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Leafs start Burke era with a victory

by Brian Hunter /
It might be a little premature to give Brian Burke credit for turning around the Toronto Maple Leafs, but based off one game the new president and general manager had to like what he saw.

Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov each had a goal and an assist Saturday night in a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Air Canada Centre, hours after Burke was introduced for the first time since his hiring. He also spoke to Toronto players before the game, which coach Ron Wilson said was no small matter.

"I think Brian did a good job to relax them from -- I hate to be blunt -- but the dumb questions you guys have been asking our players, that they're all going to be traded," Wilson said. "Brian assured them that wasn't going to happen and that's the best thing that he could have done."

Lee Stempniak and Pavel Kubina had the other goals for the Maple Leafs, who won for the first time in six games. Vesa Toskala turned aside 28 shots in his second consecutive strong outing.

"The puck seems to hit me now and that's a nice feeling," Toskala said. "As a team, we played hard. It was really important to get a win now because we've had a losing streak going."

The Flyers, who had won six straight before falling in overtime Friday afternoon to Carolina, lost their first regulation game in three weeks despite a pair of goals by Mike Richards.

"I thought we hung in there," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said. "I thought we played hard and with a lot of energy and I thought we created enough chances to win. We just didn't find the net."

Antropov put the Leafs ahead to stay with a power play 2:55 into the second by using his head -- or rather, his face. Flyers goalie Martin Biron had his attempted clear of the puck strike Antropov, who had the presence of mind to quickly backhand the puck into the net.

Moore made it a 3-1 game and scored what proved to be the winner when he came out of the penalty box, went in on a breakaway and beat Biron with a deke at 8:43 while crashing the net in the process.

"As players, there's always going to be stuff that's going on that's going to distract you," Moore said. "If it's not one thing, it's another. That's the challenge that everybody faces, to play a focused game and not worry about surrounding things that are out of their control."

Richards scored shorthanded with 2:37 left in the second, his eighth of the season and second of the night, but Kubina's shot through a screen beat Biron 2:18 into the third and restored the two-goal lead.

Stempniak and Richards traded goals just 35 seconds apart in the opening period. Stempniak's goal at 14:45 was his first since being acquired recently from St. Louis.

Toronto jumped two points ahead of Ottawa for fourth place in the Northeast Division and at 22 points is currently only four out of a postseason berth. Anything remains possible this season, but Burke cautioned patience in turning things around for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.

"Rebuilding won't be easy," Burke said prior to the game. "When you change the general manager, you don't change the team. It will take some time and some effort.

"Changing the general manager doesn't change the roster."

Canadiens 3, Sabres 2 | Video

A three-goal burst in the middle period helped Montreal begin the longest homestand in the franchise's 100-year history in style, as Andrei Markov netted the game-winner Saturday.

Andrei Kostitsyn and Steve Begin had the other goals for the Canadiens, who play seven straight at the Bell Centre through Dec. 13. They bounced back after getting shut out Friday by Washington 3-0.

''If you look at our last six or seven games, I feel that we've played really well defensively -- if you take away that game (Friday) night,'' coach Guy Carbonneau said.

Thomas Vanek had both Buffalo goals, reclaiming the NHL scoring lead from Jeff Carter of Philadelphia, but the Sabres lost for the ninth time in their last 12 games.

''We had the lead twice and let them come back, and when you let a team as good as Montreal come back in it, chances are you're going to lose,'' said Vanek, who now has 17 goals this season.

Vanek opened the scoring at 13:31 of the first, ending a four-game drought with a highlight-reel goal that saw him put the stick between his legs to tap the puck past Canadiens goalie Carey Price from the goalmouth.



''It ended up coming to me, bouncing, and I knew that if I would just turn around and shoot it that Price is solid in there, so I had to get him off because I was in so tight,'' Vanek said. ''I just tried to put it between my legs and it worked out.''

Kostitsyn scored unassisted goal 2:51 into the second, recovering after he fanned on his initial attempt to beat Patrick Lalime. Vanek proceeded to put Buffalo ahead 2-1 at 7:39 but Begin evened things up again with 6:20 left in the period by one-timing home a Maxim Lapierre feed from the left side.

