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Jackets hand Wings fifth straight loss

by John Kreiser

Fredrik Modin and Rick Nash scored goals in the Blue Jackets' 5-1 win over the Red Wings.
Watch highlights from the Jackets' win
The Detroit Red Wings’ cruise toward the Presidents’ Trophy is hitting some serious speed bumps.

The Wings’ losing streak reached five games Friday night when they were whipped 5-1 by the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. Rick Nash, Fredrik Modin and Nikolai Zherdev scored in the first 15 minutes as for the second straight game, Detroit was unable to dig out of a three-goal hole in the first period.

“I thought we’d bounce back,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose team was coming off a 4-2 loss at Nashville on Tuesday. “We got skated into the ground, I thought, in the first period. We didn’t execute throughout the entire game and weren’t very good. This is as bad as we’ve been, and tonight’s unacceptable. We have to play with a lot more energy and jam.”

That’s exactly what the Blue Jackets showed. Two nights after being ripped by coach Ken Hitchcock following a 7-2 home loss to Chicago, the Jackets started fast and never let the Wings get started.

“We got off to a great start,” Nash said. “This was one of our best games of the season. I felt like we dominated out there.”

Hitchcock was delighted with the way his team responded.

''We play our worst game of the year and follow it up with our best game of the year,'' he said.

Nash opened the scoring at 7:29 with his 30th of the season when he put a power-play rebound behind Chris Osgood. Modin split the defense and beat Osgood at 13:05, and Zherdev whipped in a backhander at 14:59.

“Right now, we’re not doing anything right,” Wings center Kris Draper said. “These last two games have been over before anyone broke a sweat.”

Modin got his second goal of the night when he tipped in Adam Foote’s shot at 11:18 of the second period, sending Osgood to the bench for the second straight game.

“We’re still leaving our goalie out to dry,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We’re not giving them much support and helping them out in front of our own end. So, it’s not easy for our goalies when we play like this. We have to get back to basics.”

Pavel Datsyuk spoiled Pascal Leclaire’s shutout bid 1:25 into the third period, but Ron Hainsey’s power-play goal at 4:59 snuffed out any comeback hopes.

The last time the Wings lost five straight was from Nov. 17-25, 2006. But in that span, the Wings managed to gain three points via an overtime loss and a pair of shootout losses. This time, they have just one — though they are still comfortably in front in the Western Conference and the overall NHL standings with a 41-14-5 record and 87 points.

“Tonight we were at our worst,” Babcock said. “Usually you have an opportunity to win the game — but tonight, we didn't have any opportunity to win this game from the start. We have to look at ourselves and be a lot better.”

Panthers 4, Capitals 2 | Video
Florida won for the first time since the Richard Zednik injury as the Panthers shut down Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Kamil Kreps scored the tie-breaking goal midway through the third period. The Panthers had lost twice since Zednik was hurt during Sunday’s game in Buffalo when a skate cut his carotid artery. He may be released from a Buffalo hospital on Saturday.

''You look at how big this game is, a lot of guys were battling,'' goalie Tomas Vokoun said. ''I think everybody played hard and we got rewarded.''

The victory left the two teams tied for third in the Southeast Division, two points behind co-leaders Carolina and Atlanta.

''You look at the standings, there are five teams maybe fighting for one spot,'' Vokoun said. ''There's less margin for error than in the playoffs. In the playoffs you have to lose four games to get knocked out; now when we lose it gets magnified all the time because we play each other.''

Ovechkin had nine goals in his previous seven games but went pointless and was minus-2.

''I don't know if they did anything to Alex at all,'' Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''He might just not have played his best. He's played great for 57 games, I think we've got to cut him a little slack.''

Ovechkin finished with four shots on goal, and his best scoring chance came in the third period on a quick wrist shot from the faceoff circle.

''We know where he is all the time,'' Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. ''You have to be good defensively, but you have to be a little lucky, too. We did a decent job of limiting his chances.''

Kreps broke a 2-2 tie at 8:27 of the third period when his pass from behind the net went off goalie Brent Johnson's skate and into the net. Florida had tied the game at 3:57 when Nathan Horton picked up a deflected puck and beat Johnson from a sharp angle. David Booth hit the empty net with 48 seconds left.

Tomas Fleischmann gave Washington a 2-1 lead 57 seconds into the third. His seemingly harmless wrist shot from just inside the blue line beat Tomas Vokoun to the glove side. It was a rare gaffe by Vokoun, who has bailed the Panthers out for much of the season.

