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Penguins beat Hurricanes in Maurice's return

by John Kreiser /
Sidney Crosby spoiled Paul Maurice's return to the Carolina Hurricanes.

One day after firing Peter Laviolette and replacing him with Maurice, the man who was let go when Laviolette was hired five years ago, the Hurricanes were unable to stop Crosby, who set up four goals in Pittsburgh's 5-2 victory on Thursday night.

Crosby's brilliance made sure that Maurice's first game was similar to Laviolette's last — a lopsided home loss. Carolina has now dropped four in a row at home while being outscored 17-6. Overall, the Hurricanes have lost five of their last six.

"We’ve got to get out of this hole," said forward Tuomo Ruutu, one of two Hurricanes to score against Dany Sabourin, who made 34 saves. "We’ve got to stick together and I know we’ll be fine, but we’ve got to do it together."

The 'Canes did a good job limiting the Penguins to just 22 shots, but goaltender Michael Leighton made only 17 saves as the Pens made the most of their opportunities and bounced back from a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

"It would have been easy to be frustrated, because we probably deserved better," Crosby said of the loss in New York, which came after Pittsburgh held a 2-0 lead. "We expected (Carolina) to come out strong with a new coach and everything like that. We knew they'd be motivated. I think it was important to weather the storm."

Crosby set up Petr Sykora's power-play goal at 10:53 of the first period — the 11th consecutive game in which Carolina allowed the first goal — and stole the puck from defenseman Josef Melichar before dishing to Pascal Dupuis for a wrist shot that zipped past Leighton at 12:30.

"We made some -- I guess 'glaring' would be the word -- mistakes that you may not see that exact mistake made again," Maurice said. "It's a function of not only individual confidence but team confidence. If you do simple things, and you do them hard and do them very well, you'll have success. We did some high-risk things that went in the opposite direction for us, and (we) didn't give our goaltender a whole lot of help."

The two quick goals took a lot of life out of the crowd at the RBC Center, and the fans got even quieter when Sykora made it 3-0 just 1:53 into the second period. They perked up when Tuomo Ruutu got the 'Canes on the board at 2:12, but Miroslav Satan quieted things again at 6:51 when he backhanded the puck past Leighton.

Matt Cullen beat Dany Sabourin at 15:54 for a power-play goal, but the Penguins bounced back again when another Carolina turnover led to a rebound goal when Ruslan Fedotenko connected at 18:27 — giving Pittsburgh five goals on 13 shots.

"We clearly have some work to do," Maurice said. "We need to see some consistency in terms of what you see on the ice. When the puck comes back to our end, there should be a consistency of positioning."

Still, he felt there were some good things to build on.

"There is good will, good fight on this team," he said. "The guys on the bench understand and they are calling it out, and there is some head-shaking going on when the mistake is made. They see it."

Bruins 3, Lightning 1 | Video

After enjoying its best November in 30 years, Boston got December off to a good start by beating the Lightning in Tampa behind two goals by Phil Kessel and a tie-breaking, shorthanded goal by David Krejci with 11:43 left in regulation.

Boston was 11-1-1 in November — its best month since December 1978. The new month got off to a slow start when Martin St. Louis put Tampa Bay ahead 81 seconds into the game, beating Tim Thomas from the low slot. But Kessel's 14th of the season at 12:21 of the second period pulled the Bruins even, and Krejci put Boston ahead when he took Blake Wheeler's pass, faked defenseman Paul Ranger to the ice, stepped around him and beat Mike Smith and to score for the third game in a row.

"That was beautiful," said Thomas, who made 30 saves and is now 7-1-1 in his last nine decisions. ''As a goalie, I try to stay even-keeled, but when a guy pulls off a move like that and puts us ahead, I got excited. I couldn't help it. I had to tap my stick on the ice and give him credit. That was one heck of a move, and then to finish it makes it really memorable because if you pull that move and then you don't score, nobody remembers it."

Kessel scored into an empty net to ice the win and assure the Bolts of their sixth consecutive loss.

''It seems like we're waiting for something bad to happen,'' Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said. ''We played hard. We have no margin for error it seems like.''

Tampa Bay has lost 13 of 15 and has won just once since Tocchet replaced Barry Melrose on Nov. 14.

''I know the guys are dejected,'' Tocchet said. ''We need to find scoring somehow.''

Capitals 5, Islanders 2 | Video

Alex Ovechkin has struggled to score against the New York Islanders, who had limited him to nine points in their first 11 meetings. But Ovechkin had a goal and two assists as the injury-riddled Capitals beat the Islanders at the Verizon Center to end a two-game slide.

