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Niittymaki assists in Lightning victory

by Brian Hunter
Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Antero Niittymaki did more than just stop a big shot Monday night. He inadvertently got himself a point on what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Steven Stamkos picked up the puck after Niittymaki stoned Florida Panthers forward David Booth on a breakaway, and went to end-to-end against Tomas Vokoun. He was stopped, but Ryan Malone picked up the rebound and beat Vokoun with 6:31 remaining to give the Lightning a 3-2 win over their Floridian rivals at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Niittymaki, who finished with 31 saves, earned the secondary assist on Malone's goal.

"I actually didn't see the whole play," Niittymaki said. "I was blocked for a couple seconds (after the save), but I saw them score."

Stamkos scored a power-play goal for Tampa earlier in the game, as did Martin St. Louis.

"I looked up and I think they had three guys kind of standing still on the red line," Stamkos said. "I got a shot and I saw the puck trickling by. I was hoping it was going to go in, and it just sat there and luckily Bugsy (Malone) did what he did best and go to the net and jam it in."

It was the second straight win for the Lightning following an 0-1-2 start. The Panthers, who got a shorthanded goal from Radek Dvorak and Nathan Horton's power-play goal, lost their fourth in a row since a season-opening win over Chicago in Finland.

"That's the best 60 minutes we've played," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "I like what we did from a system point of view. We did a lot of things right. We've got to find a way to get a win."

The Panthers led 2-1 after 40 minutes, but St. Louis made them pay for a hooking penalty to Kamil Kreps by scoring from the left circle on the ensuing power play at the 7:17 mark.

"The first two periods I don't think we played Tampa Bay hockey," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "A little bit too much river boat gambling and trading chances for chances. I think Niittymaki was as solid as could be."

Dvorak's shorthanded goal off a 2-on-1 break opened the scoring 8:10 into the first. Stamkos netted his third of the season with 1:28 left in the period, but the Panthers regained the lead when Horton converted a Stephen Weiss rebound at 7:17 of the second.

Penguins 4, Senators 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Ottawa is off to a promising start, but Pittsburgh showed Monday why it's Stanley Cup champions, using a pair of Tyler Kennedy goals to leave Scotiabank Place with two points.

Bill Guerin and Jordan Staal also scored for the Penguins, who have won five of their first six to tie the Rangers for the early Atlantic Division lead. Sidney Crosby was held scoreless in the game, but Pittsburgh's depth showed as Kennedy picked up the slack.

"He's playing great for us and that whole line has really been great," Crosby said of the unit also featuring Matt Cooke and Craig Adams. "You could see the chemistry kind of start last season and you see it right off the bat here this season, starting where they left off last year so that's huge for us and we really pride ourselves on our depth and having everyone contribute, and they've just really added to that."

Milan Michalek scored his first goal for Ottawa to open the scoring, with Jonathan Cheechoo drawing the primary assist. Michalek and Cheechoo came over from San Jose in the Dany Heatley trade and currently form the Senators' new top line along with Jason Spezza.

But just 39 seconds after Michalek's goal, Guerin drew the Penguins even when he picked up the rebound after his original shot hit the skate of Senators defenseman Chris Phillips and bounced in front off the end boards. Guerin put it past Pascal Leclaire with 3:22 left in the first for a 1-1 score.

"They're a good team," Spezza said. "They're riding high and you get those bounces when you're going that way."

Kennedy scored both goals in the second to put the Penguins in command. The go-ahead tally came at 6:16 on a shot that deflected in off another Senators blueliner, Erik Karlsson.

"He's got a great work ethic and he was in on the forecheck and you get bounces when you work hard like that, so he earned that one," Crosby said. "It was a bit of a goofy one but I'm sure he'll take it."

Kennedy then beat Leclaire with 1:58 left in the second on a long slap shot. His fourth goal of the season tied him with Evgeni Malkin for the team lead.

"I just missed it," Leclaire said. "I don't have a whole lot of excuses about it. That's usually a shot that you have to stop."

At the opposite end, Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves and got an insurance goal 9:54 into the third by Staal.

Oilers 6, Predators 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Zack Stortini scored twice in a four-goal first period as Edmonton busted out offensively and got a great goaltending effort from Jeff Deslauriers.

Shawn Horcoff and Gilbert Brule started the scoring for the Oilers, who were up 6-0 by the end of 40 minutes at Sommet Center in Nashville after Andrew Cogliano and Denis Grebeshkov added goals in the second.

Deslauriers, in his first start of the season, made 40 saves and yielded just a Jason Arnott goal with 49 seconds left in the second.

"He was our star tonight, no question," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "Early in the game we had some rough shifts, and he was really sharp and got us a chance to get by the early going."

Stortini, known more for his penalty minutes than his goal-scoring prowess, blew the game open when he connected on a power play with 6:02 left in the first, stuffing the puck past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne after a pinpoint pass by Mike Comrie.

"I was going to the net with my stick on the ice trying to keep things simple," Stortini said. "He made a great pass out to me."

Stortini went forehand to backhand before slipping a shot inside Rinne's near post 28.2 seconds before the first intermission, giving him his first multi-goal game in the NHL.

Rinne was pulled after allowing the four goals on just nine shots in 20 minutes of work. Dan Ellis faced only 11 shots over the next two periods, stopping nine.

"We didn't play well, that's the bottom line," Rinne said. "I think it is that way for everybody, no one is really happy."

That was certainly true of Nashville coach Barry Trotz, who had seen his team get off to a solid 2-1-0 start.

"We lost the game in the first period," Trotz said. "We'll learn from this, nobody likes to be embarrassed in their own rink."

Coyotes 1, Sharks 0 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Lauri Korpikoski had never taken a shootout attempt in an NHL game prior to Monday night. He certainly made the first one count.

Korpikoski skated in and put a forehand shot between the pads of San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov to give Phoenix two points, despite the Coyotes being shut out in regulation for the second game in a row.

"It was great," said Korpikoski, who did not attempt a shot during the game. "It's been a while since the last goal I scored. Even though it was in a shootout and doesn't count in the stats, it still felt good."

Nabokov and Ilya Bryzgalov were each credited with a shutout after both stopped every shot through 65 minutes. But only Bryzgalov left HP Pavilion with a victory to his credit.

Bryzgalov, who made 26 saves, stopped Dany Heatley in the first round of the shootout and Devin Setoguchi missed the net on the Sharks' second attempt. Nabokov stopped Radim Vrbata but Peter Mueller went glove side just inside the right post in the second round to give the Coyotes the lead.

Dan Boyle kept the Sharks alive by finally solving Bryzgalov, but after Korpikoski answered for the Coyotes that didn't matter. Phoenix, which was blanked by Columbus in its home opener Saturday, won for the third time in four road games.

"He's one of the guys who caught my eyes on the first day," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "I keep a close watch on those kind of things and he's been very good on the shootout so it was one of those things I played a hunch and he came through for us."

According to Korpikoski, taking a shootout attempt isn't exactly rocket science.

"It's just shooting the puck," he said. "When the goalie stays deep, you just shoot it."

Nabokov finished with 30 saves, but the Sharks dropped to 3-2-1 as they head out on a six-game road trip. Boyle said the team needs to pick up its play.

"It was a terrible job of controlling the play. We weren't very crisp with our passes and our puck-handling, our entrance to the zone," he said. "It just wasn't very good overall."

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

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