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Number change adds up to hat trick for Wheeler @NHLdotcom

Blake Wheeler lowered his number and doubled his goal total for the Boston Bruins.

Hours after changing his uniform number, the rookie had his first three-goal game to help Boston beat visiting Toronto 5-2 on Thursday night. The 6-foot-5 former University of Minnesota forward has six goals in his first 13 NHL games.

He changed his number from 42 to 26.

"It's something I just wanted to do," Wheeler said. "I always said I wanted to change it. A couple of days ago they said, `If you want to change it, go ahead."'

In other NHL games Thursday night, it was: San Jose 5, St. Louis 4 in a shootout; the New York Rangers 5, Tampa Bay 2; Washington 3, Carolina 2; Pittsburgh 5, Edmonton 4; Los Angeles 3, Florida 2; Atlanta 4, the New York Islanders 3; Calgary 7, Nashville 6; Ottawa 4, Philadelphia 1; Vancouver 1, Phoenix 0; and Minnesota 3, Colorado 1.

Wheeler completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal with 53 seconds left. He had a power-play goal in the first period and scored at even strength in the second.

"I told them I was going to change my number before every game," Wheeler said. "They said, `That's not a good idea. I guess I'll stick with 26. It's working for me."

Drafted fifth overall by Phoenix in 2004, Wheeler had 42 goals in three seasons for the Golden Gophers before signing with Boston on July 1.

"Every time he's on the ice, he seems to make things happen," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Tonight was a good night for him. He's a smart player."

Dennis Wideman and Zdeno Chara, playing his 700th NHL game, added goals for the Bruins in their fifth win in six games. Mikhail Grabovski and Alex Steen scored for the Maple Leafs, who lost their third in a row.

At San Jose, Calif., Ryane Clowe followed up his two tying goals in the third period with the winning shootout goal for the NHL-leading Sharks.

Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves, and San Jose improved to 8-0 at the Shark Tank with a remarkable rally led by Clowe. He twice answered go-ahead goals by the Blues in the final period, including a goal during 4-on-4 play with 1:39 left.

Joe Thornton and Rob Blake also scored for San Jose.

Lee Stempniak, Keith Tkachuk, Andy McDonald and David Backes scored for St. Louis.

At New York, Chris Drury had two power-play goals and finished his hat trick with a short-handed score in the Rangers' third victory over Tampa Bay this season.

Ryan Callahan also had a power-play goal for the Rangers. Marc Staal pushed the lead to 4-2 in the third period, 29 seconds after Ryan Malone got the Lightning within one during a power play. Drury scored his fifth of the season with 27.5 seconds left.

Martin St. Louis also scored for the Lightning.

At Washington, Alexander Semin scored twice in the final 3 minutes, getting the winner with 10.9 seconds left for Washington. He has 10 goals in 12 games.

Sergei Fedorov also scored for Washington, 10-0-1 in its last 11 regular-season home games dating to last season. Scott Walker and Tuomo Ruutu scored for Carolina.

At Pittsburgh, Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora each scored twice, and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin set up three Pittsburgh goals in the second period.

Maxime Talbot also scored to help Pittsburgh take a 5-0 lead. Fernando Pisani, Tom Gilbert, Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray scored for Edmonton, playing on the road for the 10th time in 12 games.

At Los Angeles, defenseman Tom Preissing scored on a power play, Brian Boyle also had a goal and the Kings ended a five-game losing streak.

Dustin Brown also scored for the Kings and defenseman Drew Doughty, the second overall pick in the draft, had his first two NHL assists. Anthony Stewart and Nathan Horton scored for the Panthers.

At Atlanta, Slava Kozlov scored twice, and Tobias Enstrom had the deciding goal with 8:31 remaining for Atlanta.

Jason Williams also scored for Atlanta. With its first two-game winning streak since February, Atlanta moved out of last place in the Eastern Conference - a point ahead of the Islanders.

Frans Nielsen, Trent Hunter and Jon Sim scored for New York.

At Calgary, Alberta, Jarome Iginla had two power-play goals and Craig Conroy also scored twice to help the Flames take a four-goal lead.

Cory Sarich, Rene Bourque and Daymond Langkow added goals. Shea Weber had two goals for Nashville, and David Legwand, Martin Erat, Jason Arnott and Vernon Fiddler also scored. Fiddler scored on a penalty shot with 3 minutes left.

At Ottawa, Dany Heatley scored for the fifth straight game and Jesse Winchester had his first NHL goal to lead Ottawa.

Alex Auld stopped 17 shots and Anton Volchenkov and Chris Neil also scored for Ottawa. Arron Asham scored his first goal for Philadelphia.

At Vancouver, British Columbia, Kevin Bieksa scored 12 minutes into the game and Roberto Luongo made 28 saves for his second straight shutout for Vancouver. Luongo has three shutouts in five games and leads the NHL with four overall.

At Denver, Niklas Backstrom made 35 saves and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Benoit Pouliot and Andrew Brunette scored for Minnesota. Darcy Tucker scored for Colorado.

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