Ovechkin ripped a wrist shot past Joey MacDonald at 11:31 of the opening period for the first of Washington's three power-play goals, then set up the last two of the Caps' three third-period goals, by Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom, as Washington pulled away from a 2-2 tie. Those came after enforcer Donald Brashear tapped in a loose puck at 6:50 for his first goal in 38 games.

''It just bounced there and I went to the goal. It looked like a big piece of cheese to me,'' said Brashear, whose last goal came on March 3.

''You've got to go to the net and bang one in,'' Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''That's the kind of goal he's going to score. He's not going to go end-to-end."

Islanders coach Scott Gordon said his team didn't deserve to win.

"When you're not playing well, things add up," Gordon after his team gave up a season-high 47 shots. "It's almost like we got what we deserved. We didn't deserve the breaks tonight."

Ovechkin and Viktor Kozlov scored power-play goals in a 1:44 span of the first period to give Washington a 2-0 lead. But Mark Streit's power-play goal late in the opening period cut the Isles' deficit in half, and Trent Hunter converted Andy Sutton's pass at 13:38 of the second period to tie the game.

The Isles' lack of energy at the start of the game left Gordon upset.

"There's no excuse for tonight," he said. "We should play with a lot more energy. We cut too many corners. Washington came out hungry off a tough loss. We didn't compete at the same level."

Washington was without several injured regulars, including forwards Alexander Semin and Sergei Fedorov and defensemen Mike Green and Tom Poti. But they got no sympathy from the Isles, who are still without starting goaltender Rick DiPietro and played without injured defenseman Radek Martinek and forwards Nate Thompson and Kyle Okposo.

With all their injuries, the Caps needed Ovechkin to step up — and he did.

''Alex has got to be the one that stands up and says, 'Get on my back and follow me,''' Boudreau said. ''He was dead serious tonight, and I think he made everybody else dead serious. They knew this was a business game. We had to redeem ourselves. You had to get this one at home.''

Devils 3, Flyers 2, OT
| Video

Patrik Elias gave himself the chance to tie the NHL's record for overtime goals, then grabbed it. Elias forced overtime when he scored with 1:30 remaining in regulation and won the game at 2:46 of the extra period when he stole the puck and beat Martin Biron with a backhander.

It was Elias' 15th career overtime goal, tying the League record shared by Jaromir Jagr and Mats Sundin.
"We’ve got to get out of this hole. We’ve got to stick together and I know we’ll be fine, but we’ve got to do it together." -- Hurricanes forward Tuono Ruutu
"Some people handle it better than others," coach Brent Sutter said of Elias' penchant for scoring overtime goals. "Some guys — things just seem to work better in those situations. Patty is one of those guys."

It looked like the Flyers would escape with a victory when Scottie Upshall's pass deflected off New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador and into the net with 4:28 left in regulation, giving Philadelphia a 2-1 lead. But Elias' slap shot got between Biron's pads and trickled into the net to force OT.

"I thought we responded pretty well when they got that late goal," said Zach Parise, who scored New Jersey's first goal and set up Elias' winning tally. "We didn't get down. We just kept playing."

The goal came after a misplay by Biron, who went out to play a puck behind the net as Braydon Coburn came back to touch up for an icing call, then shot it away from his own defenseman, keeping the play alive.

"It should have been a routine play, and it wasn't," coach John Stevens said. "That should be as automatic as reaching for the brake when you see a red light."

Said Biron: "I didn't know where our guys were, I tried to make a simple play to the corner. It was the wrong side to play it and the puck ended up in the back of our net."

It was the first time the Flyers played the Devils without facing Martin Brodeur in goal since Feb. 27, 2002, when they beat New Jersey 1-0 with John Vanbiesbrouck in net. Scott Clemmensen, Brodeur's replacement while he recovers from biceps surgery, made 29 saves.

Kimmo Timonen's screened slap shot beat Clemmensen at 6:48 of the opening period to put Philadelphia ahead. Zach Parise, who later set up Elias' tying goal, evened the game at 1-1 when he hammered a rebound past Biron at 17:17.

The Devils, who've battled injuries all season, got two of their key forwards back. Brian Rolston returned after missing 18 games due to a high ankle sprain and John Madden was back in the lineup after sitting out four games with a bruised ankle.

Red Wings 6, Canucks 5 | Video

The Wings continue to win in spite of problems keeping the puck out of their own net. Jiri Hudler and Daniel Cleary each scored twice, with Cleary's second goal turning out to be the game-winner after the Canucks rallied from a 6-3 deficit.

''That was exciting, post-lockout hockey, wasn't it?'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock asked. ''Last shot wins.''

Not quite, but it was close. Cleary's goal at 6:08 of the third period put Detroit ahead by three, but Henrik Sedin made it a two-goal game at 8:20 and Alex Burrows inspired a few jitters among the crowd of 19,116 at Joe Louis Arena when he beat Chris Osgood at 18:35.

