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Parise's hat trick powers Devils past Habs

by John Kreiser
Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur made 27 saves as New Jersey blanked Montreal 4-0 on Friday night for their ninth consecutive win over the Canadiens.   
Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils dominated the Montreal Canadiens when they played at the Meadowlands. The Devils have moved to the Prudential Center in Newark, but their domination of the Canadiens hasn’t changed.
Brodeur made 16 saves in the first period to help New Jersey survive a shaky start and Zach Parise had a natural hat trick as the Devils blanked Montreal 4-0 on Friday night for their ninth consecutive victory over the Canadiens.
Brodeur did his best work early, bailing out the Devils during three early Montreal power plays. The Canadiens took 13 of the game’s first 14 shots, and Brodeur wound up making 16 saves in the first 20 minutes
“We had to kill three power plays right from the get-go,” said Brodeur, who has started the Devils’ last 38 games against his hometown team, going 28-7-3. “They got a lot of shots and I had to make some big saves. The players in front of me cleared a few pucks. After we killed those penalties, we took over the game.”
The Devils would have been happy to get out of the period scoreless, but they skated off with a 1-0 lead when Parise blocked a shot at the right point, raced in alone and slid the puck through goalie Carey Price’s pads with 35 seconds left in the period ( 700K ).
“It was a big transition going into the intermission,” said New Jersey forward Brian Gionta, who scored the Devils’ fourth goal. “It could have been 1-0 or 2-0 against; instead, we had the lead.”
Parise made it 2-0 at 13:10 of the second period ( 700K ), slamming home a rebound during a power play. He completed the hat trick during a rare four-minute 5-on-3 power play that followed concurrent high-sticking double minors, rifling a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Price high to the short side ( 700K ).
"It was just one of those nights," Parise said of his hat trick. "Sometimes you get the bounces. Sometimes you play a great game and have nothing to show for it."
Parise assisted on Gionta’s goal ( 700K ), which also came during the long 5-on-3 advantage.
"They got a few bounces that maybe we didn't," Price said. "They had pucks on their sticks looking at open nets a couple of times. That's part of the game."
The Devils have won six in a row after struggling for the first six weeks of the season under new coach Brent Sutter, and Parise said their confidence is soaring.
“We have that confidence that we’re going to win every game,” he said. “It’s fun to go to the rink.”

Blackhawks 6, Coyotes 0 | Video
No one will confuse Chicago rookie defenseman Dustin Byfuglien with Sidney Crosby, or even Parise, but they all now have the same number of career hat tricks after Byfuglien scored three in a row during the Blackhawks’ five-goal first period against visiting Phoenix.
Byfuglien, playing in his 47th NHL game, got his three goals in a 5:29 span of the first period as the Hawks scored five times in the first 10:30 against Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who had won four of his first five games with Phoenix.
“It’s an honor to be proud of,” he said of matching the Chicago record for goals in a game by a defenseman set in 1977 by Dick Redmond and matched by Doug Wilson in 1991. “Everyone came out ready to go, right off the hop. I looked up after the third one and there’s still nine minutes left in the first period.”
Chicago scored on its first three shots. Tuomo Ruutu beat Bryzgalov at 1:15 ( 700K ), Jonathan Toews scored into a half-empty net at 3:57 ( 700K ) and Byfuglien connected from the slot at 5:01 ( 700K ), converting a pass from Sergei Samsonov.
“Tonight wasn’t their night,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said.
Byfuglien then scored twice on 16 seconds on almost-identical power-play goals — shots from the top of the left circle after setups by Patrick Kane. That ended Bryzgalov’s night after he allowed five goals on seven shots.
“It was unbelievable,” Ruutu said of Byfuglien’s hat trick. “When a defenseman scores a hat trick, it’s something special — it doesn’t happen very often.”
Ruutu made it 6-0 with a deflection at 6:10 ( 700K ) of the second period. Peter Mueller spoiled Nikolai Khabibulin’s shutout bid ( 700K ) with 7:57 left in the game when he beat Byfuglien and whipped home a backhander.
Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky didn't single out Bryzgalov for the Coyotes' poor start. "You make your own breaks," he said. "We didn't answer the bell."
Gretzky also credited the Blackhawks, now 14-9-2, for their fast start.
"They're playing with a great deal of confidence and emotion," he said. "They have much more speed and, obviously, more finesse. Talent goes a long way."
Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3 | Video
Rod Brind'Amour recorded two goals as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Friday night. 
Rod Brind’Amour had two goals as Carolina finally got its offense untracked — and got a couple of breaks from video review — to beat the visiting Capitals.
Brind’Amour’s second goal, a passout from the end boards to the right of Olaf Kolzig that hit the goaltender’s blocker and went into the net, put Carolina ahead 4-2 at 3:47 of the third period ( 700K ). His first goal, at 14:01 of the second period, came when he deflected a shot by Tim Gleason past Kolzig for a 3-1 lead ( 700K ); the goal was upheld after a video review decided he hadn’t played with a high stick.
Brind’Amour said he didn’t play as well as he had two nights earlier in a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia — but got a couple of breaks.

