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Sabres finally end slump

by Brian Compton /
Finally, the Buffalo Sabres got some breaks. And with it came a long-awaited victory.

Derek Roy scored twice and Ryan Miller made 27 saves as the Sabres snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins at HSBC Arena on Wednesday night.

After outshooting their previous two opponents -- Philadelphia and the New York Islanders -- by a 77-51 margin, Buffalo still found itself on the losing end. But on Wednesday, the Sabres were able to convert on their chances to win against the Northeast-leading Bruins for just the second time in the last nine games.

"It was a just a matter of getting the bounces," Roy said. "We were desperate for a win, and when you're desperate guys are making plays, blocking shots, and not being too fancy. Everyone was on the same page, and played hard."

Matt Hunwick and Phil Kessel scored for Boston (14-4-4), which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Boston goalie Tim Thomas stopped 20 shots in losing for the first time in regulation since a 3-2 defeat at Calgary on Oct. 30.

It marked the first time Thomas had allowed more than 2 goals in a game since that night in Calgary, a span of 7 straight starts. Both of Roy's tallies came in the first period.

"Things weren't clicking right off the bat," Thomas said. "As things went on we played with more urgency, just maybe a little too late."

Roy opened the scoring at 9:18 of the first. While in the slot, Roy stole the puck off Boston's David Krejci's stick and quickly whipped a wrist shot past Thomas. He made it 2-0 with a snap shot from the bottom of the right circle that beat Thomas with a little more than a minute left in the first.

"We were hard on the puck and hard defensively," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "That made it really tough on them."

Hunwick cut the deficit in half with his third of the season 4:31 into the second, and Hecht made it 3-1 30 seconds later with a slap shot from the left circle that went off Thomas' glove.

"Just missed it," Thomas said.

Kessel cut the lead to 3-2 with his 11th at 9:25 of the third period. Marc Savard slightly whiffed on his slap shot from the right circle, but got enough of it that Milan Lucic was able to feed Kessel, who deposited the puck into an empty net after Miller committed on Savard's shot.

The Bruins could not notch the equalizer, though, and failed to notch at least a point for the first time in 11 games.

"We got better as the game went on after a poor first period where we didn't match their effort and determination," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "When you're the top dog, teams are gunning for you. They came out extremely hard."

Flyers 3, Hurricanes 1 | Video

Philadelphia defenseman Matt Carle was tired and eager to come off for a line change. None of his teammates, though, were paying attention.

So Carle stayed on the ice and broke a 1-1 tie 2:05 into the third period, helping the Flyers extend their winning streak to 6 games with a victory against Carolina at the RBC Center.

"I was trying to get a change. I was gassed," Carle said.

The decisive sequence was started by Simon Gagne (2 goals, 1 assist) after a Carolina turnover led to an odd-man rush during a 4-on-4 play. He slipped the puck to Carle during Philadelphia's 3-on-1 break, and the defenseman put the Flyers up 2-1 by beating Cam Ward high to his glove side for his second goal.

"The puck got turned over, and I tried to see if I could get in the play," Carle said. "Simon made a good play, and the goalie was out of position, and I jut tried to get the shot off as quick as possible."

It's the Flyers' first six-game winning streak since Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2005. Antero Niittymaki made 27 saves for Philadelphia, which held the Hurricanes to just 1 shot on goal in the first period. They were booed by the home crowd as they left the ice for the first intermission.

"We played the first period like a game of pond hockey," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.



Gagne scored his first goal of the night 5:52 into the game, when four different Carolina players failed to clear the puck in front of Ward. Gagne collected it after it went off a Hurricanes' skate and whacked it in from the right side. His second of the night came in the game's final second on an empty-net tally.

"You can throw film out the window -- I think execution and energy and heart and downright gritty work (are) where you're going to get it done," Carolina forward Chad LaRose said. "Sometimes there (are) lulls during the game, and sometimes that costs you games."

LaRose tied the game with his seventh goal of the season at 1:52 of the second period. While Niittymaki wasn't happy to see it go in, it at least gave him the opportunity to get some work in. He stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period.

"It's not good that they scored, but it is good that something happened," Niittymaki said. "I needed to wake up my body a little bit. I felt good, even though they scored right away. I started feeling better."

