Roundup: Malkin lifts Pens to OT win

by Staff /
This hasn't started out as Evgeni Malkin's most prolific goal-scoring season, but a sniper is a sniper and that was evident when the Pittsburgh Penguins when on the power play in overtime Saturday night.

Malkin scored on a rocket from the high slot 37 seconds into the extra period to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers at Mellon Arena, keeping them tied with New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead.

It took all of seven seconds for Pittsburgh to capitalize on a hooking penalty to Jordan Leopold. Sergei Gonchar passed to Malkin for the game-winning shot past Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun. It was the ninth goal of the season for the reigning NHL scoring champ, who also drew the primary assist on Ruslan Fedotenko's goal in regulation.

"I tried that shot a couple times (during) the game and every time it was blocked by a defenseman," Malkin said. "This time, during a 4-on-3, there wasn't a defenseman (in the way), so I (had a lane to shoot)."

Pascal Dupuis also scored and backup goalie Brent Johnson made 29 saves for the Penguins, who got Chris Kunitz back after 14 games missed with a lower-body injury and were playing with a completely healthy lineup for the first time all season.

"It's nice to have the whole group here back at it," captain Sidney Crosby said. "When guys come back sometimes it takes time, but we're a pretty familiar group of guys here."

Steven Reinprecht scored a power-play goal for the Panthers to open the scoring and Stephen Weiss helped them gain a point by tying the game in the third. Florida was going for its second road win in as many nights after beating New Jersey 4-2 on Friday.

"We didn't win, but we played an awful good third period for back-to-back nights and for the schedule we have had," said Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, whose team was playing its seventh game in 11 days. "I was really proud of our effort. We had to dig deep with twenty minutes to go to find a way to get into overtime and we did that. We didn't win but it was a gritty effort."

Pittsburgh went 0-for-5 on the power play during regulation and, after failing to convert on a Bryan McCabe cross-checking call, gave up the tying goal when McCabe came out of the box and went in on a breakaway. Johnson stopped him, but then poke-checked the puck out to where Weiss could play it and fire it into the open net at 4:39 of the third.

Malkin's goal may have provided a spark for the Penguins' 29th-ranked power-play unit – at the very least, it improved them to 7-1 this season in games that go beyond regulation.

"I hope it's what we needed," coach Dan Bylsma said of the power-play struggles. "We've had some good power plays but not scored... Sometimes the only thing we hadn't done was score a goal. Tonight, I think you saw us squeezing our sticks a little bit more on the power play, and sometimes you need a goal to release that. We were pretty happy to see that slap shot go in."

Florida, which received 37 saves from Vokoun, lost its third straight 3-2 decision to Pittsburgh this season – two in overtime and one in a shootout.

"It was good to get a point, obviously, but it's tough losing to them in overtime again," Reinprecht said.

Thrashers 4, Canadiens 3 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

There was something about overtime that made struggling power plays click on Saturday. Montreal seemed to have Atlanta's number when it came to killing off penalties, but the Canadiens had no answer for Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored on a 4-on-3 at the 1:18 mark to snap a three-game losing streak for the Thrashers.

Glen Metropolit, who opened the scoring with his own power-play goal in the first period, was called for high-sticking with 40 seconds left in regulation, the Canadiens' ninth penalty of the game. They held off the Thrashers long enough to secure one point, but the second one slipped away when Kovalchuk scored his ninth career overtime goal just before Metropolit was set to step out of the box.

"When Kovalchuk gets a chance like that, chances are he's going to score," Metropolit said. "He's a great player."

Christoph Schubert, Colby Armstrong and Nik Antropov scored second-period goals as the Thrashers battled back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits.

"We have to be better on our home ice, and that slow start was not good for us, but we found a way to win," Kovalchuk said.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored twice in the second for the Canadiens, who have followed a three-game winning streak with consecutive defeats. They had survived their last 33 shorthanded situations without a goal until Kovalchuk beat goaltender Carey Price.

"It was a tough way to end it," Metropolit said. "Our penalty kill has been great."

Schubert rallied the Thrashers with his first goal of the season with 8:58 left in the second and an assist on Armstong's score 2:49 later. Kostitsyn restored the Canadiens' lead with 4:47 remaining in the period, beating Johan Hedberg with a shot from the right circle for his second of the game, but just 2:05 after that Antropov scored for the second straight game and it was tied again.

