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Isles stifle Rangers in 2-1 win

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
Thanks to their penalty-killers and goaltender Joey MacDonald, the New York Islanders finally survived a third period.

The Isles blew a 4-1 lead in the final 20 minutes in a 5-4 loss to Montreal on Saturday, then wasted a 3-0 lead in the third period against Columbus on Monday before winning in overtime. But after the back-to-back meltdowns at home, the Islanders rebounded on the road by scoring two shorthanded goals in the third period and holding off the New York Rangers 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Nate Thompson and Richard Park scored 4:42 apart, each while the Isles were killing a penalty, and MacDonald made the lead stand up despite allowing a late sixth-attacker goal by Markus Naslund. He finished with 35 saves while handing the Rangers their second straight loss after a 10-2-1 start.

Coach Tom Renney was especially upset with his power play, which went 0-for-4 and surrendered the two shorthanded goals.

"Unacceptable performance," he said. "The power play let us down. Take responsibility for it. Power-play structure, if people are committed to it and work hard at it, it can work. We are playing outside of what we have been teaching our guys."

MacDonald, who spent most of last season in the AHL, is the Isles' starter for at least the next few weeks while starter Rick DiPietro rehabs following knee surgery last week.

"He's loving this opportunity," coach Scott Gordon said. "He never expected to be playing this much. Fortunately he's playing well."

Gordon was at his best in the second period, stopping everything the Rangers threw at him during a period in which the home side outshot the Isles 18-5. The margin was 29-12 after two periods.

Thompson put the Isles ahead at 3:18 of the third with his first NHL goal. Thompson fed Frans Nielsen, whose shot was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist and glanced off the crossbar. But the rookie center swatted the airborne puck into the net to put the Islanders in front to stay.

"It was great feeling on the bench after the goal," Thompson said. "The team was lifted from it."

Park made it 2-0 when he stole a pass in his own zone, skated in and beat Lundqvist from the left circle with a wrist shot. That gave the Isles some insurance — which they needed when Naslund scored from the slot through traffic with 1:41 left in regulation.

"This was a huge win after the stretch we had," said MacDonald, who also benefitted from his teammates' efforts in blocking 32 shots. "We just weren't getting the bounces the past few games. Tonight we were outshot by a lot but we stuck to our game plan and capitalized on our chances."

Senators 2, Capitals 1, OT | VIDEO

It took Mike Fisher a month to get his first goal of the season. At least his timing was good. Ottawa's No. 2 center scored with 39.9 seconds left in regulation when he took Daniel Alfredsson's pass and fired it into the open left side of the net past Brent Johnson.

''It's obviously been a struggle for me early offensively and to get one in overtime feels good, no question, and I've just got to keep rolling and build on that game. It feels good to win a game like that coming home from a road trip,'' Fisher said.

Fisher got his first point of the season with an assist on Dany Heatley's second-period goal. He lit the light for the first time when he buried a one-timer off a pass from Filip Kuba.

''The guys on the bench were bugging me asking me if I got the puck,'' Fisher said. ''Same thing in overtime. You can laugh about it, but it was just one of those things and it was a matter of time.''

Not even the return of Alex Ovechkin could give a boost to the Capitals, who've lost back-to-back games and scored just one goal. Ovechkin, who missed two games to be with his ailing grandfather in Russia, had four shots on goal and took a minor penalty.

 
 


Johnson made 13 of his 42 saves in a scoreless first period that saw Washington kill off a two-man disadvantage for 1:57.

Heatley and Washington's Tomas Fleischmann scored 2:13 apart early in the second period. Heatley took Fisher's long pass and beat Johnson on a breakaway at 1:13. Fleischmann tied it at 3:26 when he backhanded Alexander Semin's pass behind Alex Auld from the low slot at 3:26.

Johnson was upset with himself on the winning goal.

''It was a rather easy play to defend and they end up putting it in our net," he said. I was pretty upset because I knew exactly what they were going to do."

