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Ovechkin gets physical

by John Kreiser

A few thoughts as we get ready for the weekend.

Buddies, not friendsAlex Ovechkin went out of his way during the NHL Awards Show to note that he and fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin were "buddies," not "friends." When the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins met Thursday at Mellon Arena, Ovechkin went out of his way to bang his buddy around.

Ovechkin had no goals or points in the Capitals' come-from-behind 4-3 victory. He did have five shots on goal — and a few hits on Malkin, who was drafted No. 2 behind Ovechkin in the 2004 Entry Draft and finished second to the Washington star in last season's scoring race.

"Ovechkin is a great player, but every time he hits me — I don't know why," said Malkin, who outdid Ovechkin on the scoresheet with a goal and two assists.

Ovechkin wouldn't admit going out of his way to hit his countryman.


"Who is the king? Who’s the best?..."


"The Pens came out storming in the first period..."


"I have to give all the credit in the world to the Capitals..."


"It's just a hockey game. I hit hard with everybody," Ovechkin said.

Despite being held without a goal for the second-straight game, Ovechkin was smiling after the Caps overcame a 3-0 deficit to win on Boyd Gordon's goal late in the third period.

"We kept pushing and pushing," Ovechkin said. "Maybe we were sleeping the first two periods, I don't know, but we weren't playing our hockey. The first period we were terrible, we were giving them lots of chances to score goals."

And a few opportunities to bang away at his buddy.

Lucky bounce — The home team is supposed to get the bounces — after all, they play half their season in the same arena. But it was Vancouver's Alex Burrows who took advantage of the lively boards at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena to give the visiting Canucks a win.

Burrows came down the left wing early in overtime and missed the net with a shot from the circle. But the puck came right back to him, courtesy of the lively boards at the Joe, and Burrows didn't miss the second time, whipping a shot past Chris Osgood for a 4-3 victory.

"I just tried to get a shot on net and I think it hit the d-man and went wide, and then just following up for a rebound," Burrows said. "(I) just tried to get it as quick as I could on net, and I think it might have surprised Osgood."

Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't happy with his team's second-straight poor effort at home. Detroit lost its home opener to Toronto, then won two games on the road before coming home to play Vancouver.

And he wasn't buying any excuses about lucky bounces.

"We don't score some goals like that? We play here, we've got to know about that," Babcock said. "We just talked about we have to take away the middle, we let them come right up the middle.

"That's two games in a row at home we were flat. Maybe we're trying to be too cute at home."

Closer and closer — The milestones are getting closer for Martin Brodeur.

Brodeur earned win No. 541 and shutout No. 97 by making 25 saves in New Jersey's 1-0 victory at Atlanta. He's now 10 wins behind Patrick Roy's record for career wins and 6 behind Terry Sawchuk's standard for shutouts.

The shutout was his first of the season. The victory was his third in four starts.

"It's nice to get one so early in the season," Brodeur said of the shutout. "You want to win games. The shutouts will come. Every year is different. I just concentrate of winning the next game."

Brodeur insists he's not worried about milestones.

"You don't want to get nervous," he said. "It's so far away. When it comes down to it, there will be more emphasis on it."

A bigger worry for New Jersey was the condition of center Brian Rolston, who scored the game's only goal late in the second period but left with an injury in the third after wiping out and crashing into the boards. It looked bad, but coach Brent Sutter said the injury was a sprained ankle. He wouldn't speculate about how much time, if any, Rolston might miss.

"He's going to be fine," Sutter said. "It's not as bad as we first thought. He went into the board awkward."


Mikko's going WildMikko Koivu may be best known as Saku Koivu's little brother. If he keeps putting up points the way he has in the season's first week, the Minnesota Wild center will get plenty of recognition on his own. The younger Koivu scored a goal and tied a franchise record with four assists, leading the unbeaten Wild (3-0-0) to a 6-2 victory at Florida.

"Obviously it feels good, but I'm sure there's going to be games where it's not going to go in," said Koivu, a four-year veteran whose career high is 34 assists. "We're just going to enjoy it when it's happening, though."

The arrival of fellow Finn Antti Miettinen as a free agent from Dallas has given Koivu a running mate. Koivu has a goal and eight assists in three games. Miettinen has five goals, including two each in back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Florida.

"They've jelled really well together, they know where they are on the ice and they make that quick pass," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "It's fun to see that because it makes it a little easier for me."

