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Lidstrom's goal gives Wings 4-3 win in OT

by John Kreiser /
Championship teams know how to come from behind, so being down two goals and outplayed by the Calgary Flames was merely a challenge to be met for the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

And they did.

The Wings trailed 2-0 after one period and 3-1 midway through the third, but got goals from Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski to force overtime before Nicklas Lidstrom scored at 3:50 of OT to give the Wings a 4-3 victory over the Flames on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

"We believe in this locker room that we always have a chance," Wings coach Mike Babcock said after earning his 250th career victory, including 182 with Detroit. "In Detroit I'm blessed with real good players. If you have real good players, you have a chance to win a lot of games."

A lot of those wins this season have been close. Detroit is now 13-1-4 in games decided by one goal.

"The guys showed good resolve," Babcock said. "We battled back and found a way to win."

For most of the night, it looked like the Wings would come up short in their efforts to sweep a four-game homestand. Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow gave Calgary a 2-0 lead after one period. Babcock shuffled the lines and defense pairings after the first period.

"It gave us a little bit of a spark," Lidstrom said. "We had to get skating more. We had to work harder. We got to that point in the second period."

The line juggling paid off in the second period, when Valtteri Filppula scored at 6:51 to cut the Wings' deficit in half. But David Moss restored the Flames' two-goal margin with a power-play goal at 8:51 of the third.

However, the Wings just fought harder. Zetterberg brought the Red Wings within 3-2 just 60 seconds later when he jammed in a rebound for his 13th goal. Rafalski tied it at 3-3 with 6:17 left, beating Curtis McElhinney with a slap shot from the top of the right circle for his fourth goal.

Lidstrom, playing in front of a crowd that included his parents, won it when he blasted a slap shot from the high slot that went past a screened McElhinney.


"(Johan) Franzen made a great play entering their zone with the puck," Lidstrom said. "He turned up and beat his guy with the pass on the wall. I'm just trying to hit that far side because he was a little screened."

McElhinney, giving Miikka Kiprusoff a rare night off, made 35 saves but didn't get a lot of help from his teammates down the stretch.

"He played very well, very well," defenseman Dion Phaneuf said of the little-used backup. "We didn't give him enough to get the victory."

It was the Flames' fifth straight loss in Detroit. They haven't won at Joe Louis Arena since December 2005.

"It's a hard building to play in. They have one of the best home records year in and year out," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. "That was as close as we've come."

Devils 4, Penguins 1 | Video

New Jersey showed it can play as well at home as it did on the road. The Devils won in their return to the Prudential Center after a 4-1-0 road trip as Scott Clemmensen made 26 saves to improve to 7-1-0 in his last eight starts.

Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, Dainius Zubrus and Patrik Elias scored as the Devils avenged the lone loss in their last nine games, a 4-1 defeat at Pittsburgh on Nov. 29. Clemmensen, who has taken the No. 1 job while Martin Brodeur recuperates from bicep surgery, came within 3:58 of a shutout before Matt Cooke tapped in Evgeni Malkin's cross-crease pass.

"I saw a lot of guys I played against in the American Hockey League get the chance," Clemmensen said. "Comparing myself to them, I always knew I could do the same, if I was given the opportunity. I waited a long time for this, but that's why you work on your game in case something like this happens.

"Even though I have played in some games in the past, this is my first opportunity to play a stretch."

Clemmensen's play has kept the Devils from falling back after Brodeur's injury, which is expected to keep him out at least until late February.

"He's a guy that has paid his dues," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "It's great to see him get the opportunity and run with it."

The suddenly slumping Penguins lost for the third consecutive game and for the first time in regulation in their last seven visits to New Jersey.

The teams were scoreless for more than 37 minutes before Zajac knocked in a rebound off the end boards at 17:39 after goalie Dany Sabourin failed to control the puck.

Parise deflected Bryce Salvador's shot from the left point past Sabourin at 2:18 for his team-leading 16th goal. Zubrus made it 3-0 at 10:12 with Salvador picking up another assist, and Elias added an empty-netter.

"It was one of those nights when everything goes against you," Pens coach Michel Therrien said.

It was a frustrating night for Pens captain Sidney Crosby, who had his seven-game points streak ended despite having three excellent opportunities in the second period: a close in power-play bid, a backhander after slipping behind defenseman Paul Marin and a wide-open shot that hit the post. His frustration boiled over in the third period when he drew two penalties, including a roughing call after some pushing and shoving with Brian Gionta.

"We played a pretty decent hockey game but we got a few bad breaks on both sides of the puck," Crosby said. "They got a few bounces on their goals and we hit a few posts. The effort was right, in the way we worked and the way we played, but we just didn't get any results."