Sharks 3, Wild 1 | VIDEO

San Jose struggled at home for much of 2007-08. This season is a whole new story; the Sharks are now 7-0-0 at HP Pavilion after Jamie McGinn and Ryan Clowe scored in a 2:14 span of the third period to break a 1-1 tie and beat the Wild for the eighth consecutive time.

At 11-2-0, the Sharks now own the NHL's best record. Sharks coach Todd McLellan beat a former employer for the second time in a week — he coached Minnesota's AHL team in Houston to the Calder Cup title in 2003 before joining Detroit as an assistant.

"There were a lot of familiar faces," McLellan said. "There were a number of players I had the opportunity to spend time with. That organization does a good job in developing talent."

McGinn whipped a long rebound of Jeremy Roenick's shot into the net at 3:11 of the final period to put the Sharks ahead.

"The goalie made a great save and I was fortunate enough to clean up the garbage," said McGinn, a rookie who scored his first NHL goal last week against Detroit.

Clowe, who got into a fight after assisting on Mike Grier's first-period goal, followed two minutes later with a shot off a pass from Grier. The only reason the Wild stayed close was the play of Niklas Backstrom, who made 46 saves.

"I'd rather have a Gordie Howe hat trick than a natural hat trick," Clowe said.

The Wild did a good job shutting down the Sharks' big guns, but were beaten by San Jose's third- and fourth-liners. McLellan was pleased at the way his lesser-known forwards stepped up offensively.

"They could have been two or three, or even one and two," he said. "It's nice to see that when the big guys struggle, other guys pick it up."

Krys Kolanos put the Wild ahead 4:49 into the game with his first goal since Nov. 3, 2005, when he was a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. He rifled the rebound of Kim Johnsson's shot behind Evgeni Nabokov. Grier's deflection at 17:21 tied the game.

"That's a very good feeling, something I've worked very hard for," Kolanos said. "I was pretty calm. I felt prepared. There was a good feeling in the stomach, an exciting feeling."

Coyotes 4, Flames 2 | VIDEO

Phoenix got scoring from some unexpected sources to post a rare win in Calgary. Defensemen Derek Morris and Ed Jovanovski both had their first goals of the season to even their record at 5-5-0.

The Flames appeared ready to take command when Daymond Langkow scored at 3:20 and the Coyotes' Daniel Winnik was called for high-sticking at 9:24. But Morris took a lot of life out of the sellout crowd at the Pengrowth Saddledome when he blasted a slap shot from the top of the eight circle past Miikka Kiprusoff at 10:23.

"Our penalty-killers did a great job in the first period," said forward Steven Reinprecht, who scored the Coyotes' fourth goal. "Morris' huge slap shot made it 1-1, and that was a big momentum shift.

Flames coach Mike Keenan said Morris' goal made a huge difference.

"I, personally, have always been a guy that likes to contribute offensively and hopefully this is the start of something good for me" -- Ed Jovanovski
''Our power play was a little careless and that definitely contributed to their momentum,'' Keenan said. ''We had the lead and then gave it up with a shorthanded goal. We really didn't recover from that.'

Shane Doan stuffed a shot past Kiprusoff at 18:24, but David Boyd pulled the Flames even 80 seconds later.

Jovanovski, who hadn't had a point all season, got his first when he fired Doan's pass behind Kiprusoff with a power-play slapper from the top of the right circle at 11:52. Reinprecht, who also assisted on Jovanovski's goal, made it 4-2 at the 18-minute mark.

"I just threw it on the net," said Jovanovski, a 51-point scorer last season. "I've been working my tail off. It's nice to be rewarded.

"I, personally, have always been a guy that likes to contribute offensively and hopefully this is the start of something good for me."

Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves, 15 in the third period, to improve to 4-4-0 and end the Coyotes' four-game losing streak against Calgary. Kiprusoff stopped only 18 of 22 shots as the Flames lost their second straight game after winning six in a row.

