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Roundup: Avs continue surge with 4-3 shootout win

by John Kreiser and Brian Hunter
With each passing game and each impressive win on their long road trip, the Colorado Avalanche put a little more distance between this season's team and the one that finished 2008-09 at the bottom of the Western Conference.

The Avalanche rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the third period to force overtime, then beat the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout with Milan Hejduk's goal proving decisive in a 4-3 win Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Cody McLeod scored twice in the third period and first-round draft pick Matt Duchene notched his first NHL goal as Colorado improved to 6-1-1, the best mark in the West. Rick O'Reilly, an 18-year-old rookie like Duchene, drew the primary assist on both of McLeod's goals.

"We did a lot of good things in the third period," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said.

The Avalanche are 4-1-1 on a seven-game road trip that concludes in Minnesota on Wednesday. In the past six days, they've notched beaten Original Six teams Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Detroit.

Justin Williams beat Craig Anderson to give the Red Wings the early edge in the shootout, but Marek Svatos quickly evened it up by beating Chris Osgood. Anderson then denied Henrik Zetterberg and Ville Leino, with Hejduk scoring in between to deliver the victory.

Anderson, making his eighth consecutive start to begin the season, finished with 28 saves.

"I think resiliency was the key thing for us," Anderson said.

Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Red Wings, who got 26 saves from Osgood.

"It's disappointing having a 2-0 lead and 3-2 toward the end of the game," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We played a solid game. We had some breakdowns, especially on a couple of goals.

"Disappointing to lose the way we did."

Osgood faced just 13 shots over the first two periods and had a shutout working into the third when Colorado peppered him with another 13 shots and got back in the game. McLeod's wrist shot from the edge of the right circle at 9:06 made it 2-1, then Duchene scored from the top of the right circle with 8:15 left to tie the score.

Filppula temporarily put Detroit back in front with 6:33 remaining, but McLeod answered again, taking an O'Reilly feed and beating Osgood from the bottom of the left circle with 2:32 to play.

"It was just kind of an open net," McLeod said. "O'Reilly made a great pass to me."

Abdelkader, who scored a pair of goals in the Stanley Cup Final last season, picked up his first regular-season NHL goal 3:25 into the first when he converted a Darren Helm rebound. Bertuzzi gave the Wings a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal 1:14 into the second, as he poked Zetterberg's pass from just outside the crease past Anderson.

Blue Jackets 4, Kings 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Building on the first playoff berth in franchise history, Columbus is off to the best start in its nine NHL seasons after using a pair of special-teams goals to defeat Los Angeles.

Raffi Torres connected on the power play late in the second period and Rick Nash added insurance with a shorthanded goal in the third to lead the Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Jason Chimera also beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and Jakub Voracek scored into an empty net in the final minutes.

"Timing is everything," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Torres' goal gave us a lift on the power play. Nash's goal gave us some breathing room to play with. A lot of our scoring chances were in the first period. We had some chances we didn't take advantage of and sometimes that can come back to bite you. We needed our goalie tonight and he was big."

Steve Mason finished with 27 saves, allowing only a first-period goal by Dustin Brown that gave Los Angeles the early lead.

"These guys are coming in and putting a big effort up and they make my job easier," Mason said.

Quick stopped 20 shots for the Kings, who after starting the season 4-1-0 have now lost three in a row.

"I'm not very happy about the game -- not very happy," said Los Angeles coach Terry Murray, who was particularly upset with how the Jackets got their first goal. "We need to check better and make better decisions with the puck."

Chimera's goal came in the final minute of the first period and kept the Kings from taking a lead into the intermission. He skated down left wing with Nash in a 2-on-2 and snapped a hard shot from the faceoff dot that eluded Quick with 47 seconds remaining.

"I was telling the guys that I should go to the NHL and see if I can get a patent on that shot and make some money off it," said Chimera, who scored earlier this season on an almost identical play.

Torres gave Columbus the lead for good just as a penalty to Raitis Ivanans was about to expire when he slipped a backhander between Quick's pads.

"I fanned on it. I was going upstairs," Torres said. "The puck was kind of rolling a little bit so I just wanted to make sure I put whatever I could on it. The puck just popped out to me and I backhanded it."

