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Nash gets shootout winner for Columbus

by John Kreiser
Columbus' Nikolai Zherdev celebrates his shootout goal against the Red Wings, sealing a 3-2 win over Detroit.
The Columbus Blue Jackets picked a good night to break their shootout slump.

Six days after losing a shootout to Detroit, the Blue Jackets got even by scoring on all three of their attempts to beat the Red Wings, 3-2. Michael Peca, Rick Nash ( 700K ) and Nikolai Zherdev all scored to give Columbus its first shootout victory in five tries this season — as well as its second win in as many days.

“It's fun when you win and not that good when you lose,” Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire said of the shootout, in which he stopped Henrik Zetterberg in the second round before Zherdev’s goal won the game. “It was good for the crowd. They were into it tonight. They deserved a win at the end. It was fun for them and it was fun for us."

Manny Malholtra’s rebound goal ( 700K ) and Zherdev’s deflection ( 700K ) gave Columbus a 2-0 lead after the first period.

''We didn't have enough players ready to go at the start of today's game,'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

The Jackets carried the play well into the second period, but were unable to get a third goal past Chris Osgood before the Wings struck twice in five seconds. Tomas Holmstrom jammed in a rebound at 10:49 ( 700K ), and off the draw, Pavel Datsyuk stole the puck from Zherdev and fed Zetterberg, whose rising shot beat Leclaire ( 700K ) to tie the game.

The two goals in 5 seconds set a record for Detroit. The previous mark was 7 seconds, done in 1936 and 1987. It also was the quickest two goals allowed in Columbus' short history. The Blue Jackets gave up goals 8 seconds apart in 2006.

The Blue Jackets kept pressing, but Osgood made a great stop on Gilbert Brule’s semi-breakaway and a pair of diving stops on Nash.

''We had every chance to win,'' Babcock said. ''So many opportunities, but the bottom line is, without Ozzie, we wouldn't have even got the third period. It would have been over.''

The Wings then took over in the third period, but couldn’t beat Leclaire, who shut out the Wild in Minnesota on Friday.

"It was like three different games,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “First period, both teams picked their spots and then we played very well in the second but couldn't build on the lead we had and left the door open — they took advantage. Then they came at us in the third; we kind of ran out of gas because of the back-to-back — and the shootout went our way."

The Blue Jackets have yet to make the playoffs since entering the NHL in 2000. Saturday night’s game may have given some of them a sample of what postseason play is like.

"It's almost got a playoff-like feel to it,” said Peca, who has been to two Stanley Cup Finals. “Even the last time they were in here, one team will carry the play for a period of time, then a break goes against you and all of a sudden, the play starts going the other way. That's very much what playoff hockey's like. We were able to keep our composure and continue to apply pressure. So did they. They continued to play hard and create chances. It could have gone either way."

Oilers 3, Blackhawks 2, SO | Video
The Oilers continue to be kings of the shootout, winning their league-high sixth of the season as rookie Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff scored in the breakaway competition on “Tickets for the Troops” night at Rexall Place.

“We have some good confidence in the shootout,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said of his team’s 6-1 record. “Thankfully, we have that part of our game going.”

Six of the Oilers’ nine wins have come in shootouts.

Marty Reasoner gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead 6:02 into the third period, beating Nikolai Khabibulin from the low slot. But Chicago sent the game into overtime when Duncan Keith fired a slap shot from 40 feet past a screened Dwayne Roloson at 11:18.

Gagner scored a spectacular goal to start the shootout, deking Khabibulin before putting the puck into the open right side of the net.

“How do you defend against a move like that,” MacTavish said.

After the next three shooters were stopped, Horcoff beat Nikolai Khabibulin to give the Oilers the extra point.

Despite missing out on the second point, Hawks coach Denis Savard wasn’t unhappy with the performance.

“I’m proud of them,” he said. “They played really hard. We had lots of chances. It was a good hockey game. Up and down … it was good. These are a couple of good skating clubs with a lot of young talent.”

Roloson, who’s been losing playing time to Mathieu Garon, made 38 saves — including eight in overtime.

“Both goalies were exceptional,” MacTavish said. “Rollie was on the puck tonight like he hadn’t been for a while. He was great, and we needed him.”

The usual sellout crowd in Edmonton looked a little different — more than 5,000 season-ticket holders donated their tickets for use by Canadian military forces and their families. Hundreds of the troops came onto the ice after the game.

“The support that the city and the fans have shown for the troops by giving them the tickets was outstanding,” Horcoff said. “It went to a good effort. We’re happy we could come out with a win for them.”

Having the troops on hand put hockey in a different light for Horcoff.

