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Marchant ends drought in Ducks' win at Buffalo

by Brian Compton
All Todd Marchant needed to do to end a 43-game scoring drought was return to his native Buffalo.

Marchant scored shorthanded at 11:34 of the second period to help the Anaheim Ducks earn a 3-2 win over the Sabres at HSBC Arena on Tuesday night. The victory helped keep the Ducks in the mix of a tightly contested Western Conference playoff race.

''I guess he must have fueled up on chicken wings last night,'' Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said with a wink regarding Marchant, who marked his homecoming with the club's fourth shorthanded goal of the season.

Marchant said he actually ate chicken parmesan on Monday night, but was eagerly eyeing the pizza and wings spread across the table in the Ducks' locker room following Tuesday's win.

''I can hardly wait to get into them,'' Marchant said.

The Sabres were playing their first game without No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller, who sustained an ankle injury during a 4-2 win against the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Patrick Lalime made just 18 saves and fell to 2-8-1. He hasn't won since Dec. 13, and wasn't sharp in his first start since Feb. 2.

The first shot Lalime faced went in, as Teemu Selanne scored 1:10 into the opening period. Selanne capitalized on a turnover by Toni Lydman, came in alone and beat Lalime with a backhander.

''The first shot that Patty faces is a breakaway: That's not good enough,'' Sabres forward Jason Pominville said. ''You want to be better with the puck.''


Buffalo tied the game exactly 10 minutes later on Paul Gaustad's seventh goal of the season, but the Ducks responded with a pair of goals in the second period. Marchant gave Anaheim the lead when he used Chris Kunitz as a screen before snapping a shot past Lalime for just his third goal of the season. Mike Brown made it 3-1 with 1:06 left when he beat Lalime on a wraparound.

''It's been a struggling season for me offensively, but I knew it was bound to go in one of these times. And what better place?'' said Marchant, who grew up a Sabres fan and had plenty of family and friends in the stands at HSBC Arena. ''I always get a little extra geared up.''

Ales Kotalik tried to make things interesting when he beat Giguere at 18:54 of the third for a power-play goal, but the Sabres failed to notch the equalizer. They did, however, remain one point ahead of the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes, who lost at Ottawa.

''This is the time of year that you have to step up,'' Ruff said. ''I don't think we won quite enough battles. We didn't quite get there.''
Thrashers 4, Avalanche 3 | Video

Atlanta found a cure for its recent home-ice woes: score shorthanded.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 10th goal in eight games, while Tobias Enstrom and Rich Peverley each scored while killing a penalty as Atlanta held off Colorado at Philips Arena.

It was just the Thrashers' 10th win in 29 tries on home ice this season, a statistic no one in Atlanta is proud of. However, coach John Anderson has noticed a change over the last four or five games. Overall, Atlanta has four victories and eight points in its last seven matches.

''I really think the guys are listening to what we ask because that will at least keep us in hockey games,'' Anderson said. ''In each of the last four or five (games overall), we've had to change our style a little, and they've done a great job in doing that.''

Atlanta jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before clinging on for the victory. Enstrom scored shorthanded just 2:57 into the game when he took a pass from Eric Perrin and fired a backhander past Peter Budaj for his second goal of the season.

The Thrashers began the game having killed a league-low 70.4 percent of 115 power plays at home. The Avalanche's power play is 1-for-15 in its last four games.

''That is unacceptable,'' Colorado forward Milan Hejduk said. ''It's one thing to be on the power play and not score goals, but you shouldn't give up goals. It happened tonight, and that's unfortunate.''

Kovalchuk followed with his 31st tally just 1:10 later, when he redirected a shot from Niclas Havelid past Budaj to make it 2-0. The Thrashers' captain has 28 points, including 20 goals, in the last 24 games. Marty Reasoner gave Atlanta a three-goal lead when he beat Budaj at 11:20.

''I think we thought it was going to be a little bit easier than it turned out to be, and we made some mistakes in our own end,'' Avs coach Tony Granato said. ''We got sloppy coming back to our end, and with the skill they have offensively, they can score goals.''

Hejduk scored late in the opening period and then again at 11:01 of the second to pull the Avs within one. But Atlanta regained the two-goal lead when Peverley scored shorthanded off a diving feed from Enstrom at 15:16.

"I think the team is playing better short-handed,'' Enstrom said. ''We had a good road trip with two good wins. We wanted to show our fans we could play well at home."

Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves and preserved the victory by stopping eight of nine shots in the third period. Chris Stewart made it a 4-3 game with his ninth of the season at 18:29.

"Tonight the penalty kill was great,'' Lehtonen said. ''It was great to get that big lead in the first period. There was no doubt any time in the game we wouldn't be able to take the two points home."

Bruins 6, Panthers 1 | Video

Rookie forward Byron Bitz scored twice and Tim Thomas snapped a personal two-game slide as Boston avenged a loss at Florida on Saturday by pummeling Florida at TD Banknorth Garden.

It was a special night for Bitz, who brought the crowd to its feet several times during his college days at Cornell. But to bring an NHL-sized crowd out of the seats was a different feeling altogether.

''Couple times in college -- but 20,000 people's different than 4,000, so it was pretty cool,'' said Bitz, who has three goals since being recalled from AHL Providence on Jan. 10.

His second goal made it 4-1 and Aaron Ward and Michael Ryder followed with tallies to break the game open. That got the home crowd chanting for Bitz to finish off the hat trick. But not even a late power play could get the job done.

''It would have been nice if it worked out but it's not that big a deal,'' he said.

The win, though, was. It was just the second victory for the Bruins in their last eight games as they fight for the No. 1 seed in the East.

''He got rewarded for doing the things that we've been kind of preaching for the last little while,'' Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bitz. ''This guy here, not only does he bring size (6-foot-5) and strength along the boards, he's been solid, but I think he's a guy that I think with confidence and with experience you're going to see him probably score more goals. He demonstrated a little bit of that tonight.''

Kamil Kreps scored the lone goal for Florida at 13:34 into the first period. The Panthers were awarded only one power play all night long and were outshot 18-9 in the third.

''It was just ugly,'' said Florida coach Peter DeBoer, whose team came in with nine wins in its last 13 games, including a 2-0 victory over the Bruins before a sellout crowd at home three days earlier. ''I didn't think it was as bad as the score indicated. We spotted them two goals, which we can't do to anybody, let alone the best team in the League.

''We'll burn the tape and keep moving forward. We've played more good than bad lately. We've just got to keep moving forward.''
Senators 4, Hurricanes 2 | Video

After watching his team's three-game winning streak come to an end at Scotiabank Place, Carolina coach Paul Maurice was none too impressed with his players -- or his opponents.

''We outshot them by a ton, we gave up four goals on 11 shots. I didn't think they were that good. I didn't think we were that good,'' Maurice said.


SHOTS: 43 | SAVES: 41
SAVE PCT: .953 | GAA: 2.01

Cam Ward struggled mightily between the pipes, as the Hurricanes' goalie allowed three goals on nine shots in the first period. Dany Heatley tallied his 30th goal of the season during Ottawa's quick start, as the Sens skated away with the victory despite being outshot 43-22.

''I'm not looking at Cam Ward and saying, 'Hey, that's your fault,' but he didn't stop enough, we didn't score enough and that's the game,'' Maurice said.

Patrick Eaves erased a 1-0 deficit for the Hurricanes when he beat Alex Auld just 17 seconds after Heatley's goal, but Ottawa responded with goals from Chris Kelly -- who scored 29 seconds after Eaves tied the game -- and Mike Comrie, as the Sens took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.

 ''We talked about it a lot the last couple of days,'' Heatley said. ''We came out, scored some goals and took the momentum right away.''

Jason Spezza gave Ottawa a three-goal lead with a power-play goal at 1:58 of the second period. Spezza welcomed Michael Leighton -- who replaced Ward to start the second -- by slipping a bad-angled shot past him for his 22nd goal of the season.

Anton Babchuk responded with a power-play goal of his own with 1:49 left in the second, but the Hurricanes failed to get any of their 16 shots in the third past Auld.

''We had a lot of shots,'' Eaves said. ''Those crazy 40 seconds (in the first). It would have been nice to not let them score back on us.''

Predators 5, Blackhawks 3 | Video

Trailing 3-1 after two periods, Nashville forward J.P. Dumont had a feeling that his team would reverse its fortunes in the final 20 minutes.

He was right.

The Preds bombarded Chicago with four unanswered goals in the third period in a dramatic victory at the Sommet Center. Nashville had just six tallies in its previous five games.

"Everyone knew a storm was coming," said Dumont, who tied the game with a power-play goal at 5:11. "I think everybody knew we were going to come back. It was a great feeling."

