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Islanders top Leafs in OT on Comrie's goal

by John Kreiser
Wade Dubielewicz stopped 22 of 23 shots in relief of the injured Rick DiPietro, leading the Islanders to a 4-3  victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs routed Wade Dubielewicz when the New York Islanders visited Toronto on Oct. 11, scoring eight times on 42 shots in an 8-1 victory. It took nearly 11 weeks — and an injury to starting goalie Rick DiPietro — for Dubielewicz to get his revenge.

Dubielewicz came out to start the second period after DiPietro was unable to continue due to an injury and stopped 22 of 23 shots, including all five he faced in overtime, before Mike Comrie’s goal with 9.6 seconds left in OT gave the Islanders a 4-3 victory Wednesday night at the Nassau Coliseum.

DiPietro injured his knee in pregame warmups and was unable to return after stopping seven of nine shots in the first period. The Islanders say he’ll undergo an MRI on Thursday and won’t make the trip to Ottawa for Thursday night’s game.

"I keep an eye on Ricky every day just in case something happens," Dubielewicz said after his fifth appearance — his only two wins have come in relief after DiPietro left with injuries. "I kind of knew that I might be in. Sometimes, you don't want to know in advance that you might play, because it gives you time to think, and you can think too much."

The Leafs gave Dubielewicz little time to think in overtime after Richard Park was called for hooking at 2:17. They bombed away but were unable to score.

"That big guy (Nik Antropov) that was standing in front — if any puck got past him, I was dead," Dubielewicz said. "I had a hard time seeing anything."

Park atoned for his penalty in the final seconds of overtime, poking the puck away from ex-Islander Jason Blake and carrying into the Toronto zone. His slap shot was slowed by a defenseman’s stick, and goalie Andrew Raycroft was unable to control the rebound. Comrie raced in and banged the puck under Raycroft’s pad for his second goal of the game.

"When Richard forced the play like that, I saw a two-on-one develop," Comrie said of Park's poke check on Blake. "It happens pretty fast. Once you see the defenseman play it well, you have to go to the net hard. Park made a great play to get the shot through. The rebound was just sitting it there for me, and it just trickled by Raycroft."

The loss was a disappointment for Raycroft, who played for the first time since Nov. 24.

"I was hoping to at least get to a shootout," said Raycroft, who got the start when Vesa Toskala tweaked his groin during the morning skate. "All I've done the last month and a half is shootouts. I wanted to see if some of that work was going to pay off."

The teams combined for five goals in a wild first period. Alex Steen put Toronto in front at 6:13 ( 700K ), but Andy Hilbert tied it when at 7:02 when he took a rebound off the backboards and tucked it inside the left post ( 700K ). Mark Bell scored into a wide-open net six minutes later for his first goal in 10 games ( 700K ), putting Toronto ahead 2-1. But Park set up Comrie’s breakaway goal at 16:30 ( 700K ) and Bill Guerin put the Isles ahead at 19:12, knocking in a rebound after Toronto couldn’t clear the puck ( 700K ).

Steen’s shorthanded goal, a rising wrist shot into the top right corner, tied the game at 1:15 of the third period. Raycroft sent the game to overtime when he robbed Mike Sillinger twice in the final 20 seconds of regulation.

Blake, who signed as a free agent with Toronto during the summer after a 40-goal season with the Islanders in 2006-07, received a video tribute before the game but was unable to score on several good chances before his turnover set up the overtime winner.

"Obviously coming back, it was good," Blake said of the tribute. "You wanted to win the hockey game and get it done. We only got so many seconds left in overtime, I was trying to make a play. Parkie made a great play by poke-checking it.”

Capitals 3, Lightning 2 | Video
Bruce Boudreau started his day by having the “interim” removed from his title as coach. He ended it with a victory when Matt Bradley’s goal with 2:53 remaining broke a 2-2 tie.

"We all treat him as a coach here — and not as an interim coach," Bradley said. "He definitely deserves it."

Bradley's goal came after David Steckel took a shot that was deflected and hit Tampa Bay goalie Karri Ramo in the chest. The rebound bounced upward, and Steckel tipped the puck before Bradley whisked it into the net.

"It's a great reward for me. I wonder what other title we can have, because every time it seems to work for a win," Boudreau said. "It was fabulous."

Washington improved to 8-5-3 under Boudreau, who took over for the fired Glen Hanlon on Thanksgiving. The Caps are 5-1-1 against Southeast Division rivals.

Vincent Lecavalier scored both goals for Tampa Bay. He opened the scoring 5:43 into the game when he fired his own rebound past Olaf Kolzig ( 700K ), then gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead at 9:49 of the second period, beating Kolzig from the right circle ( 700K ).

Steckel tied the game at 16:11 ( 700K ), stuffing his own rebound past Ramo, and set up Brian Pothier’s blast from above the right circle at 17:42 of the second period that made it 2-2 ( 700K ).

The Lightning continue to struggle — they’ve lost five of their last six.

