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Late goal lifts Penguins past Thrashers

by Brian Hunter /
Pittsburgh's power play had come up empty on its first three chances, but Petr Sykora felt like something good was bound to happen when the Penguins got a fourth opportunity in the latter stages of Thursday night's game against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Sykora scored on that man advantage with 2:40 left in regulation, redirecting a shot by Sidney Crosby that resulted in the captain's third point of the night, and the Penguins won 3-2 at Philips Arena for their seventh victory in eight games.

"I felt pretty positive about the power play tonight," Sykora said. "I think we created a lot of scoring chances; we just didn't score. When you create chances, when you move the puck well, then you're going to get your bounces, and we got our bounce (in the) last couple minutes of the game, and it won a game for us."

Crosby and Miroslav Satan also scored for Pittsburgh, which was without starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury due to an undisclosed lower-back injury but received a strong, 21-save performance from backup Dany Sabourin.

"I think we wouldn't have a chance to win this game without (Sabourin)," Sykora said. "In the third we gave up a couple 3-on-2s and a couple passes from behind the net. He made a great save which basically saved the whole game."

Vyacheslav Kozlov and Jim Slater had the goals for Atlanta, now losers of two in a row following a five-game win streak. Ondrej Pavelec matched Sabourin's effort into the late stages of the third and finished with 28 saves.

"It's tough to lose like that, especially on a power play goal," Slater said. "A tough way to lose. We got some chances."

Kozlov opened the scoring with the Thrashers on a power play 4:41 into the first period with his 11th of the season. It was his third straight game with a goal. Satan made it 1-1 at 10:57 by tipping in Pascal Dupuis' shot.

Crosby gave the Penguins their first lead with 7:36 left in the second when Tyler Kennedy fed him the puck from the left of the crease and Crosby, cruising through the slot, wristed the puck past Pavelec while falling backward. Slater evened the score again just 1:14 later on a wraparound.

"Every game is a close game, and that's the way the game is supposed to be played," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "I thought both teams played hard tonight, and we got the last chance on the power play and were able to capitalize on it."

Devils 3, Panthers 1 | Video

New Jersey got two points apiece from Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta and Dainius Zubrus, coupled with 23 saves from Scott Clemmensen in the second consecutive win for both the goaltender and his team.

The second period of the game proved pivotal when the Panthers outshot the Devils 10-1 but came away trailing 1-0 after Elias scored at 6:47 on that lone shot and Clemmensen turned aside everything Florida threw his way.

"Clemmer's been playing great," said defenseman Paul Martin, who scored what proved to be the game-winner in the third. "This guy's been giving them the chance to win every night and you can't ask for more than that. We just have to help him a little bit more defensively in certain situations."

Martin and Gionta increased the Devils' lead to 3-0 by scoring 1:02 apart before Michael Frolik scored his first NHL goal at 8:42 of the third with the Panthers skating up a man. That prevented Clemmensen from notching his first shutout since the 2003-04 season, when he was a seldom-used backup to Martin Brodeur, but it didn't put a damper on his overall effort.

"I have played games in this league before, obviously," Clemmensen said. "But they have been spread out and kind of sporadic. When you play only once in a while, you try to do everything so perfectly. You squeeze the stick a little. I know I have an opportunity and I want to go for it."

The Devils held a 12-5 advantage in shots after the first, but the game remained scoreless until Zubrus and Gionta cycled the puck and the latter eventually found Elias alone in front of Tomas Vokoun. Elias deked the goalie out of position and put the puck into an open net.


"One of the D lost his stick on a collision there and then they got kind of mixed up," Gionta said. "Patty was open in the slot."

Martin picked up his first of the season 5:49 into the third, taking a David Clarkson pass, working his way around a diving defenseman and ripping a high shot past Vokoun. Moments later, Zubrus started Gionta and Elias on a give-and-go that Gionta finished with a shot into an empty net.

Frolik turned out to be the bright spot in the loss for the Panthers, as the No. 10 pick in the 2006 Entry Draft got on the scoreboard. His only regret afterward was that the goal came in a defeat.