“It puts everything in perspective for us,” he said. “There’s a lot of days where we think we have it hard at the rink. Times are tough, but we all really appreciate what they’re doing for us and our families.”

Islanders 2, Bruins 1 | Video
With their big offensive guns still silent, the Islanders got production from a pair of unlikely sources as they won the back end of a home-and-home series with Boston.

Andy Hilbert, who hadn’t had a point this season, tied the game with a goal late in the second period ( 700K ); Richard Park, whose only previous goal this season came on Oct. 8, got the

New York's Radek Martinek seals off Boston's Glen Metropolit as he moves the puck to clear the goal.

game-winner 7:30 into the third period ( 700K ).

“I thought that was probably one of the best team wins we’ve had all season,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said.

The Islanders totally dominated the first period, outshooting Boston 12-2 — but trailed 1-0 after P.J. Axelsson fired a cross-ice pass from Marc Savard behind Rick DiPietro at 3:50 ( 700K ).

The Isles kept firing away in the second period, but couldn’t beat Tim Thomas until Hilbert used defenseman Aaron Ward as a screen and wristed the puck into the far corner at 17:26. Hilbert was mobbed when he returned to the bench.

“The weight is finally off my shoulders," Hilbert said. "They were pretty excited. I think they were glad just to get it over with. They don't have to worry about it anymore."

Park put the Islanders ahead to stay when he knocked the rebound of Ruslan Fedotenko’s shot behind Thomas.

The Isles have played eight consecutive games without scoring more than two goals, including a split of 2-1 decisions with the Bruins. They’ve scored just 13 goals in that span — but won four of the eight.

“We’ve been playing smart games. As long as we’re the team with the one-goal lead at the end of the game, that’s all that matters.” DiPietro said after the Isles’ ninth one-goal game in their last 10.

Added Park: “By no means are we a defensive hockey team. We know how to play defense, but we don’t want to be sitting back and waiting for them to come to us. We want to initiate the play.”

The Bruins were outshot for the 17th time in their 21 games. The Islanders outshot Boston 29-23, but the margin was 23-10 after two periods.

"We got outworked tonight," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "That was the whole story in the game. Luckily we were still in the game after two periods. But, no doubt, they seemed to want it a lot more than us.”

Savard agreed.

“They deserved it more than us tonight," he said. "They worked hard."

Coyotes 5, Maple Leafs 1 | Video
Phoenix is still perfect with Ilya Bryzgalov in goal, though for a change, the Coyotes gave him lots of help by scoring four times as they demolished the Leafs for their fourth consecutive win.

"He is truly one of the pieces of this puzzle," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said of Bryzgalov, who joined Phoenix on waivers from Anaheim eight days ago. "He's helped us turn this team around, and maybe our franchise. It's only four games and we have a long way to go. It's a nice start for him."

Bryzgalov has allowed just six goals in the winning streak, but Gretzky warned against getting too excited about winning four in a row.

"Our players feel pretty good right now," he said. "Sure, we've won four in a row. The last time I've checked, however, that doesn't win you too many rings."

The Coyotes scored four goals in the first period, two in an 18-second span, to blow the game open early. Daniel Winnik opened the scoring at 4:16 ( 700K ), and Peter Mueller beat Andrew Raycroft to the short side at 8:24 ( 700K ). At that point, Toronto coach Paul Maurice pulled Raycroft for Vesa Toskala.

But Steven Reinprecht quickly broke into the Toronto zone and fired a wrist shot under the crossbar and over the goalie's glove hand at 8:42 ( 700K ). Kyle Wellwood countered for Toronto at 16:44 ( 700K ), but Derrick Morris made it 4-1 just 1:19 later ( 700K ).

“We couldn’t survive that first period,” Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. “Rarely are you going down that big of a hole and dig yourself out.”

Radim Vrbata scored early in the second ( 700K ), and Bryzgalov improved to 4-0-0 as a Coyote by stopping 23 shots.

The Leafs have dropped four of five, including a 3-1 loss in Dallas on Friday. They showed little jump at the start against the Coyotes, who came home after a 4-3 win in Anaheim.

“We will have the fortitude to stick this out and fight through it. That’s the No. 1 priority for our club,” Maurice said. “Clearly, we have to get better performances. We’ve got to get some jump in those legs, because we were slow in the first.”

Capitals 5, Hurricanes 2 | Video
A coaching change has revitalized Washington, which won for the second straight day after replacing Glen Hanlon with Bruce Boudreau thanks to a power play that’s finally producing.

Boudreau says he hasn’t made any changes to the power play, other than listening to some suggestions from assistant coach Jay Leach and trusting in his players’ skills.

Washington's Michael Nylander celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes.