Fedor Tyutin was in the box for the Jackets early in the third when Sammy Pahlsson chipped the puck out of the defensive zone and Nash went the other way with it, putting a backhander past Quick from between the circles.

Voracek's first goal of the season came on a power play with 1:11 remaining. The Kings pulled Quick to create to a 5-on-5 situation with defenseman Drew Doughty in the box.

Thrashers 4, Sabres 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Atlanta has played just five games this season, but the Thrashers can claim their best start in franchise history after doubling up Buffalo at HSBC Arena to run their record to 4-1-0.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice and Johan Hedberg stopped 40 shots in his first start of the season to complete a sweep of back-to-back road games against the Devils and Sabres.

"Last year we started out awfully and we were out of it at Christmas time," said Hedberg, who assisted on a goal by Maxim Afinogenov. "We learned from that, and we're trying to get as many points as we can early on here because we want to stay in this race."

Todd White's power-play goal in the second period put the Thrashers ahead 3-1 and turned out to be the game-winner.

"I always expect to win," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "I want to convey that to every guy on our team."

Goals by Clarke MacArthur and Drew Stafford weren't enough to prevent the Sabres from losing in regulation for the first time this season.

"It was hard always coming back," Stafford said. "We'd make a charge but then we'd let them get one right away."

Kovalchuk got the Thrashers off to a fast start by scoring his sixth and seventh goals of the season for a 2-0 first-period lead. His power-play wrister from the high slot found the upper right corner past Patrick Lalime at 6:47 and he stuck again at 9:48 when he one-timed Bryan Little's pass from the slot.

"If you're going to hand their best player those types of opportunities, you're going to fail," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said.

MacArthur got one back for the Sabres 6:56 into the second on a slapper from the left circle that handcuffed Hedberg, but White restored the Thrashers' two-goal advantage 57 seconds later on another man advantage.

Stafford cut it to 3-2 with a power-play goal of his own with 3:34 remaining, but Hedberg started a play off the ensuing faceoff that resulted in Afinogenov's goal 17 seconds later to ice the win.

"We have a good team," said Afinogenov, who signed with Atlanta after nine seasons with the Sabres. "Our goalies are playing unbelievable for us and that helps make our leads safe."

Penguins 4, Lightning 1 |

Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves to remain unbeaten and Pittsburgh kept pace with the New York Rangers for the best record in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Sergei Gonchar had a goal and an assist while Bill Guerin, Pascal Dupuis and Mike Rupp all scored for the Penguins, who have started their defense of the Stanley Cup with a 7-1-0 record. It's the second-best start in franchise history -- the Penguins began with seven victories and a tie, good for 15 points, in 1995-96.

''Marc-Andre's been our best player every night, but we're all out there frustrating the other team,'' said defenseman Jay McKee, who had seven of Pittsburgh's 19 blocked shots. ''There are a lot of things clicking for us right now, especially defensively.''

Steven Stamkos scored a power-play goal for Tampa Bay, which has lost its last three.

''This is a tough team to play,'' Martin St. Louis said of the Penguins. ''They won the Cup last year, and you've got to be really sharp against that team and we weren't as sharp as we can be and, obviously, the penalties hurt.''

Guerin had an empty net to drill the rebound of an Evgeni Malkin shot into for a power-play goal 4:57 into the first, opening the scoring. Gonchar made it 2-0 with 2:50 left in the period when he unloaded a shot from the point that got past Lightning goalie Antero Niittymaki.

Stamkos gave Tampa short-lived hope of a rally by swatting the rebound of St. Louis' shot out of the air and past Fleury at 6:18 of the second, but Dupuis came right back 1:57 later and deflected Gonchar's wrist shot over Niittymaki for a 3-1 lead.

''Sarge is the master of the shot from the blue line, and that's why he's one of the best defensemen in the league every year,'' Dupuis said. ''He looks over the net and waits for just the right time to let it go.''

Rupp closed the scoring with his second goal in as many games, taking Sidney Crosby's whirling pass from behind the net and making it 4-1 with 8:39 left in the third.

''We have high expectations here, and we have a lot of confidence as a team,'' Crosby said. ''When you have those things, you don't need to be perfect or to do everything exactly right. You just find ways to win.''