Coyotes 3, Blue Jackets 2 | Video

Hockey's a funny game sometimes.

Despite being badly outplayed Wednesday night by Columbus, Phoenix put an end to its six-game losing streak. Viktor Tikhonov's goal with 2:32 remaining broke a 2-2 tie, and goaltender Mikael Tellqvist was sensational in a 38-save performance as the Coyotes squeaked past Columbus at Nationwide Arena.

Phoenix had played well during parts of its skid. Yet on Wednesday, the Coyotes did not put forth their best effort and came away with a victory.

"How do you figure this game?" Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Sometimes it can be crazy."

Twenty-five of Tellqvist's 26 saves came over the final 40 minutes. Kristian Huselius gave Columbus a 1-0 lead 8:08 into the game, which was 1 of 5 breakaway chances the Blue Jackets had on the night. Jason Chimera scored the team's other tally, which erased a 2-1 deficit 60 seconds into the third period.

"They usually score goals and stuff for me. I want to steal a game for these guys, too," Tellqvist said. "We probably didn't have our best game this year, but we battled hard and blocked a lot of shots. If it wasn't for my defensemen, there probably would have been 80 shots."

Columbus had a glorious opportunity to take the lead about seven minutes into third period, when it was handed a two-man advantage for 54 seconds. But Tellqvist was there to shut the door.

"We should have put our foot right on their throat," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "(The Coyotes) weren't ready to play, we had everything going for us and we didn't bury the chances we had."

After a slow start, David Hale and Daniel Carcillo scored less than 3 minutes apart in the second period to give Phoenix a 2-1 lead. It was Hale's first NHL goal in 5 seasons.

"We got some timely goals from a couple of guys who don't score a lot but work hard every night and do a good job for us in the role that they play," Gretzky said. "That was the difference in the hockey game."

Capitals 5, Thrashers 3 | Video

Not even seven injuries can slow down Alexander Ovechkin.

The Russian superstar scored three times and added an assist Wednesday, as Washington snapped a three-game skid with a victory against Atlanta at the Verizon Center.

It was Ovechkin's sixth career hat trick. He needed a little more than a period to record it, as his first game via the power play 3:29 into the game.

Eric Fehr made it 2-0 at 7:33 of the first by finishing a nice cross-ice feed from Tomas Fleischmann. Ovechkin scored his second power-play goal off a pass from Viktor Kozlov with 5:59 left in the period for a 3-1 lead.

The hat trick came on a quick shot from between the circles after a feed from Tom Poti 54 seconds into the second period. Ovechkin also assisted on Kozlov's third-period goal, giving him 10 goals and 14 assists in November.

"It was a great start for us, especially the hat trick and then the winning," Ovechkin said. "We lost three in a row, and we just had to come back to our building and win the game."

"When he gets one early, he gets energized.  'When he's on, it sure makes it difficult to stop." -- Caps coach Bruce Boudreau on Alex Ovechkin
 Washington's Chris Clark (stress fracture of forearm), Jeff Schultz (broken finger), Boyd Gordon (back) and John Erskine (undisclosed) were hurt Monday night in a loss to Minnesota. They joined Alexander Semin (back), Mike Green (shoulder), Sergei Federov (ankle), each of whom have been out with injuries.

With so many teammates out, it was going to take the type of performance that Ovechkin enjoyed on Wednesday to come away with a victory.

"When he gets one early, he gets energized," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "When he's on, it sure makes it difficult to stop."

Bryan Little, Slava Kozlov and Nathan Oystrick scored goals for Atlanta, which couldn't find an answer for Ovechkin, who had a chance to have 5 goals in this one.

"There's a reason he scores 50 or 60, because it's not just against our team, it's against everybody," Thrashers coach John Anderson said.

Rangers 3, Lightning 2, SO | Video

Another game against Tampa Bay, another win for the Rangers.

Markus Naslund scored twice, while Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves through overtime before going 2-for-2 in the shootout as the Rangers earned their fourth victory against the Lightning this season.

