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Panthers claw Penguins 6-1

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
Sidney Crosby finally reached his boiling point.

With his team on the way to its fourth consecutive loss, a 6-1 shellacking by the Florida Panthers, Crosby got into only the second fight of his NHL career. Not long after going after Gregory Campbell and getting a minor, and with his team trailing 4-1, Crosby went at it with Florida forward Brett McLean late in the second period.

The price: 19 minutes, including a double minor, a fighting major and a misconduct for instigating the fight.

"I asked him to go, and he said yes. And usually, yes means yes," said Crosby, who fought Boston's Andrew Ference last season. "I mean, I wouldn't have wasted 20 minutes in the box for that. I guess he didn't take me serious. I don't know, it wasn't worth 20 minutes, though, that's for sure."

With or without Crosby on the ice, the Penguins were no match for the Panthers, who snapped their own four-game losing streak. Nathan Horton led Florida with two goals as the Panthers handed Pittsburgh its worst home loss in almost two years and dropped the Penguins into ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

"It was a huge game... I couldn't have scripted anything better," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's hopefully what the doctor ordered for us."

Crosby threw his gloves off and grabbed an apparently unsuspecting McLean, who was kneeling over to take the faceoff. McLean eventually was able to drop his gloves and attempted a few swings but did not connect. His nose was bleeding as he left the ice, but that apparently was just due to the breaking open of a scab when he fell to the ice.

Crosby's punches were more directed at McLean's shoulders as he tried to take McLean's jersey off.

McLean, who said he did not hear Crosby ask him for a fight, took the incident in stride.

"Everybody can kind of understand what he's doing for their team there," McLean said. "He's their leader."

The Penguins biggest failing on Saturday was goaltending. They trailed 2-0 after one period despite outplaying the Panthers and outshooting them 10-5. Marc-Andre Fleury was leaning the wrong way as Ville Peltonen's wrist shot from the point sailed into the net at 10:12, and Horton scored on a partial breakaway at 15:20.

Coach Michel Therrien replaced Fleury with Dany Sabourin, and the energized Pens made it 2-1 at 1:37 when Ruslan Fedotenko beat Craig Anderson with a wrist shot. But power-play goals by Bryan McCabe and Richard Zednik midway through the period blew the game open, and Horton added his second at 18:31.

 
 


"Both of those guys didn't do the job," Therrien said. "It's impossible to win in this league without solid goaltending.

"When you give up bad goals, you can tell on the bench. It takes the energy right out of your team."

With Fleury back in the net for the third period, Michael Frolik scored again at 4:14 during a delayed penalty.

"I think they were really frustrated," Horton said, "And that's what we needed. That's what we wanted. I think it was better for us that they did get frustrated. It kind of tilted the game in our favor."

The Penguins gave gone from fourth to ninth in the East in the past month, raising the specter of having a team go from a Stanley Cup finalist to a non-playoff team in one year.

"We've kind of been dragging on the bottom there," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "We've kind of hit it and kind of stalled here for a while now. Time is a little precious here. You look at the standings and every game we lose we're falling down."

Flames 3, Predators 2 | Video

The Flames are living up to their nickname — they're hot. Calgary made it five consecutive wins by rallying in the third period, with Todd Bertuzzi beating Dan Ellis for the game-winner with 23.4 seconds remaining.

With regulation time winding down, Craig Conroy forced a turnover by Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis deep in the Predators' zone. Conroy fed Bertuzzi, who skated toward the net from the right side and snapped a shot past Ellis.

"Craig did a good job getting it down low, and fed me in the slot," Bertuzzi said. "I was able to make a good shot. It was good to come back from behind and win again."

It was Nashville's fourth loss in a row, and the Preds' third to Calgary in as many games this season.

"We play a second and third period like we did, and then we have one little bad play that turns out to be the game-winning goal," Ellis said. "Those are the little things that we really need to bear down on, the errors, because that is what is costing us."

Bertuzzi also earned the primary assist on Daymond Langkow's game-tying goal with 7:14 left in regulation by digging the puck out from behind the net and finding his linemate at the left post.

"His individual effort and skill to set Langkow up and then to go to the net and have the patience, the poise and the skill to put it in the top shelf, that is just talent," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "The most important thing that he showed was poise. He gave himself a lot of time to make that play."
Nashville led 1-0 on an early goal by Jerred Smithson and 2-1 on Jason Arnott's tip-in at 11:57 of the second period but couldn't hold on despite limiting Calgary to 12 shots in the final two periods.

"We played a very good team and we played hard," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It's disappointing, I think we should have had one point for sure."