The victory gave Atlanta a two-point lead over Montreal for seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

"They were one point behind us and we knew that," Kovalchuk said. "When you drop a few in a row, teams catch up to you. We need to win a couple now."

Maple Leafs 6, Capitals 3 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

With Phil Kessel in the lineup and an awful October further back in the rearview mirror, Toronto has begun to think playoffs.

Kessel scored another goal Saturday and assisted on a pair of tallies by Matt Stajan as the Maple Leafs cooled off high-flying Washington and won their third straight at the Air Canada Centre for the first time since January 2008.

"I think we've been playing some solid hockey for a number of weeks," Stajan said. "As a whole, we're getting confidence on home ice."

Kessel and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored power-play goals, Lee Stempniak had a shorthanded goal and Niklas Hagman also lit the lamp for the Leafs, at one point the worst team in the League but now just four points behind Montreal for eighth in the East.

"That start, as bad as it was, looking back it's made us stronger," said Stajan. "There was really only one way to go (and) we've kept building."

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the first 5:15 of the game to stake the East-leading Capitals to a 2-0 lead. Backstrom found the net again in the second to put Washington ahead 3-2, but Toronto rallied from that deficit as well.

"They never quit," Capitals forward Brooks Laich said. "They might not be the most talented team, but they never give up."

Stajan and Kessel brought the Leafs back to a 2-2 tie with goals in the first 5:54 of the second. Backstrom scored his second of the game at 8:33 but Hagman answered with 3:21 left in the period and the teams headed into the third tied.

Stajan then put Toronto in front to stay at 5:03 by knocking a rebound past Michal Neuvirth. Stempniak and Ponikarovsky provided insurance with special-teams goals, and Vesa Toskala finished with 34 saves – including stops on Alexander Semin breakaways in both the first and third periods.

"Those kind of saves build confidence on our bench," Leafs forward Wayne Primeau said.

Ducks 3, Blue Jackets 1 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Another game, another goal for Anaheim rookie Dan Sexton, who is acclimating himself quickly to life in the NHL.

Jonas Hiller stopped 35 shots for the Ducks, who also got goals from established scorers Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry. But it was Sexton, with his fourth goal in five games since being called up from Manitoba of the AHL, who continued to draw attention with his early run of success.

"If you would have told me by the end of the weekend I would have accomplished what I have … I'd have a pretty hard time believing it," Sexton said. "I just wanted to come in and play my hardest and contribute. But, to get some good bounces and play with some great players, contribute the way I have, it has been a special week for sure."

The win in Columbus was an important bounce-back for Anaheim after a difficult overtime loss 24 hours earlier in Detroit, a game in which the Ducks blew a two-goal lead in the third period.

"We tried to take on the attitude that we were going to build off of last night's third period," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We couldn't let that type of thing happen to our hockey club tonight."

R.J. Umberger scored with 36 seconds left in the second period to get the Blue Jackets on the board, just 19 seconds after Ryan had made it 2-0 for the Ducks. But the Jackets failed to capitalize on a two-man advantage for nearly a minute in the third, and Perry stuck in the dagger when he beat Steve Mason on the power play with 6:13 remaining.

"(Killing) that 5-on-3 was huge for us," Perry said. "If we killed that off, we were in a great situation. Then we get the power play right after that, get the goal. It was a great pass from Whit (Ryan Whitney). I just got enough wood on it."

Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock lamented his team's inability to net the tying goal when it had a golden opportunity.

"That's the turning point of the hockey game," Hitchcock said. "We've scored on them all year and I don't even know that we got a quality look. We stumbled around. We had shots blocked and cross-ice passes picked off."

Sexton, an undrafted free agent who played his college hockey at Bowling Green, just hours away from Nationwide Arena, opened the scoring with 3:52 left in the first period. Ryan made it 2-0 with his 14th goal of the season and the 50th of his young career, flicking the puck past Mason while falling to the ice after the stick of Kris Russell tripped him up.

Umberger had a quick answer to that strike, but Anaheim learned from its mistakes the night before and held onto the lead down the stretch.

"We had a great chance last night to win the game but we gave it away in the third," said Hiller, who watched Jean-Sebastien Giguere in goal against the Red Wings. "We were able to keep going in the third (tonight) and didn't get any goals against. That was huge."

