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Ovechkin give Caps 5-4 win in OT

by John Kreiser
Alex Ovechkin barely missed on his first try at giving the Washington Capitals an overtime win on Long Island. When he got a second chance, he made no mistake.

Ovechkin whipped a backhander off the post halfway through overtime Tuesday night, but snapped the game-winner past Joey MacDonald with 10.7 seconds left to give the Caps a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders.

The teams appeared to be headed for a shootout, but the Isles failed to clear the puck out of their zone. Nicklas Backstrom picked up the puck and found Ovechkin zipping through the slot. A snap of the wrists, a shot that MacDonald called "picture perfect"  ... and the Islanders' losing streak had grown to seven games, though they did get their first point of the month. He now has five goals in his last three games after getting just one in his previous five.

"That's what superheroes are all about," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But he'd likely be the first to tell you we didn't play well."

Ovechkin's second goal of the night and 19th of the season gave the Caps their fourth consecutive victory -- despite a sluggish third period that saw them give up a 4-2 lead.

"I didn't like the fact we stopped playing in the third period. And I didn't want a shootout, because of too many factors," Ovechkin said. "I wanted us to win in overtime."

Ovechkin's first goal, a wrist shot into a half-empty net at 16:35 of the second period after Alexander Semin's behind-the-back pass, gave Washington its third two-goal lead. But the Islanders, the NHL's worst third-period team, dominated the final 20 minutes. Andy Sutton beat Brent Johnson through a screen with 8:41 left in regulation, and Jon Sim's tip-in with 2:13 left got them even.

The game started as if the Caps would breeze. Boyd Gordon jammed a puck past MacDonald at 2:54 and Brooks Laich got credit for a goal at 14:18 when MacDonald whiffed on a poke check.

Doug Weight's power-play goal at 16:14 got the Islanders within one, but Milan Jurcina's screened slap shot beat MacDonald 6:07 into the second period to make it 3-1. Richard Park made it a one-goal game again with another power-play goal at 14:32.

The Isles were glad to go home with something, but the failure to get the extra point still stung.

"It doesn't take away the pain of an overtime loss when you work so hard to battle back," captain Bill Guerin said, "but you have to take the positive out of whatever you can when you're in this predicament."


Hurricanes 3, Canadiens 2 | Video

Carolina's power play has struggled all season, but the Hurricanes got some on-the-job trailing and made it pay off against the Canadiens, cashing in on three of 11 chances. Eric Staal scored twice in the first period and Joe Corvo got the tie-breaking goal 7:18 into the second.

"We need to start stringing together wins," said Corvo, whose blast from the high slot past Jaroslav Halak was his 13th game-winner out of 52 career goals. "We need four, five or six wins in a row now if we want to make any headway."

The Hurricanes had the first 11 of the game's 12 power plays, though the Canadiens did get -- and convert -- a penalty shot at 2:35 of the second period. Guillaume Latendresse was slashed on a breakaway and beat Cam Ward at 2:35 to make it 2-1.

"For an offensive guy, you want as many power plays as you can get," Staal said when asked if too many power plays can at times disrupt the flow of a game. "If the whole game was a power play, I would take it."

Alex Kovalev's shorthanded goal tied it at 2-2 before Corvo put Carolina ahead to stay. Ward preserved the victory by stopping Kovalev from point-blank range with 10 seconds remaining.

"For the most part, we were on the power play so much they didn't really have many quality opportunities until the third period," Ward said. "It's my job to come up with that big save with 10 seconds left, and fortunately I was able to."

The Canadiens, who have lost three in a row, got the lone power play in the third period.

"I really don't want to talk about it," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said about the discrepancy. "You guys saw the game. You can write or say whatever you want to say about it. I'd rather not talk about it."

Flyers 5, Avalanche 2 | Video

The Flyers are both good and lucky, a combination that was more than enough to beat the visiting Avalanche. Philadelphia won its fifth in a row and improved to 8-0-2 in its last 10 games at the Wachovia Center with the help of a bizarre second-period goal that hit the glass, the back of the net and goaltender Peter Budaj before being knocked into the net by Colorado defenseman Scott Hannan.

Mike Richards, who got credit for the fluke goal, and Simon Gagne each scored once and added two assists as the Flyers also ended a five-game losing streak to Colorado.

"It's a funny thing sometimes," said forward Joffrey Lupul, who also benefited from a good bounce when his second-period shot hit the crossbar and went straight down and into the net. "At the start of the year we couldn't get a break to win a game. Now we're getting goals that bounce off the glass and come back and hit the goalie. It's a nice feeling. You know it's not going to last forever."

Philadelphia coach John Stevens said that such lucky bounces are the result of hard work.

"You can go back a little bit in the beginning of the year when I thought in the first six games (all losses) we had some unfortunate bounces," he said. "It just seemed that the harder you worked, the bounces turn in your direction. They have a way of evening themselves out."

