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Panthers outlast Caps in 11-round shootout

by John Kreiser
The Florida Panthers celebrate a 2-1 shootout win against the Washington Capitals.
The Florida Panthers are loving shootouts this season. The Washington Capitals still can’t figure out how to win them.

The Panthers got a goal from Stephen Weiss in the 11th round to earn a 2-1 victory over the Caps on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. It’s their season-high fourth win in a row and their third in as many shootouts — a big change from last season, when they were 2-8, including 1-6 on the road.

The new season hasn’t helped the Capitals’ struggles in the shootout. They dropped their first of 2007-08 after going 1-11 last season.

“Coaches love them when they're winning," Capitals interim coach Bruce Boudreau said, "and absolutely hate them when they lose."

Olli Jokinen, Nathan Horton and Kamil Kreps scored Florida's other shootout goals. Viktor Kozlov, Nicklas Backstrom and Boyd Gordon tallied for Washington in the longest shootout in the NHL this season.

And what special move did Weiss use to fool Kolzig on the winner?

"I don't know. I don't really have one," he replied, then added: "I think (Kolzig) was tired by then, so maybe that helped."

After Weiss’ goal, Vokoun stopped Brian Pothier’s shot for the win.

“You've got to give Vokoun credit," said Capitals forward Brooks Laich, who appeared to have him fooled in the shootout but sent the puck over the net. "He made some great saves."

Florida opened the scoring 4:49 into the game when ex-Capital Richard Zednik knocked in a rebound for a power-play goal ( 700K ). Washington captain Chris Clark tied it at 14:27 of the second period ( 700K ) when he stole the puck at the Florida blue line, went in alone and beat Vokoun.

"The one goal they got, I thought we gave it to them," Florida coach Jacques Martin said.

Washington had a couple of excellent scoring chances in the third period, but Vokoun stopped Dave Steckel and Mike Green’s shot hit the post. Vokoun also stopped Alexander Ovechkin 1-on-1 with less than two minutes left in regulation and again in OT when he got in front of his slap shot with 12.1 seconds left for the last of his 32 saves, sending the game to the shootout.

“To be able to keep those guys — Ovechkin — off the scoreboard was a huge job, especially in the overtime," said Martin, who broke a franchise record with his 84th victory as the team's coach. "I thought in the 4-on-3, the guys did an outstanding job of blocking shots. They showed a lot of desperation." The Capitals have won only three of 12 home games this season, and are 2-1-1 under Boudreau, who took over last week when Glen Hanlon was fired.

Blues 4, Sabres 3 | Video
Brad Boyes must have been listening as a kid when his coaches spouted the old axiom “play the whistle.” Boyes persevered after his shot was blocked and flipped home the winner with 58 seconds left ( 700K ) as the Blues continued their dominance of Buffalo.

Boyes raced down the left wing, faked out goalie Ryan Miller and lifted the puck toward a gaping net. Buffalo’s Daniel Paille knocked the puck out of the air, and it bounced into the crease. Boyes then rounded the net and swatted the puck in from the other side for his 14th goal and fourth game-winner.

''I heard no whistle, so I kept playing, and a half-second later the puck popped out,'' Boyes said after snapping the Sabres’ five-game winning streak. ''I made sure that one really went in.''

The Blues beat the Sabres for the eighth straight time. They haven’t lost in Buffalo since October 1995.

But this one wasn’t easy. They spotted the Sabres a 2-0 lead on Jason Pominville’s first-period goal ( 700K ) and a power-play tally by Ales Kotalik at 12:28 of the second ( 700K ). But Martin Rucinsky gave the Blues a spark by scoring at 15:10 of the second ( 700K ), Paul Kariya tied it with a tip-in 3:45 into the third ( 700K ) and Mike Johnson put St. Louis ahead by beating Miller with a wrist shot at 6:19 ( 700K ).

"We thought we were deserving of a win tonight," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "We thought we were good all game even though we were trailing. We liked how we were playing."

Rookie Andrej Sekera tied it again at 11:02 ( 700K ), beating Manny Legace with a slap shot from the left point for his first NHL goal.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff wasn’t happy with his team’s play after the Sabres took the 2-0 lead.

''We turned the puck over way too many times,'' Ruff said. ''We were very careless with the puck. We didn't take care of it and it hurt us.''

The game also marked the return of former Sabres defenseman Jay McKee, who played in Buffalo for nine years before signing with the Blues as a free agent following the 2005-06 season.

Flyers 3, Hurricanes 1 | Video
Unfortunately for the Flyers, they’ve made their two trips to the RBC Center this season. Philadelphia won in Raleigh for the second time in a week as Mike Knuble set up second-period goals by defensemen Derian Hatcher and Kimmo Timonen before scoring early in the third.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Martin Biron deflects a shot on goal against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Martin Biron made 40 saves as the Flyers rebounded from a 6-3 home loss to Boston on Monday.

"It's important we continue to hold our players accountable to the system and the standard we want to play and just challenge them to get ready both individually and as a group," Flyers coach John Stevens said when asked whether he tried anything different after Monday's loss. "I thought they were good in both departments tonight."

