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Rookie Bozak sparks Leafs to 4-0 win over Flyers

by John Kreiser
It's been a tough season so far for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tyler Bozak gave the sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre some hope that there may be better times ahead. The rookie made his first NHL goal one for the highlight reels, sparking the Leafs to a revenge-filled 4-0 victory over the Flyers that ended a four-game losing streak.

The game was scoreless until Bozak brought the crowd to life alive with a spectacular goal at 8:44 of the second period. The 23-year-old inside-outed defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen before beating Michael Leighton high to the glove side to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

"What a goal," linemate Phil Kessel said. "Highlight of the night. It's got to be.

"That was pretty special, especially to have that for your first goal. It was something else."

Bozak earned an assist on Nikolai Kulemin's goal at 19:19, giving him four points in three NHL games. The Leafs signed the 23-year-old as an undrafted college free agent last April and are hoping he develops into a top forward.

Luke Schenn and Lee Stempniak scored in the third period, and Vesa Toskala stopped 38 shots for his first shutout since October 2008 in what was easily his best performance of the season.

"It's nice to win," said Toskala, whose struggles gave rookie Jonas Gustavsson the chance to grab the No. 1 job. "I've been playing well for a long time. I just feel really good on the ice."

The red-hot Flyers (23-20-3) lost for just the third time in 11 games. One of those eight wins came over the Leafs in Philadelphia last week -- a 6-2 win in which the Flyers totally outclassed Toronto.

This team looked nothing like the squad that played the Flyers a week ago.

"They're a tough team to play against," goalie Michael Leighton said. "They're either good or they're bad and I think they were good tonight."

The win came hours after GM Brian Burke gave coach Ron Wilson a vote of confidence during a news conference -- but also expressed frustration about the team's recent performance.

"We've lost our way," Burke said. "We've got to get back on track."

Bozak's play gave Wilson something to smile about after the game.

"You see how smart he is and he's quick," Wilson said. "His skill set matches up pretty well with Phil. And Kulemin is doing an unbelievable job hunting down pucks and banging, blocking shots, and doing a lot of the little detail work that doesn't get recognized."

With the Leafs starting a five-game trip Friday night in Washington, Bozak hopes he's bought himself a chance to stay with the team.

"I'm just trying to work as hard as I can and play to the best of my ability," he said. "Hopefully, they like it and I can stay here as long as I can. My goal's to be here for the rest of the year."

Sabres 2, Thrashers 1 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

Zach Bogosian's penalty in overtime opened the door for the Sabres, who got a power-play goal by Derek Roy at 2:27 of the extra period to win for the seventh time in eight games.

Bogosian was called for elbowing when he brought up his right arm before delivering against the boards on Patrick Kaleta, who had scored Buffalo's lone goal in regulation.

"Penalties played a big role," Kaleta said. "We finally got a power play that paid off for us."

Tim Connolly quarterbacked the 4-on-3 power play, sliding a pass from center point to Roy all alone at the top of the right circle. Roy one-timed a shot over Ondrej Pavelec's shoulder for his 11th goal of the season -- giving the Sabres a successful start to their seven-game road trip.

The Thrashers had to kill off the final 50 seconds of a holding penalty against Christoph Schubert to start overtime, then played less than a minute at even strength before Bogosian was sent off.

"It's tough when you're short-handed the first few minutes of overtime," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "They're going to get a few good scoring chances."

Kaleta opened the scoring 3 minutes into the second period, taking the carom of Toni Lydman's errant shot off the backboards and flipping a high shot into the net. Ilya Kovalchuk's power-play goal at 16:42 tied it, but that was the only one of Atlanta's 33 shots to beat Ryan Miller.

Red Wings 3, Hurricanes 1

Detroit returned home after a five-game trip and rebounded from a dreadful effort on Long Island two nights earlier, as Jimmy Howard made 37 saves and Drew Miller had a goal and an assist in a win over Carolina.

"We needed two points," said forward Henrik Zetterberg, whose goal with 5:20 left in regulation gave the Wings some insurance. "Especially when we gave away two points on Long Island. We had to come back and play good."