"I hope they're frustrated. I'm not so sure they are. I don't know what to tell you,” coach John Tortorella said when asked if his players were frustrated. “There's a lot of things we need to get better at. We're a (terrible) hockey team right now.

"Everybody says 'Don't panic. Don't panic.' There had better be some panic going on within this club to get this turned around, or it's going to spiral to where you have no luck at all."

Rangers 4, Hurricanes 2 | Video
The Rangers hope Jaromir Jagr got a belated Christmas present — his confidence. Jagr had his first two-goal game of the season as the Rangers rallied in the third period to beat the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.

Jaromir Jagr found his scoring touch against the Hurricanes, hitting the back of the net twice in New York's 4-2 win.

“I know it had been a long time," Jagr said of his 10-game goal drought. "It's not easy for the confidence. When you have chances and you haven't scored for a long time, sometimes you do things you wouldn't when you're hot, on a streak. You hit posts or try to make sure it's a perfect shot. Hopefully, it's behind me."

Chris Drury, Dan Girardi and Jagr scored in the third period to overcome a 2-1 deficit. Scott Walker ( 700K ) and Eric Staal ( 700K ) scored second-period goals for Carolina after Jagr scored 2:25 into the middle period to open the scoring ( 700K ).

After Drury scored at 1:38 of the third period ( 700K ), Girardi, a defenseman, attacked the Carolina net and was in position to slam home the rebound at 7:06 ( 700K ). Jagr followed with his second goal at 9:55.

Scott Gomez assisted on both of Jagr's goals, stretching his point-scoring streak to 10. "Jaromir is starting to dominate like he used to," Gomez said. "We'll just keep it going to help the team win."

Rangers coach Tom Renney was relieved to see Jagr finally hit the net.

"He has been trying," Renney said. "You have to avoid the frustration that seeps into your game."

Stars 8, Wild 3 | Video
Dallas scored just nine times in 255 minutes in four meetings with Minnesota last season, so getting eight goals in 60 minutes this time was a shocker.

''You don't expect that,'' said Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who had two of the goals. ''But with Christmas, traveling, there's a lot of distractions this time of year. We were more focused early and things started going our way.''

Minnesota flew to Dallas on Wednesday morning and must have left its tight-checking defensive game at home. The Wild hadn’t given up that many goals since an 8-3 loss at Detroit on Nov. 16, 2001; Dallas had its biggest scoring game since a 9-1 win over Chicago on Nov. 4, 2005, as the Stars improved to 10-1-1 in their last 12 meetings with the Wild.

''We give them chances, we're not sharp and we're playing against good players,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. ''We were playing a good team that knows what they're doing. And they played a great game. If you don't want to skate, you're done. I had to change three lines because it's not working. One guy doesn't work, the other doesn't get involved and the other is not skating.'' Two of Morrow’s goals came in the third period, when Dallas scored four times to turn a 4-3 game into a rout. They needed the big night because goalie Marty Turco was struggling; coach Dave Tippett even thought about a goalie change after Turco allowed two goals in the first period on just six shots.

"I was concerned about our goaltender early," Tippett said. "It was all about the goaltender. It was not just the two he let in, but the four he bobbled. It was on my mind to take him out, but we chatted between periods and he said he would be all right."

Jeff Halpern’s shorthanded goal 9:33 into the third period put the Stars ahead to stay at 3-2 ( 700K ). Stu Barnes made it 4-2 at 3:50 of the second period, but Pavol Demitra cut the margin to one at 8:13 before the Stars blew the game open in the final 20 minutes.

"Games like that don't happen very often," said Dallas center Mike Ribeiro, who scored his 20th of the season. "It's nice to get a full, all-around effort.”

Red Wings 5, Blues 0 | Video
Nicklas Lidstrom paid a quick dividend on his new contract, scoring the game’s first goal and setting up the last one as Detroit rolled over the Blues before a disappointed sellout crowd at the Scottrade Center.

Chris Osgood stopped all 20 shots, for his 45th career shutout, to lead the Red Wings to a 5-0 victory over the Blues.

Lidstrom, who signed a two-year, $15 million contract extension earlier in the day, scored on a blast from the left circle 2:26 into the game ( 700K ) and set up Brian Rafalski’s power-play goal at 9:11 of the third period.

The Wings also got a first-period goal from Jiri Hudler ( 700K ) and two in the second period from Valtteri Filppula, who is making the most of his increased ice time while No. 1 center Henrik Zetterberg recovers from back spasms.

"I got a couple lucky bounces and my teammates made some great plays setting me up," said the native of Vantaa, Finland. "I was in good position and they got me the puck."

Filppula is on a roll, with seven goals in his last nine games after beginning the season with 10 scoreless games.

The Wings are also without top-line left wing Tomas Holmstrom, who’s out with a knee injury, but seem to be faring quite well without two of their top players.

"Injuries give you the opportunity to find out how good some of the other guys are," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "Actually, it helps your team get deeper over time. If your team is a good team, the injuries will make your stronger."

