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Higgins gets 3 as Habs blank Senators

by John Kreiser /
Christopher Higgins had scored twice in a game nine times in his NHL career. The 10th time was the charm.

Higgins scored once in each period Tuesday night to complete the first hat trick of his career as the Montreal Canadiens rolled to a 4-0 victory over the Ottawa Canadiens.

The Long Island native scored on a shorthanded breakaway 7:22 into the game, fired Sergei Kostitsyn's pass into a wide-open net 14:11 into the second and raced in alone to beat Alex Auld with a high shot at 16:35 of the third period for the hat trick.

"I've had two goals a bundle of times, but I wasn't able to get the third one," he said. "For it to go in was nice, especially here in front of our fans."

He dedicated the hat trick to his mother, Susan.

"My dad gets a lot of credit for where I am right now in hockey, but my mom's the heart of the family and this is for her," he said.

Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau was all smiles after what he called "the best 60 minutes we've played all year."

"It was a good game for Chris — he's got to remember it and play like this every night," Carbonneau said. "He has to play well defensively, and use his speed and his shot.

Guillaume Latendresse had the other goal for the Canadiens.

Carey Price rebounded from a 6-3 loss at Toronto with 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and fourth of his career. His last one came in Montreal's last meeting with the Senators on April 1. His best stop came in the third period when he denied Dany Heatley on a breakaway.

"It was tough to lose a game like that … especially on a Saturday in Toronto, but I thought our guys did a great job of bouncing back," Price said. "I think this was the best compete game we played all year. Other than that breakaway, I don't think they generated a whole lot."

Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said Higgins' second-period goal was the killer because it came just after Ottawa failed to score on a power play.

"It was a game we gave away in the second period," he said. "We had momentum going. We had a power play and we scrambled and then they scored. That was the story of the game."

Flyers 3, Islanders 1 | Video

Daniel Briere scored for the second straight game as the Flyers won an afternoon game on Long Island. The question is whether he'll be available to try for three in a row.

Briere missed six games with abdominal surgery before scoring a goal in his return on Saturday. His goal midway through the second period put the Flyers ahead to stay, but he didn't finish his next shift and was unable to play in the third period.

''I am playing it on the cautious side,'' Briere said. ''It's a lower body injury and at this point (and) I'd rather not say more. It has nothing to do with the surgery. It's just another thing that popped up.''

Mike Richards had a shorthanded goal in the third period foe Philadelphia, and Kimmo Timonen hit the empty net after Trent Hunter's goal with 3:40 left in regulation cost Martin Biron a shutout.

Though his team ended a three-game losing streak, Flyers coach John Stevens wasn't happy with a couple of his forwards. He benched Scott Hartnell for the third period.

"It didn't look like he wanted to play," Stevens said, "so we went in another direction."

Hartnell said Stevens yelled at him earlier for not moving his feet and other deficiencies.

''Things like that happen. If I play 20 minutes or five minutes, as long as we win the game,'' the eight-year NHL veteran said. ''Even watching on the bench, it's a good feeling to win."

The Flyers' penalty-killers were the heroes of this victory. Philadelphia killed off all eight Islanders power plays and contributed a shorthanded goal.

''When you go 0-for-8 with two 5-on-3s and give up a short-handed goal, it's on us on the power play,'' said forward Doug Weight, who was at the left point and got caught on the 2-on-1 that led to Richards' goal. ''No matter what five guys you have out there, you have to change the momentum of the game. You have to score on those. We didn't.''

The one bright note for the Islanders was the play of first-round pick Josh Bailey, who didn't look out of place in his injury-delayed NHL debut.

"He certainly made some good plays. Outside of the penalties, I can’t be too critical of anything he did," coach Scott Gordon said. Asked if Bailey was in line for more ice time, he said: "If Josh is going to play well, we want him to play. He didn’t do anything to make us think he couldn’t play at this level."

Flames 4, Maple Leafs 3 | Video

Toronto's first trip to Western Canada since January 2006 got off to a bad start as Dustin Boyd had the first two-goal game of his career, enabling the Flames to hold off a late Leafs surge.

Boyd's second goal, a rebound off a scramble with 8:47 to play, made it 4-1 and looked like window dressing. But it turned out to be the game-winner when Nik Antropov and Matt Stajan scored for the Leafs. Stajan's goal, with 54 seconds remaining, set up a wild finish.

"(It's) too bad we couldn't get another one," said Stajan. "They outplayed us in the second period, but we still battled back and gave ourselves a chance with a minute left. But we have to play a full 60 minutes."

Alex Ponikarovsky goal gave Toronto an early lead, exciting a noisy contingent of Leafs fans, but the Flames scored the next four.

A miscue by rookie defenseman Luke Schenn led to Boyd's game-tying goal at 11:20. Jarome Iginla's power-play goal at 12:46 put Calgary in front, and Dion Phaneuf's 25-foot blast past Vesa Toskala with 32 seconds left in the second period made it 3-1.