Markov netted the decisive goal 1:30 before the second intermission, taking a Saku Koivu centering pass and beating Lalime from the slot for his third goal.

''(Markov) knows how to get open and I saw him just out of the corner of my eye, but it was too late, he was already there,'' Lalime said.

Price finished with 26 saves and Montreal survived the third by killing off a 5-on-3 Buffalo power play that lasted a full two minutes after Jaroslav Spacek and Adam Mair both took penalties at the 5:58 mark.

''We're still up and down, we're still looking for our game and I think we can play better,'' Markov said.

Blue Jackets 3, Capitals 0 | Video

Rick Nash has not only the best interests of the Columbus Blue Jackets in mind, but their fan base as well. Nash treated the Nationwide Arena faithful to a pair of goals Saturday in a shutout of Washington, then spoke afterward about the importance of playing solid hockey on home ice.

"Considering the fact that we're at home, and the last couple of home games haven't been too impressive -- especially with a lot of tickets sold -- it was big to give this night to our fans and show them a good product on the ice," Nash said.

Steve Mason made 26 saves to record his second NHL shutout -- he also blanked Atlanta a week earlier -- and Raffi Torres opened the scoring with his first goal of the season as the Jackets beat the Capitals for the first time in eight games.

Mason, a 20-year-old rookie, got his chance when Pascal Leclaire was out with an injury and with his stellar play has continued to merit playing time even since the No. 1 goalie's return. He improved to 5-2-1 with Saturday's effort.

"He played great. If Mason continues to play like this, the way the standings are and how valuable points are, we've got to play him," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've got to play him quite a bit."

Washington, which hasn't lost in regulation at home this season, dropped its fourth straight on the road. Among the players Mason quieted was Alex Ovechkin, whose 11-game point streak came to an end.

"We score goals -- that's the big difference when we play at home," Ovechkin said. "The goalie played well tonight. Still, we had lots of chances to score goals, especially in the second period. I had a couple of chances. We just didn't score."

Torres, acquired from Edmonton this summer the summer, got his initial goal as a Blue Jacket when a Marc Methot drive hit the skate of Fredrik Modin and ricocheted right to his stick. Torres pumped it past Brent Johnson for the only goal Columbus would need.

Nash added to the lead, putting a wrister off the far post and into the net with 5:16 left in the second and then scoring on a shorthanded breakaway at 13:37 of the third period. Given some breathing room, Mason took it from there.

"The guys made it really easy," he said. "They were making sure that the lanes were open so I could see the shot from the point."

Penguins 4, Devils 1 | Video

The Pittsburgh fans who pack Mellon Arena night after night have seen their fair share of heroics from Sidney Crosby during his brief, but brilliant NHL career. One thing they hadn't seen from him in their home arena was a hat trick -- that is, until Saturday night.

Crosby scored three goals and assisted another by Petr Sykora, and Dany Sabourin rebounded from being pulled in his last start to make 29 saves as the Penguins ended New Jersey's five-game winning streak.

"The last week Sid really picked up his game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "You could see the fire in his eyes and that he was having fun."

Crosby's third goal came into an empty net with 2:01 remaining after the Devils pulled Scott Clemmensen for an extra attacker. Crosby beat Clemmensen -- who had been on a four-game win streak -- to open the scoring 1:21 after the opening faceoff, and later gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead midway through the second.

"It's nice to do it at home," Crosby said. "It's something that you don't know when it's going to happen again, so it's nice."

Clemmensen made 31 saves and Mike Rupp scored early in the third period to end the shutout hopes for Sabourin, who got lifted against the Islanders on Wednesday in a game the Penguins would rally to win with rookie Danny Curry in net. Curry made his first NHL start Friday in Buffalo and lost.

"The last week Sid really picked up his game.  You could see the fire in his eyes and that he was having fun." -- Pens' coach Michel Therrien on Sidney Crosby


Crosby's first goal showcased the center at his free-wheeling, play-making best. He carried the puck into the offensive zone, split Devils defensemen Paul Martin and Bryce Salvador and, after briefly losing control of the puck, spun to the left of the crease for a turning backhander that beat Clemmensen.