"The other night I played pretty well and got nothing," he said. "Tonight, I played horrible and got a couple of goals."

The Hurricanes had a season-low 19 shots, but generated the kind of offense they hadn’t shown recently. The ‘Canes had lost five of seven while scoring just 13 goals.

“Two points right now is huge for our team," said goalie Cam Ward, who stopped 32 shots.

"We realize that we've got to be playing better. We're going to do what we can to take the positives and move forward."
The Caps had two goals wiped out by video review. Alexander Ovechkin’s apparent go-ahead goal early in the second period was taken away when it was determined that he had kicked the puck into the net. Mike Green’s shot went past Ward and into the net a split-second after the second period ended.
"It's like a black cloud is hanging over us. We feel like Linus in the Snoopy cartoons," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But at the same time, it's adversity we have to fight out of — and when you do fight out of that, eventually you're going to succeed."
Ovechkin opened the scoring 2:35 into the game ( 700K ) when Michael Nylander won a draw after a penalty against Carolina’s Scott Walker. Ovechkin hammered a shot past Ward from the slot.
Cory Stillman tied it at 9:50 ( 700K ), converting a feed from Eric Staal, and Matt Cullen put Carolina ahead to stay at 5:46 of the second period ( 700K ).
Ovechkin got his second of the game 32 seconds into the third period ( 700K )and Nylander cut the margin to 4-3 ( 700K ) when he fired a wrist shot past Ward with 4:07 remaining. Ward made three good stops in the final 90 seconds to preserve the win.
"I think we have to play the same way again," Ovechkin said. "This is our game. They had some lucky goals."
Wild 3, Blues 2, OT | Video
Minnesota is a different team when Marian Gaborik is healthy — and the speedy wing is healthy again after his annual battle with groin problems. His breakaway goal 2:21 into overtime gave the Wild their third straight victory ( 700K ).
With Gaborik and Pavol Demitra healthy, the Wild got off to an NHL-best 7-0-1 start. Both were felled by groin strains during a November swoon, but now they're back — and the Wild has won three in a row for the first time since opening the season with five straight victories.
"It's coming, so hopefully I can keep it going as long as I can," Gaborik said. "Now we're playing at home, and it's important to get these wins."
Gaborik’s game-winner came after he grabbed the puck just inside his own blue line. He raced down ice, cut in alone and beat Manny Legace on the stick side.
The Wild took a 2-0 lead on Brent Burns’ power-play goal midway through the first period ( 700K ) and Brian Rolston’s first goal in 10 games at nine seconds of the second ( 700K ) — the fastest goal from the start of a period in Wild history.

