Giguere attends his father's funeral. "It's almost easier to have a lot of shots. It helps your concentration to stay in the game. I don't need it every game."

Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner all tried and failed to beat Hiller during the penalty-shot tiebreaker. Perry scored against Dwayne Roloson by cutting in off the right boards, going across the crease and then slipping the puck back inside the right post.

"Corey's got great hands," Roloson said. "He goes wide and actually takes it back to the other post, to the far post, and then pulls it back. You have to stay with the puck, and unfortunately he was able to get me."   

Perry had a power-play goal during regulation and Rob Niedermayer scored shorthanded to help the Ducks to a rare win at Rexall Place. They had lost 14 of 16 in Edmonton since the 1999-2000 season, but got off to a good start on a five-game road trip.

With Anaheim killing an interference penalty to Chris Pronger, captain Scott Niedermayer set up brother Rob for the game's first goal with 21 seconds left in the first period. Perry made it 2-0 at 10:09 of the second and Hiller stopped 31 shots as the Ducks took that lead into the third.

Brodziak ended his shutout bid at 6:32 and Cole connected during an Edmonton power play with 6:03 remaining to force overtime.

''You have to take some confidence away from battling back like that,'' Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff said. ''It was a character point for us tonight.''

Thanks to Hiller, though, the Oilers didn't earn that second point.

''He was amazing,'' Scott Niedermayer said. ''We were in the box way too much and he came up huge on a bunch of saves when we were trying to kill penalties and then obviously in the shootout. He won it for us there.''

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



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