Naslund also scored in the shootout for the Blueshirts, who have only allowed six goals in their four meetings with Tampa Bay this season. The Rangers have swept their season series with the Lightning, which began with the NHL Premiere Series in Prague.

"I guess we like the challenge to play this team," Lundqvist said. "We had a good start of the year in Prague when we played this team."

The Rangers controlled the tempo in the first period, as they outshot the Lightning by an 11-5 margin. However, Mike Smith was solid in his net, forcing the teams to settle for a scoreless tie after 20 minutes.

But Naslund got things going early in the second, as he scored his first goal of the night at the 2:40 mark. Naslund got himself to the front of the net, where he was able to stuff home Michal Rozsival's rebound to give New York a 1-0 lead.

"We played hard, stayed intense," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "That's a sign of a mature team."

Tampa Bay struck back quickly, though, as Ryan Malone tallied his fifth goal of the season via the power play at 4:09. With Dan Fritsche in the penalty box, Malone got his stick on Vincent Lecavalier's rebound, and he put it past Lundqvist to make it 1-1. The Rangers entered with the NHL's best road penalty-killing unit, allowing just 3 power-play goals in 45 shorthanded situations before Malone's goal.

Naslund restored New York's lead before the end of the second, as he notched his ninth goal of the season with 2:03 remaining. With the Rangers on a power play, Naslund redirected a shot from Rozsival past Smith to make it 2-1.

"We talked about trying to get some momentum going here and put a string of wins together," Naslund said after his team's fifth win in 7 games.

Mark Recchi pulled the Lightning even at 2 when he scored with 49.6 seconds left in the third. The goal gave him 1,395 points, moving him past Luc Robitaille into 19th place on the NHL career list.

But the Rangers stayed composed and got goals from Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev in the shootout to secure the victory. The loss was Tampa Bay's ninth in 11 games.

"It's disappointing, obviously, not getting the two points, but it's not a lack of effort," Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said. "If we play like that and battle like that game in and game out, I like our chances of coming out on top."

Devils 3, Panthers 2, OT | Video

Johnny Oduya scored with 55.5 seconds left in overtime, and Scott Clemmensen made 35 saves as New Jersey extended its winning streak to five games with a victory at Florida.

Oduya scored on a wrist shot that went between Craig Anderson's pads and his glove. The Devils were able to breathe a sigh of relief after David Booth had tied the game for the Panthers with just 7.2 seconds left in regulation.

"We found a way, and that's important," New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said. "We did a lot of good things, but we have to use it as a learning experience. When we're in control like that, we can't let it slip away."

"I thought it was a pretty easy decision.  I didn't like either of the first 2 goals. I didn't like the way the team was playing, either. I was hoping that it would be a shot of life there for our guys." -- Florida coach Pete DeBoer on making a goalie change after the first period
Florida coach Pete DeBoer showed that he was in control early, as he pulled starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun after the first period. Vokoun -- who represented the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Game last season -- allowed 2 goals on 12 shots. Brian Gionta and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils nearly 13 minutes apart. But DeBoer thought a change was necessary.

"I thought it was a pretty easy decision," DeBoer said. "I didn't like either of the first 2 goals. I didn't like the way the team was playing, either. I was hoping that it would be a shot of life there for our guys."

Anderson kept his team in the game, as he stopped all 16 shots he faced in the second period. That allowed the Panthers to mount a comeback in the third, when they got goals from Jay Bouwmeester and Booth to send the game to overtime.

"We were pretty pumped to tie it and we get a power play, and go from thinking that you can end it right there to walking off the ice the other way," Florida center Stephen Weiss said.

Canadiens 3, Red Wings 1 | Video

Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau made it clear before Wednesday's game in Detroit: Clog up the neutral zone and don't let the Wings' stars take over.

Mission accomplished.

The Canadiens scored three times in the second period, while Carey Price had a shutout going for more than 53 minutes as the Habs picked up an impressive victory at Joe Louis Arena.

"We didn't forecheck," said Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec, who scored one of his team's 3 goals. "We stayed in the neutral zone and tried to make them make turnovers and we did a great job."

Johan Franzen ended Price's shutout bid with his 10th goal of the season with 6:29 remaining in regulation. Franzen stole the puck in the neutral zone from Canadiens defenseman Ryan O'Byrne -- the one who put the puck in his own net in Monday's 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders. O'Byrne received 17:13 of ice time.