Devils 4, Flyers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

While the shutout record for Martin Brodeur was put off for another night, Patrik Elias became the second player in New Jersey's history to reach 300 goals in his career. Elias and rookie Niclas Bergfors each scored twice to pace the Devils past the Flyers at the Prudential Center.

"It's obviously a nice little mark and a nice little achievement," said Elias, who gave the Devils a commanding 3-0 lead with 4:13 left in the first period. "To do it for this organization is even more special."

Elias has played 839 career games spanning 12-plus seasons, all with the Devils. John MacLean is the all-time goal-scoring leader for New Jersey with 347 goals in 934 games spanning 14-plus seasons with the Devils. Elias is also the 173rd player in League history to reach the 300-goal plateau.

Even though Brodeur fell 24:57 short of notching that elusive shutout that would put him one ahead of Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk (103 shutouts), he did record a first-period assist, had a fabulous poke check to deny Jeff Carter on a shorthanded breakaway in the second and finished with 22 saves to garner his 20th victory of the season and the 577th of his career.

"Somebody said that I should have waited until Marty got that shutout," Elias said. "But it would have been nice to share it with him."

Philadelphia's Claude Giroux broke Brodeur's shutout bid at 15:03 of the second on a power-play goal that pulled the Flyers within 3-1. Giroux's sixth goal, a wrist shot from low in the right circle, beat Brodeur on the long side.

"It was just a bad angle shot that I wish I could get back," Brodeur said. "I stand up on these shots and sometimes it just gets through and that did. It hit the inside of my blocker. I was upset because, on those bad-angle shots, you'd like to make those stops. I wasn't upset over losing the shutout at that point."

Elias would answer Giroux's tally with just 33.1 seconds left in the second when he collected a pass from Brian Rolston and drove a shot past Brian Boucher from the right hash. Rolston finished the game with two assists.

The Devils opened a 3-0 lead on a pair of goals by Bergfors and Elias' 300th. Bergfors connected 2:33 into the first when he took an outlet from Rolston, split Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen and fired a low liner from the left circle that beat goalie Boucher on the long side.

"We know they're a team with energy so I guess everyone was disappointed from (Friday) night (in a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers) and wanted to show that we can play with better effort," Bergfors said.

He'd score another power-play goal, his seventh with the man advantage this season, at 12:31 to extend the lead to 2-0. It was another poor start for the Flyers, who have lost four of five since Peter Laviolette replaced John Stevens as coach.

"We're making the same mistakes and I wish I could put my finger on why we're making them," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "It's one thing if they're effort mistakes, but they're mistakes that shouldn't be happening. So it's something that has to be stopped soon because it's put us in a hole right away."

Sabres 3, Rangers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Buffalo native Patrick Kaleta scored twice, including a shorthanded breakaway goal in the second that decided the game.

With teammate Steve Montador in the box for tripping, Kaleta took Henrik Tallinder's feed, zipped up the ice and released a wicked wrist shot that zipped over the catching glove of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at the 9:30 mark.
"That was an outstanding performance. It really was," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of Kaleta. "I thought his overall game was excellent. He gave us great energy. It was just a great night for him."
Not surprisingly, Rangers coach John Tortorella had a different view of Kaleta's shorthanded goal.
"Our power play was working early and you get one scored on you and the way we are struggling to be consistent offensively, it is just a kick in the teeth," Tortorella said.
Kaleta's heroics and theatrics came in support of goaltender Ryan Miller, who stopped 36 shots and all 24 he faced over the final two periods to emerge victorious. The Rangers had chances to tie the game in the third period, especially on a power play in the final five minutes. But Miller and the Sabres clamped down defensively.
"I thought our PP early on was getting shots on net and we had guys crashing there," Rangers winger Ryan Callahan said. "I think late in that third there we need to start throwing more pucks at Miller and try to get a dirty goal."
After scoring seven goals in a win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 23, the Rangers' offense has been scuffling. They've scored just 13 goals in the eight games since that outburst, and the only thing that worked for the Rangers on Saturday was the power play.
Derek Roy's seventh of the season put the Sabres ahead 1-0 at 6:25 of the first, but the Rangers responded with two power-play goals less than two minutes apart.
Callahan took a pass in front from Marian Gaborik and beat Miller's poke check to make it 1-1. Then Gaborik's League-leading 22nd of the season with the Rangers on a 4-on-3 power play gave the Blueshirts a 2-1 lead. Gaborik walked down from the point, used Sabres rookie defenseman Tyler Myers as a screen, and fired a bullet over Miller's shoulder.
"He used Tyler as a bit of a screen there," Miller said, "but that's one where I want to get a piece of it, knock it down, knowing that he's a shooter most of the time. But he made a nice shot, give him credit. Same with Callahan, made a nice shot."

