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Hawks rout Devils 5-1 in battle of NHL's elite

by Brian Hunter
The Chicago Blackhawks couldn't quite manage their first shutout of the New Jersey Devils since New Year's Eve in 1995. They were more than happy to settle for yet another victory.

The Hawks got goals from five players and a 26-save performance by Cristobal Huet in a 5-1 victory over the Devils -- their fourth win in five games and eighth in their last 10.

Huet, who rebounded from a shaky outing Tuesday in Dallas, was 93 seconds away from a shutout before Jamie Langenbrunner banged in his own rebound.

"He was strong early," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a nice way for him to bounce back. I liked the way we played across the board."

The Devils were playing their third game in four nights and coming off a 2-0 home win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday. They couldn't keep up with the faster Hawks.

"We didn't make a lot of plays," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We weren't skating as well. It seems like it was downhill for them the rest of the way."

Quenneville acknowledged that New Jersey looked a little weary.

"We took advantage of a team that had a game last night," he said. "You'll take a win no matter how you get it, but I thought tonight's game was really strong."

Chicago took control midway through the first period, grabbing a 2-0 lead on goals by Troy Brouwer and Ben Eager 1:45 apart on consecutive shots. The Devils had killed 10 straight penalties and 18 of 19 before Brouwer's power-play goal at 14:44. Eager made it 2-0 from the slot when he backhanded Colin Fraser's feed from behind the net between Martin Brodeur's pads.

Andrew Ladd finished off a 2-on-1 with Patrick Sharp 2:12 into the second to make it 3-0. Huet made some of his best saves early and midway through the second, as the Devils began to generate some offense.

Jonathan Toews made it 4-0 at 4:41 of the third when he stripped defenseman Johnny Oduya in the Devils zone, went in alone and beat Brodeur with a high shot on the glove side. Former Devil John Madden, playing against his old team for the first time, completed Chicago's scoring at 15:11.

"I'm just happy to score anytime," said Madden, who played 10 seasons and won two Cups with New Jersey. "It doesn't make a difference what team (it's against)."

Madden also felt the Hawks caught the Devils at the right time.

"It was a great effort, but we caught a team that was probably tired from playing Pittsburgh the night before," he said. "Next time we see them will probably be different."

Lemaire was impressed by the Blackhawks' overall game.

"They move the puck well," he said. "Skating and puck control is their game, and this is why they have success. They're a top team."

Canadiens 5, Panthers 4 | HIGHLIGHTS

You'll have to forgive the Canadiens if they don't want to go home -- not after spending the last couple of weeks going 6-1 on the road. They capped their trip with a win at the BankAtlantic Center as Marc-Andre Bergeron and Benoit Pouliot scored in the first 4:29 of the third period.

Bergeron scored during Montreal's 5-on-3 power play to give the Canadiens a 4-3 lead 1:52 into the third. Pouliot stretched the advantage 2:37 later in front of the Panthers' first home sellout crowd of the season -- which included a lot of Canadiens fans who made the trip to Florida to support their team.

Now the Canadiens have to build on their road success when they return to the Bell Centre on Saturday for their first home game since Dec. 17.

"That's awesome," Pouliot said of his team's play on the trip. "Now we have to do the same thing at home."

Radek Dvorak made it a one-goal game at 6:03, but the Panthers couldn't get the equalizer after paying a big price for consecutive delay of game penalties that set up Bergeron's goal.

"It was suicide," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "We put ourselves in that position and we paid for it. You can't shoot yourself in the foot like that and win too many games."

Andrei Markov added three assists for Montreal, which trailed 2-1 after the first period but went ahead 3-2 in the second on goals by Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec. Michael Frolik got the Panthers even at 12:08 of the middle period with a wrist shot past Jaroslav Halak.

"We finished the year on a good note, and now we have to keep it going," Markov said.

Senators 3, Islanders 2 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

One year to the night after cheering John Tavares for his role in leading Canada's national junior team to victory over Team USA, the fans at Scotiabank Place were cheering again -- when he was stopped on a shootout attempt, giving the Senators the victory.

Five consecutive shooters scored in the shootout, with Ryan Shannon beating Dwayne Roloson in the third round before Tavares' wrist shot clipped the post.