Aside from that, Lemaire doesn't want to say much about his new dynamic duo — he didn't want to jinx them.

"I don't want to talk about it," Lemaire said, "because I want them to keep playing this way."

A gift winOlaf Kolzig has made his living stopping pucks, not handling them.


His misplay early in overtime cost his new team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, a point. Frans Nielsen took the puck and found Trent Hunter, who scored his second goal of the game at 51 seconds of OT to give the New York Islanders a 4-3 win.

"You hate to lose, that's first and foremost," said Kolzig, who came to Tampa Bay after winning 301 games with the Washington Capitals. "Those things happen. There's times where you get fortunate and the puck doesn't find its way in. It was an unfortunate play on my part. Go back to work tomorrow and don't let it fester."

The Lightning has lost all 4 games, the last 2 in overtime at home, under new coach Barry Melrose. This one came after the Lightning overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the third period.

"Things have not been going really great for us so far this year," Prospal said. "To battle back and score 3 goals in the third, at least you get a point out of it."

After a dreadful showing Mondayt in a 7-1 home loss to Buffalo, the Islanders would have been disappointed with anything less than 2 points after taking a 2-goal lead into the final 20 minutes.

"I was more concerned at the 2-2 score just because we were up 2-0," new coach Scott Gordon said. "We realized we made some turnovers in the third period that didn't allow us to establish momentum. I felt our guys responded well after it."

"O" from the "D" — St. Louis' defense corps produced all of 15 goals last season, a big reason the Blues struggled to score and ultimately missed the playoffs. They got 20 percent of last season's total in 60 minutes against Dallas.

Eric Brewer, Jay McKee and Steve Wagner all scored as the Blues routed Dallas 6-2.

"We didn't exactly go end-to-end and go top shelf," said McKee, a shot-blocker who scored his first goal of the season. "It was just to the basics, getting pucks to the net and tonight, we were fortunate to have three shots from the point go in. We want to add to the offense as much as we can."

The rare outburst from the blue-line corps left coach Andy Murray smiling.

"They were shooting and scoring, our defensemen tonight," Murray said. "You see Steve Wagner and Jay McKee stepping up. The key to those two goals: We had great screens at the front of the net. I don't think (Marty) Turco saw either one of those shots. ... We talked about using our points because of the way they play defense."

Things weren't nearly as cheery in the other locker room after the Stars followed up a 6-4 home win against Nashville with a stinker at Scottrade Center.

"Our top players are not playing with the commitment you need to win hockey games," coach Dave Tippett said.

Winless no more — Maybe all the Colorado Avalanche needed to win a game was a change of goaltenders. The Philadelphia Flyers are still looking for a solution.

"It's always nice to win. We've played extremely well in different parts of the four games and tonight we played pretty much the entire 60 the way we'd like to play all year.'' -- Avalanche Coach Tony Granato on his first win of the season

Coach Tony Granato opted to use Andrew Raycroft after the Avs lost three in a row with Peter Budaj in goal. The result: A 5-2 win and a lot of relief in Denver.

''It's always nice to win,'' Granato said after his first win in his second stint as Colorado's coach. ''We've played extremely well in different parts of the four games and tonight we played pretty much the entire 60 the way we'd like to play all year.''

Raycroft, who signed with the Avs this summer after backing up Vesa Toskala in Toronto last season, knew there was pressure on him.

''You feel that. You don't want to go 0-4,'' Raycroft said. ''That's the bottom of the line, you don't want to dig too big a hole early in the year.''

With an 0-3-1 record and a visit to unbeaten San Jose up next, the Flyers are already in one. Coach John Stevens met with his captains for 15 minutes after the game and was still fuming afterward.

"There's more to come," he said. "There's no secret. We got outworked and didn't win any puck battles. I mean, when you do all the little things so poorly, we ended up being a very easy team to play against and they took advantage of it."

Playing another winless team might not have been the best thing, either.

''They're a desperate team," he said. "They hadn't won a game yet, either — and they came out and every loose puck, every board battle, every puck recovery, it was lopsided tonight and you can't win hockey games like that, period.''

The players know they need to change things — quickly.

''We play like it's preseason right now,'' said forward Simon Gagne, who scored on a penalty shot. ''We're not ready to play. We don't battle. We don't do the little things right now. We're looking for
the easy game ... We keep playing like that, it's going to be tough to win a game this year.''

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

Contact John Kreiser at

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