"The last five games we won three," Frolik said. "We played very good in the second and third period, but the first one wasn't good and coach was upset."

Blackhawks 6, Stars 3 | Video

Chicago scored in the final minute of all three periods, goals which proved key in their victory at American Airlines Center.

Patrick Kane had two of those scores, a first-period tally that tied the game at 1-1 and an empty-netter that sealed the win. Kris Versteeg had the other one, putting the Blackhawks ahead 4-3 late in the second. Ben Eager, Brian Campbell and Martin Havlat also scored and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 31 shots.

"We didn't like the way we started the game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We were fortunate to be in it. But those goals late in a period are big goals."

Brenden Morrow, Mike Modano and James Neal scored for Dallas, which failed in an attempt to win consecutive games for the first time this season. The Stars remained mired in last place in the Pacific Division.

"We've got to get down to business and win games, and it's not happening right now," Neal said.

Even when everything seems to be going right for the Stars, it manages to fall apart. They dominated the opening 13 minutes against the Blackhawks, taking 10 of the game's first 11 shots, but held only a 1-0 lead on Morrow's goal off a rebound 7:37 into the first.

Kane erased that with 37 seconds left in the period, scoring on a wrist shot from the left circle. Chicago went ahead 2-1 and 3-2 in the second on goals by Eager and Campbell, only to see Modano and Neal answer for Dallas. Versteeg would break the tie for good with half a minute to play by outracing the Stars defense, skating to the front of the net and beating goalie Marty Turco.

"I tried to take it wide, then take it hard to the net," Versteeg said. "We're really coming on, playing great on the road."

Havlat provided some insurance 6:40 into the third by scoring off a screened shot and Kane hit the empty net with 15.9 seconds remaining, giving him 10 goals on the season.

"It's real frustrating," Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We had high expectations, but you look at the standings and we're at the bottom. With the talent we have, that's unacceptable."

Flames 1, Avalanche 0 | Video

There are games in which Miikka Kiprusoff just makes it look easy — especially when his teammates give him a lot of help. Kiprusoff only had to make 18 saves to blank Colorado at the Pepsi Center, making Daymond Langkow's goal midway through the game stand up.

The Flames are off to a fast start this season against their Northwest Division rivals, having won four straight. The first three were at the Pengrowth Saddledome, including a 4-1 win Tuesday in which they outshot the Avalanche by a 51-23 margin.

"It's been a while since I've seen a team beat our team four times in one year," Colorado forward Ian Laperriere said. "We'll see them two more times."

The Avalanche managed to get a pair of good scoring chances against Kiprusoff during a scoreless first period, but he stopped Marek Svatos and Ryan Smyth.

"We had two bad changes early in the game, and he had to make two great saves," Flames coach Mike Keenan said. "You look at the shots against, and we try to keep it down, but the goalie still has to come up with a couple of very important saves if you want to come away with a shutout."
"It's been a while since I've seen a team beat our team four times in one year.  We'll see them two more times." -- Ian Laperriere

The game remained without a goal until 10:16 of the second period, when Mark Giordano took a shot from the left circle that bounced off Colorado goalie Peter Budaj. Langkow knocked home the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.

"That's a simple play," Langkow said. "Gio made a nice move there and came down and put a pretty hard shot on net and I jumped on the rebound."

Kiprusoff and the Calgary defense took it from there. The Flames have rebounded well from a 6-1 loss they suffered in San Jose on Nov. 13, taking out their frustration at Colorado's expense.

"We played a pretty bad game against San Jose and we knew we had to do something different," said Kiprusoff, who earned his 28th career shutout. "It's been a good couple of games."

Budaj finished with 32 saves and could hardly be faulted in a losing effort. The Avalanche remained without Joe Sakic, who is out with a back injury, and lost Svatos to an abdominal injury in the second period.

Red Wings 4, Oilers 3 | Video

Part of the formula that makes Detroit so successful was on display at Rexall Place — the visiting Red Wings showed no worry over what they didn't have when they took on Edmonton; instead, they worked with what they did.

Jiri Hudler scored twice and Chris Osgood made 30 saves as the Wings improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven games despite having to play without Tomas Holmstrom and Niklas Kronwall, both of whom were out because of injury.