"Not much panic sets in among the players," Cleary said. "But when you're up 6-3, you've got to tighten up. We can let teams get back in and get a sniff of it."

Added Babcock: "It's a good thing they didn't get any more shots."

The Wings grabbed control of the game when Derek Meech broke a 3-3 tie by beating Curtis Sanford on a wraparound at 3:23 of the third period and Nicklas Lidstrom scored 50 seconds later. Lidstrom then set up Cleary's second goal of the night and fourth of the season less than two minutes later for what looked like a safe lead.

"We can't be happy about the way we started the third period," Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo said.

Cleary's goal ended Sanford's night as the Canucks cope with the absence of injured starter Roberto Luongo.

"It seems like they were coming at us in waves at the beginning of the third," Sanford said.

Vancouver's Taylor Pyatt opened the scoring 1:35 into the game, but the Wings got a pair of goals by Hudler to lead 2-1 after one period.

Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond scored in the first 4:13 of the second period to put the Canucks back in front before Cleary's first of the night, a tip-in at 9:34, evened the score again.

Panthers 2, Sabres 1 | Video

Craig Anderson is making it tough for Florida coach Peter DeBoer to put starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun back in the net. Anderson stopped 45 shots in his fourth consecutive start as the Panthers made second-period goals 35 seconds apart by Gregory Campbell and Keith Ballard stand up.

''It was just one of those nights where they were just throwing everything at the net," Anderson said after Florida's third consecutive victory. ''Our guys did a terrific job of cleaning up a lot of the rebounds that I was giving out.''

Buffalo lost for the eighth time in 10 games despite outshooting Florida 46-25. Ales Kotalik's goal with 8:41 left in regulation was the only shot to get past Anderson.

"He was great, especially when we needed him the most, and gave us the chance to win against a very good team," DeBoer said of Anderson. "That's the type of effort we need in the net every night."
"It was just one of those nights where they were just throwing everything at the net.  Our guys did a terrific job of cleaning up a lot of the rebounds that I was giving out.'" -- Craig Anderson

Campbell has a goal in each of the three wins.

"I just keep doing what I do," Campbell said. "I've said it time and time again: My job is not to go out there and score 50 goals, but to be responsible and bring the team energy. Players go through stretches that things go their way. I'm not complaining right now."

Campbell fired Michael Frolik's pass behind Ryan Miller at 15:42 of the second period to open the scoring, then came down on a 2-on-1 with Ballard, who beat Miller with a wrist shot.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wasn't happy with Miller's play on Campbell's goal, a shot on which the goaltender didn't get across the crease in time.

"You've got to get saves there. You've got to get some saves," Ruff said. "When we're pushing hard, you're going to need a big save. ... I thought it was an easy play for Ryan to read. I thought it was an easy play to get over. If we're going to gamble and get our defense that involved, that's the other side of it."

Predators 3, Avalanche 2 | Video

The Predators are at their best when they get off to a fast start and defenseman Shea Weber scores a goal. Sure enough, the Preds scored first, got a goal from Weber, led after one period — and won the game.

Vernon Fiddler, Weber and David Legwand had goals in a game that saw all the scoring take place in the first period. Ryan Smyth and Wojtek Wolski had goals for Colorado.

The Predators are 7-0-0 when leading after the first period and 10-2-0 when they score the first goal. They're 8-1-0 when Weber scores.

"Those are good stats and good omens for us," coach Barry Trotz said. "We have been behind in so many games 2-0 or 3-1, and it is hard to come back night in and night out. It is taxing on your team because you are pushing the envelope all the time.

"I hope we can keep those stats going. When you score first, especially at home, it gets the crowd into the game. It gives you a lot of good karma." Legwand broke a 2-2 tie when he closed out the first period by scoring with :00.3 left. He skated in low from the left side and flicked a wrist shot behind Budaj just before time expired.

"We pressed early and put a lot of pucks at the net," Legwand said. "It's always a positive when you can do that and get three goals. Any time we get three goals as a team we should win the game."

The Avalanche outshot the Predators 15-13 in the last two periods but couldn't get another shot past Pekka Rinne, who improved to 5-0.

"We played hard the last 40 minutes," Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. "We did everything we could to get back into it. But, obviously, it is a 60-minute game. A bad shift in the first period can be the difference in a game and it was for us."

Smyth said the last-second goal was a killer.

"We cannot play catch-up hockey," he said. "Obviously, that late-period goal was the difference. With .3 seconds on the clock or whatever it is, we have to get to the end of the period without them scoring again. We did not."