"It's tough, but two points is more important," said Price, who made 32 saves.

Maxim Lapierre and Christopher Higgins also scored for Montreal, which was outshot 16-4 in the third period. Ty Conklin stopped 22 of 25 shots for Detroit.

"I thought they played their system real well," Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "I think we saw their first play was right at the red line and they were backing off and not giving us any speed through the neutral zone. Once we got the puck in we lost a lot of 1-on-1 battles in the corners, couldn't sustain that pressure that we wanted to."

Just how Carbonneau drew it up.

"They're a team that likes to control the puck," Carbonneau said. "We just tried to play as tough as we can in the neutral zone and make them dump it in."

Stars 4, Wild 3 | Video

Was this the turnaround Dallas has been looking for?

Loui Eriksson had a goal and two assists, as the Stars erased a two-goal deficit and earned a gritty victory against Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center.

Down 3-1 late in the second period, Dallas tied it on goals by James Neal and Brad Richards, then took the lead when Eriksson tipped Stephane Robidas' shot for the winner with exactly 7 minutes to play. It was Eriksson's team-leading 10th goal of the season.

"Maybe this is a tide-turner," said Stars coach Dave Tippett, after his team won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods. "We're still a work in progress, but we got rewarded tonight for a little bit of hard work."

Eric Belanger had a goal and an assist for Minnesota, which had 2 goals denied after video replays. After Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette scored to give the Wild a 2-goal lead in the second period, the Wild appeared to take a 3-goal lead with a power-play shot by Mikko Koivu, but following a long review, it was determined that the puck had not crossed the goal line.

"It takes 10 minutes to decide a goal is not in, which we knew a long time before that, it wasn't in, but we waited and waited," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "You have the momentum you want to play. When you have the momentum, you don't want to go for coffee."

"'Maybe this is a tide-turner.  We're still a work in progress, but we got rewarded tonight for a little bit of hard work." -- Stars coach Dave Tippett
Neal recorded his first career multi-goal game late in the second, swatting the rebound of his own shot out of the air in front to cut Minnesota's lead to 3-2. Early in the third period, Minnesota had another goal from Koivu disallowed, as the net had come off its moorings. Lemaire said Turco has a habit of intentionally knocking the net off.

"I'm impressed he's been paying attention to what I've been doing historically," said Turco, who had 25 saves. "I have knocked it off before when I got bumped into it to be sure it's off, but in this case I had no clue."

Niklas Backstrom had 26 saves for Minnesota, which lost a home game while scoring 3 goals or more for the first time since 2006. The Wild led Washington 4-0 on Monday before the Capitals rallied with three late goals, but Minnesota held on for a 4-3 win in that one.

"We've had a few games that are disappointing, and they seem to be coming in bunches," Brunette said. "I guess there should be (concern). We squandered one and got away last game, and tonight we weren't so lucky."

Avalanche 3, Blues 1 | Video

Daniel Tjarnqvist scored his first goal in more than 2 years and added an assist, and Peter Budaj made 21 saves as Colorado snapped St. Louis' 5-game point streak.

It was a special night at the Pepsi Center, as Avs center Paul Stastny squared off against older brother, Yan, for the first time in the NHL. Before the game, they met for lunch. They rarely got that close on the ice, but there were a few meetings against the boards and both got their shots in.

"I hit him pretty good," Yan said. "It's the way we were taught to play. I knew he was out there."

Paul was certain his dad -- former NHL player Peter Stastny -- was smiling ear-to-ear while watching his sons share the same sheet of ice. "Our dad is proud of us," Paul said.

Tjarnqvist gave Colorado a 1-0 lead at 11:20 of the first period, when he took a nifty backhand pass from David Jones and beat Manny Legace, who got the start after Chris Mason's 47-save performance in Nashville on Tuesday.

"I can't remember my last goal," said Tjarnqvist, who hadn't scored since Dec. 28, 2006.

Budaj's lone blemish on the night was Keith Tkachuk's game-tying goal at 4:52 of the second period. Budaj came into the night with a 1.89 goals-against average in the last 7 games.