"Obviously this whole League is full of talented players, and then there's the elite players who are even more talented," Clemmensen said. "And when those guys are the hardest-working players on the ice, then that is scary good. Just scary good."

Crosby set up a wide-open Sykora for a power-play goal 7:26 into the second, delivering the puck over the stick of a Devils defenseman to Sykora who was alone to the left of the crease. Crosby then added his second of the night at 11:29 after Evgeni Malkin took the puck off a turnover by Barry Tallackson.

"I haven't changed that much," said Crosby, who now has 10 goals in his last nine games. "I think I'm playing well, but I'm getting some breaks, as well."

Islanders 4, Senators 2 | Video

Freddy Meyer went from defenseman to scoring star Saturday as he knocked in a pair of goals to key New York to its third win this season against Ottawa for the first time since the Senators rejoined the League in 1992.

Andy Hilbert and Trent Hunter also scored to spark the Nassau Coliseum crowd and Joey MacDonald stopped 19 shots while making his 14th consecutive start in net.

''It was a good win for us,'' Meyer said, ''especially since we were on short rest.'' New York lost in Boston on Friday afternoon and completed a grueling stretch of six games in nine days.

Goals by Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson weren't enough to keep the Senators from losing in regulation for the first time in five games, following a 2-0-2 stretch. Alex Auld made 21 saves.

''I think we're a better team than we showed,'' Alfredsson said. ''It wasn't a great effort.''

Meyer, who earlier picked up an assist, struck late in the second period and again early in the third to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead. His first goal came 34.5 seconds before the intermission, when he tipped in a centering pass from Jon Sim. Moments after a New York power play expired, Meyer's slap shot from the left point found the net at 1:57 of the third.

''I know in the minors, I had two hat tricks,'' Meyer said. ''Tonight was just one of those nights.''

Alfredsson cut the Senators' deficit to one at 8:04 when he finished a give-and-go with Heatley, but MacDonald and the Islanders held firm after that and Hunter sent a backhander into an empty net with 1:01 remaining to seal the victory.

''I don't think there was anything that haunted us,'' New York coach Scott Gordon said of his team's recent propensity to let third-period leads escape. ''Ottawa was trying to win the game, too. There is no team in the league that is going to play 60 minutes. That's just the nature of the beast.''

Heatley and Hilbert traded goals in the opening period. Ottawa went ahead at 7:32 when Heatley beat MacDonald from the slot. Hilbert got the goal back at 12:41 by tipping Meyer's shot from the left point past Auld. A video review determined Hilbert's stick was not above the crossbar when he deflected the puck.

Kings 5, Blackhawks 2 | Video

Derek Armstrong's first goal in 30 games sparked a three-goal third for Los Angeles, which climbed back above the .500 mark and handed Chicago a third straight loss to finish its six-game road trip.

Jarret Stoll, Alexander Frolov, Kyle Calder and Patrick O'Sullivan also scored for the Kings, who got 22 saves in goal from Erik Ersberg. But the key play was made by Armstrong -- who entered with just one assist in 12 games this season -- when he stuffed a loose puck under Cristobal Huet 6:16 into the third period for a 3-2 lead.

"It felt great. I haven't been playing so great this year, you know, just to help your teammates out in a situation like that," said Armstrong, who last scored on Feb. 15. "Our team battled hard. It wasn't the greatest game for our team but we showed signs of maturity tonight. We had some rough patches, but when it really counted we came out and played the way we were supposed to."

Calder, who spent his first six seasons playing for Chicago, made it 4-2 with a power-play goal with 6:08 remaining and O'Sullivan scored into an empty net with 2:09 left as Los Angeles improved to 10-9-3 after finishing last in the Western Conference a season ago.

''We showed maturity,'' Armstrong said. ''We had a couple of lapses during the game, but we found a way to win.''