Paul Stastny gave the Avs an early lead with a power-play goal at 9:23 of the third period, but Mike Knuble tied it with a power-play goal at 11:27 and Jeff Carter put Philadelphia ahead with a shorthanded goal at 18:12.

Lupul and Richards made it 4-1 in the second period before David Jones cut the deficit to two goals after two periods. Gagne's goal early in the third period completed the scoring.

The Avs, who lost at Philadelphia for the first time since 1999, played the second of a four-game road trip after winning at Detroit on Monday.

"I wish a couple of tips could have gone in, but they made some big saves," Stastny said. "But I thought we played well."

Thrashers 4, Senators 1 | Video

Four days after Atlanta rookie Ondrej Pavelec was driven from the net after one period against Boston, he came within 78 seconds of his first NHL shutout. The 21-year-old stopped 28 shots, losing his shutout bid when Chris Kelly scored with 1:18 left.

"Anytime it's coming down to the wire, you want to do it for the guy," said center Colby Armstrong, who turned a one-goal contest into a 3-0 game by scoring twice in 31 seconds early in the third period. "He played great for us and it was a little bit of a screen shot, a good play by them, but too bad we couldn't preserve that shutout for him. The big thing is we got the two points, and I'm sure he'd agree with that, but it's too bad we couldn't get that cherry on top."

Todd White scored into an empty net for the Thrashers, who ended a 0-2-1 skid and won for just the third time in 14 games (3-9-2).

The Senators have been held to four goals overall in their last four games. Ottawa's top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza has combined to produce just one point among them -- Alfredsson's eighth goal of the season on Saturday -- during the four games.

"We have the skill and character in the room but we're just not getting the most out of everybody right now," Alfredsson said.

Thrashers coach John Anderson let Armstrong stay on the ice after his second goal in hopes he could get a hat trick on one shift.

"The funny thing was he scored two and I made him go back out," Anderson said. "He didn't spend a lot of time on it, maybe 35 seconds, and he's looking down at his skate and I said, 'Just get back out there.' He comes off about 20 seconds later -- his skate's broken, so I made him go out there with a broken skate, unfortunately, but I just wanted him to maybe have a chance to score a hat trick in one shift."

Flames 6, Blues 3 | Video

Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff continue to own the Blues. Iginla had two goals and two assists and Kiprusoff made 28 saves to beat the Blues for the 11th time in a row.

Iginla's four-point night gave him 56 points in 46 career games against the Blues. It was the 13th time in his career he's had four points in a game — including exactly one year earlier, also against the Blues.

"The same day? Oh, that's cool," Iginla said. "I'm glad I didn't get that in my head, but this is a good hockey barn, it's a good atmosphere."

Calgary's captain opened the scoring at 4:14 when Cory Sarich's point shot hit his glove and went in while he was sprawled across the crease. He made it 2-0 with a laser-like wrist shot from the slot past Blues goalie Chris Mason at 17:38.

"He had a great game," Flames coach Mike Keenan said of Iginla. "He had a leadership game and you expect that from your best players. He was engaged tonight, and it looked like that right from the start."

"The same day? Oh, that's cool.  I'm glad I didn't get that in my head, but this is a good hockey barn, it's a good atmosphere." -- Jarome Iginla on notching a four-point game exactly one year earlier, also against the Blues


But Blues coach Andy Murray was most impressed with Iginla's assist on Michael Cammalleri's goal at 12:09 of the second period, which made it 5-2.

"Maybe the best forward in the game," Murray said. "He froze everybody. I think everybody in the building thought he was shooting the puck, including Chris, and Chris has to honor that shot when it's Jarome Iginla."

Kiprusoff improved to 13-3-1 lifetime against the Blues, who haven't beaten him since a 3-2 shootout victory on Jan. 30, 2006.

"I don't want to think about it too much because then I'll lose the next one," Kiprusoff said. "I just try to do the same stuff night after night."

Patrik Berglund and Brad Boyes had second-period goals to cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-2, and David Backes closed the scoring in the third period.

"Two three-goal leads is something we can't give up, especially with all the injuries we have to some key offensive guys," defenseman Barret Jackman said. "We have to keep games close, and defensively we just didn't make the right decisions. When you're giving up five, six goals a game, it's hard to win."

Stars 2, Coyotes 1 (OT) | Video

Loui Eriksson continues to be one of the few bright spots in a dismal start for the Stars. He gave Dallas the extra point by stuffing his own rebound past Ilya Bryzgalov with 1:21 left in overtime for his second goal of the night.

"I've been a huge fan of Loui's since he got here," Stars goalie Marty Turco said. "We're the ones getting rewarded for his work. He likes to score goals, I'll tell you that."

The third-year forward now has 14 goals this season, matching his total for all of 2007-08.

"Both my goals were in front of the net," said Eriksson, the Stars' leading goal scorer. "That's where you have to score goals. You have to get out there and someone will make a play for you."