''It was no big deal, there was plenty of time left,'' Bouwmeester said. ''Everyone knew it was a big game. To be able to come back is a little bit of a confidence boost for us.''

Rostislav Olesz, who missed the previous 12 games because of a hand injury, opened the scoring at 5:52 of the first period. He followed his own shot and beat Johnson with a backhander. Alexander Semin tied it 1:12 into the second period with Washington's first power-play goal in six road games. He backhanded a rebound over a sprawled Vokoun.

Stars 4, Ducks 2 | Video
Dallas’ power play and Marty Turco’s goaltending spoiled the Ducks’ return from their nine-game road trip, as the Stars beat Anaheim for the fifth time in six meetings this season. Turco made 20 saves for his 200th NHL victory and defenseman Stephane Robidas scored two of the Stars’ three power-play goals as Dallas moved six points ahead of second-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division race by rebounding after a 5-2 loss in Phoenix on Thursday.

“It was a big bounce-back game,” Stars center Mike Modano said. “Last night was pretty lackluster. To come back and put up an effort like that is a real plus for the guys.”

Marty Turco earned his 200th career victory as the Stars beats the Ducks 4-2 on Friday night.

The Ducks, who hadn’t played at the Honda Center since Jan. 23, paid for their parade to the penalty box after Chris Kunitz gave them a 1-0 lead 3:51 into the game by tapping in Corey Perry’s feed.

“They always say it’s tough to come back home and play that first game (after a long trip),” Kunitz said. “I think everyone’s head was in it to start — we just took some bad penalties and they capitalized five-on-three. They got a couple of power-play goals.”

Mike Ribeiro tied it at 16:42 by beating Jean-Sebastien Giguere with a wrist shot from the right circle during a two-man advantage. Robidas put the Stars ahead 4:56 into the second during a 5-on-4 advantage, beating Giguere over the glove with a 45-foot straightaway blast through a screen. He drove another screened point shot through Giguere’s pads at 18:21 with the Stars again enjoying a two-man advantage.

“Tonight the power play got us the goals we needed,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said.

The goals were Robidas’ fifth and sixth of the season — after he went scoreless in 81 games in 2006-07.

“With injuries, Robie’s gotten some more opportunities on the power play,” Tippett said. “He made two good shots tonight.”

Kunitz made it a one-goal game at 11:18 of the third period when his shot from the left circle hit a Dallas defender and caught the far corner. The Ducks pressured Turco the rest of the way but were unable to beat him, and Steve Ott hit the empty net with 18 seconds left.

The loss spoiled the start of a seven-game homestand for the Ducks, who won their last five games on the long trip.

“We have to get back to basics,” Kunitz said. “That’s what we did during the second half of the road trip. We kind of beat up the defense, went in and cycled the puck and put it on net. I think we got away from that tonight — and took too many penalties.”

Kings 6, Flames 3 | Video
Like their Southern California neighbors, the Kings were playing their first home game after a long road trip. But Los Angeles fared better, scoring three times in the first 8:59 to end a six-game losing streak to the Flames.

Alexander Frolov set up three goals and both Derek Armstrong and Patrick O’Sullivan added a goal and two assists for the Kings, who are still last in the overall standings and 14 points out of a playoff berth — but are 10-5-1 in their last 16 games.

“Not being right there, we obviously don’t have that pressure,” forward Dustin Brown said of a playoff push. “For us, right now, it’s about the process of doing the little things right, game in and game out. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that the last few games.”

The Kings delighted the sellout crowd at Staples Center by scoring on three of their first six shots to take a 3-1 lead. After L.A.’s Kevin Dallman opened the scoring at 3:05 and Daymond Langkow tied it 70 seconds later, rookie Brian Boyle put the Kings ahead to stay at 6:02 with his fourth goal in seven games since being called up, firing Forlov’s pass behind Miikka Kiprusoff.

“So far, it’s been a dream come true,” Boyle said of his hot start.

Another rookie, Ted Purcell, scored his first NHL goal at 8:59, beating Kiprusoff with a one-timer from the slot.

"We didn't play with any preparation," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "It makes you wonder what preparation is needed with this group. We didn't have coverage in the defensive zone early in the game."

Dustin Boyd made it 3-2 at 12:59, but the Kings blew the game open with three unanswered goals in the second period. Patrick O’Sullivan scored a shorthanded goal at 4:14 and Derek Armstrong and Anze Kopitar added goals for a 6-2 lead after two periods. Owen Nolan added a third-period goal for the Flames.

“This wasn’t pretty,” Boyd said. “We’ve got to do a lot better.”

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

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