''The power play is a great equalizer if you can be successful at it,'' Boudreau said. ''Tonight, we were successful. We haven't tweaked it a lot, only we're being more aggressive.''

It was the first time since Oct. 29 that the Caps scored more than one power-play goal in a game.

The Caps, who won Friday at Philadelphia in Boudreau’s debut, now have consecutive victories for the first time since Oct. 6-8, the end of a three-game winning streak that opened the season.

“When you win, you feel more confident, more better,'' said Alexander Ovechkin, who scored twice. ''But it's only two games. It's history now.''

Mike Green ( 700K ), Ovechkin ( 700K ) and Michael Nylander ( 700K ) scored on the power play against Carolina’s struggling penalty killers to give the Caps a 3-0 lead midway through the second period.

"One thing's for sure: (penalty killing) has to get better," Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams said. "Mid-70 percentile is not going to be good enough. We need to know when we take a penalty, we're not going to be in trouble. We need to have confidence in our penalty killing, and we need to find it."

Erik Cole made it 3-1 when he scored with 9 seconds left in the period ( 700K ), and Ray Whitney’s snap shot 2:09 into the third period ( 700K ) cut the margin to one.

But the Capitals didn’t fold, and Ovechkin gave them some breathing room when he scored with 3:50 to play ( 700K ). Boyd Gordon hit the empty net with 39 seconds remaining ( 700K ).

Sabres 3, Canadiens 0 | Video
Jocelyn Thibault doesn’t get many chances to play, so simply getting to take the ice at Bell Centre was a treat for Buffalo’s backup goaltender, a Montreal native. Getting a shutout was even better.

Thibault stopped all 24 shots he faced as the Sabres completed a home-and-home sweep of the Canadiens, for whom he played from 1995-98.

''It's always special any time I get a chance to play against Montreal, even more here, and I was happy that Lindy (Ruff) gave me a chance to play tonight,'' said Thibault, who played for only the third time this season. ''I think the guys knew that this game meant something special to me, coming back home. The guys just put up a great effort tonight.''

The Sabres signed Thibault last summer as a backup for Ryan Miller. Buffalo wanted a veteran who could deal with not getting to play too much and offer support to Miller.

''We did research on him and we were looking for a veteran guy that could be positive and support a guy that he knew was going to play a lot,'' Ruff said. ''We felt we brought in a good guy and his work ethic and attitude has been tremendous. I was thrilled for him tonight.''

Jaroslav Spacek ( 700K ) and Thomas Vanek ( 700K ) scored in the second period for Buffalo, which beat the Canadiens for the second time in as many nights and the third time in nine days. Jochen Hecht added an empty-netter ( 700K ).

“He deserves the shutout but we didn't get nearly enough quality chances on goal,'' Montreal forward Christopher Higgins said. ''We were just turning the puck over way too much and not getting the puck deep. Against that team, they're good on the transition, they feed on our turnovers and we made a lot of them tonight and made them look pretty good.''

Devils 3, Lightning 2 | Video
Martin Brodeur’s early-season struggles appear to be a thing of the past. Last season’s Vezina Trophy winner made 34 saves as New Jersey completed a sweep of a four-game road trip in which Brodeur allowed just six goals.

''He played unbelievable this whole road trip,'' Devils defenseman Colin White said of Brodeur. ''Save after save. They had a lot of chances, good quality chances.''

New Jersey's Martin Brodeur stops a second period shot by Tampa Bay's Chris Gratton.

Brodeur was at his best in the third period, when the Devils were outshot 14-1. He also benefited from a video review with 4:49 left that showed a puck that trickled through his pads didn't cross the goal line.

''I saw it (didn't),'' Brodeur said. ''You never know when it's in the hands of other people what they're going to see.''

The Devils improved to 11-10-2, the first time they’ve been over .500 this season.

''It means we're doing better,'' Brodeur said. ''Every team in sports, you want to be over .500. So now we're there, and hopefully we'll never look back.''

Brian Gionta scored twice ( 700K  , 700K )in the Devils’ three-goal second period. Vincent Lecavalier ( 700K ) and Jason Ward ( 700K ) scored for the up-and-down Lightning, which has lost four of five after a five-game winning streak.

''I have full confidence in the team,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. ''We need to find a way to finally get some points there.”

Gionta broke a 1-1 tie with his second goal, a drive from the left circle at 12:19. Just 42 seconds later, David Clarkson finished off a two-on-one for a 3-1 lead ( 700K ).

Ward scored a power-play goal 36 seconds into the third period, but the Lightning couldn’t beat Brodeur again despite completely dominating play.

“We've just got to continue going about our business and certainly not get down about anything,'' Tortorella said.

