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Leafs celebrate Kessel deal, edge Penguins

by Brian Hunter
Phil Kessel probably won't join the lineup until some time in November. Friday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs' power play managed just fine without the team's new acquisition.

Four different Leafs scored with the man advantage in the second period and Jason Allison notched a couple of power-play assists in his bid to return to the NHL in a 4-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

Playing without Sidney Crosby and Eric Staal, among others, the Penguins opened the scoring on first-period goals by Matt Cooke and Evgeni Malkin. They added a power-play goal by Brooks Orpik in the third.

But the Leafs owned the middle 20 minutes, thanks to an elbowing major on Craig Adams and several other trips to the penalty box by the Penguins. Jason Blake started the rally at 2:41 by stuffing a puck past Brent Johnson, then assisted on an Ian White goal 2:04 later.

"We're behind the eight ball in the first period killing all those penalties and they kept throwing their big unit on the ice," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "We just had to find a way to survive the first period. A lot of young guys were quite nervous. The second period we did the little things, we took hits, made little plays and the game kind of came around with our power play scoring some goals."

Allison, who last played for Toronto during the 2005-06 season, drew the primary assist on John Mitchell's go-ahead goal at the 7:32 mark, then Juraj Mikus put the finishing touches on the power-play pyrotechnics by beating Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:34 left in the period.

"On the back end, Juraj was really nervous in the first period," Wilson said. "Probably when you look up and see Malkin and Bill Guerin and some of the people who are bona-fide superstars in our League, I think he was a little nervous. But he got better as the game went along and scored a nice goal. In the end he showed some poise."

The Leafs ended up scoring four goals on just 17 shots against the Penguins' goaltending duo of Johnson and Fleury.

James Reimer started for Toronto and stopped 14 out of 16 shots. Joey MacDonald was credited with the win, coming in midway through the second to make 10 saves.

Canadiens 2, Senators 1

Montreal's offseason acquisitions are making immediate impacts.

One night after Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri scored goals and Cammalleri and Jaroslav Spacek picked up assists in a win over Florida, it was Brian Gionta scoring the decisive goal with 4:04 left in the third period to edge Ottawa at the Bell Centre.

Gionta, who holds New Jersey's single-season mark for goals with 48 in 2005-06, was playing in his first game of the preseason. Ben Maxwell's power-play goal with 4:45 left in the second had drawn the Canadiens even. Curtis Sanford made 10 saves for the win after starter Jaroslav Halak stopped 14 out of 15 shots during the first half of the game.

"The biggest thing is trying to get out there and feel comfortable," said Gionta, who played on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty. "There are so many new guys, guys that I've never played with, it's just a matter of time to feel comfortable. The first period was a little slow, but I thought the second and third period our line really had some good chances, some good jump, and it felt pretty good."

Montreal coach Jacques Martin took notice of the play of both his goal scorers.

"To me, [Gionta] is a model, he's showing a lot of leadership," Martin said. "Maxwell, I think, handled himself fairly well. He's a young player that keeps getting better."

Milan Michalek, picked up in the Dany Heatley trade, opened the scoring with his first goal for the Senators. Michalek played with two of Heatley's former linemates, captain Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.

"They're unbelievable players," Michalek said. "We had good chances but we had some breakdowns in the defensive zone and we have to get better there."

Another key addition for Ottawa, goalie Pascal Leclaire, played the first two periods and made 16 saves. Gionta's goal came against Robin Lehner, who faced 13 shots.

Red Wings 4, Rangers 3

Henrik Lundqvist blanked the defending Western Conference champions for the first 32 minutes of the game, but Detroit rallied for four goals in the third period for a victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Jason Williams scored the go-ahead goal at the 8:02 mark and Justin Abdelkader's tally with 3:42 remaining held up as the game-winner as the Wings won their second in a row to open the preseason.

"Any time you can contribute offensively is nice, and to come out on the winning side makes it better, too," said Williams, who started his NHL career by playing parts of six seasons with Detroit before moving on to Chicago, Atlanta and Columbus.

"It's good to get the first one out of the way, sort of get the first one under your belt and know where you stand and know what you've got to do to prepare and get ready for the next game."

Valtteri Filppula and Brett Lebda started the comeback for Detroit, which split its goaltending duties between Chris Osgood and Thomas McCollum. Osgood stopped 18 out of 20 shots and McCollum made 11 saves for the win, allowing Ryan Callahan's goal with two minutes left.