He got some help from the Blues' anemic offense, which has generated only 39 shots over the last 2 games. St. Louis played the final 2:11 with a 6-on-4 advantage, but couldn't score, after Colorado's T.J. Hensick left with a four-minute high sticking penalty and the Blues pulled Legace.

"It's a grind for us now," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "We played a lot of games, a lot of back-to-back. We just have to play with more hunger. We made some terrible passes. Terrible passes end up in nets."

Ryan Smyth scored what proved to be the game-winner at 10:06 of the second period on a power-play tally. Ian Laperriere added an insurance goal 8:11 into the third.

"We took over in the second," Tkachuk said. "(Smyth's) goal deflated us. What we did in the second and third, we skate and we get it deep. Granted, we are missing a lot of our top players. You’ve got to rely on the grinding game, and we’ve been doing that the last 4 or 5 games to be successful. Our goaltending has been outstanding. That hasn’t been a problem."

Kings 2, Oilers 1 | Video

After floundering Tuesday night in Calgary, the Kings got a goal and an assist from both Anze Kopitar and Patrick O'Sullivan in a hard-fought win at Edmonton.

Jason LaBarbera made 22 saves for the Kings, who lost by a 5-2 score at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"From our perspective it was important to come back from our effort in Calgary," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "We came out with that kind of an attitude that we had to get some kind of redemption. We had to go out and show ourselves that we were going to dig in and play hard."

"Since we had all those road games, we have to make up the games we lost on the road here at home. We can't use the excuse that our record is because of all those road games because we are losing our home games now." -- Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano

Kopitar broke a tie midway through the second period, batting the puck out of the air and into the net, to help Los Angeles snap a 2-game losing streak. The Kings improved to 9-9-3 with their second win in six games.

Ales Hemsky scored for Edmonton. The Oilers have lost back-to-back games and five of their last six to drop to 9-10-2. They also have lost six straight at home

"We need to be better at home," Oilers forward Andrew Cogliano said. "Since we had all those road games, we have to make up the games we lost on the road here at home. We can't use the excuse that our record is because of all those road games because we are losing our home games now."

Sharks 3, Blackhawks 2, OT | Video

Thirteen games into its home schedule, San Jose still hasn't lost in regulation at HP Pavilion.

Patrick Marleau erased a 2-1 deficit 8:16 into the third period, and Joe Thornton won it 45 seconds into overtime as the Sharks improved to 12-0-1 on home ice with a thrilling victory against Chicago. It was San Jose's fifth straight win.

Another standout first period with a 17-2 shots advantage devolved into a scrappy struggle for the Sharks, who finally faced a young, hungry opponent that could match their speed and aggressiveness. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored 2 goals, including the go-ahead score early in the third period during a 5-on-3 power play set up by Mike Grier's game misconduct penalty for injuring defenseman Aaron Johnson.

But Marleau tied it for San Jose midway through the third period with a clever wraparound goal past Cristobal Huet's outstretched skate. Thornton then got the puck right where and when he wanted it in overtime, jumping on a turnover and trading bang-bang passes with Ryan Clowe, who had 2 assists.

"It's a 50-50 puck, and sometimes it goes your way," Thornton said. "Clowe fed me a great pass. It was pretty much an empty net."

Evgeni Nabokov returned after missing the past 7 games and made 26 saves for the Sharks. His performance extended San Jose's winning streak against Chicago to 13 games.

"We have to realize that nobody is going to give it to us," said Nabokov, out since Nov. 6 with a lower-body injury. "We have to take it from other teams. We can't take it for granted that we're going to score because we take lots of shots."

The Sharks have played 22 home games without a regulation loss since March 3, 2008. When the clubs met in Chicago 10 nights earlier, the Sharks handed the Blackhawks their first home loss in regulation this season, but Chicago fell just short of returning the favor.

But that doesn't mean the Hawks don't feel they can't compete with the team that is leading the League in points.

"I think so," Chicago right wing Patrick Kane said when asked if the young Blackhawks are in the Sharks' league. "Both games have been one-goal games ... but we've got to win those games. We've had trouble with those games this year. We can't seem to win in overtime."

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


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