Maple Leafs 3, Senators 1 | Video

Ottawa came east to start the second half of its marathon eight-game road trip, but couldn't build on a win at Edmonton four nights earlier. Alex Ponikarovsky broke a 1-1 tie midway through the third period and Jason Blake added an insurance goal to send the Senators to their 13th loss in 14 road games.

The Senators are 4-12-2 on the road this season after losing to Toronto for the sixth time in the last eight editions of the Battle of Ontario.

"A very tough loss for us," said captain Daniel Alfredsson, who scored Ottawa's lone goal. "We started the game really good, created a lot of chances. (Vesa) Toskala played outstanding tonight, we should've had four or five goals."

Ottawa started well enough in the most physical of this season's three meetings, as Alfredsson beat Toskala for a power-play goal 7:05 into the game, taking a pass from Jason Spezza and scoring from a sharp angle.

Dominic Moore tied it at 9:47 of the second period with a power-play goal of his own. He got to a puck that squirted free from the corner between two Senators in front of the goal and whipped a backhander past Martin Gerber.

"I don't think we were playing badly to that point but our team thrives on momentum and confidence," Moore said. "So getting that first goal and getting our feet under us was good."

Both teams had chances for more than a period until Pavel Kubina came out of the penalty box and scooped up a loose puck just inside Ottawa's blue line. He skated deep into the zone and sent a pass back to Ponikarovsky, who ripped a wrist shot past Gerber's stick at 10:03.

"We tried to answer hit-for-hit — they were hitting a lot," Ponikarovsky said. "We tried to do the same thing, mirror them, don't give them any opportunity that they can throw us around. We showed that."

Blake put it away when he got the rebound of his own shot and tucked in a wraparound with 4:09 remaining.

"Every time they had a bounce their way, they capitalized on it," Gerber said. "Overall, we played a hard game, we just couldn't get the puck into the net."

Hurricanes 3, Lightning 2 | Video

Carolina didn't panic when Tampa Bay took an early 2-0 lead, and the Hurricanes rallied to win their third game in a row and seventh in their last 10.

Ryan Craig and Vaclav Prospal capitalized on turnovers to give the Lightning a two-goal lead 6:41 into the game. But the 'Canes kept their composure and tied the game before the end of the period on goals by Jason Williams at 14:46 and Chad LaRose 71 seconds later.

"We didn't press when we were down 2-0," Williams said. "We didn't force anything and let them have odd-man rushes because that's where they're dangerous."

The quick turnaround — and 17th loss in 22 one-goal games — didn't make Lightning coach Rick Tocchet very happy.
"Everybody's frustrated.  But nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We've just got to keep plugging." -- Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis


"I thought the first 10 minutes we came out flying," Tocchet said. "The next 10 minutes they took over. We threw a puck away, got a penalty and they got the momentum."

Joni Pitkanen put Carolina ahead 6:21 into the second period when his shot from the left point went past Mike Smith.

"We have to block that shot," Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis said. "We've got to make it harder on defense to take shots from the point. They've got to miss the net."

The Lightning lost for the third time in a row and 20th time in 25 games.

"Everybody's frustrated," St. Louis said. "But nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We've just got to keep plugging."

Red Wings 3, Wild 2 (SO) | Video

A two-week break necessitated by a strained groin may have been just what Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood needed to regain his touch. Osgood looked like his old self in his first game back after the injury, stopping 33 shots through overtime and two more in the shootout as the Red Wings won at St. Paul.

Pavel Datsyuk got the only goal in the breakaway competition as the Wings followed up a home-and-home sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It was a good break for me mentally and physically so I feel like I'm ready to go for the second half of the year," said Osgood, who had a 3.19 goals-against average and .876 save percentage in 19 starts before the injury.

The Wings have been winning with offense, not defense, and Osgood has been one of the culprits in Detroit's struggles to keep the puck out of its own net.

"With the start that Ozzy had this year, he's no dummy, he knows he's got to get rolling and he played like he did last year," coach Mike Babcock said. "We need him to be on top of his game and get a good rotation going this week and get both goalies playing the best they can and you'll see our goals against go way down."

Osgood made Mikael Samuelsson's first-period goal stand up until Owen Nolan and Antti Miettinen scored in the first 51 seconds of the third period. Johan Franzen smacked the puck out of the air and past Josh Harding with 4:37 left in regulation to tie it — a goal that was allowed after a lengthy video review.

"I was praying that they would call it off," said Harding, who has been the loser in his last five starts backing up Niklas Backstrom. "But the way the luck's been going lately, it didn't happen."