''It doesn't matter who we're playing, when we're playing at home like this, we like to think we have an advantage," Moss said. "But we didn't play well for the first 40 minutes and when you get in a hole like that, it's hard to get out of it."

Canucks 4, Predators 0 | VIDEO

Kyle Wellwood continues to make the most of his second chance. Wellwood, who was headed for the minors before Pavol Demitra's broken rib kept him with the Canucks, scored twice to back Roberto Luongo's 24-save effort.

''For any athlete or professional, it's about yourself personally playing the game and that's where you're going to find the happiness,'' said Wellwood, who was let go by Toronto after last season.

''Not being able to play, feeling unhealthy and out of shape you're not going to feel so happy and confident. That was my main goal. I didn't care too much where I was going to play. I just wanted to get back.''

Wellwood opened the scoring on the power play 9:10 into the second period, and the Canucks blew the game open in the third. Mason Raymond doubled the lead with a man-advantage goal at 5:36, Wellwood added his second goal after a pretty deke in tight just 59 seconds and Daniel Sedin added the final goal off a nice touch pass from twin brother Henrik at 14:57.

"It was pretty frustrating being down one at the end of the third period and losing by four," Predators captain Jason Arnott said.

The Canucks, who struggled to score last season, have been among the NHL's better offensive teams in the early going. They're still working on balancing offense and defense.

"I think some nights obviously it's not as easy as others," Luongo said. "We're still getting chances, like I said. It doesn't mean we take away from the offense if we play well defensively."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz wasn't happy with his team's performance in his 750th game as an NHL coach — all with the Predators. He's the 21st NHL coach to reach that milestone.

"Their power play got a couple of goals," he said. "Our power play did nothing. We didn't hit the net enough or generate enough traffic. Once they got the second and third goals, that pretty much took the steam out of us."

Luongo earned his third shutout of the season as the Canucks won for the third time in four games. Nashville lost the opener of a six-game, 13-day road trip that will see the Predators travel 6,400 miles.

It was the sixth goal for Wellwood in seven games after a paper demotion to the minor leagues. He never actually made it to the AHL before Demitra was injured in an Oct. 19 game, but had to clear waivers twice before being able to play again with the Canucks. Since then Wellwood has scored four power-play goals, with his other even-strength goal coming Sunday against Detroit just seconds after an advantage expired.

Ducks 1, Kings 0, OT | VIDEO

The Kings changed goalies in an effort to end a four-game losing streak. It didn't work, as Chris Pronger scored 40 seconds into overtime, just as a power play was ending.

Pronger ripped a 25-foot slap shot from the slot past Erik Ersberg to back Jean-Sebastien Giguere's 35-save performance for the Ducks, who are now 7-0-1 in their last eight games. Giguere's best stop came when he foiled Alexander Frolov on a breakaway midway through the second period.

Ersberg got the call after Jason LaBarbera started the Kings' first 11 games. He made 26 saves but had no chance on Pronger's game-winner.

"There wasn't much he could do," defenseman Matt Greene said. "He played unbelievable. I just want to say thanks for keeping us in it."

"We didn't set up the way we wanted to.  It wasn't pretty. But it went into the net, and that's all that mattered" -- Chris Pronger on his game winning goal in overtime
It was only the second 1-0 game in the series between the Southern California rivals. The Kings' Jamie Storr had the other on April  14, 2002 — the only time the Kings have shut out the Ducks since the rivalry began in 1993.

The Kings were scoreless on six power plays, and L.A. coach Terry Murray said the failure of his special teams made the difference.

"We had chances, and they had an opportunity with one shot — and that made the difference," he said. "We have to find a way to do something on the power play."

Pronger said the winning goal wasn't exactly a thing of beauty.

"We didn't set up the way we wanted to," he said. "It wasn't pretty. But it went into the net, and that's all that mattered."


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

Contact John Kreiser at jkreiser@nhl.com


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