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Old pro: Shanahan scores in return to Devils

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Brendan Shanahan spun around with the puck, skated in from a sharp angle and caught the opposing goalie off guard.

Another big goal for the New Jersey Devils - 18 years after his previous one.

Playing his first NHL game in more than eight months, Shanahan returned to the Devils on Monday night and snapped a scoreless tie in the second period to help New Jersey beat the Nashville Predators 3-1 for its fourth straight victory.

"It feels great," Shanahan said. "I was able to get a few good shifts in the first period and found my legs. It's nice to get some scoring chances and put one away."

Shanahan, who turns 40 on Friday, spent his first four NHL seasons with the Devils before leaving for St. Louis in 1991. He sat out the first half of this season, then signed an $800,000, one-year contract Wednesday with New Jersey, which was looking for a boost on special teams.

He hadn't practiced much with the Devils since rejoining the team and wasn't sure how much playing time he would get or how he would be used at Nashville.

He still has his scoring touch, though.

Shanahan's goal 1:38 into the second came during a 5-on-3 power play. He skated in from the left side along the goal line, deked Greg Zanon and beat goalie Pekka Rinnefired to the right side of the net.

It was Shanahan's 651st career goal, good for 11th on the NHL list, and his 1,341st point - 24th on the career chart. Shanahan has played in 1,491 games.

"I didn't know if things would come back right away," he said. "I probably played a little more than I expected. I still think I have a lot of work to do. This is a game that has a lot of adrenaline. It is just one game. There is a long way for me to go and a lot of building for me yet."

In other NHL games Monday, it was: St. Louis 5, Boston 4 in a shootout; Minnesota 4, Chicago 1; Carolina 2, Toronto 0; Tampa Bay 4, Dallas 2; Washington 2, the New York Islanders 1 in overtime; and Buffalo 3, Florida 2 in a shootout.

David Clarkson and Zach Parise also scored for the Devils, who moved ahead of the New York Rangers into first place in the Atlantic Division after a 5-1 road trip.

Radek Bonk scored for Nashville, which has lost three straight.

Drafted by the Devils with the No. 2 pick in 1987, Shanahan, who spent the past two seasons with the Rangers, played his first game since May 4, 2008, in the playoffs at Pittsburgh.

"Shanahan played very well in his first game, obviously getting the big goal for us," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "You can see his experience. He has played in a lot of key situations throughout his career."

At Boston, David Backes scored the tying goal with eighth-tenths of a second left in regulation and St. Louis went on to win in a shootout.

Down 4-2, the Blues rallied on David Perron's power-play goal with 1:20 left. Backes then batted the puck out of the air for an empty-net score as the siren sounded - after a lengthy replay review, the goal counted.

T.J. Oshie and Brad Boyes scored in the shootout for the Blues, who have the worst record in the Western Conference and had lost nine of their previous 10 road games.

The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins trailed 2-1 before scoring three times in a span of 1:39 late in the third period.

At Uniondale, N.Y., Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game 1:46 into overtime, handing the Islanders their eighth straight loss.

With Washington on a power play, Ovechkin took a pass from Alexander Semin and beat Yann Danis for the Capitals' third straight win. Jose Theodore earned his 200th career victory with 27 saves.

At Chicago, Niklas Backstrom made 40 saves and defenseman Marek Zidlicky had two power-play goals and an assist for Minnesota.

Mikko Koivu added a goal and two assists as the Wild dealt the Blackhawks only their third regulation loss at home this season - one was to Detroit at Wrigley Field in the NHL Winter Classic.

Martin Havlat's goal for Chicago came at exactly 10:00 of the second period, earning a fan $1 million as part of a promotion with the Illinois State Lottery.

At Toronto, Cam Ward made 35 saves and Carolina snapped a five-game losing streak, giving coach Paul Maurice a victory in his return to Toronto.

Joe Corvo and Chad LaRose scored to back Ward's second shutout of the season. The Maple Leafs were blanked for the second consecutive home game.

Maurice spent the past two seasons coaching the Maple Leafs and acknowledged recently that games against his former team mean a little more.

At Tampa, Fla., Vincent Lecavalier scored twice and the Lightning rallied for three goals in the third period, earning their first home win over Dallas since Feb. 19, 1996.

Former Lightning star Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson scored for the Stars, who had their eight-game winning streak at Tampa Bay snapped.

At Sunrise, Fla., Ales Kotalik and Derek Roy scored in a shootout for Buffalo.

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller stopped Nathan Horton and David Booth as the Sabres improved to 6-2 in shootouts this season.

Booth scored on a penalty shot for Florida, 5-0-3 in its past eight games.

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