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Malkin's OT goal lifts Penguins over Blackhawks

by John Kreiser
The Pittsburgh Penguins were again without Sidney Crosby. Fortunately for their playoff hopes, they still had NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin.

Crosby sat out for the second-straight game due to a groin injury. But after being quiet during regulation, Malkin's power-play blast 1:36 into overtime gave the Penguins a desperately needed 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Penguins couldn't hold leads of 2-0 and 4-2 -- largely thanks to Jonathan Toews, who had his first career hat trick. But an offensive-zone tripping penalty to Kris Versteeg with 22 seconds left in regulation gave Pittsburgh a power play to start overtime, and Sergei Gonchar fed Malkin for a one-timer from the right faceoff dot that rookie Antti Niemi had no chance on.

"Going into the 4-on-3, I was pointing to the guys, making sure they were going to the right positions," said Gonchar, who quarterbacked the Pens' power play. "We had guys down on the crease and the goal line. That's why Evgeni had a chance to be open."

The two points give the Penguins 68 -- one behind Buffalo and Carolina, which are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference -- and a win in the opener of a five-game trip.

"It would have been real disappointing, thinking about the fact that we had two two-goal leads at the start of a road trip, given the importance of this trip," a relieved Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "But the bottom line is -- tough building, against a team that came at us pretty hard, and we were able to hang in there and get the two points."

Chicago is fourth in the West with 77 points and appears likely to finish there.

"I didn’t mind most of the things we did all night," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's tough playing catch-up in our League, and we were fortunate to get a point. But it would have been nice to get two, because we had a lot of momentum, generated a lot of scoring opportunities. We did what we had to do, except get the win."

It was Pittsburgh's first game since the trade that brought forward Chris Kunitz from Anaheim for defenseman Ryan Whitney -- and Kunitz wasted little time making his presence felt. He assisted on Jordan Staal's goal 3:36 into the game, then scored his first as a Penguin by tucking Staal's rebound off the end boards past Cristobal Huet at 8:44.

Kunitz' play in his debut impressed his new coach.

"He scored a goal going to the net; you saw him in front of the net on the power play," Bylsma said. "You saw him being able to go into the corner, especially on the power play, and really try to retrieve pucks. It's something you need on a power play; it’s something you need for skilled guys, and he was definitely there."


So was Toews, who rallied his team with the first of his three power-play goals, deflecting Cam Barker's shot past Marc-Andre Fleury at 15:44. He tied it 6:26 into the second period, half-fanning on a shot from the right side of the net but sliding it off Fleury's skate and into the net.

But the Penguins went back in front with a pair of goals 37 seconds apart late in the period. Miroslav Satan banged in a rebound at 18:24 and Maxime Talbot had his shot deflect off Barker's skate and into the net at 19:01.

However, the third period was all Chicago. The Hawks outshot Pittsburgh 20-4 and dominated play throughout. Toews completed his first hat trick by beating Fleury on a one-timer from the right circle, and Dave Bolland swatted in a backhander at 15:15 to get the Hawks even again.

Toews now has a team-high 25 goals, one more than he had all last season -- when he was a runner-up for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.

"Johnny's gotten better every game," Quenneville said. "We just love the trend and how he's taken charge. He had a special night tonight and did a lot of good things besides the production. The puck was following him around. All year long, we want, as a team, to improve. Johnny's been doing that in his own game, and I think that's going to help us."

Red Wings 2, Kings 1 | Video

Twelve days off appeared to be just what the doctor ordered for Wings' goaltender Chris Osgood, who made 30 saves in his return after a four-game absence and helped Detroit hold off the pesky Kings.

Osgood has struggled for much of the season, and was given some time off to rest up and work with goaltending coach Jim Bedard. Whatever they did, it worked. Osgood stopped all 14 shots he faced in a first period dominated by Los Angeles, and didn't allow a goal until Alexander Frolov popped in a second rebound for a power-play goal at 4:48 of the third period.

"We have all the confidence in the world in Ozzie," said forward Kirk Maltby, who played in his 1,000th NHL game. "Everyone goes through tough times during the course of the season. With Ozzie, we felt very confident that he'd do the job -- and he did. He played great, especially in the first period when it seemed we were a little bit flat."

Osgood has a 3.22 goals-against average, which is 42nd in the NHL, and is 41st with an .883 save percentage. The Wings need him to be a lot better than that if they hope to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

He said the break was a good way for him to clear his head.

"The physical skills were always there. It was just a matter of resetting my mind and just playing the moment. Now this game is over," Osgood said. "I've always been like that, but for some reason I got away from that the first half of the year. You can fill your mind with too many things and it's hard to play when you've got a lot of stuff in your head."

Coach Mike Babcock said Osgood's hard work paid off.

"You don't just get lucky," he said. "You work hard, you do good things, then you come to the game and good things happen to you. He deserves a lot of credit for how hard he's worked. He earned the right to play, got himself a good win, and that's great."

