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Penguins top Bruins in shootout

by John Kreiser
Pittsburgh's Ty Conklin is congratulated by teammates after the Penguins beat the Boston Bruins 5-4 in a shootout.
Sidney Crosby had an NHL first on Thursday night — his first Gordie Howe hat trick. Thanks to Eric Christensen and Kris Letang, he and the Pittsburgh Penguins also left the TD Banknorth Garden with two points.

Christensen and Letang beat Tim Thomas in the shootout as the Penguins left Boston with a 5-4 victory after blowing a 4-0 lead.

Crosby had a goal and two assists in Pittsburgh’s three-goal first period, then took the first fighting major of his NHL career when he scrapped with Boston defenseman Andrew Ference at 5:09 of the second.

"I don't know if it was during the whistle or during the play, but I just remember him punching me and his glove came off," Crosby said.

Crosby had been limited to three points in his last six games, but needed less than a period to match that total. The reigning MVP helped set up Evgeni Malkin's first of the game 55 seconds in ( 700K ), scored his 16th of the season at 8:26 ( 700K ), and then assisted on Malkin's 13th as Pittsburgh jumped to a 3-0 lead ( 700K ).

Christensen’s goal at 11:26 of the second made it 4-0 ( 700K ), and it looked like the Penguins were going to cruise. But Marco Sturm’s power-play goal at 16:04 ( 700K ) and P.J. Axelsson’s shorthanded tally at 17:38 ( 700K ) gave the Bruins some life.

“I thought we were heading for an embarrassing defeat until we picked it up in the second period,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “You have to give the guys credit for bouncing back and earning a point.”

The Penguins still led 4-2 with less than seven minutes to play, but Petteri Nokelainen ( 700K ) and Dennis Wideman scored to force overtime. Wideman tied the game with 2:55 left in regulation when he whipped a wrist shot from the slot past Ty Conklin ( 700K ), who was under siege for much of the third period, when Boston outshot Pittsburgh 17-4.

After a scoreless overtime, Christensen ( 700K ) and Letang both beat Thomas, while Conklin stopped Phil Kessel and Sturm for the win.

Pens coach Michel Therrien was happy with the outcome, despite seeing his team lose a four-goal lead.

“We were here to get two points and we got the two points," he said.

Blues 3, Red Wings 2
Playing the hottest team in the NHL isn’t usually the best way to end a four-game winning streak. But St. Louis got 34 saves from Manny Legace and third-period power-play goals by Keith Tkachuk and Lee Stempniak to snap their own slide and end the Wings’ 12-game points streak.

“That's the best team in the league," said Legace, a former Wing. "They're the most talented, and their work ethic is second to none. That's where you got to set your standards. I thought we had a full solid 60 minutes all the way through."

The Blues took a 1-0 lead when Andy McDonald's centering pass from the right wing deflected off Brad Boyes' skate and past Chris Osgood 7:11 into the game.

Valtteri Filppula tied the game 10:35 into the second and Detroit went ahead 30 seconds later when Mikael Samuelsson scored on a breakaway. Henrik Zetterberg picked up an assist on Filppula's goal, giving him 50 points (25 goals, 25 assists) for the season. Zetterberg has nine points in five games.

"I should have had them," Legace said of the Wings’ goals. "I should have had them both. It may not have looked like it, but it felt that way.”

Tkachuk tipped in Paul Kariya’s point shot at 4:22, with Niklas Kronwall in the penalty box. With 5:58 remaining and Andres Lilja in the box, Stempniak skated in from the left boards and beat Chris Osgood with a wrist shot.

Osgood, now 15-2-1, hadn't lost since dropping a 3-2 decision at Chicago on Nov. 11. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock thought his team played well enough to get Osgood another win.

"We competed hard," Babcock said. "We had a good run where we won a lot of games, and now we have to start another streak."

Thrashers 3, Senators 2 | Video
If the Thrashers are going to make the playoffs, they’ll need the kind of performance they got from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 14 of his 28 saves in the third period as Atlanta snapped visiting Ottawa’s six-game winning streak.

After Todd White broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal 47 seconds into the final period, Lehtonen was perfect the rest of the way.

Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 28th goal of the season in the Thrashers' 3-2 win over the Seantors.

"This was the game that I needed to come up big at the end when the game was on the line. That helps me," said Lehtonen, who lost his first four starts when Atlanta went 0-6 to start the season and has been up and down while going 4-2-0 since returning after missing 16 games with a groin injury.

"The third period (Lehtonen) was outstanding," coach Don Waddell said. "He made some point-blank saves."

White's winner came from in close during a power play ( 700K ). He beat Martin Gerber, who made 42 saves, as the Thrashers tied a franchise record with 45 shots.

"I was hoping (his goal would stand up). They're a tough team to hold to two goals," White said after the Thrashers’ first win over Ottawa in four tries this season. "We had a lot of energy. We shot the puck a lot more. That put pressure on them."