Stars 4, Blackhawks 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

A fortuitous bounce helped Dallas put an end to Chicago's four-game winning streak and escape the United Center with two points.

Defenseman Stephane Robidas scored midway through the third period when his dump-in took a funny bounce and skipped past goalie Cristobal Huet. That gave the Stars a 4-2 lead with 9:33 remaining, and they withstood a goal by Niklas Hjalmarsson with 4:28 left for the victory.

"It was no sense in trying to do something stupid, so I just tried to rim it and get it to the far side where our guys were coming," Robidas said.

"It hit something in the boards and goes bouncing with a couple of weird ones," he added. "I didn't do anything special."

"I know if go on my post, I have a chance to hit the puck," Huet said. "It just took another funny bounce right before it came to me. … I can blame only myself."

Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Toby Peterson all scored in the second period as the Stars opened up a 3-1 lead. Backup goalie Alex Auld won for the second time in as many starts, stopping 29 shots.

"Alex was our best player," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said.

Troy Brouwer and Jonathan Toews had the other goals for the Blackhawks. Huet made 21 saves and drew some boos from the crowd after he let Peterson's long-distance slap shot from the right boards go in under his left pad.

"I think he'd like to do better and we're looking at him to improve, as well," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's still early in the year."

Following a scoreless first period, the teams traded blows via the scoreboard in the second. Morrow scored off his own rebound at 2:17 and Ribeiro deflected Matt Niskanen's drive past Huet at 5:10 to give Dallas its first of three two-goal leads on the night.

Brouwer answered 34 seconds later for the Blackhawks, but Peterson got that one back for the Stars at 9:31. Toews made it 3-2 with 3:36 left in the second, scoring into an empty net after Auld fell down behind the net while battling Patrick Sharp for the puck.

Coyotes 4, Bruins 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Don't look now, but Phoenix might be for real.

The Coyotes improved to 5-2-0 and won their third in a row behind a 22-save performance by Ilya Bryzgalov, who has allowed just four goals in his last five starts and has a 1.15 goals-against average.

"A lot of real solid work by our guys to stay with the game," coach Dave Tippett said. "You don't want to give them any light, don't give them anything to grab ahold of.
"I thought our guys did a great job, protected the puck well. The breakouts were pretty clean, and we didn't give them very many chances at all, so that's the way we want to play."

They're playing Tippett's style to near perfection -- Phoenix has allowed just 10 goals (one into an empty net) in seven games. The Coyotes, who won three straight only twice last season, haven't allowed more than two goals in a game since a season-opening 6-3 win in Los Angeles on Oct. 3.

"Overall, our group has played very well," Tippett said. "Give them a ton of credit. They're competing hard, a group very unified, and they want to do well.

"We're setting the pace of the game. Just because they get one doesn't mean you stop trying to dictate the game, and I thought our guys did a very good job of that."

The Coyotes have won back-to-back games at home, where they're trying to rebuild their fan base after the franchise was nearly sold this summer.

"It's huge for us," said captain Shane Doan, who had three assists. "We've got to get above .500 and keep climbing, make sure we keep going."

Ed Jovanovski converted Doan's feed for a power-play goal 4:40 into the game, and Adrian Aucoin beat Tim Thomas through the pads at 6:33 of the second for a 2-0 lead.

David Krejci scored a power-play goal for Boston, cutting Phoenix's lead in half at 9:55 of the second period. But Keith Yandle answered with the Coyotes' second power-play goal at 15:10, and Scottie Upshall beat Thomas from the left circle 44 seconds later.

"The second period really killed us," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I thought this team was going to be a real good team, and they’ve been playing well. In the second period, mistakes were made -- we turned the puck over. That fourth goal really killed us, and in the third period, we had nothing left."

Thomas shut out the Stars in Dallas on Friday, but allowed three goals on just 11 second-period shots by the Coyotes in Boston's first visit to Phoenix since 2007.

Canucks 2, Wild 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Vancouver rebounded from a bad night in Calgary and sent the Wild home 0-for-5 on their road trip when Mikael Samuelsson scored the tie-breaking goal early in the third period.