The 'Canes were the ideal opponent for the Wings to atone for their 6-0 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday: They've never won at Joe Louis Arena -- the franchise's last win in Detroit came on Nov. 14, 1989, when the then-Hartford Whalers won 3-0.

Tom Kostopoulos made it 2-1 when he scored 7:17 into the third period for Carolina, which had its three-game winning streak snapped. Cam Ward stopped 32 shots.

"We got within one but we weren't consistent enough," center Eric Staal said. "We didn't sustain anything long enough."

Lidstrom scored his first goal since Oct. 8 to give Detroit a 1-0 lead with 8:30 left in the first period. His power-play slap shot from the blue line broke 42-game goal-scoring drought, the second-longest of Lidstrom's career.

"It's nice to see one finally go in," Lidstrom said. "I've been taking a lot of shots, but they've missing the net, got blocked or the goalies have been saving them. I think it was more important that we got it on the power play. We needed some momentum on the power play."

Miller's power-play goal 1:34 into the second period made it 2-0. He put in a loose puck from the front of the net for his fifth goal. Miller, who isn't a regular on the power play, also assisted on Lidstrom's goal.

"Their power play scored a big goal for them and that can deflate you," Staal said.

Panthers 3, Lightning 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

One night after a third-period collapse, the Panthers beat the Lightning with a third-period rally. Cory Stillman and Rostislav Klesla scored 3:28 apart to rally the Panthers to only their second win in 17 games in which they trailed after two periods.

Stillman tied it at 2-1 at 8:53, and Olesz put the Panthers ahead when he beat Antero Niittymaki from the top of the left circle for an unassisted goal with 7:39 to play.

"A big, big victory for us, coming back," Stillman said.

Tomas Vokoun preserved the win by stopping Martin St. Louis' penalty shot with 4:55 left after St. Louis was hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway.

"It's a great feeling in that moment," Vokoun said. "It's a big momentum boost."

Nathan Horton scored 5:58 into the game for Florida, but goals by Jeff Halpern and Steve Downie three minutes apart put Tampa Bay ahead 2-1 after one period.

Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet wasn't happy with the performance of some of his players just two days after a 7-4 win over Southeast Division-leading Washington.

"I wish we had a little more inspired play by some guys," Tocchet said.

St. Louis had his 11-game points streak end. He was more upset with the loss.

"I'm disappointed with our thought process," St. Louis said. "Everybody is working hard. You've got to work smart, especially in a 2-1 game."

Canadiens 5, Stars 3

Georges Laraque scored his first goal as a Canadien with a heavy heart.

Laraque, who has family in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, scored his first goal on his first shot in 26 games this season as the Canadiens handed the Stars their ninth consecutive road loss. But as much as he enjoyed his first goal in 62 games since March 28, 2008, it wasn't what was at the top of his mind after the game.

"It's hard to focus and to think about hockey when your whole country, where your parents were born, is destroyed," said Laraque, who scored 2:51 into the second to tie it at 2. "Port-au-Prince is where my mother was born and having family down there and not knowing what's going on, it was super hard.

"To get a goal today -- which obviously I'm going to dedicate to all Haitians that have lost people and that are still looking for people -- for that to happen today to me is almost a miracle. To happen on this day it means so much."

Brian Gionta's second goal of his 500th NHL game broke a 3-3 tie 7:14 into the third period, and Michael Cammalleri added an insurance goal with 3:19 to play.

A moment of silence for Haiti earthquake victims was observed before the game. A message from Canadiens president Pierre Boivin followed on the video scoreboard. He noted that Laraque and Dallas defenseman Maxime Fortunus have family in Haiti as he invited Montreal fans to donate to UNICEF's relief effort.

Benoit Pouliot made it 3-2 at 6:44, but Mike Modano tied it at 14:55 with his 550th NHL goal.

"It's neat to do it here," Modano said. "There's certainly a lot of history here in Montreal and a lot of great things have happened here over the course of my career. There's an atmosphere like no other in the League, I think."

Blackhawks 3, Blue Jackets 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Cristobal Huet and the Blackhawks both ended their brief slumps as Chicago blanked Columbus at the United Center to start a home-and-home series.

Huet, who surrendered four third-period goals in Saturday's 6-5 shootout loss at Minnesota, stopped all 24 shots he faced for his 24th career shutout. The Hawks ended a brief two-game slide.