Although Atlanta outshot Ottawa 21-7 in the first period, the Senators’ Jason Spezza got the only goal, at 5:43 ( 700K ). Eric Boulton finally beat Gerber 7:14 into the second period ( 700K ), but Daniel Alfredsson put Ottawa ahead again at the 17-minute mark with his 20th of the season ( 700K ).

Atlanta pulled even again just 46 seconds later when Ilya Kovalchuk scored his seventh goal in four games against the Senators this season ( 700K ).

“It wasn't a great effort for us," Ottawa center Chris Kelly said. "I think the score might have been a lot worse if not for Gerber. He kept us in the game.”

Lightning 2, Maple Leafs 1 | Video
Toronto is not having much fun on its trip through the Southeast. Two nights after blowing a 2-0 lead in the final 1:25 of regulation and losing in overtime at Carolina, the Leafs dominated Tampa Bay only to lose on Vincent Lecavalier’s goal with 41.6 seconds left ( 700K ).

Lecavalier set up in the lower right circle and whipped Martin St. Louis’ cross-ice pass behind Vesa Toskala to hand the Leafs their third straight loss and end Tampa Bay’s three-game losing streak.

“Just to get a win, it definitely feels good," Lecavalier said.

Toronto coach Paul Maurice saw his team come up empty despite outshooting Tampa Bay 32-21 and limiting the Lightning to 10 shots in the final two periods.

"We are playing well enough do better, but at the end of the day it's not happening for us," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "Our goaltending has been real good. It's just tight when you're not scoring."

The reason the Leafs weren’t scoring was rookie Karri Ramo, who made 31 saves in his first NHL start.

"He obviously gave us a chance to win," Tampa Bay assistant coach Mike Sullivan said. "I thought he made key big saves at some critical times. To have success in this league, you have to get timely saves, and I thought he did that for us."

Both goaltenders were perfect until 16:36 of the second period, when Matt Stajan’s shot from the left boards hit defenseman Doug Janik’s skate and went behind Ramo ( 700K ). But on the return rush after Ramo stopped Mark Bell, Jason Ward tied it for Tampa Bay when he fired Lecavalier’s pass behind Toskala ( 700K ).

"He made some good saves when we needed it," Ward said of Ramo. "I think we played well defensively as a unit to help him out. We needed a win, and no matter how we got it, it didn't matter.”

Panthers 5, Hurricanes 4 | Video
Brett McLean’s return from a broken right hand has given Florida a lift. McLean scored his second goal in three games, a game-winning wraparound with 6:54 left in regulation ( 700K ), as the Panthers improved to 17-16-1, the first time this season they’ve been above .500.

Florida's Richard Zednick and Brett McLean celebrate what turned out to be the game winning goal against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It just feels good to contribute," said McLean, who missed 15 games. "It's hard when you're out. You feel out of touch. It's nice to get back here and pitch in."

Carolina led 3-1 after one period, but Olli Jokinen scored a goal ( 700K ) and set up one by Jozef Stumpel to pull the Panthers even after two periods ( 700K ). Stephen Weiss put the Panthers ahead 4:10 into the third period ( 700K ), only to see Carolina’s Ray Whitney fire a one-timer past Tomas Vokoun 29 seconds later ( 700K ).

“It was a big win," Jokinen said. "The way we played in the first period was embarrassing. We had a little bit of luck there in the third and got two points."

Andrew Ladd ( 700K ), Eric Cole ( 700K ) and Cory Stillman ( 700K ) scored in less than 10 minutes to give the Hurricanes their first-period lead after Radek Dvorak had opened the scoring for Florida at 5:01( 700K ).

"We let one slip away tonight, especially after being up 3-1 in the first," Stillman said. "They worked hard for 60 minutes and that was the difference."

The Panthers won their third straight game and fourth in their last five, moving them just three points behind the first-place Hurricanes in the Southeast Division.

"We're a confident group right now," Jokinen said. "There's no reason to stop now."

Canadiens 5, Capitals 2 | Video
Cristobal Huet didn’t miss a beat. In his first game since Dec. 1, Huet stopped 35 shots as Montreal opened its six-game road trip with a victory.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau was surprised that Huet was as sharp as he was after missing six games with a groin pull.

"I was anticipating he was going to get tired at the end of the game, but he didn't," Carbonneau said. "His focus was really good. He was around the puck. He made the difference."

The Caps outshot Montreal 37-21 and generated far more chances, but were denied repeatedly by Huet.

"They outplayed us. They were better than us." Carbonneau said. "We were lucky to get the points. We got a few goals here and there, but we worked for our goals."

Two of those goals came from Guilliaume Latendresse ( 700K ), whom Carbonneau benched on Tuesday in Montreal's 3-2 loss to Florida. The benching apparently had the desired effect.

