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Panthers survive blown leads, edge Stars in SO

by Brian Hunter
No lead the Florida Panthers took at American Airlines Center seemed to be safe Friday night.

Florida couldn't hold on to leads of 3-0, 4-2 and 5-4, but Rostislav Olesz scored in the second round of a shootout, Scott Clemmensen stopped Brad Richards on the ensuing attempt and the Panthers finally held on for a 6-5 win over the Dallas Stars.

Steven Reinprecht scored a natural hat trick during the first period, but Florida watched as Dallas kept coming back and forced overtime. The Panthers prevailed in the end behind Olesz's shootout tally and 32 saves from Clemmensen to snap an 0-3-1 skid.

"With how things have been going for us, it was an important two points," coach Peter DeBoer said.

Olesz had a goal in regulation that gave the Panthers a 5-4 lead 1:42 into the third. It lasted all of 71 seconds before Fabian Brunnstrom tied the game for the Stars.

Brian Sutherby, Stephane Robidas, Mike Ribeiro and James Neal had the other goals for Dallas and backup Alex Auld made 24 saves in spelling flu-ridden Marty Turco. The Stars have lost just twice in regulation but are 0-1 in overtime and 0-4 in shootouts.

"We showed a lot of character and persistence the way we fought back from a 3-0 deficit, but there were a lot of Florida Panthers who didn't get contested the way they needed to be," said Marc Crawford, who coached his 1,000th NHL game. "To be a good team, we've got to be a lot tighter."

Reinprecht needed just 5:11 to put three goals on the board. He opened the scoring at 10:38 off the rebound of a Keith Ballard shot, converted Dennis Seidenberg's rebound at 15:20 and completed the hat trick 29 seconds later by sweeping a loose puck past Auld.

"I don't think that will happen again," Reinprecht said. "I kept going to the net and the puck kept popping out to me. They were tough to miss."

The Stars woke up and got two goals back before the end of the period. Sutherby beat Clemmensen with 2:09 left and Robidas' one-timer on the power play found the net with 18 seconds remaining.

"Even though we played pretty bad in the first, it was a 3-2 game and we were still in it," Robidas said. "But if you play with fire, you're going to get burned."

Jordan Leopold's first goal for the Panthers made it 4-2 at 2:38 of the second, but Ribeiro finished off Jamie Benn's pass off an odd-man rush 55 seconds later and Neal brought the Stars all the way back with a nifty move to score from the slot at 11:17.

"That was a wild one," DeBoer said. "There was wide-open hockey out there, way too loose for my liking. If we had walked out of here with nothing, it would have been pretty hard to swallow."

Wild 3, Rangers 2 |

Petr Sykora found himself watching from the press box for much of Pittsburgh's run to the Stanley Cup last season, but when he was put in for Game 6 of the Final he came up with a key blocked shot. Sykora was injured on the play and unable to go in Game 7 but it was a big moment in the Penguins' comeback to dethrone the Red Wings.

It's a new season and Sykora plays for a new team, but he seemed similarly motivated Friday after Minnesota coach Todd Richards scratched him for Wednesday's game with Nashville. Back in the lineup, Sykora had a goal and an assist as the Wild beat New York and won for the fourth time in five games at Xcel Energy Center.

"Petr's a proven goal scorer, that's his game," said Eric Belanger, who scored the go-ahead goal for Minnesota in the second period. "You don't like to see guys with that experience sitting in the stands. It's good, it's good to see him come back and get a goal and an assist. Hopefully he can keep going from here."

Sykora, who opened the scoring with 1:29 left in the first, wasn't eager to address his benching, but Richards felt it had a positive impact.

"I think Petr had something to prove," Richards said. "I thought his battles in the corners, his battles for loose pucks, those are the things that were talked about."

When asked about sitting out against Nashville, the veteran forward said, "Let's not talk about it." But he was more than willing to discuss what took place against the Rangers.

"I'm happy with what happened tonight," Sykora said. "I prepared the same way. I played a little hockey with my boy before the game, before I came to the rink. I got a couple two, three goals against him and it carried over to the game."

Antti Miettinen scored what held up as the game-winner for the Wild. Captain Mikko Koivu had a pair of assists and Niklas Backstrom made 18 saves.

Dane Byers' goal 5:33 into the second, in his first NHL game this season and second career, made it a 1-1 game for the Rangers. But Belanger scored at 7:49 to put the Wild in front for good and Miettinen added a key insurance goal with 59 seconds left in the period.