Chris Osgood made 20 saves for his 45th career shutout and second of the season against the Blues, who had beaten the Wings twice in St. Louis.

"We played them hard," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. "We recognize them for what they are — a great team.”

Blue Jackets 2, Thrashers 0 | Video
Columbus snapped its slump by going back to basics. With its top scorer, Rick Nash, out with a sore throat, and forwards Fredrik Modin, Michael Peca and Manny Malholtra sidelined with injuries, the Blue Jackets checked the Thrashers into submission, limiting Atlanta to 21 shots at Pascal Leclaire, who earned his NHL-leading seventh shutout.

"Guys came in and were ready to play and we played a simple game," said Leclaire, who was credited with an assist on Dan Fritsche's power-play goal at 7:39 of the first period ( 700K ). "If we play that kind of hockey when our stars come back there's no reason we shouldn't win a lot of hockey games."

The Thrashers saw their four-game winning streak snapped in their first visit to Columbus in more than four years. Ilya Kovalchuk, the NHL’s top goal scorer with 29, was held to just two shots.

"We really played hard," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We did an unbelievable job of checking and creating chances in the first two and a half periods."

Fritsche’s goal, a shot from the right circle, was just the Blue Jackets’ sixth in their last 58 chances.

Jared Boll made it 2-0 at 3:04 of the second period thanks to a persistent forecheck ( 700K ). While linemates Sergei Fedorov and Curtis Glencross created havoc near the Thrashers net, Boll worked a rebound away from Jim Slater while gliding backwards and tucked a low shot from the edge of the crease beyond the reach of goalie Kari Lehtonen.

Atlanta generated few chances the rest of the way.

"They were doing the things that we talked about doing," general manager and coach Don Waddell said. "We were coming 200 feet the whole night. They were bottling us up in their own zone and the neutral zone."

Blackhawks 5, Predators 2 | Video
Robert Lang had two goals for Chicago, but goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was the hero.

"Everyone knows that Nick was the first star tonight on both sides of the red line," forward Jonathan Toews said. "He won the game for us. All in all, I don't think we played as well as could tonight. But we came away with two points and we're happy about it."

Robert Lang scored two goals in the third period as the Blackhawks beat the Predators 5-2.

Khabibulin was sharp and made 30 saves. Among them were numerous point-blank chances, including several on odd-man breaks, which kept Nashville from tying the game.

“That’s why he’s a great goalie,” coach Denis Savard said. “He was tremendous.”

Nashville goaltender Chris Mason, who allowed two goals on 10 shots after relieving starter Dan Ellis, also appreciated Khabibulin’s effort.

"Khabibulin made some great saves when he had to," Mason said. 'We need to get some gritty goals on deflection and screens. We don't have the same kind of skilled goal-scoring we in previous years."

Lang then scored twice in the third period, each time restoring a two-goal lead. Patrick Sharp ( 700K ), Toews ( 700K ) and Patrick Kane each had a goal and assist for the Blackhawks. Alexander Radulov and Marek Zidlicky scored for Nashville, which had won its previous two games.

The Predators went 0-for 6 on the power-play and allowed Sharp’s seventh shorthanded goal of the season 11:27 into the game, giving the Hawks an early lead.

"We had our chances, but we didn't bury them," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We had three power play chances in the first period. Every time we come in here they seem to score a short-handed goal," he added. "That can be pretty deflating.”

The United Center was filled to capacity for the first time this season, but Khabibulin said he was wasn’t aware of the sellout house of 20,511.

"I don't think about that,” he said of the fans. "I just step out on the ice and do the best I can. I'm just happy we've won four straight."

Sharks 3, Kings 2 | Video
San Jose continues to be almost unbeatable away from the Shark Tank. The Sharks got two goals from Milan Michalek as they won a franchise-record seventh consecutive game on the road while handing the Kings their eighth straight loss.

Joe Pavelski also scored and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 29 shots as the Sharks began a four-game road trip by breaking the previous club mark for consecutive road wins, from Nov. 30-Dec. 19, 2001. San Jose improved to 13-3-2 on the road; the Sharks are just 6-9-3 at home. They’ve won both trips to Los Angeles but lost all three visits by the Kings to San Jose.

“We have to bring our away games to home and play at home the way we do away,” said Michalek, who opened the scoring at 9:02 of the first period and scored what proved to be the game-winner at 3:24 of the third. “We wanted to get it deep in their zone and play there. We knew their defensemen didn’t know what to do.”

Pavelski’s first-period goal made it 2-0 before Rob Blake scored a power-play goal for the Kings at 6:08 of the second, beating Evgeni Nabokov with a one-timer from the right circle. Michalek’s redirection early in the third period made it 3-1, allowing the Sharks to withstand Lubomir Visnovsky’s power-play goal with 28 seconds remaining.

“The work ethic was there,” forward Anze Kopitar said. “We just need a little more to win. Maybe we were a little rusty after the break — it took us a while to get going. But it was the same for them; we have no excuse.”

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

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