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Kings beat Wild in Shootout

by John Kreiser
The Los Angeles Kings finally figured out a way to win in North America. In the process, they ended the Minnesota Wild’s perfect season.

The Kings had lost five in a row after winning their season-opener against Anaheim in London, but went 3-for-3 in a shootout to beat the Wild, 4-3, on Tuesday night at the Staples Center, ending Minnesota’s winning streak at five games. 700K 

''We followed through on our game plan for the entire 65 minutes,'' Kings coach Marc Crawford said. ''We limited the top team in the league to very few chances. We forced them to take a lot of penalties, and that's very uncharacteristic of a Minnesota Wild team.''

The Kings had nine power plays, including two in overtime, while limiting the Wild to three.

“We took a lot of penalties, a lot of questionable calls, but we battled and we deserved the point that we got tonight,'' Minnesota center Eric Belanger said.

''Discipline was something that wasn't there tonight,'' added center Brian Rolston, whose goal with 12 minutes left in regulation tied the game at 3-3.

Anze Kopitar had a third-period goal for the Kings and scored a highlight-reel goal that clinched the shootout.

“It’s a move I did in the morning skate,” Kopitar said of the move that evoked memories of Peter Forsberg’s Olympic-winning goal in 1994.

The Kings had lost five in a row since beating Anaheim in their opener and entered the game with a league-worst 4.60 goals-against average. But Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 28 saves and stopped ex-King Pavol Demitra in the second round of the shootout before Kopitar’s clincher.

“This team has a lot of character,” Kopitar said. “We just haven’t shown it in our first six games. I hope we take a big step with this win.”

The Kings and Wild are used to having to go past regulation time to settle the outcome: Eight of their last 13 meetings have gone into OT or a shootout.

Demitra and Mikko Koivu twice gave the Wild one-goal leads, only to see the Kings tie the score on goals by Scott Thornton and Kyle Calder. Kopitar’s shorthanded goal 6:26 into the third period put the Kings ahead to stay for the first time, but Rolston beat Aubin from the right circle at 8 to tie the game for a third time.

The shootout loss prevented the Wild from matching last season’s 6-0-0 start.

Avalanche 5, Flames 4, SO 700K 
Calgary turned a four-goal lead into a shootout loss by helping the Avalanche put the puck past goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff before Wojtek Wolski and Ryan Smyth scored in the shootout.

The Flames led 4-0 just 2:50 into the second period, but Colorado scored four times in the second period – and three of the four goals banked into the net off Calgary players. Marek Svatos tipped in a pass from Smyth 13 seconds after Iginla’s goal, then Smyth got credit for a goal when his rebound was put into the net by Anders Eriksson. Andrew Brunette banked a puck into the net off defenseman Adrian Aucoin before Kurt Sauer’s shot deflected off Eriksson and into the net to get the Avalanche even.

''It's important that we play a full 60 minutes and we didn't do that today,'' said Smyth, who tied a franchise record with 11 shots on goal. ''It wasn't what we had in mind, but we'll sure take it any way we can.''

After a scoreless third period and overtime, Wolski and Smyth scored on Colorado’s first two shots. Iginla scored on the Flames’ second chance, but Jose Theodore stopped Alex Tanguay.

“We had them,” Iginla said. “We had them on the ropes and took our foot off the pedal. We picked up our foot and let them back in the game.”

It was the first time in nearly a year that a team rallied to win after trailing by four goals. Pittsburgh spotted Washington a 4-0 lead last Dec. 11 before rallying for a 5-4 shootout win.

“We let up and made some critical mistakes,” Flames coach Mike Keenan said. “The forwards turned the puck over three times in our end and they wound up in our net.”

Flyers 4, Thrashers 0 700K 
This season’s versions of the Flyers and Thrashers bear little resemblance to last season’s. That’s good for the Flyers, not so good for the Thrashers.

Martin Biron stopped all 31 shots he faced in Philadelphia as the Flyers, last in the overall standings in 2006-07, improved to 4-1-0 and took over first place in the Atlantic Division – while sending the defending Southeast Division champs to their sixth loss in as many games.

“We want to be the best team in the league,” said Biron, who joined the Flyers from Buffalo in a trade last February. “We want to show we've really made the effort to work at it. It all matters now.”

The Flyers didn’t win their fourth game last season until Nov. 15.

Philadelphia got goals from Jeff Carter, Sami Kapanen, Mike Richards and Randy Jones – none of whom play on the first line, centered by Danny Briere.

“It's always nice when we get production outside the Briere line and we're starting to get it,” coach John Stevens said. “We think our back end can start to contribute offensively, and they really have.”

The Thrashers remained the only team in the NHL without a victory – or even a point. Not even the return of Marian Hossa after missing three games with a groin injury helped.

“The last thing that those guys need right now is to be hard on them,” coach Bob Hartley said after the Thrashers’ seventh straight loss to the Flyers. “It’s hard enough right now. When people don’t have great confidence, you don’t step on them. I’m part of this. We have to find solutions.”

Panthers 2, Canadiens 1, SO 700K 
Nathan Horton and Jozef Stumpel turned Tomas Vokoun’s goaltending heroics into two points for the visiting Panthers, who won their third in a row after losing their first four games.

Horton tied the game with 10.2 seconds left in regulation and Stumpel scored the only goal in a shootout after Vokoun made 36 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts.

"We were still in it because of our goalie," Horton said. "He played unbelievable and he gave us a chance to have that opportunity at the end."

The Canadiens nearly made Alexei Kovalev’s power-play goal 2:53 into the game stand up, but Horton’s wrist shot with Vokoun on the bench for an extra attacker sent the game into OT.

Vokoun stopped five shots in overtime and all three in the shootout before Stumpel’s backhander beat Cristobal Huet for the winning goal.

“Obviously that's a little risky to keep it at 1-0,” Huet said. “We outplayed them the whole game, pretty much. We had a lot of good scoring chances and we just couldn't find a way to beat Vokoun.”

Wire stories were used in this report.

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