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Howard's goaltending leads Wings past Canucks 3-1

by John Kreiser
Jimmy Howard is showing the Detroit Red Wings he's capable of handling the role of backup goaltender just fine.

Howard got an easy win Wednesday when he was in goal for Detroit's 9-1 victory at Columbus. He had to work a lot harder on Thursday, making 31 saves as the Wings outlasted the Vancouver Canucks 3-1.

"I think everybody in this dressing room believes I can do it," said Howard, who got the start because Chris Osgood was ill. "I just have to keep doing it consistently."

Henrik Zetterberg's backhander past Roberto Luongo eight minutes into the third period broke a 1-1 tie. Zetterberg took a long pass from Brad Stuart, slipped past the defense and lifted a backhander over Luongo's left shoulder for his team-leading 17th point.

"Tried to follow it," Luongo said. "He went from forehand to backhand and then put in right under the crossbar. Not a lot of guys can do that, only a few around the League."

Luongo made 26 saves in his first start since facing Detroit on Oct. 27, when he aggravated a broken rib.

"I felt like my timing was good and I was able to read the play," he said.

So was Howard, who won consecutive starts for the first time in his career.

"He really battled and made big plays," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "That's a real good sign for us."

Tomas Holmstrom tapped in a power-play goal at 17:31 of the first period to put Detroit ahead. Mason Raymond matched Holmstrom with a power-play goal 6:38 into the second. Niklas Kronwall added an empty-netter for the final margin.

It was a disappointing night for the Canucks, who lost their third in a row despite carrying the play for much of the night.

"We played a good road game," Luongo said. "Unfortunately, we don't have much to show for it."

Lightning 4, Wild 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Tampa Bay, flat for most of the night, went home with a victory when Ryan Malone forced overtime by scoring with 14.7 seconds left in regulation and Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos scored in a shootout.

The Wild led 3-1 and appeared to be in control well into the third period. But Steve Downie scored at 9:17, and Malone scored during a 6-on-4 power play with goalie Antero Niittymaki on the bench.

"We were flat," coach Rick Tocchet said. "You've got to keep grinding. Good teams win games that maybe they shouldn't. You go home and think about it, we got a little lucky here, but let's not have the same trend."

The Wild could have used some of that luck.

"They're all disappointed," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "That's an emotion you want from them, that we didn't get win. You just tell them that we deserved a better fate."

Benoit Pouliot, Kim Johnsson and Owen Nolan scored for Minnesota. Goalie Niklas Backstrom fell to 11-1-2 in his career against the Southeast Division, including 3-0-1 against Tampa Bay.

"It's frustrating," Backstrom said. "We can't take penalties every night. Today we didn't get away with it. That's probably a lesson learned."

The Bolts won for the first time in five shootouts -- they hadn't scored in 14 attempts.

"It seemed like we didn't put our heads down going into the shootout," Stamkos said. "It just seemed different. We were confident."

Flyers 5, Senators 1

Ray Emery was great, making 22 saves, and Danny Briere scored twice in his first game after missing four games with an injury and the flu for Philadelphia, which has its first five-game winning streak since Dec. 6-16, 2008.

"On this team, I know we're going to get our goals and I just have to do my part," Emery said. "It's a good situation to be in. I think you could see out there that we played an amazing defensive game."

Briere, James van Riemsdyk, Darroll Powe and Blair Betts scored for the Flyers, while Mike Fisher had Ottawa's lone goal. Jeff Carter and Kimmo Timonen each had two assists for the Flyers.

Betts scored the opening goal, his first of the season, at 9:28 of the second period when he chased Claude Giroux's dump-in. Betts took the rebound off the boards and fired it from close range off the back of Pascal Leclaire's leg. Chris Pronger's pass started the play up ice.

The Senators drew even, 1-1, at 14:47 on a power play resulting from Betts's cross-checking penalty when Alex Kovalev, working the right half boards, found Fisher all alone to Emery's left. Fisher's backhand to the far side eluded Emery.