Sabres 4, Lightning 2 | Video

Not even an early two-goal lead was enough for the Lightning, which lost its ninth in a row as Buffalo rallied behind a pair of goals by League leader Thomas Vanek.

The Bolts came out playing physical hockey and jumped to an early 2-0 lead on goals by Martin St. Louis and Mark Recchi. But Drew Stafford beat Mike Smith before the end of the first period to cut the deficit to one. After Ryan Miller stopped Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos and Ryan Smolenak on breakaways in the second, Vanek tied it with 8:08 left in the period, scoring on a breakaway after a slick pass from Ales Kotalik, then gave Buffalo its first lead with a nifty backhand from in close with 15 seconds to go.

"I don't think there's enough good things to say about his game right now," forward Jason Pominville said about Vanek. "I've seen him score in so many ways. He's playing really well."

Pominville hit the empty net for a shorthanded goal with 13 seconds left to wrap up the Sabres' third consecutive victory.

"Being behind is not what we want to do, but in the end it's nice to get a win," said Vanek, who had the third-period game-winner Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. "We started out slow, but then played well and deserved to win."

The Lightning fell to 8-14-8 and is 1-7-4 since firing coach Barry Melrose last month.

"It's very frustrating for me that we don't have guys willing to stand in front of the net on a consistent basis," said interim coach Rick Tocchet, who replaced Melrose. "Maybe we are asking guys to do things they are not capable of doing."

Smith made 33 saves, including a number of spectacular stops. It still wasn't enough.

"I don't have anything else to say. After every game it seems like it's the same thing," Smith said after his eighth consecutive appearance. "Tonight we had some opportunities and we don't capitalize, and before you know it we're down and we're trying to claw back."

Rangers 3, Thrashers 2, OT | Video

The Rangers needed just 18 seconds of overtime to leave Phillips Arena with two points.  Scott Gomez scored after goaltender Johan Hedberg didn't handle Markus Naslund's backhander cleanly, and Gomez swooped in to backhand the loose puck into the net.

"I just went to the net," Gomez said. "I thought he was going to get it in his glove, and it took a bad bounce. I got lucky."

The Rangers had lost their last two games, so escaping Atlanta with a victory was vital.

"It's a big win, first and foremost, for the team," Gomez said after scoring his third game-winner of the season. "It's a big boost to get an overtime goal to win. So hopefully we're going to turn it around, and tonight is a good indication of that."

The Rangers had a pair of one-goal leads in regulation but couldn't hold them. Colton Orr scored for the first time in 83 games 2:37 into the second period, but Atlanta rookie Joey Crabb got his first NHL goal at 6:05 by beating backup goaltender Steve Valiquette on a breakaway.
"The one thing a backup goalie can do when he plays is to provide a real charge, and I know the guys play really hard for me.  Hopefully tonight can get us all really going." -- Rangers' backup goaltender Steve Valiquette

New York got a shorthanded goal from Ryan Callahan at 1:20 of the third period, only to see the Thrashers tie it at 2:49 when he redirected Boris Valabik's shot behind Valiquette. Kovalchuk now has 7 goals and 14 assists in his last 16 games.

"He's taken it up a notch, he's dangerous," Atlanta coach John Anderson said of Kovalchuk, a two-time 50-goal scorer. "That's a positive sign for us; he wants it every time he goes out there."

Though he was beaten twice, Valiquette was sharp in making 27 saves while giving starter Henrik Lundqvist a rare night off.

"The one thing a backup goalie can do when he plays is to provide a real charge, and I know the guys play really hard for me," Valiquette said. "Hopefully tonight can get us all really going."

The Thrashers lost for the fifth straight time at home and the seventh time in eight games overall, though they're 1-0-1 in their last two.

"We had great play from everyone," forward Chris Thorburn said. "Everyone went hard, but the outcome did not go our way."

Blackhawks 2, Senators 0 | Video

Cristobal Huet is playing the way the Blackhawks expected him to when they signed him as a free agent during the summer. Huet stopped 23 shots for his first shutout as a Hawk, making Patrick Kane's first-period goal stand up.

Huet has played six consecutive games while Nikolai Khabibulin recovers from a lower-body injury, and appears to be thriving on the work. He earned his first shutout since March 29, when he blanked Florida while playing for Washington.

"You can tell he's definitely getting more confident, and it's good to see him get a shutout," Kane said.

Added coach Joel Quenneville: "He had a spectacular night, some significant, high-quality saves and a couple of them on the penalty kill."

Huet was the main reason Ottawa went 0-for-6 on the power play, including a 64-second 5-on-3 advantage in the first period. Huet also stopped Dany Heatley's point-blank bid during a second-period power play and foiled Mike Fisher's shorthanded breakaway in the third. Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter for the Hawks with 41 seconds to play.

