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Raycroft stars in topping Wings

by Brian Hunter /
For a goaltender who had started just one game and made two appearances in the past six weeks, Andrew Raycroft drew a tough assignment Monday night: the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

But the Colorado Avalanche scored twice in the opening five minutes and Raycroft took it from there. He made 34 saves and Jordan Leopold scored the decisive goal on a penalty shot early in the third period in a 3-2 victory that ended the Wings' five-game home winning streak.

Raycroft, who beat Tampa Bay 16 days earlier in his only other start since Oct. 30, stopped 27 shots over the final two periods to win for the third time in four career decisions against Detroit, with a sub-2.00 goals-against average.

"You expect to battle hard, anyways. You don't ever really know what you're going to get, but I felt great out there," Raycroft said of getting back between the pipes. "We've been working real hard with Hack (goaltending coach Jeff Hackett), and it paid off tonight."

Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny had the other goals for the Avalanche, who began a four-game road trip by edging the team that swept them out of the Western Conference semifinals last season.

Tomas Holmstrom and Marian Hossa scored goals for the Wings to twice cut their deficit to one, but they couldn't manage to get a third puck behind Raycroft. Chris Osgood finished with 24 saves for Detroit.

''Normally we have a pretty professional group,'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. ''Right away we had a turnover and it ended up in our net, then they scored on a power play. I didn't think we played terrible tonight. We did a lot of good things, but if you spot any team two goals, it's going to be tough for you.''

Leopold, who had never taken a penalty shot in his career, found himself skating in alone on Osgood after Detroit defenseman Brett Lebda closed his hand on a loose puck in the crease during a scramble. Leopold scored with a fake and backhander under the crossbar at 1:51 to give Colorado a 3-1 lead.

''He was the guy we were comfortable that we could put in that situation,'' Avalanche coach Tony Granato said, citing Leopold's past success in team breakaway and shootout drills.

''I was thinking maybe shoot, because I'm a D-Man and keep it simple,'' Leopold said. ''But I was taking what he was giving.''

The Avalanche got off to the start they were looking for when Wolski beat Osgood just 67 seconds into the game. Johan Franzen turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Tyler Arnason fed Wolski for a breakaway and his seventh goal of the season.

Holmstrom was sent to the penalty box for hooking at 3:49 and Stastny capitalized 45 seconds later, scoring his seventh from the inside edge of the left circle.

Raycroft faced only seven shots in the opening period but was tested much more frequently after that. With the Wings already on a power play and a delayed penalty call allowing Osgood to be pulled for an extra skater, Holmstrom scored 9:10 into the second off a goal-mouth scramble.

Henrik Zetterberg's faceoff win set up Hossa's 16th of the season, scored from the left circle at 7:07 of the third.

''As the game goes on we begin to pick it up and we're a much better team,'' Hossa said.

Colorado moved about .500 with the win at 15-14-1, and also tied Minnesota and Phoenix for eighth in the West with 31 points.

"We've let it slip a little the last month," Raycroft said. "We've had some leads and didn't carry through, and tonight, it's nice to do that on the road. It gives us some confidence and an idea of

what we need to do on a nightly basis."

Sharks 3, Kings 2, SO | VIDEO
Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe played huge roles in a historic night for San Jose.
Marleau erased a 2-1 deficit with a shorthanded goal, while Clowe scored in regulation and again in the shootout as the Sharks set an NHL mark for the best record through the first 30 games of the season with a victory at Los Angeles.
The Sharks -- who trailed 2-0 midway through the first period -- improved to 25-3-2 with their 12th victory in 13 games and 19th in the past 22. They moved eight points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference, as the Wings dropped a 3-2 decision on home ice against Colorado.
"A lot of teams probably want to beat us," Clowe said. "They play hard, they aren't giving up a lot of shots for a reason and are playing a good game in their own end. It was a good division game."
Erik Ersberg started in goal for the Kings after posting back-to-back wins over St. Louis and Minnesota, but was forced out of the game at 6:54 of the second period due to a lower-body injury. He stopped 10 of 11 shots.
Jason LaBarbera inherited a 2-1 lead from Ersberg and Marleau got the equalizer on a breakaway at 15:43 of the period, just 10 seconds after Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle was sent off for slashing Dustin Brown. It was the only tally LaBarbera allowed in regulation on 14 shots.
"Your heart stops a little bit there, but you've just got to take a couple of deep breaths and try to get loosened up," LaBarbera said. "You have no choice. You've just got to go in there and do your best."
"We had a break with their starting goalie getting hurt, but I thought LaBarbera played pretty well for him coming in. Maybe that took some wind out the Kings' sails, but we were able to hang out and get a win which was good." -- Brian Boucher
The Kings jumped out to an early lead on goals from Matt Greene and Teddy Purcell. Greene broke a scoreless tie at 4:55 of the opening period, when he one-timed a feed from Patrick O'Sullivan that deflected off Lukas Kaspar and past Sharks goalie Brian Boucher.
Purcell put L.A. up by a pair with his first goal of the season just nine seconds after a power play expired. Purcell stole the puck from Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff in the corner and skated out in front before ripping a shot between Boucher's pads to make it 2-0.
"The Kings really took it to us in the first period," said Boucher, who finished with 26 saves and stopped another two in the shootout. "But we hung in there and we got a goal on the power play, chipped away, tied it up and it took more than 65 minutes to win tonight. We had a break with their starting goalie getting hurt, but I thought LaBarbera played pretty well for him coming in. Maybe that took some wind out the Kings' sails, but we were able to hang out and get a win which was good."
After recording 13 shots on goal in the first period, the Kings were held to 10 the rest of the way. San Jose cut it to 2-1 less than four minutes after Purcell's tally via the power play, as Clowe gained control of Boyle's rebound and stuffed it past Ersberg for his 13th goal of the season.
"Little disappointed to lose the two-goal lead," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "The play that ties the game up is just an unfortunate, bad bounce. That was a bad break. But we wanted the two points. We felt we played pretty good against them. It was a good opportunity for us."
The loss kept the Kings -- who went 0-for-5 on the power play -- winless against San Jose in three tries this season. Los Angeles will host the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

"There the best team in the League for a reason, and we stayed with them," LaBarbera said of the Sharks. "There's no reason why we can't be in the playoff hunt this year. We proved it tonight. We didn't get the two points, but we played well enough to win."

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

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