"It's not the result we wanted. Obviously, I'd have like to put that one in," said Tavares, who was held without a point and now has just 1 goal and 1 assist in his past 11 games -- though he still leads all rookies with 16 goals and 28 points. "I thought I just had to get (the shootout chance) up and it just rolled off my stick. Obviously, you want to score every chance you get, especially me. I hate missing them. It was just unfortunate, but we battled back hard and it was good to get a point."

Shannon said watching Mike Fisher and Alex Kovalev score against Roloson helped him.

"After seeing Fish and Kovalev go, I'm sure Roloson wasn't feeling too confident and I just found the net," said Shannon, who had four goals in the three games prior to Thursday after going goal-less in his previous 29 games.

"The team's playing well and we're making it easy on ourselves," he added. "Each guy knows their role and what makes them good so, when everything's clicking, all the personal games are better, too."

Rob Schremp put the Islanders ahead with a power-play goal 7:55 into the second period, but Ottawa dominated the rest of the period and went ahead on goals by Chris Kelly and Peter Regin.

Jon Sim tied the game 56 seconds into the third period when he whacked his own rebound past Leclaire at the left post.

Red Wings 4, Avalanche 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

The Wings delighted a full house on New Year's Eve by erupting for four goals -- their biggest offensive night in a month. Ville Leino broke a tie with 3:52 remaining in regulation and Darren Helm had a pair of shorthanded goals for the Wings.

"It's a great win. We played hard and fought. It was good," said goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 20 saves.

Leino, who has four goals this season, broke a 2-2 tie when tipped Darren Meech's shot from the point out of the air and into the net. The goal stood up to a video review. Helm, who had a shorthanded goal in the second period, added another into an empty net with 23 seconds remaining.

Leino was a healthy scratch in Monday's 1-0 overtime loss at Columbus and dressed only because Patrick Eaves had the flu.

"These things sometimes give you a lot of confidence and you feel good after," Leino said. "Hopefully, I can be a little relaxed -- but not too much."

The Wings led 2-0 late in the second period on goals by Pavel Datsyuk and Helm, who scored with 2:04 left in the period. But rookie Brandon Yip got the Avs on the board by scoring a power-play goal with 47 seconds left, then tied the game with 8:01 remaining in regulation by converting Darcy Tucker's cross-crease pass.

"Down two goals, we did a pretty good job to battle and come back," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "Just too bad we couldn't get a point out of it."

Predators 2, Blue Jackets 1 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

Nashville continued its dominance of Columbus when Andreas Thuresson scored the tying goal with 7:21 left in regulation and David Legwand got the winner 28 seconds into overtime -- spoiling the night for a sellout crowd of 18,221 at Nationwide Arena.

The Predators improved to 22-2-1 against the Blue Jackets over the last four seasons. They are 39-11-1-4 against Columbus overall.

Coach Barry Trotz expected his team to come through against a division rival it has dominated.

"I knew we were going to be able to get one (goal) at some point if we just stayed with it long enough," he said.

Joel Ward, who assisted on Thuresson's tying goal, set up the winner when he stole the puck from defenseman Mathieu Roy to the left of the net. Ward tapped a backpass to Legwand in the low slot, and Legwand beat Mathieu Garon for his ninth of the season.

"On both goals I thought Joel Ward was a big factor," Trotz said. "He just hounds pucks."

The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead 6:02 into the game when Jabuk Voracek fed Antoine Vermette, who returned it for a shot that Dan Ellis got a piece of. The puck bounced behind Ellis near the goal line, and Raffi Torres dived to jam it in for his 10th goal.

Fedor Tyutin's giveaway pass to Ward set up the tying goal. Ward picked up the errant pass behind the net and fed Thuresson, who faked Garon and then scored his first NHL goal.

The Blue Jackets haven't scored more than two goals in their last nine games, tying a franchise record. They've won only three of their last 22 games.

"We're desperate for wins, especially when we have packed houses," captain Rick Nash said. "We want to show our fans we're a good team. It was a solid game, just some defensive errors came to bite us."

Rangers 2, Hurricanes 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

One night after their coach said "we didn't compete," the Rangers bounced back with a solid effort and a victory at Carolina -- outshooting the Hurricanes 35-18 and getting the tie-breaking goal by Brandon Dubinsky with 8:11 remaining in regulation.

"It's obvious we competed harder," John Tortorella said, referring to his team's embarrassing 6-0 home loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. "It was the most important thing we had to accomplish after last night. It was important not to lose two in a row, and I thought we answered well in all aspects of the game."