Flames 5, Avalanche 2 | Video
It was not a happy homecoming for Colorado, which returned to the Pepsi Center after a four-game road trip and played one of its worst games of the season.

''It was a stinker,'' Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said of his team's performance. ''We needed to be good in a lot of areas to beat that team and we weren't.''

Matthew Lombardi had a goal ( 700K ) and an assist, and Daymond Langkow ( 700K ), Adrian Aucoin ( 700K ), Stephane Yelle ( 700K ) and Craig Conroy ( 700K ) also scored for Calgary, which has split its last four games.

The Flames led 4-0 after two periods and outshot Colorado 27-7 in the first 40 minutes. Langkow and Lombardi scored in the first period, Aucoin and Yelle connected in the second.

''We played consistently, particularly in the first 40 minutes,'' Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. ''We wanted to come in here and play a solid game, and overall it was a good effort.''

Joe Sakic ( 700K ) and Brad Richardson ( 700K ) beat Miikka Kiprusoff in the third period, when the Avs managed 14 shots on goal, but it was far too little and way too late. Conroy’s goal kept the Avalanche at bay.

''The way we lost and the way we came out and played is unacceptable,'' Sakic said. ''It was just an embarrassing performance for us.''

Wild 4, Predators 3 | Video
Branko Radivojevic went from healthy scratch on Friday to hero a day later, scoring the game-winning goal with 1:53 remaining to give Minnesota a victory in Nashville.

Radivojevic had scored just once before watching the day-after-Thanksgiving matinee with Columbus from the press box. He got back in the lineup on Saturday and broke a 3-3 tie with a wrist shot from the right circle that went over Chris Mason’s shoulder.

Minnesota's Branko Radivojevic is congratulated by teammates Martin Skoula, Kim Johnsson, and Stephane Veilleux after scoring against the Nashville Predators.

''It feels really good to get that winning goal, especially after I was a healthy scratch the previous game,'' Radivojevic said. ''The 21 games before I had just one goal. It was tough. When you get benched, and you have to sit up in the stands, you think a lot about the game.''

Nashville’s Vernon Fiddler ( 700K ) had tied the game midway through the third period when he beat Niklas Backstrom from the slot after a pass from Alexander Radulov.

Having at least one point disappear in the final two minutes didn’t make Nashville coach Barry Trotz a happy man.

''We had a tie and we lost it,'' Trotz said. ''It's just painful because you don't know if that point is going to be a meaningful point at the end of the season. Somewhere along the line, if we are working hard and doing the right things those points will even out.''

Each team scored twice in an offense-dominated first period. Nashville outshot Minnesota 15-6 in the second period, but the Wild’s Marian Gaborik scored the only goal at 18:49 ( 700K ), tipping in Mark Parrish’s feed.

Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire had challenged the Wild to play on a higher level.

''We've been having some tough luck lately,'' Lemaire said. ''Even in this game, it looked like we were going to go back to the old games we had played. The guys kept working, though. All the guys played hard. That's probably the reason we scored the last goal and won the game.''

Kings 2, Sharks 1 | Video
A trip to San Jose was just what the struggling Kings needed. A week off was not the best tonic for the Sharks, who got off to a slow start after a week off and couldn’t recover.

Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar scored in the first period for Los Angeles, which ended a five-game losing streak and won on the road for the first time since its last trip to San Jose, three weeks ago.

''We should have taken the first five minutes to get our legs back and it took us two periods,'' San Jose's Steve Bernier said after his team’s first game since a shootout loss to Anaheim on Nov. 17. ''It's frustrating. Sometimes the puck doesn't want to go in. You have to credit their goalie because he made some nice saves.''

Brown deflected Tom Preissing’s shot past Evgeni Nabokov at 10:31, and Kopitar broke the Kings’ 0-for-20 drought on the power play by one-timing Lubomir Visnovsky’s pass behind Nabokov at 19:26.

''I'm not going to say they weren't ready,'' Kopitar said. ''It's just you're not as sharp as you would be after a normal week of playing a game or two. We had a week off earlier and we were a little rusty. Obviously, the two goals were important.''

Nabokov kept the Sharks in the game by stopping Ladislav Nagy’s penalty shot at 11:56.

The Sharks couldn’t beat Jason LaBarbera until 7:19 remained in regulation, when Joe Pavelski won a faceoff to Milan Michalek, who one-timed it into the net.

But LaBarbera got plenty of help from his defense. He faced 26 shots, but just seven in the third period.

“The guys did an unbelievable job of intercepting passes right in front of me, where they could have been easy tap-ins,” LaBarbera said. “We did a great job on the backcheck, pressuring them and not let them set up like they want to. It was nice to see. It makes it more fun to play when the whole team’s clicking like that.”

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used it this report.

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