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Sabres rally to beat Leafs 3-2 in shootout

by John Kreiser
Just when it looked like the Buffalo Sabres would go back across the Peace Bridge empty-handed, Jochen Hecht made sure they'd get a point. Rookies Tyler Ennis and Jhonas Enroth then secured the second one.

The slumping Sabres forced overtime when Hecht scored the tying goal with 13.1 seconds left in regulation, then earned a 3-2 shootout victory when Ennis beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere after Enroth -- playing in place of injured starter Ryan Miller -- stopped four of five Toronto shooters.

"Obviously, we were overdue," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said after his team ended a five-game losing streak. "It's a pretty excited group to get the win."

It was a pretty frustrated group of Leafs in the home locker room. For the second time in as many games, the Leafs lost in a shootout after blowing a third-period lead. They led 4-3 late in the game at Washington on Wednesday, but the Caps got the tying goal and won in a shootout.

"It's 13 seconds left, you've got to (get rid of) the puck and not let it happen," Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle said. "We had the lead in Washington (on Wednesday) and today as well, all game pretty much. It's tough to swallow.

"That's two extra points and you might need them towards the end of the season."

The Sabres, who won the Northeast Division last season and reached the 100-point mark, entered the game last in the overall standings and appeared likely to go home the same way after Mikhail Grabovski scored with 17 seconds left in the first period and Nikolai Kulemin beat Enroth at 15:41 of the second.

Derek Roy got one back at 18:46, then found Hecht for the equalizer after the Sabres had pulled Enroth for the extra attacker.

Thomas Vanek scored in the second round of the shootout for the Sabres, but John Mitchell's deke and backhander in the third round got the Leafs even. Enroth stopped Clarke MacArthur and Kaberle before Ennis deked Jean-Sebastien Giguere and scored for the win.

"I know what I can do and I never doubted myself," he said.

Toronto is 1-5-3 in its last nine games -- making the Leafs' 4-0-0 start an increasingly distant memory.

"We're a young team and we're going to have to learn," said Giguere, who made 29 saves. "You don't go from 29th place in the league (last season) to a playoff spot right away. You need to learn before you get to that point."

Senators 3, Canadiens 2HIGHLIGHTS

Former Canadien Alex Kovalev quieted the boo birds at the Bell Centre by scoring twice as Ottawa won its third in a row.

For's complete game story, click here

Flyers 2, Islanders 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Two teams headed in opposite directions continued their streaks as Andreas Nodl's third-period goal gave the Flyers their sixth consecutive victory and extended the Isles' losing streak to seven.

For's complete game story, click here

Wild 3, Blue Jackets 2HIGHLIGHTS

Cal Clutterbuck followed his specialty -- a big hit -- with the decisive goal as the Wild won at Columbus.

Clutterbuck, one of the NHL's fiercest hitters, pounded Columbus' Jakub Voracek into the end boards ---  with Voracek taking out teammate Marc Methot. Clutterbuck then skated back to the crease where he took a feed from Eric Nystrom and put the puck into a nearly empty net at 10:31, breaking a 2-2 tie

"It was just a normal forecheck," he said of the glass-shaking, bone-jarring hit. "I managed to catch a guy with his head down a little bit. I hit him pretty good. I just went back to the front of the net and I got a really good bounce."

Brent Burns scored two power-play goals and Mikko Koivu added a pair of assists for the Wild, who won their third in a row. Jose Theodore, getting only his second start of the season in place of Niklas Backstrom, made it stand up with 35 saves.

"We played a bookend game," said coach Todd Richards, whose team survived being outshot 16-3 in the second period. "We played a really good first period and a really good third period. In between we made some mistakes. But that's where Theo was great."

Rick Nash and Kyle Wilson had the Columbus goals. Mathieu Garon, who had shutouts in the last two games, suffered his first home regulation loss ever for the Blue Jackets, who had won seven of nine overall and three straight at home. Burns' goal 8:49 into the game ended his shutout streak at 142:33.

"I didn't have a problem with our effort, but our execution was off," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "The first 10 minutes of the first period our passing was ugly. Those that did get passes, they were bouncing off our sticks. We certainly created enough chances. It was all about finding that (third) goal before they got it."