The Canucks trailed 5-0 after two periods of Friday's 5-3 loss at Calgary. But they dominated the Wild all night long, outshooting Minnesota 39-18.

"It was by far our best game of the year," said goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was pulled after two periods in Calgary but rebounded with a solid effort. "We set the tempo right off the hop, and we sustained it for 60 minutes."

Still, the game was tied 1-1 when Alex Burrows tried to jam the puck past Niklas Backstrom near the left post. It popped out to the other side, where Samuelsson gathered in the loose puck and went backhand to forehand before beating the sprawling goaltender just as James Sheppard's penalty expired. It was his third goal in four games.

The Wild fell to 1-6-0 overall despite 37 saves by Backstrom.

"Our goalie was great tonight," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "This is the kind of game you need from your goalie when you're struggling, and he gave it to us. We didn't give him enough help."

Minnesota needed nearly nine minutes to get a shot on Roberto Luongo, but got the game's first goal at 10:30 when Mikko Koivu's pass hit Kyle Wellwood's skate and deflected into the net. It was only the second time in seven games this season that the Wild scored the first goal.

Vancouver tied it 4:23 into the second period. Kesler took a pass from the point from defenseman Kevin Bieksa below the goal line and jammed the puck into the net off a stickless Backstrom.

"He made a good play on that; he saw me without the stick," Backstrom said.

That was the only goal by Vancouver through two periods, although the Canucks outshot Minnesota 27-8 in the first 40 minutes.

"There were lots of guys skating well," Luongo said. "It was fun to watch."

Said Richards: "Only eight shots -- that's not nearly enough.

The Wild head home to play Colorado on Wednesday after losing three times in California and back-to-back games in Edmonton and Calgary. They are 0-6-0 away from the Xcel Energy Center.

"Obviously we haven't had any success here, on the road," Richards said. "Hopefully going home will be a lot better."

Blues 5, Ducks 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Ty Conklin stopped all 26 shots he faced for his 11th career shutout and first with St. Louis, which blasted Anaheim at the Honda Center for its biggest road shutout win in nearly a decade.

Andy McDonald had him with two goals and an assist, and Patrik Berglund and Carlo Colaiacovo scored power-play goals that helped silence the Honda Center crowd. T.J. Oshie also scored as the Blues snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the first time in North America this season.

It was the Blues' biggest margin in a road shutout since a 6-0 win at Phoenix on Dec. 21, 1999.

"After we got going there and got up, the building got pretty quiet and it is a good feeling," McDonald said. "Certainly for us, we haven't played all that great the last few games, and it was nice to come out and have a great team effort. I thought we played pretty well up and down our lineup. Conks had a great night."

In his second start of the season, the veteran Conklin was flawless. He set career highs last season with Detroit of 40 games, 25 wins and six shutouts before signing with St. Louis to back up Chris Mason. His teammates gave him plenty of support on Saturday.

"You score five goals, you better win the game -- especially on the road," Conklin said. "We played, especially the last two periods, were fantastic."

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots. Jean-Sebastien Giguere finished up with 21 saves.

"It’s probably a combination of it not going well and then guys maybe try to do too much," defenseman Scott Niedermayer said of Anaheim's poor effort. "We just need to go out there with energy, work hard and good things will happen. There is enough skill and talent that we can put on it, but you have to be willing to work and commit to doing the little things."

Coming off a playoff berth last season, the Blues opened in Stockholm with high expectations and swept the rival Red Wings in a two-game series. Their bubble burst when they returned home, however, and lost consecutive games at home before falling in overtime to Phoenix on Thursday.

Berglund got them started on the right foot by putting home an Oshie rebound at 4:25 for a 1-0 lead. Colaiacovo doubled the lead on a wrister from the point 2:35 into the second. The goals came after penalties to Evgeny Artyukhin and Ryan Whitney, as the Blues converted on their first two power-play opportunities.

Erik Johnson's pretty no-look feed from behind the net to McDonald set up the goal that made it 3-0 and chased Hiller 5:28 into the second.

"E.J. made a terrific pass," McDonald said. "I just had to put it in the open net."

St. Louis padded the lead in the third as McDonald added his second just 23 seconds in following a Brad Boyes feed, and Oshie picked up his first of the season with 8:28 left.

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

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