"Our team battled hard. It wasn't the greatest game for our team but we showed signs of maturity tonight. We had some rough patches, but when it really counted we came out and played the way we were supposed to." -- Derek Armstrong


Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane netted first-period goals for the Blackhawks, who had won the first three games of their road trip but lost starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin in a game against San Jose on Wednesday. Chicago dropped that game in overtime and the last two of the trip with Huet in net.

''I don't know what it is. We've just got to find a way to motivate ourselves a little bit better,'' said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who led NHL rookies in goals last season with 24 and has four through 22 games this season. ''We had them right where we wanted them, and halfway through the game we let it slip away.''

Stoll redirected a Michal Handzus shot past Huet just 1:18 in to start the scoring, but the Blackhawks jumped ahead 2-1 when Sharp and Kane scored 4:39 apart. Sharp tied the score with a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Ersberg at 10:43 and Kane notched his 12th of the season on a power play, one-timing a feed from Sharp.

The second period was 1:02 away from ending scoreless before Frolov drew Los Angeles even. A hooking penalty to Chicago's Dave Bolland had just expired when Tom Preissing hit the right post with a slap shot and Frolov converted on the rebound.

"Against a good hockey club (like) Chicago … we knew we'd have to work hard, play smart and outwork them," Frolov said.

Oilers 4, Blues 2 | Video

It was a rough start but nice a recovery for Edmonton goaltender Dwayne Roloson. After allowing a pair of first-period goals just 47 seconds apart that put his team in an early 2-0 hole Sunday, Roloson was flawless after that and finished with 27 saves to defeat St. Louis at Scottrade Center.

"When he's on his game, he's like a sponge and everything is absorbed in the body," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said of Roloson. "He was good and he was really solid."

And his teammates backed him up with four unanswered goals over the final two periods. Shawn Horcoff set up the go-ahead goal in the third period by Dustin Penner and beat Blues goalie Manny Legace for an insurance tally moments later. Andrew Cogliano and Sheldon Souray also scored as the Oilers won for only the second time in their last seven games.

"I think we out-competed them more," Horcoff said. "I think we were stronger on pucks, we out-battled them in the corners, we got pucks back to the point, we got traffic to the net and made it tough for Manny. He was actually playing well, especially early, but that's the way we needed to play in order to be successful."

David Perron assisted goals by Brad Boyes and Patrik Berglund that had St. Louis off to a quick start. Boyes beat Roloson at 7:09 of the first on a touch pass from Perron. Edmonton barely had time to react to being down when Berglund made it a 2-0 game with a second-effort goal that caromed in off Oilers defenseman Jason Strudwick.

St. Louis had a chance to make it 3-0 but Roloson made a diving save to deny Boyes with 1:43 left in the first as he tried to finish off a 2-on-1 break with Keith Tkachuk.

"I was just trying to get over and take away the percentages when (Boyes) shot it, the first thing that was there was my glove," Roloson said. "As long as it stayed out of the net, it doesn't matter how you stop it."

Legace, who made 18 saves, stymied the Oilers late into the second period, but they drew even before the intermission. First, Cogliano one-timed a shot over Legace's shoulder off a backhand feed into the slot by Robert Nilsson with 4:57 left, and Souray's shot from high in the slot 3:27 later tied the score.

"Two things changed. Their team played stronger in the second period and we knew they were going to and we didn't play as strong," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "It was a case of them turning their game up and us not."

Penner gave the Oilers their first lead at 3-2 when he scored a power-play goal 40 seconds into the third. Horcoff then capped the scoring at 2:59 by one-timing Penner's cross-ice feed.

Wild 6, Predators 2 | Video

Nashville kept giving Minnesota power plays and the Wild were all too happy to repeatedly make the Predators pay.

Mikko Koivu had a pair of goals, including one of the Wild's five scores with the man advantage Saturday in a road win at Sommet Center. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Andrew Brunette scored 35 seconds apart in the first period to get them going, while Owen Nolan and Craig Weller had the other tallies. Josh Harding stopped 25 shots in a rare start.

"You start the game, you get the power play, you get two goals, and everyone feels good as long as you keep playing the same way," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We're doing really good things with the puck."

Jason Arnott and David Legwand scored for the Predators, who lost for the seventh time in nine meetings with the Wild. Dan Ellis finished with 23 saves.