Artem Anisimov had a goal and an assist and Enver Lisin also scored in staking the Rangers to a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes. Lundqvist turned aside all 14 shots he faced before he was relieved by Matt Zaba.

Predators 4, Hurricanes 2

Nashville won for the second time in as many nights, receiving a goal and two assists from David Legwand in defeating Carolina at the RBC Center.

Michael Santorelli and Dan Hamhuis recorded a goal and an assist each for the Predators, and Peter Olvecky's power-play goal into an empty net with 16 seconds remaining ended the Hurricanes' comeback try.

Erik Cole's power-play goal late in the first opened the scoring and Eric Staal scored early in the third for the Hurricanes. In between, it was the Predators who carried play.

Santorelli answered Cole's goal 58 seconds later to tie the score and Legwand made it 2-1 at 3:20 of the second when he came up with a turnover in the Carolina zone and snapped the puck past Cam Ward, who made 21 saves in a complete-game effort.

Pekka Rinne played the first half of the game for the Predators and made 10 saves before Mark Dekanich finished up, stopping 18 shots. Each gave up one goal.

Lightning 2, Thrashers 1 (OT)

Tampa Bay's stars are already rounding into regular-season form.

Vincent Lecavalier assisted on both Lightning goals, including a Martin St. Louis power-play marker with 26 seconds left in overtime for a win over Southeast Division rival Atlanta at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Ryan Malone opened the scoring on a power-play goal in the first period and Dustin Tokarski stopped all nine shots he faced in relief of Mike Smith to earn the victory.

Ondrej Pavelec made 32 saves while going the distance in net for the Thrashers, who tied the game midway through the second period on a goal by defenseman Paul Postma.

Wild 2, Blue Jackets 0

Cal Clutterbuck provided the offense in a game that featured Columbus forward Jason Chimera having to be taken off on a stretcher after being checked into the boards during the second period.

Clutterbuck, who set a League record in hits as a rookie, also scored 11 goals last season. The Minnesota forward reminded anyone who had forgotten that he's about more than just physical play as he notched a power-play goal with 1:14 left in the first period and added to the Wild lead by scoring 9:27 into the second.

"Tonight I was the guy to do it for us. This year, it's going to have to be scoring by committee," Clutterbuck said. "I mean, I'm not going to score two goals every night. Someone else is going to have to step up."

The Blue Jackets were less concerned about the game's outcome than the health of Chimera after a hit by Eric Belanger that resulted in a five-minute major and game misconduct. Chimera, who gave two thumbs up to the crowd as he was wheeled off, was said by a team official to be coherent, and he was taken to an area hospital for evaluation.

"From my view, it looked like he just had no chance to protect himself," Columbus forward Rick Nash said. "Obviously, (Belanger) doesn't have a history of (playing dirty) and he seems to be a pretty fair player. But I don't know, I need to see the replay and judge from that."

Belanger said he left Chimera a message wishing him well and insisted: "I didn't leave my feet, I didn't hit his head. It's just bad luck."

Minnesota goalies Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding combined to stop all 27 Columbus shots that came their way.

Steve Mason made 14 in two periods for the Jackets. Kevin Lalande stopped all six shots he faced in the third.

Oilers 4, Panthers 0

Mike Comrie celebrated his return to Edmonton by assisting on three of the Oilers' four second-period goals and Nikolai Khabibulin picked up the shutout with 18 saves.

Comrie, drafted by Edmonton in the third round of the 1999 Entry Draft, scored 61 goals over three seasons with the Oilers before departing on less-than-pleasant terms following the 2002-03 season.

The ensuing years saw him play for Philadelphia, Phoenix, Ottawa and the New York Islanders. In his first game back at Rexall Place, fan reaction gradually shifted in Comrie's favor as he followed his offensive outburst in the second by scrapping with Florida's Eric Himelfarb in the third.

"It was pretty special to hear them chanting," Comrie said. "It's always great to hear that but especially with what I have been through. I'm just thrilled. When I signed here it was something I hoped could happen. You never really expect that from a crowd.

"It's not a one-game thing, though. I'm going to have to work hard every night. They expect that from their players here and when they see it, they acknowledge it."

Taylor Chorney, Patrick O'Sullivan, Shawn Horcoff and Jean-Francois Jacques scored the goals in support of Khabibulin, who was making his Edmonton debut following four seasons in Chicago.