Jarkko Ruutu then took a hooking penalty with 3:57 left in the second and the Flyers quickly regained the lead 20 seconds later. Timonen sent Carter down the right side and he carried deep toward the net, pulling Leclaire to him, and then fired a pass across the front of the net to van Riemsdyk waiting on the left side. The rookie scored his fourth goal by sliding the puck under the stick of Filip Kuba and past the scrambling, out-of-position goalie.

"Our power play tonight wasn't by the book. 'Bettsie' had a goal there at the end of a power play, just won a puck race," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "Same thing on the other goal, they put the puck in deep because they were pressing up and Jeff used his speed to get in."

Shortly after another Flyers power play expired, Timonen sent Carter splitting the Ottawa defense and then to his right for a sharply angled shot that Leclaire blocked out into the slot where Briere knocked it out of the air and into the net.

The romp was on when Arron Asham set up Powe in the middle for a wrist shot that eluded Leclaire on the right side at 11:47. Pronger's outlet pass sent Asham away.

Briere showed how good defense sets up offense when he got back deep into his own zone to clear a rebound and then chased it up the right side. Briere's snap shot whistled past Leclaire on the far side for the final goal.

Predators 3, Blues 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Jordin Tootoo never saw his game-winning goal enter the net. His teammates -- and the crowd -- told him everything he needed to know.

Tootoo, who missed the first 13 games of the season with a quadriceps injury, picked up a loose puck and flipped it toward the net just a split second before being flattened by St. Louis center T.J. Oshie. The shot slipped past Chris Mason, who appeared to be screened by Martin Erat, with 3:43 left in regulation to break a 1-1 tie.

"I was on the ice and I just looked at my teammates and they were the ones that were cheering," Tootoo said. "It felt good. My main focus was to keep the puck low, I knew I was going to get hit."

Mason took the blame.

"I moved my stick over," he said. "Regardless, that's a (save) I've got to make."

Pekka Rinne rebounded after allowing Brad Boyes' goal 2:03 into the game, finishing with 21 saves. Patric Hornqvist tied it by grabbing a loose puck and beating Mason at 13:50 of the second.

David Legwand added an empty-netter with 7 seconds left to wrap up a 2-2-0 trip for Nashville.

St. Louis coach Andy Murray was extremely disappointed in his team's effort after a 6-1 blowout win over Vancouver two nights earlier.

"I've had a lot of losses as a coach," he said. "That ranks right up there because of the way we played."

Canadiens 4, Coyotes 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Montreal made the most of its two power-play opportunities, scoring on both to win a rare visit to Phoenix.

Marc-Andre Bergeron broke a 1-1 tie at 5:10 of the third period and Glen Metropolit connected on the power play 62 seconds later for Montreal, which had been 1-for-16 with the man advantage in its last six games.

"In the NHL, it's pretty much how you win games," Bergeron said. "We wanted to focus on the power play and penalty kill and they gave us the win."

Brian Gionta scored into the empty net with 41.8 seconds and Carey Price made 18 saves to go for Montreal, which hasn't lost in Phoenix since Dec. 9, 1998. The Canadiens are 10-2-4 against the Coyotes since the franchise moved to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season

Paul Bissonnette scored his first career goal, and Robert Lang also scored for Phoenix, which has lost four of five.

"We struggled moving the puck out of our end, we struggled moving the puck through the neutral zone and we didn't generate a whole lot," coach Dave Tippett said. "There were not a lot of shots and not a lot of quality scoring opportunities."

Mike Cammalleri opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 7:07 of the second period. Lang, who played for the Canadiens last season, tied it by beating Price with a high shot after the goaltender was knocked down by Montreal defenseman Paul Mara.

"There are two factors in determining a game -- special teams and goaltending," coach Jacques Martin said. "Both of them tonight were key factors."

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

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