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Ovechkin leads Caps past 'Hawks

by Brian Compton

"He's great.  You can see how he works, especially in front of the net. It's a big weapon for us and we're lucky we could get him here."
-- Alex Ovechkin on Mike Knuble

The Washington Capitals' power play appears to be in midseason form.
Bruce Boudreau's club scored twice on the man advantage during a four-goal second period as the Caps cruised past the Chicago Blackhawks in a 6-2 decision at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night.
Alex Ovechkin and newcomer Mike Knuble each had two goals and an assist for the Capitals, who improved to 3-1-0 on the preseason.
Knuble's first goal of the night came just 2:36 into the game, when he swatted a rebound past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford. His second tally came less than three minutes later, when he converted on a feed from Ovechkin.
"He's great," Ovechkin said of Knuble, who signed with Washington as a free agent in July. "You can see how he works, especially in front of the net. It's a big weapon for us and we're lucky we could get him here."
Ovechkin scored both of his goals in the second, the first coming just 1:45 into the period. He scored again just 95 seconds later on the power play to give Washington a 4-1 lead. Nicklas Backstrom and Tyler Sloan also scored in the second, while Alexander Semin had three assists.
Troy Brouwer and Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago, which has only four tallies in three preseason games.

Thrashers 5, Predators 4
Josh Gratton scored twice and 11 different players recorded a point for Atlanta as it edged Nashville at Philips Arena.
"I try to be the first star every game but usually it's with my fists, not my goal scoring," said Gratton, who has three goals in 86 NHL games. "I was happy to contribute any way I can, and hopefully make a case for myself to stick here."
Bryan Little and Nik Antropov had a goal and an assist for the Thrashers, who improved to 2-1-1 on the preseason. They will visit Carolina on Friday.
Martin Erat scored twice for the Predators, while David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist each had a pair of assists. Shea Weber fired seven shots on goal and was a plus-3.
Ondrej Pavelec earned the win for the Thrashers in a 33-save effort. Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne split time in goal for Nashville and allowed five goals on 21 shots combined.
"I think we're ready to go," Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "Everybody is in great shape and the lines started clicking a little bit. This season, we need to have a good start. The last couple years we had a horrible start and it cost us the playoffs. No doubt in my mind we're ready for the season."

Sabres 3, Maple Leafs 2
Jason Pominville, Jochen Hecht and Cody McCormick found the back of the net and Ryan Miller made 23 saves as Buffalo edged Toronto at HSBC Arena.
After a scoreless first period, Pominville and Hecht struck quickly in the second to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead. Jiri Tlusty made it a one-goal game when he beat Miller on a penalty shot midway through the period, but McCormick restored Buffalo's two-goal lead when he swatted a loose puck past Joey MacDonald late in the second.
Pominville was complimentary of Miller after Buffalo's latest victory. Miller made 42 saves on Saturday night in Detroit and followed it up with another strong performance against the Leafs.
''He seems like he's in midseason form,'' Pominville said. ''I can't wait to see him when we get to the middle of the season.''
John Mitchell made things interesting when he got Toronto back to within a goal just 1:34 into the third period, but the Leafs (4-2-0) failed to tally the equalizer. They'll try to bounce back on Friday at Detroit.
''We were putting it to them pretty good in the third period,'' MacDonald said.
The Sabres, who improved to 3-0-1 on the preseason, will visit Montreal on Saturday.

Panthers 4, Stars 1

Radek Dvorak and Stephen Weiss scored just 43 seconds apart in the third period to help Florida pull away and earn a victory against Dallas at the BankAtlantic Center.

Dvorak, who appeared in his first preseason game after attending to family matters in his native Czech Republic, also had an assist. David Booth and Michael Frolik also scored for the Panthers, while No. 1 goalie Tomas Vokoun made 21 saves.

"It's great to have Radek Dvorak back in the lineup and the energy he provides," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said after the team's lone home game this preseason.