"We got beaten by a very good team with a very good power play," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We took way too many penalties, and those compounded our problems."

"You start the game, you get the power play, you get two goals, and everyone feels good as long as you keep playing the same way.  We're doing really good things with the puck." -- Wild coach Jacques Lemaire


Shea Weber and Ryan Suter both drew minor penalties 6:41 into the first and Minnesota capitalized on both ends of the 5-on-3 advantage. Bouchard beat Ellis from the right faceoff dot just 15 seconds after the calls, then Brunette followed with his team-leading fourth power-play goal of the season.

Nolan made it 3-0 at 4:09 of the second, scoring for the third straight game, and after Arnott got Nashville on the board at 9:41 it was Koivu netting Minnesota's only even-strength goal of the game with five minutes left in the period.

Legwand made it a 4-2 game for the Predators with a power-play goal of his own 6:58 into the third, but Koivu and Weller helped the Wild pull away by scoring 2:38 apart late in the period.

"The key for us was playing as a team for the whole 60 minutes," Koivu said. "We kept it kind of tight and got a big win for us."

Harding played well giving Niklas Backstrom only his second night off this season.

"At the beginning I was a little shaky and obviously nervous," Harding said. "When I am called upon as a backup goalie, it's my job to try to give the team a chance to win, and tonight I think I definitely did that."

Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 | Video

The struggling Avalanche took advantage of a team going through even tougher times, as Wojtek Wolski scored twice and Marek Svatos collected three assists Saturday at Pepsi Center.

''He's doing very good things defensively, but we need contribution offensively from him,'' Colorado coach Tony Granato said of Wolski. ''When he gets a couple of goals it's a big lift for everybody.''

Jordan Leopold and David Jones also scored for the Avalanche and Andrew Raycroft made 17 saves. Tyler Arnason contributed a pair of assists as Colorado took a 3-0 lead after the first period.

Vincent Lecavalier got Tampa Bay on the board in the second and the Lightning nearly rallied from a 4-1 deficit with power-play goals in the third by Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos. But they lost their fourth straight and fell to 1-3-3 under interim coach Rick Tocchet.

''It's going to get a little ugly around here for some guys,'' he said. ''We can't wait any longer, we're starting to slip. I think our patience is running thin on some people. This is a team that, tonight, we knew we had to be desperate. We knew they had a lot of injures. No disrespect to them, I think we had the stronger lineup. We had five or six guys lay eggs. That's not good enough. This is a result-oriented business and they're not getting the job done.''

"It's going to get a little ugly around here for some guys.  We can't wait any longer, we're starting to slip. I think our patience is running thin on some people. This is a team that, tonight, we knew we had to be desperate. We knew they had a lot of injures. No disrespect to them, I think we had the stronger lineup. We had five or six guys lay eggs. That's not good enough. This is a result-oriented business and they're not getting the job done." -- Lightning coach Rick Tocchet


Leopold started a burst of three goals in a span of 3:37 late in the first period when he skated down the right side in the Lightning zone, took a Svatos feed and beat Olaf Kolzig with a high shot at the 15:20 mark.

Wolski scored with 2:39 remaining by redirecting a Svatos feed after Arnason won a faceoff in the Tampa Bay end. He struck again 1:36 later with a backhander of an Arnason rebound.

''I've been looking for it. Everybody has,'' Wolski said of his goal scoring. ''It's something that's been expected. It should have happened a lot more than it has so far this season.''

Lecavalier netted his 10th of the season with 7:48 left in the second, slapping one past Raycroft from the top of the right circle. The Avalanche got that goal back and seemed in good shape when Jones scored 3:42 into the third, but penalties led to Malone's goal at 9:19 and the third of Stamkos' young career with 4:29 to play.

Sharks 3, Coyotes 2 | Video

Phoenix jumped out to a 2-0 lead Saturday against San Jose, which has the most points in the League. The problem for the Coyotes was there were still more than 56 minutes left in the game, and that proved more than enough time for the Sharks to come back.