Hurricanes 3, Panthers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

One night after surrendering seven goals in a loss at Florida, the Hurricanes plugged the leaks, got two goals from Eric Staal and earned a split of the home-and-home series.

"It was a better effort from everybody, including myself," Staal said. "I wasn't happy with the way I played last night. It wasn't a very good feeling in our locker room last night and it wasn't a very good feeling on the flight home.

"We wanted to respond the right way and we did."

Cam Ward, who faced 50 shots in the 7-4 loss at Florida, saw only 20 in the return match. Darcy Hordichuk scored 3:21 into the third period, exactly a minute after rookie Jeff Skinner's goal gave Carolina a 2-0 lead. Staal got his second of the night at 11:41, and it proved to be the winner when Michael Frolik beat Ward with 42.2 seconds to play.

"It was just about work ethic and execution," Carolina forward Erik Cole said. "Last night we didn't have it. Tonight, we did. We brought a much tougher game to play against, and I think it showed."

The Hurricanes have won 17 of 19 home games against the Panthers and are 25-5-2 overall while facing the Panthers at the RBC Center.

"They're a fast team. They showed that," Florida forward David Booth said. "On the other end, we weren't good enough. If we would've played the game last night, I think we would've been all right."

Avalanche 5, Stars 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Kevin Porter scored twice and Peter Budaj stopped 31 shots as the Avs shut out the Stars, who had scored 11 goals in their two previous games.

For's complete game story, click here

Kings 4, Predators 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

It was mullet night in L.A., where Ryan Smyth celebrated his 1,000th NHL game by scoring a goal as the League-leading Kings stayed unbeaten at home, rolling over Nashville.

Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown scored in the first period for the Kings, who at 10-3-0 are off to their best start since going 10-1-1 in 1980-81. Smyth made it 3-0 at 6:47 of the second, backhanding the puck past Pekka Rinne's glove after Rob Scuderi took a shot from the right point that was stopped by Smyth's stick. Jarret Stoll converted the rebound of Jack Johnson's wrist shot from the left point four minutes later.

"We didn't give Pekka Rinne a lot of support, and offensively, they didn't give us much," coach Barry Trotz said. "Everything we know they can do, they did. And we didn't prevent them from doing a whole lot. Wins aren't coming very easy for us, so it's becoming frustrating."

Jonathan Bernier stopped 25 shots but lost his shutout when Shane O'Brien scored with 2:24 to play.

The Stoll-Smyth-Justin Williams line has 14 goals and 34 points in the last 11 games.

"They have a lot of respect for each other and they work hard for each other," coach Terry Murray said. "I love the way Justin Williams is playing. The play he made on the goal, he looked a little Gretzky-like, with those evasive moves at the blue line in the offensive zone. It was pretty amazing stuff, and that's the way he's performed all year."

All in all, a memorable night for Smyth.

"It's an honor. It's overwhelming," he said of reaching 1,000 games. "I obviously still remember the first game, but it's been 1,000 games. You look back and there's some great times, there's some tough times, and there's sad times. You go through so many different emotions throughout every hockey game, and obviously I can't remember them all, but I'm just honored to play in the NHL."

Sharks 5, Lightning 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

San Jose found its scoring touch at home after being shut out in back-to-back road games and routed Tampa Bay.

The Sharks were shut out at Minnesota and St. Louis and had gone 156 minutes, 59 seconds without scoring before Patrick Marleau beat Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith for a shorthanded goal at 12:16 of the opening period. He scored again 3:10 later.

The Sharks also got goals from Dany Heatley, John McCarthy and Logan Couture, helping to make up for the absence of captain and leading scorer Joe Thornton, who sat out the first of a two-game suspension from the NHL.

Couture made the most of his chance to step into Thornton's skates and play on the first line.

"Obviously he answered the bell," coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought he was tremendous tonight.

"We've had a lot of confidence in Couture. He's been one of our top forwards from training camp on through. We feel really comfortable playing him in all situations. I'm not surprised he had the ability and the confidence to go into that spot."

Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which lost for the second time in three nights to end its four-game Western road trip.

"I think it's not about how many goals we are getting right now," coach Guy Boucher said. "It's that we didn't do the defensive type of details we normally do."

Former Lightning goaltender Antero Niittymaki improved to 5-1-1 by stopping 33 shots, including a breakaway by Stamkos in the final seconds of the first period to preserve a 2-1 lead.

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