Carolina's Joni Pitkanen and the Rangers' Eric Christensen exchanged first-period power-play goals, and the Rangers got a break when an apparent goal by Brandon Sutter was waved off midway through the second period. It was ruled that the puck bounced off Sutter's chest and went in because of his contact with Lundqvist.

Dubinsky, who admitted his didn't play well against the Flyers, put the Rangers ahead when he jammed a loose puck past Cam Ward.

Carolina (10-23-7), last in the NHL with 27 points, fell to 1-8-2 when tied after two periods.

"I don't think the Rangers played a real tough game," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "There wasn't a lot of momentum to be had in the game either way. It was a slug from one end to the other."

Canucks 4, Blues 3 (OT)

Vancouver spoiled any celebration at Scottrade Center by overcoming a three-goal deficit and winning on Christian Ehrhoff's power-play goal 2:24 into overtime.

Ehrhoff scored his ninth of the season with a shot from the right circle after Brad Boyes was given a four-minute high-sticking penalty 19 seconds into overtime.

"They're all difficult," Blues captain Eric Brewer said after his team fell to 0-3-1 in its last four games. "It's certainly a tough stretch for us. At the end of the day, the penalties really took our flow of our game and we were good with it most of the game. They just found a way to get one when they needed one."

It was the second time this month the Blues have blown a 3-0 lead at home. At 6-13-3, St. Louis has the worst home record in the NHL.

"We've been here before and they all hurt. I don't qualify losses," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "This hurts just like every loss that we've had."

The night started out well for the sellout crowd of 19,150.

Alex Steen gave the Blues the lead with a power-play goal 16:55 into the game, and goals by Keith Tkachuk and Andy McDonald put St. Louis ahead 3-0 with less than four minutes to play in the second period.

But Daniel Sedin started the Canucks' rally when his shot from behind the net caromed off the right skate of defenseman Roman Polak and off Chris Mason's right skate with 3:51 remaining in the period. Mikael Samuelsson made it 3-2 when his bad-angled shot from the left circle squirted through Mason at 5:46 of the third period, and Henrik Sedin banged in a loose puck with 1:56 left in regulation to force overtime.

"Anybody knows how tough it is to come back in this league," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "I know that St. Louis right now is going through a challenging period, but they're still an excellent hockey team.

"To be where we were and come back from a three-goal deficit and win in OT for our confidence and believing in ourselves is real good."

Kings 5, Wild 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

It was a happy New Year for the Kings, who rebounded from a 2-1 loss at Calgary on Wednesday with a solid 60-minute performance despite not arriving in St. Paul, Minn., until the early hours of Thursday morning.

"That's a character win. That's digging in and playing with the right kind of an attitude to get back into the win column," coach Terry Murray said after his team ended a four-game losing streak and improved to 5-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.

Brad Richardson, Alexander Frolov and Ryan Smyth scored in the first period to stun the sellout crowd at the Xcel Energy Center. Michal Handzus made it 4-0 early in the second. Andrew Brunette got the Wild on the board shortly after and Owen Nolan scored with 4:03 left in regulation, but Frolov hit the empty net with 1:38 left to ice the win.

Minnesota has come from behind in 11 of its 20 wins, but the early four-goal deficit was too much to overcome. The Wild lost for just the second time in their last eight home games.

"From the start it wasn't good and it just continued pretty much for 60 minutes," Wild coach Todd Richards said.

Stars 5, Ducks 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Loui Eriksson helped a full house at the American Airlines Center get into a festive mood by scoring his second career hat trick as the Stars downed Anaheim for their first consecutive home wins in more than a month.

Eriksson had a shorthanded goal in the first period and two more at even strength in the second. He hit the post on a shorthanded breakaway in the third period and missed the net on a couple of other chances.

"I had a lot more chances out there," Eriksson said. "But it's always fun to score a hat trick, especially when you win."

Brad Richards had a goal and two assists and Stephane Robidas had his career-best 10th goal for the Stars, now 8-1-2 in their last 11 games at home.

"We need to put some wins in the bank," Richards said. "It's going to be a fight right to the end."

Saku Koivu had two goals and Mike Brown scored one for the Ducks. Brown's goal 2:15 into the second period gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead, but Eriksson and Robidas scored 30 seconds apart to put Dallas ahead to stay and Eriksson completed his hat trick at 11:58.

"Somewhere along the way in the first period we lost our composure," Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan said. "These games should be easy to get up for, and for whatever reason we're not coming through."

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

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