Hatcher, returning after missing 13 games following knee surgery, opened the scoring 5:49 into the second ( 700K ) when he kept whacking away at his own rebound before finally poking the puck behind Cam Ward.

Timonen made at 2-0 at 15:16 ( 700K ) when Knuble dug out a rebound and fed the defenseman, who stuffed it in before Ward could get across the crease.

“As a team, we haven't shot the puck as well as we could," said Knuble, who beat Ward 33 seconds into the third period ( 700K ) for a 3-0 lead. "It's a conscious effort of the team to shoot pucks more at the net. Obviously when you shoot pucks at the net, there's a chance for error, a chance for a rebound or a dropped puck.”

Cory Stillman spoiled Biron’s shutout bid by scoring midway through the third period ( 700K ), but the Hurricanes still lost for the fifth time in seven games.

“Everyone just has to pick their game up just a little bit," said Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour, who assisted on Stillman's goal. “We're not so bad, but everyone is going to have to play better.”

Devils 4, Stars 2 | Video
Dallas was 40 minutes away from becoming only the third team ever to sweep a three-game trip through the New York metropolitan area before the Devils rallied for their fifth straight victory.

The Stars took a six-game winning streak into their first visit to the Prudential Center and grabbed a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Stu Barnes ( 700K ) and Jussi Jokinen ( 700K ) — both on shots that Martin Brodeur probably should have stopped.

"The first period was not an indication of how we played," Brodeur said. "They got two bad goals in on me. We definitely looked good after that. We didn't let that affect our game."

But after David Clarkson made it 2-1 at 8:52 of the second period on a wraparound ( 700K ), Brodeur stopped the Stars during 1:37 of a 5-on-3 power play later in the period, turning the momentum in the Devils’ favor.

"If we scored, it's a different game," Stars center Mike Ribeiro said. "After the 5-on-3, they came back and scored and took the momentum. That's the game." Brian Gionta got the game-tying goal with 1:12 left in the second period ( 700K ), firing a pass from Patrik Elias from the left circle past Marty Turco for his ninth goal of the season. Dainius Zubrus put the Devils ahead for the first time with 9:03 left in regulation ( 700K ) when he picked off Mike Modano’s pass, fed Jamie Langenbrunner and fired the return pass behind Turco. Zach Parise added an empty-netter ().

"Our attitude is different. We believe we can win," Brodeur said. "We believe little hiccups during the game won't beat us. It showed how mentally stronger we're getting."

It’s a big change for a team that struggled for the first six weeks of the season under new coach Brent Sutter.

“We were down 2-0 after one," Gionta said. "The beginning of the year we would have packed it in. It shows the confidence level of the team. We know we can win. We know we can come from behind."

Wild 3, Coyotes 1 | Video
Ilya Bryzgalov’s perfect run with Phoenix ended at four games as Minnesota got the kind of performance from its skill players that coach Jacques Lemaire had been looking for.

The return of center Pavol Demitra seemed to energize his linemate, Marian Gaborik, who scored a spectacular breakaway goal late in the second period ( 700K ) that proved to be the

Marian Gaborik, center, celebrates his goal against St. Louis Blues with teammates Mikko Koivu and Pavol Demitra.
game-winner. Stephane Veilleux opened the scoring 4:02 into the second period ( 700K ) and James Sheppard added an insurance tally midway through the third ( 700K ).

“We needed to come out here and kind of assert ourselves and keep a tight game, but send pucks to the net," said Minnesota forward Aaron Voros, who set up the goals by Veilleux and Sheppard. "That's what we were concentrating on this week in practice. Just get pucks to the net, no matter where from."

The Wild’s performance left Lemaire pleased.

"Our centermen, it's our best game since Demitra got injured," Lemaire said. "From all the centermen. Very, very satisfied. Long time since I've said that."

Radim Vrbata scored Phoenix’s only goal, beating Niklas Backstrom on a deflection 33 seconds into the third period ( 700K ).

Phoenix defenseman Nick Boynton wasn’t impressed with either team.

"I didn't think they were very good either," Boynton said. "It was two bad teams out there and it's unfortunate that we didn't come out on top. They were ready to be had and we didn't play well enough."

Bryzgalov beat the Wild three times in the opening round of last season's playoffs while playing for Anaheim. He joined the Coyotes on waivers on Nov. 17.

"It's the same coach and pretty much the same players, and I think they play the same system," Bryzgalov said of the Wild. "Sometimes we can lose, too. We lost tonight because of too many mistakes at the offensive blue line and the neutral zone."

Blackhawks 5, Lightning 1 | Video
Martin Havlat needed less than a minute to make an impact in his first game back after missing 22 with a shoulder injury. He scored 43 seconds into the game ( 700K ) and again 12 seconds into the second period ( 700K ) as the Blackhawks routed visiting Tampa Bay.

"I just wanted to be helpful," said Havlat, who hadn’t played since injuring his right shoulder on opening night. "I know at the beginning, I'm not going to feel great. I need to get my legs back. At the end I was getting tired."