"I thought I saw the puck well," Huet said. "The guys did a good job making them shoot from the outside, and we didn't give them any second chances."

Kane scored a power-play goal 5:17 into the game, beating Martin Gerber with a wrist shot. He spent much of the rest of the right making things tough for his teammates by taking four minors, including a four-minute high-sticking call in the second period.

"It was a tough loss. We've got to be better than that," Fisher said.

Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg wasn't happy with his team's lack of power-play production.

"We've got a four-minute power play and a 5-on-3 and we've got to come up with something," Hartsburg said. "We're standing still. We've got to move, the puck's got to move."

Ducks 4, Blues 2 | Video

Brendan Morrison, a disappointment so far this season, got the tie-breaking goal with 2:37 remaining in regulation as the Ducks beat St. Louis in a physical game.

After Brad Boyes tied the game for St. Louis by scoring a power play with 7:06 remaining, Morrison put the Ducks ahead to stay with just his third goal of the season. He swatted the puck past Chris Mason during a scramble.

"It was a mad scramble and I was able to get a stick on it," said Morrison, who signed a two-year contract during the offseason but hasn't produced offensively the way the Ducks had anticipated. "We did a good job keeping the puck alive. It came to me, the goalie was down, and I was able to get it over his leg."

Blues coach Andy Murray was disappointed with his team's inability to clear the zone on Morrison's goal.

"We had the puck on our stick on the winning goal twice," he said. "You work as hard as we did, you'd like to think we could make better decisions in crucial situations. I'm proud of our guys, but in those situations, you have to manage the puck better." 
"We had the puck on our stick on the winning goal twice.  You work as hard as we did, you'd like to think we could make better decisions in crucial situations." -- Blues coach Andy Murray

Chris Kunitz added an empty-net goal with four seconds left as the Ducks won their fourth in a row at the Honda Center. Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 26 saves to improve to 9-1-2 lifetime against the Blues.

"Jiggy's been playing great for us," Kunitz said.

St. Louis goalie Manny Legace left after being kneed in the head by Anaheim's Bobby Ryan following a goal by Anaheim's George Parros at 13:25 of the first period, and Mason replaced him.

Parros got the tying goal 46 seconds after St. Louis' B.J. Crombeen raced down the right side and beat Giguere on the Blues' second shot of the game. Kunitz put the Ducks ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal at 13:47 of the second period, firing Ryan Getzlaf's cross-crease pass behind Mason.

Boyes ripped a slapper from the left circle past a screened Giguere to pull the Blues even.

"I thought in the third period, we were the better club," Murray said. "We were creating lots of chances. Even when we fell behind in the last couple of minutes, we kept pressing. I'm proud of our effort. We just need to be able to finish these."

Coyotes 5, Stars 3 | Video

Getting Olli Jokinen back from an injury was just what the Coyotes needed to rebound from their worst loss of the season. Jokinen and Martin Hanzal each scored twice as Phoenix won at Dallas.

The Coyotes had two days off after an embarrassing 7-1 loss at Chicago on Sunday. Getting Jokinen back after a six-game absence due to a shoulder injury helped, as did a fortunate bounce that led to Hanzal's tie-breaking goal in the third period.

"I was really proud how our team responded," Gretzky said. "We got beat pretty bad last game. We got [the Stars] at a lucky time. They're missing some key players who can't be replaced."

Jokinen's second goal was a key. He tied the game at 3-3 by knocking in a power-play rebound with 3.2 seconds left in the second period.

"Scoring a goal with three seconds left in the period goes a long way for the team," Gretzky said.

With the score still tied early in the third period, Stars goalie Marty Turco skated behind his net and attempted a pass along the boards. The puck deflected off the stick of Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley and slid to Hanzal alone in front. With Turco out of position, Hanzal popped in an easy shot at 5:21 for his eighth goal.

"I got pretty lucky," Hanzal said. "It hit [Daley's] stick on the backhand and the puck came out to me. It definitely was a huge win. We'd lost [two] in a row. This will help our confidence."

Steven Reinprecht added an empty-net goal for the Coyotes with 23 seconds left.

"It was an unfortunate break, but we have to overcome," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We're finding ways to beat ourselves."

Daley and rookies Fabian Brunnstrom and James Neal scored for the Stars, whose depth has been thinned by injuries and the suspension of forward Sean Avery.

The Stars' hierarchy met before the game concerning Avery, who is eligible to return to the lineup after Saturday's game at Nashville.

Defenseman Stephane Robidas said Stars are trying to overcome distractions surrounding Avery's situation.

"That's an issue that management is dealing with," said Robidas, who needed several stitches to close a deep cut on his lip after he was hit in the face with the puck in the closing seconds of the first period. "We have to focus on hockey. Teams go through stretches with all kinds of distractions and you can't make excuses. It's not something we can control."

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

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