The Stars, who played their first game since cutting ties with forward Sean Avery, have needed Eriksson to step up due to a barrage of injuries — six regulars were hurt for this game.

"Loui takes that responsibility with the guys we have out," coach Dave Tippett said. "Both goals were hard around the net. Those turned out to be very valuable."

Eriksson converted Chris Conner's pass 3:15 into the game. Turco made the lead stand up until Todd Fedoruk banged Peter Mueller's rebound past Turco with 9:09 left in regulation.

"We tie it up, have the momentum and don't capitalize on it," captain Shane Doan said.

The Coyotes fell to 0-4 in games that were tied after regulation. They lost 5-4 at home to Detroit on Saturday in a shootout.

"We didn't bury opportunities," Doan said. "Give them credit. But we've got to find ways to win."

Blackhawks 9, Oilers 2 | Video

The Blackhawks had a goal-scoring party at Rexall Place, with the Oilers proving to be more-than-gracious hosts. Troy Brouwer scored twice and seven other Hawks had goals as Chicago won its fifth in a row and improved to 6-0-1 in its last seven.

The last time Chicago won five games in a row was in 2001-02, which was the same season they last made the playoffs The Blackhawks improved to 15-4-6 since Joel Quenneville took over from Denis Savard behind the bench. They also improved to 6-5-3 away from the United Center.

"We're getting better," Quenneville said. "Starts are important on the road, and we're playing a patient game. We've got some momentum and confidence."

Chicago led 2-0 after one period on goals by Patrick Kane and Colin Fraser, then blew the game open with five in the second period. Brian Campbell made it 3-0 before Shane Horcoff's power-play goal at 5:38 gave the sellout crowd a brief glimmer of hope. But Brouwer, Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager and Brouwer again scored in a 6:05 span. Duncan Keith and Craig Adams added third-period goals before Mark Pouliot scored a meaningless goal for the Oilers.

"I think they outplayed us in pretty much every way possible.  I can't remember a game like this in this building, ever." -- Oilers captain Ethan Moreau


In all, 15 of the Hawks' 18 skaters had at least one point. Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves.

"It was a great effort with good contributions from across the board," Quenneville said.

Edmonton continued to have trouble killing penalties. The Hawks scored four times on their five power plays, including twice in the big second period. The Oilers allowed nine goals in a game for the first time since a 9-4 loss to Los Angeles on Dec. 28, 1992.

"I think they outplayed us in pretty much every way possible," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said. "I can't remember a game like this in this building, ever."

The Oilers got right on a plane after the game and flew to Vancouver for a rematch of Saturday night's 3-0 victory at Edmonton.

"We have to try to duplicate the game we played Saturday," Moreau said. "That's how we'll be evaluated — how we respond tomorrow. It's all about how you respond in this game, so we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Rangers 3, Ducks 1 | Video

While waiting for the possible arrival of Mats Sundin, the Rangers made their first appearance at the Honda Center since Nov. 1, 2006, a success as Nigel Dawes scored the tie-breaking goal with 3:16 remaining.

Dawes picked off a poor pass by Kent Huskins in the Anaheim zone, made a superb move to step around Chris Pronger and whipped the puck under Jonas Hiller to break a 1-1 tie. Nikolai Zherdev was awarded an empty-net goal with less than a second left when he was taken down with a clear path to the net on a breakaway.

"We definitely got the trip off on the right foot," said Dawes, whose team visits Los Angeles on Wednesday and San Jose on Saturday in its first trip to California in more than two years. "We've had our ups and downs this month, and we want to go into the (Christmas) break on a high."

The goal was only the fourth of the season for Dawes, and Rangers coach Tom Renney said it might be just what young forward needs.

"I think so," he said when asked if the goal might give Dawes a jump start. "That's the kid I remember watching. For a kid who's been in and out of our lineup, it would have been just as easy to push it low or take it wide and be satisfied with getting close. He made a heck of a play, and that shows you the level of confidence he has in his game."

The Ducks managed only 20 shots on goal and paid the price for turning over the puck in their own zone.

"Turnovers are killing us right now," Pronger said. "It kills our momentum and our speed through the neutral zone. We’ve got to get through neutral zone better and cleaner, so that we can get in on the forecheck and get turnovers ourselves."

The Rangers rebounded from an 8-5 loss to New Jersey on Friday with a 3-2 shootout win over Carolina the next night when Chris Drury scored in the fifth round. Drury ended a 12-game goal-scoring drought in regulation play when he intercepted a pass by Scott Niedermayer and fired the puck over Hiller's glove at 2:26.

"They skated well and there were a couple of bad decisions with the puck," Niedermayer said. "We’ve had some good games and done some good things lately. Tonight we fell back a little bit and didn’t play smart."

Chris Kunitz tied it at 18:30 when he poked in the rebound of Bret Hedican's shot. That was the only one of the Ducks' 20 shots to beat Lundqvist, who has allowed just three goals in two games after being torched by the Devils.



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