Coyotes 6, Maple Leafs 3 | Video

The suddenly hot Coyotes won for the fourth time in five games as Martin Hanzal had his first three-goal game in the NHL and Steven Reinprecht scored twice in the third period.

Hanzal, who scored twice in the first period and once in the second, put on a show for his parents who were visiting from the Czech Republic.

"It was great timing because they're leaving tomorrow," Hanzal said. "It was actually for them. It was amazing. I never scored two goals, and then I scored the hat trick."

The Coyotes finished 3-1 on a four-game homestand.

"There are so many ups and downs," coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It seems like just yesterday that for six games we couldn't buy a win."

Reinprecht broke a 3-3 tie with 14:39 remaining when a Derek Morris blast from the top of the right circle deflected off his leg and past Vesa Toskala. He scored again with 5:38 to go, beating Toskala on a rebound from inside the left circle.

"It was pretty basic," Reinprecht said. "One just hit me, the other one was a rebound and I was in the slot."

"It was great timing because they're leaving tomorrow.  It was actually for them. It was amazing. I never scored two goals, and then I scored the hat trick." -- Martin Hanzal on scoring his first hat trick in front of his parents


Todd Fedoruk added an insurance goal with 3:52 remaining.

"We didn't look like we had anything in the tank in the third period," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said after his team finished 1-2-0 on a three-in-four nights Western trip. "They got us on our heels and we never, ever got it going."

Hanzal and Toronto's Alex Ponikarovsky alternated goals in a first period that ended in a 2-2 tie.

Hanzal completed his hat trick 27 seconds into the second period. He skated down the right side on a 2-on-1 break and knocked in his own rebound after Toskala got his leg on Hanzal's first shot.

"I just picked up the rebounds," Hanzal said. "I got lucky on the first two goals and on the third, too."

Jason Blake tied it at 3-3 at 14:45 on yet another rebound, this one off a shot by Dominic Moore that bounced to the bottom of the right circle.

Phoenix's goaltending carousel took another turn when Gretzky lifted Mikael Tellqvist after the second period with the score tied 3-3. Ilya Bryzgalov, who has appeared to be on the verge of losing his starting job to the former Leaf, stopped all nine shots he faced in the third period and got the win. Tellqvist had allowed three shots on just nine shots.

"We're a team that needs all23 guys contributing at all different times," Gretzky said. "I felt Telly had got us to that point, Bryz had worked hard the last three games and we needed a pressure-cooker out of him in the third. I had the gut feel it was the right time to make the change. I did it more to push the team."

Sharks 3, Blue Jackets 2 | Video

Another night, another win for the Sharks, even if this one didn't follow the usual script. Instead of playing from in front, San Jose had to overcome an awful start and needed a superb performance from goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to beat the visiting Blue Jackets and remain unbeaten at home in regulation.

San Jose won its ninth in a row and improved to 22-3-1 for 45 points, the most ever by a team after 26 games. The Sharks are now 14-0-1 at HP Pavilion — the only team to get a point in every one of its home games — and extended their streak of not losing a home game in regulation to 24 (22-0-2).

But unlike Tuesday night's 5-2 win over Toronto, a game in which the Sharks led 4-0 after one period, San Jose was totally dominated in the opening 20 minutes.

"We were not there mentally, and certainly not there physically. When that combination shows up, it can be an ugly period," coach Todd McLellan said. "It was a sloppy night on our behalf. But give them credit; they made us sloppy. Nabby was there when we needed him."

Columbus outshot the Sharks 14-4, but was able to score only once, on a goal by Rick Nash at 16:38, giving the Sharks a chance to regroup.

"He played super," center Joe Thornton, who got the game-winner with 12:19 left in regulation, said of Nabokov, the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy last season. "I thought after the first period, it could have been 4-0 for them. He really saved our bacon.

"That's why he's a Vezina-caliber goalie. He can play games like that and steal two points."

Columbus hurt itself with penalties in the second period, and the Sharks finally took advantage when Patrick Marleau scored a power-play goal at 14:57. Jeremy Roenick put San Jose ahead for the first time when he beat rookie goalie Steve Mason from the slot 44 seconds into the third period for another power-play goal, but Fredrik Modin tied it when he grabbed a loose puck in the corner and beat defenseman Rob Blake before firing the puck past Nabokov.

Thornton, playing his 248th consecutive game since coming to San Jose in a trade three years ago, put San Jose ahead to stay when he batted the rebound of Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot out of the air and past Mason.

Despite outplaying the NHL's best team for much of the game, the Blue Jackets left the Shark Tank with nothing more than a moral victory.

"We can take a lot of good things from this game," forward Mark Methot said. "We can't be too negative about it. Considering that we were playing the best team in the NHL, I thought we put up a good fight."

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


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