David Legwand started the Preds' blitz a little more than two minutes into the third period. Dumont then added a power-play goal to tie the game before Joel Ward -- who earlier failed to finish on a wide-open shot -- tipped in the winner with 5:03 to play. Shea Weber added an insurance goal on the power play at 17:10.

"After we made it 3-2 everybody on the bench knew the game was ours," Dumont said. "We knew what we had to do."

Martin Havlat and Patrick Kane both notched their 20th goals in the loss. Cristobal Huet stopped 24 of 29 shots. The road-weary Blackhawks begin a three-game homestand on Friday night against Pittsburgh.

"I don't think we played well in the first or third period," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It has been a long road trip. I don't like to make excuses, but we were definitely not good enough. We've got to bring some emotion and tonight was not our best."

Jason Arnott scored in the second period for the Preds and added an assist on Dumont's goal. Martin Erat had three assists, all during the wild third period.

"We stuck with our game plan and kept working at it," Arnott said. "Everyone contributed, even the guys who didn't score. We just went out and played together and worked hard to get out of it."

Kings 2, Wild 1 (SO) | Video

In a heated playoff race, Los Angeles will take wins any way it can get them.

With the score tied 1-1 in a shootout after three rounds, rookie defenseman Drew Doughty scored a fluke goal against Niklas Backstrom and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick denied Brent Burns as L.A. eked out a win at Minnesota.


SHOTS: 24 | SAVES: 23
SAVE PCT: .958 | GAA: 0.92

Doughty didn't get much of a shot off against Backstrom, but the puck somehow trickled into the net. The Kings' regulation goal -- scored by Jack Johnson at 14:55 of the second -- was knocked in by a Wild defender. Los Angeles improved to 4-7 in the shootout.

"We wanted to win that game no matter how we were going to win it," Doughty said.

Antti Miettinen scored a shorthanded goal for the Wild at 5:48 of the second period. Mikko Koivu assisted on the odd-man rush for his 55th point this season, a career high.

Allowing a shorthanded goal is tough to overcome, but the Kings came right back at the Wild and tied the game on Johnson's third goal of the season. Johnson also scored in the shootout, as he made a nifty move on Backstrom before beating him via the forehand.

"It's down to crunch time for everybody in the game now," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "So play and lock away all the bad things that happened and come back with a solid shift after that. We responded. It was good."

The Wild have scored four shorthanded goals in their last eight games, but came up empty at even strength. They also went 0-for-4 on the power play and were outshot 9-5 in the third period.

"You have to get goals on the power play or 5-on-5 if you want to win," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.

Los Angeles had lost three in a row, but is 9-4-2 in its last 15 games and entered Tuesday's action as the 12th best team in the West.

"We're in a situation where we need to get points but if it comes down to any kind of tiebreaker we're way behind in the win column," Murray said. "It was important for us to be aggressive in the overtime and throw everything out there that we could."

Blues 2, Coyotes 1 | Video

David Perron wasn't sure why the Scottrade Center crowd was roaring after he dumped the puck in before going off on a second-period line change. It took a moment to sink in.

Perron's routine play erased a 1-0 deficit at 13:42 as the puck bounced past Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and Jay McClement scored the game-winner less than two minutes later as the Blues edged the Coyotes.

"This is the luckiest one I've had in my career but we'll take it right now," Perron said. "I thought someone else scored. I had no idea what happened."

The Blues improved to 6-2-4 in February and 26-26-8 overall, reaching the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 10. They have two wins and an overtime loss in their the last three games despite totaling four goals.

"Obviously there's a lot of hockey yet to play, but we're moving in the right direction," said McClement, who scored shorthanded after David Backes was handed a four-minute penalty for high sticking. "It's a good sign that we kind of found a way to win."

Shane Doan scored his 250th career goal for Phoenix, which wasn't able to overcome Bryzgalov's big boo-boo. The Coyotes missed a chance for a third straight victory and have lost 10 of 13 overall.

"To get beat the way we did, a fluky goal and our power play lets up a short-handed goal, that's a tough loss to swallow," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "I thought we did a lot of really good, positive things. The big negative was the power play, we didn't score and we allowed a goal."

Chris Mason made 24 saves for the Blues and stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period.

"We knew they were coming in here after two wins in a row feeling good about themselves," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "They came at us hard in the first period, and we made some adjustments in the second and played better. The third period was back and forth. Our goaltender made some saves."