The Leafs spent much of the night backing in on Toskala to cope with Calgary's aggressive front line.

"We were slow in our zone responding to loose pucks," coach Ron Wilson said. "You're not going to win games when you don't get to loose pucks."

Boyd's second one then proved to be the winner. He made the most of a rare opportunity to play with Iginla.

"It's just a matter of confidence," Boyd said. "When you're playing with confidence, you just go with the flow and good things happen. Tonight, I was lucky enough to play with Jarome and it was a good night. We created a lot of chances and moved the puck around well and we were strong defensively."

Iginla was pleased with the play of his new linemate.

"He had a couple of big goals for us tonight," the Calgary captain said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence. He's on the ice in important situations and he's been good all season. His confidence is growing and growing."

Predators 4, Sharks 3, OT | Video

San Jose's season-opening home winning streak ended at nine games, but not for a lack of trying. The Sharks poured 57 shots at Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis, who stopped 54 of them before Ville Koistinen's blast off a faceoff 2:28 into overtime gave Nashville a victory at the Shark Tank.

"We stole this game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said after his teem was outshot 57-29 and outplayed by about that margin. "Danny Ellis stole it, bottom line. He's the reason we won. They were letting us hang around. They kept us on life-support, then we got off the table and scored a goal. I am absolutely thrilled we won a game we shouldn't have."

Ellis's best stop came in overtime when Patrick Marleau came in on a breakaway only to be denied. Less than a minute later, Koistinen teed up a slapper from the top of the left circle and beat Brian Boucher through a screen, giving Nashville only its second win in 9 road games this season.

"To outplay a team like that and not get the two points is very disappointing," Boucher said. "This is a game we should have won. Their goalie played great, and they got some timely goals."
"We stole this game.  Danny Ellis stole it, bottom line. He's the reason we won."
-- Predators coach Barry Trotz

The Sharks appeared to be on the way to their 10th consecutive home victory when Rob Blake's goal at 16:53 of the second period gave them a 2-0 lead. But Jason Arnott's backhander past Boucher at 17:59 gave them some life, and Vernon Fiddler tied the game with a wrist shot that beat Boucher 5:42 into the third period.

Devin Setoguchi's second goal of the night 27 seconds later put San Jose back in front, but Ryan Suter swatted in a rebound with 6:27 left in regulation to force the overtime.

Suter and Koistinen's goals wouldn't have mattered without the heroics of Ellis, who made 41 saves through the first 40 minutes to keep the Predators in the game.

"This was a huge win for us," Ellis said. "These are the types of games that break ugly losing streaks."

They snap winning streaks, too. San Jose came up one short of the NHL record for home wins at the start of a season. However, Sharks coach Todd McLellan had no complaints with his team's performance.

"We played a heck of a game," he said. "We've played poorer than that and won. I'm not distraught by any means."

Kings 3, Stars 2, SO | Video

The Kings made it three wins in a row as Alexander Frolov scored the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout after Los Angeles survived a long overtime power play by the Stars.

L.A.'s Dustin Brown threw the check of the night when he put Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas into the bench about 12 minutes into the second period. But he gave Dallas a three-minute power play when he drew a boarding major for sending Mike Ribeiro crashing into the boards with a minute left in regulation before getting into a fight with Brenden Morrow, who drew an extra two minutes for instigating.

"It was one of those plays where the timing was right," said Brown, who led the NHL last year with 311 hits. "He was trying to make a play and I caught him."

The Kings killed off the rest of regulation and kept the Stars at bay through the first two minutes of the overtime, killing off the 4-on-3 advantage.

"We've got to get better opportunities than we got," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said of his power play, now 2 for its last 24. "We didn't get shots through and we didn't get enough chances."

Ribeiro came back to tie the shootout by scoring in the third round against Erik Ersberg, but Frolov ripped a wrist shot through Turco's pads to put the Kings ahead. Ersberg wrapped up the win with a terrific glove save on Mike Modano.

"I've seen him go high glove before," the Swedish rookie said. "I was guessing he'd go there again."

Jarret Stoll put the Kings ahead 6:50 into the game with a power-play goal. Dallas pulled even at 14:17 when Jere Lehtinen, playing his first game of the season after missing 14 with a groin injury, beat Ersberg with a one-timer from the left circle.

Brown banked a shot off goaltender Marty Turco and into the net at 16:46, but Modano tied it at 9:48 of the second period by beating Ersberg from a bad angle.

The Stars finished with three points on a 5-game trip, but got all three in last 3 games, including a win at Anaheim and a last-minute loss at San Jose.

"I don't think any of us look at the road trip as a success," Morrow said. "Every team in our division is collecting points. We're puttering around. We need to collect points."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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