Joe Pavelski started the rally and finished it off by scoring his second of the night with 8:37 left in the third period as San Jose prevailed at Arena and improved to 20-3-1 this season. Rob Blake also scored for the Sharks, who received 18 saves in net from Evgeni Nabokov.

"It's a combination of skill and we've got some grit with that skill," said San Jose coach Todd McLellan, whose club has won seven straight for the second time this season. "The players are pulling in the same direction, they believe in what we set out to do in training camp, and they're getting results so their confidence is growing as we go."

It actually took San Jose all of 2:13 to wipe out the early Phoenix lead, as Pavelski and Blake scored on the Sharks' first two shots against Ilya Bryzgalov. That led to Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky turning to backup Mikael Tellqvist, who had started and won the team's last two games. Although Tellqvist would allow Pavelski's go-ahead goal in the third, he stopped 20 out of 21 shots.

"Bryzgalov has just not played at the level we need him to play at," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "He's better than the way he's performed. There was no reason to keep him in ... two shots, two goals. And the second goal, the guy scored from the stands. It's as simple as that."

Derek Morris got the Coyotes started just 28 seconds into the game, scoring his second in as many games with a drive from the point that beat a screened Nabokov. Turris picked up his first goal since Oct. 12 when he flipped a long rebound from the right side of the crease over a prone Nabokov at the 3:13 mark.

"I feel really confident and I'm getting more confident every game," Turris said. "We're getting chances. It'll come."

The Sharks erased the lead when Pavelski scored off a loose puck at 4:15 and Blake sailed a shot from the right circle over Bryzgalov's shoulder 1:11 later.

"I don't think either of those goals should have gone in," Gretzky said.

Things calmed down after that, but Pavelski scored the final goal of the night when he gathered a rebound in front of the crease, got the puck on his forehand and put it into the open right side of the net.

"This is one of those games where you have to be a little bit opportunistic," Pavelski said. "However you get them, it's always good. Some games you're going to get them like that. Some games you're going to get nice ones. But the big thing is you get them."

Flames 3, Canucks 1 | Video

Calgary climbed to within a point of Vancouver for the lead in the Northwest Division thanks to a pivotal home-and-home sweep. Daymond Langkow broke a scoreless tie with 39 seconds left in the second period and Miikka Kiprusoff finished with 17 saves as the Flames followed up a 4-3 victory Thursday by taking the rematch at Pengrowth Saddledome.

David Moss scored in the third for what turned out to be the game-winner and Matthew Lombardi had the clinching goal with 1:22 remaining.

"It was real big effort from all the guys. All four lines battled and our defensemen did everything they had to do," Lombardi said. "We knew [the Canucks] were going to come out strong after we got the big win in Vancouver. They worked hard, but we had an answer for it."

Kyle Wellwood's goal with 8:34 remaining broke up Kiprusoff's shutout bid and brought Vancouver within one. Rookie goalie Cory Schneider made his NHL debut and stopped 28 shots. Curtis Sanford had started every game since Roberto Luongo's groin injury, but on Saturday the Canucks turned to Schneider, who was 10-1 with a 1.37 goals-against average and .945 save percentage for their AHL team in Manitoba.

"We knew [the Canucks] were going to come out strong after we got the big win in Vancouver. They worked hard, but we had an answer for it." -- Calgary's Matthew Lombardi


"It was bittersweet. I had a lot of fun out there, it was exciting and I think I answered a few questions about myself, but at the same time we didn't get the [win]," Schneider said.

Schneider matched the veteran Kiprusoff save for save until the Flames went on the power play late in the second. Dion Phaneuf snapped a rising shot from the blue line that Langkow got a stick on and tipped past the rookie goalie, who was screened in front by Moss.

"It was one of those games where both teams really wanted the points, it was a defensive battle, but we got a few more shots and were fortunate to get some goals and get the win," Langkow said.

Moss then made it 2-0 at 6:11 of the third. That goal became critical when Jannik Hansen set up Wellwood for his ninth goal in 19 games at the 11:26 mark.

"For the last little while, we've been playing our systems well and when you do that as a team it builds the confidence that you need that every night guys are on the same page and playing the same way," Moss said.

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


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