Flames 4, Blue Jackets 1 | Video

Jarome Iginla is back.

The Calgary captain had two goals and two assists, Mike Cammalleri had a goal and two assists and Miikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves as the Flames cruised past Columbus at the Pengrowth Saddledome for their third straight win and extended their points streak to eight games.


GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 4 | +/-: +3

"He's been a driving force for us all season and a leader, doing intangibles that maybe aren't seen on a daily basis, but on nights like this it certainly shows on the score sheet," Cammalleri said of Iginla, who has four goals in four games after scoring twice in 19 contests.

Iginla's first goal came just 45 seconds into the game off a feed from Cammalleri. He also added an empty-net tally at 19:29 of the third. With 828 points, he is just two behind Theo Fleury for the most in franchise history.

"When you get in a little bit of a rut, you start trying to simplify it, but there's a fine line for me," Iginla said. "You get too simple, you just chip it down the boards, you just chip it in, and that doesn't feel like that's my game. I have to try and hold it, get some give-and-go's going with Cammie and Connie (Craig Conroy), and get the feet moving."

R.J. Umberger scored the lone goal for the Blue Jackets 3:12 into the game. The Flames responded with second-period goals from Dion Phaneuf and Cammalleri, who now has 30 this season. Steve Mason stopped 24 of 27 shots for Columbus.

"We got much better as the game went on," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "Once we established the lead, we played well defensively. The leadership of our group was outstanding tonight. That's important to sustain success at this level of competition."

The Blue Jackets went 0-for-4 on the power play and mustered only seven shots on goal in the third period. The was Kiprusoff's 36th of the season, tops in the League.

"Calgary is a good team," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They got the lead and they were able to maintain that competitive edge. Their best players were their best players tonight. That's what they needed. Kiprusoff was real good early. Iginla and Cammalleri were very good, and Phaneuf were very good. Their best players were their best players. When your best players are your best players, you win."

Oilers 5, Lightning 3 | Video

Edmonton found a way to provide some offense … by asking its defense.

Sheldon Souray scored twice and Jason Strudwick tallied a rare goal as the Oilers snapped a three-game skid and kept pace in the Western playoff race with a win against Tampa Bay at Rexall Place.

"This was huge for us to get the momentum moving forward," forward Sam Gagner said. "Especially after the last three games. We had a couple mistakes but we also did a lot of things right. A lot of guys stepped up here. It was a character win. Hopefully we can build on it."

Erik Cole and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Edmonton, who successfully erased the memory of Saturday's shootout loss to Calgary after the Flames forced overtime by scoring with 1:05 left in regulation. Cole's 15th goal of the season came just 2:20 into Tuesday's game, and Strudwick made it 2-0 less than three and a half minutes later.

"Every game is important right now," Cole said. "It doesn't matter who you are playing. It's that time of year where you can't be squandering points. We needed a win, especially coming off a game where we blew two points in the final minute."

Strudwick -- who was plus-3 -- was happy to be able to contribute offensively.

"If anyone tells you they don't like scoring goals, they're lying to you," Strudwick said. "It's nice to help out. It's a big two points for us. Like a lot of teams, we're fighting for the playoffs."

Tampa Bay rallied to tie the game in the second period. Cory Murphy beat Dwayne Roloson on the power play at 2:20 before Steven Stamkos ripped a gorgeous wrist shot into the top corner for his 11th of the season at 12:23. But the Oilers quickly regained the lead when Souray beat Karri Ramo just 52 seconds later.

"You need to be ready to play when the game starts, but we had a long traveling day and we knew that the Oilers were coming hard and maybe we were a little bit asleep there," said Ramo, who made 40 saves. "I felt a little bit off there at the start. It was my fault, I need to take care of myself and be ready to play."

Cogliano gave Edmonton a big insurance goal 2:20 into the third period for his second tally in 22 games. He was able to gain sight of the puck during a scramble in front and stuffed it past Ramo to make it 4-2.

"It's nice to get a goal in front of the net like that because pucks start going into the back of the net after something like that," said Cogliano, who has 14 goals. "It was big for me."

Murphy cut the deficit to 4-3 with his second of the night at 13:46, but Souray put the game away with an empty-netter in the final seconds.

" We made a battle of it at the end, let in a couple of goals early that affected us, but we finally got our legs in the second and third," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "We were down 2-0 and you come back and make a game of it. Hopefully that goes a long way."

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

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