Havlat opened the scoring with a flashy move before beating Johan Holmqvist for his first goal. The second came when he ripped a shot past Holmqvist after Robert Lang won a faceoff.

Having their top scorer from last season back in the lineup gave the Hawks a jolt of energy.

''We were pumped to have him back in the lineup,'' said Chicago rookie Jonathan Toews, who also scored ( 700K ). ''We didn't expect him to explode like that. But he played great, didn't miss a beat.''

Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin made 22 saves in his first appearance against the Lightning since leaving Tampa Bay and signing with Chicago as a free agent in August 2005. He lost his shutout bid midway through the third period when Nick Tarnasky scored a power-play goal ( 700K ).

''These guys are very explosive,'' Khabibulin said. ''It's always kind of nice to beat your old team. Unfortunately, they don't give extra points for that.''

Dustin Byfuglien ( 700K ) and Patrick Sharp ( 700K ) also scored as Chicago won its fourth in a row at home. Patrick Kane, the NHL's rookie scoring leader, had three assists, and Khabibulin even had two assists.

''It's nice to have him (Havlat) back,'' Kane said. ''Obviously, it gives us some more room and that's nice to have.''

Tampa Bay fell to 0-4-1 in its last five games.

''During this stretch of games, we've played pretty good hockey and not gotten the results,'' assistant coach Mike Sullivan said. ''Tonight, we just didn't give ourselves a chance to win.''

Avalanche 4, Oilers 2 | Video
After an awful effort is Saturday’s home loss to Calgary, Colorado was determined to avoid a repeat. The Avs did just that, dominating the Oilers far more than the final score indicated as they won for the 500th time since moving from Quebec in 1995.

Colorado's Peter Budaj, right, waits as Edmonton's Zack Stortini tries to direct the puck on net.

“In the game against Calgary, we didn’t show up. We wanted to get off to a good start. We scored some goals early and pretty much dominated the entire game,” said forward Milan Hedjuk, who had a goal and two assists as Colorado took a 4-0 lead after two periods while outshooting the Oilers 36-9 through 40 minutes.

The victory was Joel Quenneville’s 100th as coach of the Avalanche.

The Avs got off to a fast start when Hedjuk beat Dwayne Roloson at 4:14 of the opening period ( 700K ) and Brett Clark scored 25 seconds later ( 700K ). Joe Sakic made it 3-0 with a power-play goal at 8:45 of the second period ( 700K ) and set up Wojtek Wolski’s goal at 14:36 ( 700K ).

“We kept the puck on our stick and had a lot of shots,” Hedjuk said. “Overall, it was a great team effort.”

The Oilers, who had won their previous two games, looked overwhelmed for 40 minutes.

“We can’t be down 4-0 and then decide to start playing,” Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff said. “There was a definite lack of focus.”

Colorado goalie Peter Budaj had perhaps his easiest night of the season.

“The guys played well in front of me,” he said. “They didn’t allow odd-man rushes, and the defense did a great job winning the battles in the corners and blocking shots.”

Raffi Torres ( 700K ) and Horcoff scored in the third period for the Oilers, who were outshot 43-13.

“We made a lot of mental mistakes,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “Then we got frustrated. We looked like a very bad hockey team for two periods.”

Kings 3, Sharks 2, SO | Video
Visiting San Jose has never been especially enjoyable for the Kings — until this season. Los Angeles scored on all three of its shootout attempts to improve to 3-0 at the HP Pavilion -- the first time the Kings have won three times in a row or three times in a season at the Shark Tank.

After Jeremy Roenick put the Sharks ahead in the shootout, Patrick O’Sullivan and Anze Kopitar beat Evgeni Nabokov, while Jason LaBarbera stopped Milan Michalek’s attempt. Joe Pavelski scored in the third round for the Sharks, but Dustin Brown beat Nabokov to give L.A. only its second win in eight games — both at San Jose.

"I kind of have a plan of what I'm going to do. Tonight I totally switched it up from what I was thought I was trying to do," Brown said. "At the end of the day, it's two points. It doesn't matter if we get it in power plays or a shootout. As long as we get them, everyone's going to be happy."

The Sharks fell to 4-13 in shootouts since the NHL adopted the breakaway competition in 2005-06.

Joe Thornton scored early in the first period on a wrist shot from the right circle as the Sharks dominated play. But second-period goals by Kopitar and O’Sullivan put the Kings ahead. Kopitar jammed in a loose puck at 10:39 after Nabokov stopped Brown’s shorthanded breakaway. O’Sullivan rifled Tom Preissing’s pass behind Nabokov at 17:51 to put the Kings in front.

"We started out great and for the first 10 minutes … we were playing really nice, and that is how we should be playing for 60 minutes," Thornton said. "But then we got away from that and they scored and scored again, and then in the third period we got in penalty trouble. We found away to come back and tie the game, but we have to figure out a way to bear down."

The Sharks, who had played only once in the previous 10 days — a 2-1 loss to the Kings last Saturday — tied it 3:41 into the third period on Craig Rivet’s power-play goal.

The Kings played without their two top scorers, Mike Cammalleri and Alexander Frolov, both of whom are out with injuries.

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

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