But Lee Stempniak ( 700K ) and Brad Boyes ( 700K ) scored less than six minutes apart midway through the period to tie the game, and only some excellent goaltending by Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom got the Wild to overtime.  He stopped a breakaway by Jamal Mayers with 4:46 to play in regulation, then made three saves on point-blank shots in OT before Gaborik ended it.
Stempniak was upset with the turnover that led to the winning goal, He held the puck in the left circle and thought he heard a teammate call for a drop pass — but the only person in the area was Gaborik, who was gone in an instant.
"Just an irresponsible play by me," Stempniak said.
Blues coach Andy Murray wasn’t upset with his team’s play, despite the disappointing outcome.
"They are a good team and we are trying to become a good team," Murray said. "We gave them all they could handle tonight, if not more."        
Oilers 5, Ducks 1 | Video
After falling to the Oilers  5-1 on Friday night, the Anaheim Ducks have now lost 14 of their last 15  visits to Edmonton.
You can be sure that Rexall Place is not on the Anaheim Ducks’ list of favorite places. The offensively challenged Oilers ran the defending Cup champs out of the building as five players scored goals and Shawn Horcoff had a goal and two assists.
The Ducks have lost 14 of their last 15 visits to Edmonton and were thoroughly beaten by a team that had scored five goals in regulation play just once all season.
“It’s the first time in a long time we’ve been able to catch a breath in the third period,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “It’s a nice change.”
Ales Hemsky put the Oilers ahead with a power-play goal 2:12 into the game ( 700K ) when he fired Horcoff’s pass behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The Ducks tied it on a fluke goal at 7:03 when Ryan Getzlaf’s pass hit Oilers defenseman Joni Pitkanen and went past Dwayne Roloson ( 700K ).
After the Oilers killed off four consecutive penalties in the second period, they took command in the final minute when Horcoff ( 700K )and Kyle Brodziak ( 700K ) scored 26 seconds apart. Rookie Andrew Cogliano ( 700K ) and defenseman Steve Staios added goals in the third period, when the Oilers outshot the Ducks 14-1.
“It’s the first time we’ve beaten a team in that fashion,” said Cogliano.
Roloson, who finished with 21 saves, praised his penalty-killers for their work in the second period.
“The guys did a great job killing penalties,” he said. “They limited anything cross-crease, and they limited the rebounds.”
The Ducks looked nothing like the team that had whipped the Flames 4-1 in Calgary the night before.
“We didn’t execute,” Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. “We can’t blame being tired or playing last night. We have to go out and execute, and tonight we didn’t do that.”

Sharks 3, Avalanche 2
Joe Thornton made sure San Jose’s disappointing homestand didn’t turn into a disaster, scoring two goals and setting up Mike Grier’s game-winner against the Avalanche.
The Sharks had one regulation loss and two overtime defeats in the first three games of the homestand, but Thornton got them off to a fast start when he scored a power-play goal 1:52 into the game, steering Milan Michalek’s pass behind Peter Budaj.
“We haven’t been a good team at home,” Thornton said of the Sharks, 12-8-4 overall but just 4-5-2 at HP Pavilion after their first victory since Nov. 15. “When you’re not going well, you’ve got to get physical, and we did that in the first period.”
San Jose made the Avs pay for a penalty again early in the second period, as Thornton scored a power-play goal from the lower right circle at 4:42, converting another pass from Michalek.
“Thornton is usually a passer but he took a couple shots and they slipped in,” Colroado’s Tyler Arnason said after the Avs’ fifth loss in seven games.
The two goals gave Thornton, one of the NHL’s best passers but often a reluctant shooter, 11 goals — tops on the Sharks.
“If you don’t shoot, you can’t score,” Thornton said. “We’ll score some goals. We have to shoot and get our confidence back.”
Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said Thornton made the difference.

“Joe played well tonight,” Quenneville said. “He’s played some good games against us and he did again tonight.
Milan Hedjuk got the Avs within a goal at 16:42, tapping in Paul Stastny’s pass on a shorthanded two-on-one break. But Grier restored the Sharks’ two-goal lead at 18:02 when Thornton’s pass ricocheted off his skate and into the net.
Colorado cut the margin back to a goal 89 seconds later. Andrew Brunette got credit for a power-play goal at 19:31 when his pass hit defenseman Kyle McLaren’s skate and deflected past Evgeni Nabokov.
But the Avalanche didn’t generate much offense after that. Thornton also made the Sharks' most important play in a scoreless third period, terminating a Colorado power play in the final five minutes by drawing a tripping penalty on Brett Clark.        
“We played a good road game tonight but couldn’t pull it out,” Arnason said.
The teams meet again Monday in Denver, when the Sharks begin a three-game road trip. Thornton said getting a win before the trip meant a lot.
“We haven’t been very good at home and we have a three-game road trip coming up,” he said.

“This was a good 60-minute effort. We wanted to get off on a good note. We’re comfortable on the road, we’ve had some success on the road. We have to play better at home.”

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