Kaleta's first goal of the game tied the score before the end of the first and caused him to jump to his feet and skate to the near boards in a low crouch, all the while pumping his fist in an exaggerated fashion before leaping into the glass.

Coyotes 2, Sharks 1 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Ilya Bryzgalov and Phoenix continued to surge up the Pacific Division standings.

Bryzgalov stopped 37 shots and the Coyotes moved to within five points of Los Angeles and San Jose, which are now tied atop the Pacific. It was the type of win coach Dave Tippett has seen many a time this season.

"I just said to the coaches in there, I've walked into the same press conference: 'Bryzzie' was good and we got a couple goals. Thanks," Tippett said.

Radim Vrbata and Robert Lang scored 1:35 apart in the second and the Coyotes let Bryzgalov do the rest. He was flawless, save for a Dany Heatley power-play goal with 5:21 left in the third that kept the Sharks from being shut out.

"'Bryzzie' was excellent," Tippett said. "In the third period, there was a couple of great chances, and he managed to close the door, and that's how he's played all year. He's given us a chance when there's a breakdown. He's cleaned up a lot of messes for us."

Vrbata took advantage of a Rob Blake slashing penalty to put the Coyotes on top 3:40 into the second. Keith Yandle took a shot from the point that Vrbata redirected past Thomas Greiss. It was one of seven power plays they received in the first two periods.

"We ran into penalty problems early in the game," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "They put us on our heels a lot."

Taylor Pyatt then set up Lang's goal by carrying the puck behind the goal line and sending a pass in front for the goal.

"I thought if we could get a lead in this game, it would certainly help our situation, just because when you're chasing the lead you're using more energy," Tippett said.

Heatley was robbed by Bryzgalov on a shot from between the circles just before the horn to end the first period, and again on a wrister in the second. He finally took advantage of a 4-on-3 advantage created by a Jim Vandermeer interference penalty and got the Sharks on the board with a wide-open shot from the left circle in the third.

San Jose couldn't break through for the tie, however, and has scored two goals or less in four of its last five games.

"We're having a tough time scoring goals," Heatley said.

Canucks 4, Wild 3 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

For a guy who hasn't scored a goal in eight games, Henrik Sedin continues to rack up the points for Vancouver.

Sedin set up three first-period goals – by his twin brother, Daniel Sedin, as well as Mason Raymond and Alexandre Burrows – and the Canucks connected three times on the power play in holding off Minnesota.

"Every time he gets the puck, he finds ways to get it to the shooter," Burrows said. "He saucers it through sticks or finds lanes to make the play and whether it's on his forehand of backhand, he's able to make tape-to-tape passes."

For Sedin, it was his sixth straight multi-point effort and seventh in eight games. He doesn't have a goal in that span, but has collected 15 assists.

"I got two great scorers on the line," he said of Daniel and Burrows. "We work off each other really good."

Ryan Kesler's goal with the man advantage 6:44 into the third ended up the difference-maker for Vancouver, which is 2-0 to start of an eight-game homestand. Roberto Luongo was stellar in goal, finishing with 38 saves.

Defensemen Shane Hnidy and Greg Zanon had goals as the Wild stayed within 3-2 after the first period, and Martin Havlat scored for the second time in two nights to answer Kesler and make it a one-goal game again with 1:06 remaining. Minnesota lost just its second regulation game in the last 11 (8-2-1).

"We didn't start the way we wanted to but we were still in the game," Havlat said. "After the first, I think we were playing much better. At the end, I don't think we had enough power after playing last night but that's no excuse."

Daniel Sedin opened the scoring at 1:44 on a power play, taking Henrik Sedin's feed, faking a cross-ice pass and putting a wrist shot over Josh Harding's left shoulder. Henrik then earned his 500th career point with a behind-the-back feed out in front to Raymond, who converted at 6:16 for a 2-0 lead.

"Right now all his passes find a way through," said Daniel, who added an assist and has six goals and 11 points in his own six-game streak.

Material from wire services was used in this report.