"(Vokoun) made some big saves. It was a nice confidence builder."

The Panthers travel to Finland for their last two preseason games Monday and Wednesday before opening the regular season against Chicago next weekend in Helsinki.

Jamie Benn scored the lone goal for the Stars, who fell to 2-3-0. Dallas will play its third game in as many nights on Thursday against Colorado at the American Airlines Center. Marty Turco made 25 saves in the loss.

Flames 5, Oilers 3

Curtis Glencross had two goals and Theo Fleury continued his push for a comeback with an assist as Calgary benefited from nine power plays and defeated Edmonton at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Jarome Iginla, Jason Jaffray and Fredrik Sjostrom also scored for the Flames, who improved to 3-2-1. Dustin Penner, J.F. Jacques and Mike Comrie scored for the Oilers (3-3-0), who have lost three in a row.

"We got into penalty trouble pretty much the whole game," said Penner, who also had an assist. "When you do that, it's tough, especially against a team that has a good power play and is capitalizing on their chances. It kills your momentum as a team. It's tough to develop any type of flow or consistent offensive attack."

Afterwards, even members of the opposition admitted they are pulling for Fleury to make the Flames' regular-season roster. The veteran winger hasn't played in six seasons.

"It's obviously a feel-good story," Comrie said. "He always seemed to be one of those guys who was a thorn in the Oilers. He's a great player. I wish him well."

Avalanche 3, Kings 2

Craig Anderson denied Marc-Andre Cliche on a penalty shot, and Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk scored in the second period as Colorado edged Los Angeles at the Pepsi Center.

Anderson finished with 30 saves in the victory. T.J. Hensick also scored for the Avs in the third period.

Peter Harrold and Trevor Lewis scored for the Kings (3-2-1), while Erik Ersberg had 21 saves. Harrold gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead midway through the first, but Stastny evened things up 5:17 into the second and Hejduk put the Avs in front less than six minutes later.

With 1:10 left in the period, Cliche was awarded a penalty shot after Colorado defenseman Kyle Cumiskey slashed him on a shorthanded breakaway.

Anderson, though, got his right pad on Cliche's low shot to preserve the Avs' lead.

Hensick made it a 3-1 game on a rebound at 5:28 of the third before Lewis beat Anderson shorthanded with 2:12 remaining.

Coyotes 4, Lightning 3 (SO)

One night after sitting out with a groin injury, Peter Mueller scored the decisive goal in the shootout against Antero Niittymaki to lead Phoenix past Tampa Bay at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo.

After falling behind 1-0 on a goal by Ryan Malone, the Coyotes struck for a pair of goals just 43 seconds apart in the second period. Radim Vrbata erased the deficit at the 4:10 mark when he stuffed a rebound past Niittymaki before Upshall tallied his first of two goals to give Phoenix a 2-1 lead.

Second-year pro Steven Stamkos -- the first selection in the 2008 Entry Draft -- evened things up for the Lightning with a power-play goal as he beat Jason LaBarbera at 10:17 of the second.

Vincent Lecavalier put Tampa Bay back in front early in the third, but Upshall responded for the Coyotes with his second goal of the night to make it 3-3.

Canucks 4, Sharks 3 (SO)

Mason Raymond scored in the third period and again in the shootout as Vancouver rallied to beat San Jose at General Motors Place. The win improved the Canucks' preseason record to 6-0.

It was Vancouver's second come-from-behind victory in as many games, as Tanner Glass and Alex Edler scored goals 42 seconds apart with less than seven minutes to play in the third period to take a 3-2 lead. But the Sharks forced overtime when Benn Ferriero beat Roberto Luongo with just 1:09 remaining.

Kent Huskins scored, Joe Thornton had two assists, and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for San Jose, which opted not to play Dany Heatley. The five-time All-Star is pointless in two games with the Sharks after being acquired from Ottawa.

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

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