"You always want to bounce back," Huet said.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was pleased with the way Huet rebounded from Saturday's loss, in which Chicago blew a 5-1 lead in the final 14 minutes of regulation.

"He was sharp, looked like he was in charge," Quenneville said. "He really challenged well and his rebound control was in order. He had a couple of key saves."

Chicago got goals by Brian Campbell, Dustin Byfuglien and Duncan Keith to win its final game before heading out on an eight-game road trip.

"It's something we talked about before the game," Huet said. "We wanted to get something positive before going on the road. … You want to step up when you don't play well or lose a couple of games."

Campbell scored 61 seconds into the game, Byfuglien made it 2-0 at 16:40 of the second and Keith added an insurance goal 6:32 into the third.

"They were coming really strong," Jackets goalie Mathieu Garon said. "It seems from my part like every shot was a good scoring chance and they didn't waste too many. All the shots they took, they could have scored. … With the 1-0 lead they didn't seem that comfortable, but as soon as they got the second goal, they had more confidence."

Blues 1, Wild 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Maybe the Blues are finally starting to figure out the whole "win at home" deal. T.J. Oshie's goal 26 seconds into the third period was all the offense Chris Mason needed as the Blues won consecutive games in regulation at Scottrade Center for the first time this season.

Oshie, a high school star in Minnesota, beat Josh Harding with a wrist shot from the right circle for his ninth of the season.

"I was just trying to put it on net and it went in," said Oshie, who ended a 10-game goal drought when he scored Tuesday against Columbus. "We shot often and early. We kept going and eventually it's going to do in."

Mason stopped 19 shots for his first shutout of the season and his first since April 12, 2009. His biggest stop came when he denied Eric Belanger from close range midway through the third period. Mason also got plenty of help from his teammates, who blocked 13 shots.

"A shutout, it goes on my stats, but it's definitely a team statistic in my opinion," he said. "The guys did a great job. I wouldn't have gotten this without the great play of our team."

St. Louis improved to 8-14-3 at home -- still last in the League with 19 points. But Oshie feels the back-to-back home triumphs are a sign of better times.

"It was good to get a couple for the fans," he said. "It's a good feeling in the locker room, getting a couple wins and stringing a couple together."

Minnesota, which beat Vancouver 5-2 at home on Wednesday, fell to 5-5-0 on the back end of back-to-back games.

"We battled, we competed," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "I think we helped their cause a little bit -- too many turnovers."

Kings 4, Ducks 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

The Kings snapped a three-game losing streak and cooled off the surging Ducks in the Freeway Faceoff as Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots for his first shutout of the season -- and only the second by the Kings against the Ducks since Anaheim entered the NHL in 1993.

Los Angeles had lost three in a row and seven of 10, while the Ducks came to Staples Center with five consecutive wins, but the Kings took control with three goals in the second period to stay in eighth place in the West with 55 points, one more than Detroit. The 12th-place Ducks fell six points behind L.A.

"Defensively, everybody did a good job, especially in the third period," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "I thought we shut it down pretty well. When Quick had to give us something, he looked very sharp tonight. We have to stay with the checking game."

Michal Handzus put the Kings in front by deflecting Jack Johnson's point shot past Jonas Hiller at 17:56 of the opening period. Scott Parse doubled the lead at 6:02 of the second on another deflection -- he got a piece of Rob Scuderi's shot and the puck hit a defenseman and went into the net.

Dustin Brown converted a pass from Alexander Frolov for a 3-0 lead at 12:43, sending Hiller to the bench after he allowed three goals on 13 shots.

"Those are the kinds of goals that you do have to score to be a team that’s going to get through things," Murray said. "You can’t look at just hoping that one is going to deflect off a shin pad by shooting from the perimeter. Those were hard-earned and hard worked-for goals.”

Wayne Simmonds was credited with the Kings' fourth goal. With 2.8 seconds remaining in the period, the officials ruled that Giguere didn't cover the puck until it had slipped over the goal line.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was unhappy with the video review that allowed the goal, but said it didn't make the difference in the game.

"At that point, it was just the icing on the cake," he said. "It was 3-0, and that made it 4-0. We didn't execute to the level that's required."

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

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