Darren Meech opened the scoring at 12:08 of the second period when he banged in a rebound off a scramble. Tomas Kopecky got what proved to be the winner 1:43 into the third period with a quick one-timer from near the goal line on a pass from Valtteri Filppula after Kings goalie Jonathan Quick gave away the puck behind the net.

"We were lucky the puck didn’t end up in our net in the first period, but I thought in the second and third were able to get two and we played well," Maltby said.

It was an unfortunate gaffe for Quick, who was otherwise outstanding in a 39-save performance.

The loss was a damaging one for the Kings, who remained four points out of a playoff berth in the West.

"I think we did some good things in the first period. We managed the puck well and was getting it on the net," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "Unfortunately, we made some passes through the middle of the ice and that gave Detroit some momentum on turnovers."

Flames 4, Wild 1 | Video

Mike Cammalleri's career year rolls on. Cammalleri scored his 31st and 32nd goals to lead the Flames past Minnesota and keep Calgary 10 points ahead of Vancouver atop the Northwest Division.

That's what really interests Cammalleri, who is closing in on his first chance to play a postseason game after five non-playoff seasons with Los Angeles.

"Playing with all these guys has been really enjoyable but the real exciting part is the way we're playing coming down the stretch here and the idea of competing in the playoffs,"  Cammalleri said. "That's all stuff that gets me really excited. I can't wait."

Miikka Kiprusoff had to make only 15 saves as the Flames won their fourth in a row.

After a scoreless first period, the Flames took command by scoring twice in the first 37 seconds. Cammalleri finished off a three-way passing play with Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy at 17 seconds, then Dion Phaneuf picked up an errant clearing pass, stepped into a slap shot and fired it through a screen and past Niklas Backstrom 20 seconds later.

Jamie Lundmark made it 3-0 at 12:39 before Cammalleri iced the win by scoring a power-play goal with 5:21 left in the third period.

"It's easy to get impatient and try to press it and then you start making mistakes and that's what they're hoping for," said Cammalleri, who's two goals shy of his career best of 34 set in 2006-07.

Marc-Andre Bergeron's goal with 3:36 left in regulation enabled the Wild to avoid a shutout, but Minnesota fell to 3-17-4 all-time at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"It was a tough night for us. I don't think we were even close," said Backstrom, who made 25 saves. "They scored a couple big goals in the beginning of the second and the game was over. We need to get better tomorrow. It's going to take a whole 60 minutes."

The Wild will face Edmonton, one of the three other teams that share spots seven through 10 in the West, on Saturday night in the second stop of their six-game trip.

"You just try to move on and you make sure that you're ready to play tomorrow," Bergeron said. "Edmonton is a team that's fighting for its life also. We've got to make sure that we're ready to go. If they score one or two quick goals, we can't get our head between our legs and quit. We've got to keep playing and we've got to keep playing hard."

Canucks 2, Lightning 1 | Video

The Canucks will be sorry to see February fade into March. They finished off a 9-2-0 month by grinding out a victory over Tampa Bay, which has yet to win in 11 visits to Vancouver since entering the NHL in 1992.

Steve Bernier's fluke goal 9:26 into the third period broke a 1-1 tie for the weary Canucks, who were playing their first home game after a four-game trip and haven't played two games in the same city in nearly three weeks.


SHOTS: 21 | SAVES: 20
SAVE PCT: .952 | GAA: 1.00

"We’ve traveled a lot lately," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Some nights are going to be harder than others, and this was obviously one of them. We battled through it and found a way to get two very important points.

"They say never critique a win. This is one of those times."

The win put the Canucks alone in fifth place in the tightly packed Western Conference.

The Lightning, 13th in the East and 28th in the League, are 0-9-2 at Vancouver, 1-5-1 in their last seven games overall and have dropped their last seven on the road.

"We picked it up after the first period," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "I don’t want to say we're happy with the way we played -- obviously, you want the result, and that's something we haven't gotten this year."

Alex Edler gave a Vancouver a 1-0 lead on a power play at 11:41 of the first period as he fired Ryan Kesler's pass from across the slot behind Karri Ramo.

Roberto Luongo made the lead stand up until 14:36 of the second period, when rookie Steven Stamkos scored into a wide-open net during a scramble. It was the sixth goal in eight games for Stamkos, the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft last June.

Bernier put Vancouver ahead to stay when his wraparound hit the leg of Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier and went through Ramo's legs.

"I was in front of the net and didn't see the puck," said Lecavalier, who nearly tied the game in the final seconds. "I felt something hit my foot, and the next thing I knew it was in the net. It's bad luck."

The Canucks had to survive a wild final half-minute in which the Lightning buzzed around and nearly shoved the tying goal through Luongo and a pile of bodies.

"As soon as the buzzer went, I sprinted out of there," Vigneault joked. "We'll take the two points and get ready for tomorrow."

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

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