"It was nice to get the shutout but I wouldn't put a lot into it," he said. "It was still the preseason and they didn't have their full lineup. But it was still a nice way to start my time in Edmonton."

Chorney, a defenseman taken in the second round in 2005, gave the Oilers all the offense they would need when he took a pass from fellow rookie Ryan Stone and put a hard shot over the glove of Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun at 4:59 of the second. Stone received a secondary assist when O'Sullivan tipped in Comrie's soft shot at the 7:47 mark.

Horcoff had an easy tap-in of a Comrie feed during a 5-on-3 advantage at 15:08 and Jacques added another power-play goal 2:07 later when O'Sullivan found him streaking to the net.

Vokoun made 22 saves through two periods before Tyler Plante finished up in the third and turned aside all 12 shots he faced. Florida played for the fourth time in as many nights, splitting the contests.

Blues 6, Avalanche 2

Ty Conklin made his St. Louis debut by stopping 20 shots over two periods, and six different players scored goals as the Blues cruised past Colorado at the Scottrade Center.

Nicholas Drazenovic, Paul Kariya and Alex Steen scored first-period goals, and T.J. Oshie, B.J. Crombeen and Derek Armstrong later tallied for St. Louis. Conklin, who made it to the Stanley Cup Final each of the past two seasons with Pittsburgh and Detroit respectively, was solid before being replaced by Jake Allen.

One bright spot for the Avalanche was first-round pick Matt Duchene scoring his first NHL goal when he beat Allen 26 seconds into the third period. Chris Stewart had their other goal, late in the second. Tyler Weiman played the entire game, stopping 30 shots.

Kariya, who scored 15 points in 11 games last season before surgeries on both hips sidelined him, returned to the ice in Tuesday's preseason opener and scored Friday for the second time in as many games.

Ducks 4, Coyotes 3

Anaheim might have traded an All-Star defenseman in Chris Pronger during the offseason, but the Ducks got a lot in return.

Young blueliner Luca Sbisa scored on a two-man advantage 1:23 into overtime and Joffrey Lupul lit the lamp twice in regulation as Anaheim rallied from a three-goal, third-period deficit against Phoenix at Arena.

Sbisa and Lupul were both acquired from Philadelphia in the Pronger deal. Dan Sexton also scored as the Ducks' offense exploded for four goals after the Coyotes carried a 3-0 lead into the final 10 minutes of regulation.

It was amazing Anaheim even had a chance at coming back after being outshot 30-2 by Phoenix in the first period. Timo Pielmeier withstood the onslaught, allowing just Peter Mueller and Jeff Hoggan's goals scored 53 seconds apart. Jim Vandermeer seemingly put the game away by tallying with 18 seconds left in the second, after Jean-Philippe Levasseur had entered in relief.

Al Montoya, by comparison, only had to deal with six Anaheim shots over the first 40 minutes. Josh Tordjman came on in the third and shut the Ducks out until a boarding major by Francis Lessard opened the doors for a comeback.

Lupul got the Ducks on the board with 9:51 remaining, Sexton scored with seven minutes left to cut the deficit to one and Lupul forced overtime with 1:10 to play. Then the Coyotes got into more penalty trouble, as Ross Lupaschuk received a double minor for interference with 14 seconds left in regulation and Sami Lepisto compounded matters by getting called for hooking 1:04 into overtime.

It took Sbisa just 19 seconds to beat Tordjman on the ensuing 5-on-3 and end the game.

Canucks 6, Sharks 2

The Sedin twins have new deals and looked ready to roll in combining for three goals and seven points as Vancouver built a 5-0 lead and rolled past San Jose at HP Pavilion.

Daniel Sedin's power-play goal 11:55 into the first period gave the Canucks an early three-goal cushion and Henrik Sedin scored twice in the second to make it a miserable night for last season's President's Trophy winners. Goalie Thomas Greiss had it particularly rough, yielding five goals on just 14 shots over the first two periods.

Ex-Shark defenseman Christian Ehrhoff capped the Canucks' outburst in the third. Willie Mitchell and Cody Hodgson had the other Vancouver goals, while Andrew Raycroft went the distance and finished with 27 saves.

Jed Ortmeyer broke up his shutout bid early in the third and Jamie McGinn also scored for San Jose.

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

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