Osgood made a brilliant glove save on a breakaway by James Sheppard with 12 minutes to play that kept the Wings in it and then stopped Nolan on the doorstep with 55 seconds to play to send the game into overtime.

"You've got to give Osgood credit," Harding said. "He kept them in it."

Datsyuk scored a spectacular shootout goal, freezing Harding with a series of dekes before backhanding the puck into the net.

Despite the loss, which followed a 3-2 overtime victory over San Jose on New Year's Eve, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was pleased with his team's effort in its first game since announcing that their top scorer, Marian Gaborik, will miss at least 10 weeks with hip surgery.

"I can say that I feel better with what the team can do," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Now it shows that we're playing better as a team and that means we have a chance to win."

Blues 5, Blue Jackets 2 | Video

Rookie goaltender Steve Mason's hot streak came to an end against an unlikely opponent. The offensively challenged Blues, last in the Western Conference, scored four times on the power play and once while shorthanded to end a four-game winning streak for the Blue Jackets in which Mason allowed only one goal.

"I just wasn't very good," Mason said. "I was giving up rebounds, a couple of five-hole goals, so it wasn't a very good game by myself."

Mason had three consecutive shutouts before allowing one goal in Columbus' 6-1 win at Colorado on Friday. He refused to use fatigue as an excuse.

"When you play juniors, you play three nights in a row, so back-to-back is no big deal," Mason said.

St. Louis jumped on him for a pair of early goals, as Brad Winchester scored on the power play 2:10 into the game and B.J. Crombeen beat Mason at 5:41 while the Blues were shorthanded.
"We wanted to test him, get a lot of shots and try to move him as much as possible and not let him get comfortable.  I thought we did a good job of that." -- Alex Steen on Steve Mason


Columbus rebounded to tie the game when Mike Commodore capitalized on Barret Jackman's giveaway to beat Manny Legace at 7:03 and Fredrik Modin tapped in his own rebound at 12:20 for his first goal in nine games.

Keith Tkachuk put the Blues ahead to stay with a power-play goal at 6:39 of the second period. T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen added third-period power-play goals for St. Louis, which beat the Jackets for the fifth time in a row.

Steen, who also had two assists, said getting to Mason was an emphasis in coach Andy Murray's pre-game talk.

"We wanted to test him, get a lot of shots and try to move him as much as possible and not let him get comfortable," Steen said. "I thought we did a good job of that."

Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock thought the Blues' determination to bust their slump was a bigger factor than special teams.

"They were really desperate, and they played like that," Hitchcock said. "They had skilled players who really outworked our penalty killers."

Oilers 4, Stars 1 | Video

Edmonton kicked off a key five-game homestand by beating the Stars to end a two-game slide. Dwayne Roloson made 38 saves, allowing only rookie James Neal's goal late in the second period, as the Oilers beat a team that has dominated them for years.

"When we play with a physical edge we're a tougher team to play against," said forward Erik Cole said, who scored the Oilers' first goal. "Tonight we did a good job with it."

The Oilers are 12-36-4-7 against Dallas since the franchise moved from Minnesota in 1993.

"It was a great start to the new year," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "There were some great individual performances and guys that are elevating their games. Everybody can feel good about that game. We haven't had a lot of those this year where everybody walks away from the rink feeling good about themselves."

The Stars, who've won 10 of their last 13 against the Oilers, outshot Edmonton 39-19. But most of those shots came in the second half of the game, when they were playing catch-up after Edmonton had grabbed a 3-0 lead. Goals by Cole and Sheldon Souray put the Oilers ahead 2-0 before the first period was halfway over. Dustin Penner fired home the rebound of Souray's shot at 7:23 of the second period to make it 3-0.

"To be a good team we have to bring consistency," unhappy Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "This was a slap in the face to our team. We gave up two soft goals early and you end up chasing the game. There was not enough push from our side tonight. If we're going to be a good team, we need to push the game harder and we didn't do it."

Neal gave the Stars some life when he beat Roloson from the slot after picking up a blocked shot. But though the Stars outshot Edmonton 14-6 in the third period, the Oilers got the only goal when Andrew Cogliano took Robert Nilsson's passout and beat Marty Turco with a wrist shot with 5:16 remaining.

The Oilers, who spent most of the season's first two months on the road, know they have to pile up points during their run of home games.

"This is a key stretch of games for us to start building something and put some wins together, especially coming off our last two losses," Cole said. "We need to come out every night and show the same kind of enthusiasm that we showed tonight."

The Stars, 13th in the West but just three points out of a playoff spot, missed a chance to gain ground on eighth-place Columbus and fell one point behind Edmonton.