"Nobody is happy when they're sat out for a game," Latendresse said. "My mind-set was in the right place."

Latendresse opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 18:15 of the first period ( 700K ), and Tomas Plekanec made it 2-0 by firing Alex Kovalev’s pass behind Olaf Kolzig at 6:33 of the second ( 700K ). Nicklas Backstrom finally beat Huet at 9:10 ( 700K ), knocking Alex Ovechkin’s power-play rebound into the net, but Latendresse scored again late in the period to restore Montreal’s two-goal lead ( 700K ). Sergei Kostitsyn’s first NHL goal ( 700K ) and a late tally by Mark Streit ( 700K ) more than offset Alexander Semin’s goal midway through the third period ( 700K ).

"We lost, so what can I say? They played well on the power play and we made some mistakes and missed a couple of goals, and that was it," Ovechkin said.

Canucks 3, Stars 2 | Video
It was an off-night for Roberto Luongo — kind of: He allowed two goals at home, where he’s been almost impregnable for the last seven weeks. But Daniel Sedin scored twice in the third period as the surging Canucks held off Dallas.
Vancouve 's Roberto Luongo keept his eye on the puck against the Dallas Stars.

Luongo stopped 32 shots to improve to 8-0-2 in his last 10 home games, a span in which he’s allowed just seven goals.

“They play the same style as us,” Dallas forward Mike Modano said. “Their defense is really good at clearing the second and third opportunities, and Roberto is a great first-shot goalie.”

It was the first meeting between the teams since the Canucks won a seven-game series in the first round of last spring’s playoffs. Not much had changed: The emphasis was on tight checking and defense — at least until the clubs traded goals and chances in the third period.

“There wasn’t a lot of it,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of the scarcity of open ice. “Like usual between these two teams, it was a hard-fought game. The team that scores first usually wins, and that was us tonight.”

Rookie Mason Raymond opened the scoring eight minutes into the second period, taking the puck from the blue line down and around the net before coming out on the other side. He snapped a sharp-angle shot that appeared to go in off Marty Turco's blocker.

The Canucks doubled the lead 3:07 into the third after Markus Naslund's shot bounced off legs in front and straight to Sedin with Turco stranded. He scored into an empty net.

Jussi Jokinen closed the gap three minutes later into another empty net after Niklas Hagman stripped Luongo of the puck as he tried to play it behind the net.

Sedin restored the two-goal lead at 9:55 on a rebound during a 5-on-3 power play, and the Canucks appeared to go up 4-1 when Jason Jaffrey beat Turco less than a minute later. But that goal was waved off because Taylor Pyatt interfered with defenseman Sergei Zubov on the play, and Antti Miettinen scored at 12:16, during the resulting power play.

Luongo preserved the win with stops against Mike Modano and then again in the final minute during frantic action around the Vancouver net while he was without his stick.

“He made some good saves at the right time,” defenseman Willie Mitchell said. “That’s what he does for us.”

Coyotes 3, Sharks 2, SO
Phoenix finally got a puck past Evgeni Nabokov, then went on to end an eight-game losing streak to San Jose as Shane Doan scored a game-tying shorthanded goal with 41.5 seconds left in regulation time and Peter Mueller got the only goal in the shootout.

The game was scoreless when Phoenix’s Mike York scored 33 seconds into the third period, ending Nabokov’s shutout streak against the Coyotes at 271 minutes, 20 seconds — a span that included three shutouts. It was the longest scoreless stretch for one goalie against an opponent since Buffalo's Dominik Hasek blanked the New York Rangers for 281:57 between Nov. 28, 1997, and Nov. 25, 1998.

''It was good to break that thing and for us to know we could score on that goalie,'' Mueller said.

The Coyotes’ lead didn’t last long. Torrey Mitchell tied the game at 2:14 and Jeremy Roenick out the Sharks ahead when he scored during a 5-on-3 power play at 7:59.

It looked like the Coyotes’ three-game winning streak was over when Keith Ballard was called for cross-checking with 51 seconds left. But Doan tied it 10 seconds later with a shot from just inside the blue line, leaving Sharks coach Ron Wilson furious.

''We've got some guys who should be ashamed at the way they played,'' Wilson said. ''There were four or five guys we count on and they weren't ready to play. On a power play we gave up the puck on a faceoff and that's embarrassing.''

After a scoreless overtime, San Jose’s Joe Pavelski hit the post before Mueller scored on the Coyotes’ first attempt in the shootout. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped the last two attempts by the Sharks, giving Phoenix a 5-1 record on its six-game road trip.

''Start on the West Coast, come back to the West Coast and to play against a team as good as their team is, with as much talent, depth, size and speed as they have,'' Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. ''I was just so proud of how hard my guys played tonight. They played with a lot of heart and character.''

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

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