Marc Staal scored 5:02 into the third to cut a two-goal Wild lead in half. But despite 29 saves from Henrik Lundqvist, New York dropped to 1-4-1 in its last six games.

"We go back to work, there's no magic potion trying to get out of this here," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "It's just a matter of trying to cut down on our mistakes, especially the turnovers in the neutral zone, and go back to work and find a way."

Blackhawks 3, Canadiens 2 |

With four days coming up between games, Chicago didn't want to be mulling over what it could have done differently to beat Montreal. Patrick Sharp made sure that wasn't a concern.

Sharp took Patrick Kane's feed between the circles and ripped a shot past Carey Price with 4:10 left in regulation as the Blackhawks sent the Canadiens to their fifth consecutive road loss.

"Sharpie scored our biggest goal of the year," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's 2-2 late in the game. We needed two points and we had a whole week to think about today's game."

It never occurred to Sharp, who had just one assist in his previous six games, that the Blackhawks would let this one slip away.

"We just wanted to keep moving forward," Sharp said. "Without trying to sound cocky or arrogant, we knew we were going to win."

The United Center crowd might not have been as confident after Montreal rallied from a 2-0 deficit on goals by Mike Cammalleri and Travis Moen in the final five minutes of the second period. Moen beat Cristobal Huet with 2.1 seconds left on a wraparound that got between the goalie's left skate and the post.

Chicago had built its lead on Kris Versteeg's goal with 6:14 left in the first and Cam Barker's power-play tally 9:54 into the second. Carey Price began to shut the door after that, making 33 saves in his first start in almost two weeks.

"We started doing some things right and it paid off for a short period of time, but not the whole game" Cammalleri said. "With as many good saves as (Price) had, we should have won.

"But I thought we were too easy to play against and I don't think we made it difficult enough on them to make them do what they wanted."

Ducks 7, Canucks 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

For Anaheim to snap out of its four-game home losing streak, it was going to take more than just the top line putting the puck in the net.

Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan did their part, scoring a pair of goals apiece, but it was an early second-period goal by George Parros that brought the Ducks back to even from a two-goal deficit and a go-ahead, shorthanded tally by Mike Brown later in the period that sparked a big night for the offense.

"They were our best line early, in staying with the structure that we tried to create," coach Randy Carlyle said of the unit that also featured Ryan Carter, back from a foot injury. "What we asked of them -- specifically Brown and Carter -- was to be as aggressive as they possible could down ice on the puck and let George be the guy laying back in some situations.

"Any time that your energy line can make a contribution on the offensive side, plus play their normal energy game, it's a huge boost for your club. These guys are happy to see a George Parros and a Mike Brown score goals, because it's not like they've filled the net historically in their career."

Jonas Hiller made 36 saves and Joffrey Lupul tacked on a goal as Anaheim won for the first time at Honda Center since they beat Minnesota to begin a six-game homestand. It's been rough times since then, as the Ducks dropped to the bottom of the Pacific Division standings.

"I felt like we came out with the hustle and determination that we talked about," Ryan said. "A lot of times lately, a couple of early goals has kind of taken the wind out of our sails. But we stayed together as a group tonight and we made sure that we showed some resilience."

That resilience was necessary after Steve Bernier beat Hiller just 66 seconds after the opening faceoff and Mason Raymond converted on the power play at 4:39 to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Perry got one back for the Ducks with 3:29 left in the first period and the momentum swung in their favor when Parros scored his first goal of the season and 10th in 242 career NHL games, knocking Canucks defenseman Shane O'Brien off the puck in the left corner, heading for the net and capitalizing on the rebound of Carter's shot.

"It's always fun and it excites the crowd when guys like us score, so we're happy to take that momentum and help the team get a couple of points tonight." Parros said.

Brown put the Ducks ahead for the first time with 3:45 left in the second, beating Andrew Raycroft while Perry was in the box for boarding. After Perry got back on the ice, he scored his second of the game on a power play with 1:53 left, giving Anaheim a 4-2 lead heading into the third.

Ryan scored on the power play at 3:32 and again at 6:12 with the teams playing five aside, before Lupul capped the seven-goal outburst with 1:13 remaining.

Raycroft, starting his second straight game with Roberto Luongo out due to a broken rib, stopped 18 shots before he was replaced by Cory Schneider to start the third. Schneider made nine saves.

"We tried to generate what we could with what we had," Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "The deck was stacked against us a little bit. We know their record is not great so far this year, but they're a tough team to play against with two pretty good lines."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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