"It was weird without Holmer and Kroner, but we've got good enough players to figure out right away and adjust," said Hudler, who has 16 points in his last 14 games.

Hudler scored 1:50 into the game to get Detroit started. Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Kopecky and Hudler then added power-play goals to build a 4-1 lead by the end of the second period.

"It was my first shift and there was a bounce and all of a sudden I had an empty net. It's a good start," Hudler said of the goal that gave the Wings a 1-0 lead, where he scored off the rebound of an Andreas Lilja point shot.

Andrew Cogliano got Edmonton on the board in the second period and defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky and Sheldon Souray tallied 21 seconds apart in the third to bring the Oilers to within a goal.

Dwayne Roloson was pulled midway through the first after allowing three goals on 10 shots. Mathieu Garon stopped 24 of 25 the rest of the way.

"Our start killed us tonight," Souray said. "You get down 3-0 to a team like Detroit in the first 10 minutes of a game and it is a tough mountain to climb. Our starts are obviously a concern to us. Our competitive level has to be better off the start."

Datsyuk and Kopecky scored 2:11 apart on man advantages as the Wings built a 3-0 advantage. Datsyuk feathered a shot through traffic on his goal, while Kopecky tipped in a shot by Nicklas Lidstrom.

"We jumped on them early. Then after the 10-minute mark, for the rest of that period we fell asleep," Babcock said. "We got into some penalty trouble. It always happens when you're ahead in this League, but we were able to battle through it."

Kings 5, Capitals 2 | Video

Patrick O'Sullivan put Los Angeles ahead to stay late in the second period and Dustin Brown's power-play goal in the third turned out to be the game-winner as the Kings took advantage of a banged-up Washington team to win at Staples Center.

Defenseman Drew Doughty opened the scoring for the Kings, who added a pair of empty-net goals in the closing minute by Michal Handzus and Anze Kopitar and received 19 saves from Erik Ersberg in the goalie's eighth straight start.

"The play away from the puck was tremendous," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "We're aware that they were missing a couple players, key guys, and they played last night, but it still doesn't take away from the effort that we gave. It was a great team effort and a good win for us to finish it off the right way."

Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich had goals for the Capitals, who continued to play without leading scorer Alexander Semin and veteran center Sergei Fedorov. Defenseman Mike Green was also out after suffering a shoulder injury Wednesday in Anaheim. To make Washington's cause even more difficult, Alexander Ovechkin saw his five-game goal streak come to an end.

Doughty, the No. 2 pick in the Entry Draft who doesn't turn 19 until Dec. 8, scored his third of the season at 13:58 of the first. His low slap shot from just inside the blue line deflected off Ovechkin's stick and past goalie Brent Johnson.
"The last two games we've had a lot of chances and they just weren't going in but I just try to not get frustrated and focus on the other things I can do to help the team." -- Patrick O'Sullivan

Backstrom took advantage of consecutive penalties to Raitis Ivanans and Oscar Moller at 3:54 of the second to tie the game 54 seconds later, converting Viktor Kozlov's pass. But O'Sullivan scored his first goal in six games with 1:35 left in the middle period after the Kings took advantage of an Ovechkin turnover and Matt Greene sent O'Sullivan into the Washington zone with a lead pass. His wrist shot from the right circle beat Johnson between the pads.

"Definitely relieved," O'Sullivan said. "The last two games we've had a lot of chances and they just weren't going in but I just try to not get frustrated and focus on the other things I can do to help the team."

The Kings had failed on a 5-on-3 advantage of their own midway through the second, but the Capitals never got the lift from it their coach was anticipating.

"I thought when we killed that off it would be a momentum changer and we would take it from there, but we didn't," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Brown extended the Kings' lead to 3-1 with 6:06 remaining, scoring from the crease on a pass from Kyle Quincey. Laich scored 1:32 later to bring the Capitals back within one, but Handzus hit the empty net with 40 seconds remaining and Kopitar beat the final horn with one of his own.

"Obviously we got enough to win the game. Our power play came up big late in the game and it ended up being a game-winner," Brown said.

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

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