"These are the games that are really important for us," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We can't let them get a lead like that. We didn't win the battles and we need to do that."

Sharks 5, Islanders 3 | Video

Not surprisingly, the NHL's top team beat the bottom one, but not as easily as they might have expected. Mike Grier scored twice and Jonathan Cheechoo had three assists, but the Islanders threw a scare into the HP Pavilion crowd with a pair of late goals before Patrick Marleau's empty-netter put the game away.

"They kept coming at us, just like they did at Phoenix last night," Marleau said. "They kept coming, we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them."

But not enough to end the Sharks' home streak of not losing a game in regulation. San Jose improved to 19-0-2 at the Shark Tank this season and is 27-0-3 in its last 30 home games. With 63 points, they're back on top in the overall standings.

"It's nice to keep that streak going," Marleau said of the Sharks' dominance at home. "But there's still a lot we need to do in games to get better."

The Isles, last in the NHL with 28 points, lost their 12th in a row away from the Nassau Coliseum despite a 42-save performance by Joey MacDonald.

"Joey made some big saves for us," Isles coach Scott Gordon said. "And I think when you look at any team that comes in to play here, the goalie has to play well for his team to have a chance."
"Joey made some big saves for us.  And I think when you look at any team that comes in to play here, the goalie has to play well for his team to have a chance." -- Isles coach Scott Gordon on Joey MacDonald


San Jose completely dominated the first period, getting goals from Ryan Clowe and Grier while outshooting the Islanders 19-4 and bombarding MacDonald. When Dan Boyle made it 3-0 at 7:51 of the second period, it looked like the rout was on.

But the Islanders regrouped, got a goal by Richard Park at 16:04 and forced Evgeni Nabokov to make a couple of excellent stops to preserve the two-goal lead.

Grier finished off a perfect pass from Cheechoo at 12:22 of the third period for a 4-1 lead and his first multi-goal game since Jan. 7, 2007, but again the Isles refused to quit. Tim Jackman beat Nabokov with a quick wrist shot for a shorthanded goal at 16:50, and Thomas Pock's point shot deflected off Joe Pavelski's stick and into his own net at 18:57.

"The third period was better, compared to the first two," Gordon said after his team's second one-goal loss in two nights. "But again we came up short."

Marleau's empty-netter with 10 seconds left iced the win, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan wasn't happy with the fact that his team let the Islanders back into the game.

"We have a lot of learning to do — learning how to win," he said. "That's something we have to work on."

Kings 2, Flyers 1 (SO) | Video

Patrick O'Sullivan and Dustin Brown scored in the shootout as the Kings outlasted the Flyers before a full house at Staples Center.

O'Sullivan undressed Antero Niittymaki before scoring on the first attempt of the shootout, and Brown beat Niittymaki with a wrist shot in the third round. Jonathan Quick continued his superb play in goal for the Kings by stopping both Philadelphia attempts after making 31 saves in regulation.

"It was a big win," said Quick, who was named the game's first star to the cheers of the Staples Center crowd. "The team played well in front of me. The defense was unbelievable, they let me see the shots, they cleared out all the rebounds, and they made it a little easier for me."

Quick's play enabled the Kings to deal Jason LaBarbera earlier in the week, and he's made believers of his teammates.

"He's playing great right now," Brown said. "The shootout saves he made were pretty good saves against two pretty good shooters. That was the difference, I think. He made some key saves at some key times."

The Flyers played their second shootout in as many nights; they won Friday at Anaheim. Despite losing this one, the point moved them ahead of the New York Rangers into first place in the Atlantic Division.

"It was a huge point for us," coach John Stevens said. "We were playing back-to-back, and I think the Kings had been off since Tuesday. We played hard. It wasn't as if we hung on; we had chances right up until the end.

"I'm really proud of our effort. I think this will turn out to be a big point for us."

The Flyers had the best chance in the scoreless first period when Scott Hartnell was awarded a penalty shot with 1:40 remaining after being hauled down by defenseman Drew Doughty. But Quick, facing his first NHL penalty shot, forced Hartnell to his backhand, and Hartnell missed high and wide.

But Hartnell beat Quick 3:01 into the second period after a turnover behind the net by Kings defenseman Matt Greene.

Rookie Wayne Simmonds tied it at 16:05, beating Niittymaki on a screened wrist shot from the top of the left circle with one second left in Braydon Coburn's penalty.

The Kings did something they hadn't done in a long time — win in front of a sellout crowd. It was the fifth sellout at Staples Center, but the Kings had lost their last seven games in front of a full house.

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






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