Ottawa’s slump is officially over.
After losing seven in a row, their longest slide in more than a decade, the Senators made it three straight wins, all on the road, by storming to a 6-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
The Eastern Conference leaders had a 2-0 lead before the game was 5½ minutes old, led 3-0 after one period and tacked on three more in the third period to make life easy for Martin Gerber. The ex-Hurricane stopped 31 shots after relieving Ray Emery, who left with a hip injury 5:24 into the game. Emery stopped the only shot he faced — and actually got credit for the victory because he left with a 2-0 lead.
“I don't think there were a lot of golden scoring opportunities by any means, but he obviously came in and knew it was a possibility that he might come in cold in a situation against a team where you know they put a lot of pressure on us," Senators coach John Paddock said of Gerber. "They play a high-tempo game that you have to be really ready. It didn't happen too often, but I'm sure he was ready for that to happen."
Heatley put the Senators ahead 1-0 at 1:46 with his 15th goal ( 700K ) and the 12th of his career against the Hurricanes.
“If you leave their two players alone in the slot, a guy like Heatley, it’s going to be in the net,” ‘Canes coach Peter Laviolette said. “We didn’t play well.”
It didn't take long for Mike Fisher to make it a two-goal game. He streaked down the left boards, eluded Bret Hedican and beat Cam Ward for his third goal in three games and 100th of his career at 5:24 ( 700K ) — prompting Laviolette to take his timeout and chew out his team while the Senators changed goalies.
The timeout didn’t help. Jason Spezza scored on a wrister from the slot to push the lead to 3-0 in the final minute of the period ( 700K ). Shane Donovan ( 700K ), Heatley ( 700K ) and Dean McAmmond ( 700K ) added third-period goals.
"We came out really hard, and it was a different game than the last one," Gerber said of the teams’ first meeting, a 5-3 Carolina victory in Ottawa on Oct. 11 that was the Senators’ only loss in their first 14 games. "The last one, they had a step on us. And today, we had a step on them."
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes got few chances against Gerber as they were shut out for the third time this season. “We got outworked, we got embarrassed in our own building and it’s unacceptable,” defenseman Glen Wesley said after Carolina’s ninth loss in 14 games. “The bottom line is there’s nothing to talk about. It’s embarrassing — plain and simple.”
The Canes were 0-for-4 on the power play. They have fallen to fifth in the NHL on the power play with just five man-advantage goals over the last 10 games — six of which were losses.
“We can’t go around the room and say our system isn’t working,” captain Rod Brind’Amour said. “It all comes down to us not putting up enough fight. When everyone is off, we don’t do anything offensively and we give up too many good scoring chances. Each guy has to look it the mirror and give a little more.”
Blue Jackets 4, Avalanche 1 | Video
The best way to stop high-scoring teams like Colorado is to keep them from shooting the puck. Columbus did that to near-perfection to beat the Avs at Nationwide Arena for the second time in a week — and only the fourth time ever.
Unlike their 5-4 victory over Colorado on Dec. 5, this time the Jackets stifled the Avalanche, the second highest-scoring team in the Western Conference — limiting them to 16 shots. Fredrik Norrena stopped 15, allowing only Ben Guite’s goal 3:07 into the second period ( 700K ).
“We knew we weren’t going to win the way we did in the 5-4 game,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “You’re always on edge when you play them.”
Colorado’s line of Ryan Smyth, Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk was scoreless after piling up 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in five games, including Sunday’s 9-5 win over St. Louis.
''Last game, it was wide-open hockey; this game, it was not,'' said Hejduk, who had 14 points in a seven-game scoring streak that was snapped. ''There weren't many scoring chances, there weren't many shots. It was kind of a frustrating game.''
Guite’s goal tied the game at 1-1, but Columbus went ahead to stay at 11:22 when Jarred Boll’s 35-foot slap shot from the high slot beat Jose Theodore ( 700K ). It was the Jackets’ only shot of the period.
Kris Beech added an insurance goal with 5:18 left in regulation ( 700K ), and Sergei Fedorov hit the empty net with 50 seconds remaining ( 700K ).
“We hardly had any shots,” Beech said after the teams each managed just 16 shots on goal. “We got the win, and that’s all that matters. We stuck to the game plan and played solid defense in our own end.”
Columbus is now 4-22-1-1 all-time against Colorado.
''We were crisp and focused and patient,'' Norrena said. ''We didn't play the game they wanted to play, to trade chances back and forth. They are really good at that.''
Sabres 5, Islanders 3 | Video
Buffalo enjoyed a little revenge against the Islanders in their first meeting since the Isles swept a season-opening home-and-home series. Ales Kotalik had a goal and an assist as the Sabres bombed away, firing 41 shots at Rick DiPietro — giving them more than enough offense to survive a gaffe by goaltender Ryan Miller.
Miller made 28 saves, including a highlight-reel stop on Marc-Andre Bergeron with nine minutes remaining in the game. But he also gave away the puck to Trent Hunter earlier in the third period, leading to a goal by Mike Sillinger that cut the Sabres’ lead to 4-3.
''We have a long way to climb over the next few months, and our margin of error isn't like it was the last few years,'' Miller said. ''I think we can be better, myself included. Personally, I want to be a go-to kind of goalie. I've been good enough to get us 12 or 13 wins, but that's not good enough right now.''
The Sabres led 1-0 after one period on a goal by Nolan Pratt ( 700K ), then took command with three in the second, including a pair 56 seconds apart by Toni Lydman ( 700K ) and Kotalik ( 700K ) that made it 3-0.
''They put a lot of traffic in front,'' DiPietro said. ''That was effective.''
Goals by Richard Park late in the second period ( 700K ) and Sillinger at 4:00 of the third ( 700K ) cut a 4-1 deficit to 4-3, but Jochen Hecht scored at 8:14 on a backhander ( 700K ) through DiPietro’s pads to give the Sabres some insurance.
''We made more mistakes and made more turnovers but we got better results,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. ''It's funny how it goes.''
The five goals were more than the offense-challenged Islanders could make up. Isles coach Ted Nolan did everything he could to shake up his team, including juggling lines and sitting defenseman Bryan Berard for the final two periods. New York came into the game last in the NHL with 63 goals and has scored three or fewer in 19 straight games.
"I've given guys plenty of opportunities, but patience can only go so long," a frustrated Nolan said. "We're in a business. You have to produce and you have to play hard. We can’t get behind 4-1 and expect to fight back and score five to win. We have to have a better effort."
Bruins 5, Thrashers 3 | Video
Boston started strong and finished stronger on the way to a win at Atlanta. The Bruins raced out to a 2-0 lead, allowed three consecutive goals in the second period, then rallied for the victory.
Rookie Milan Lucic broke a 3-3 tie with 3:47 left in regulation ( 700K ) when he banged a rebound past Johan Hedberg. Lucic, who set up Glen Murray’s tying goal with 1:07 left in the second period ( 700K ), found the puck after Hedberg stopped a shot by Phil Kessel and jammed it into the net for his second of the season.
"I was calling for the puck," Lucic said. "(Kessel) put it right into the office, and I put it home."
Marc Savard added an empty-netter with four seconds remaining ( 700K ).
The Thrashers overcame a 2-0 deficit when newcomer Mark Recchi scored twice in a 1:01 span, matching his entire production with Pittsburgh before he joined Atlanta on waivers. He snapped Marian Hossa’s pass behind Alex Auld at 10:28 ( 700K ) and deflected Eric Perrin’s shot into the net at 11:29 ( 700K ).
“I feel very comfortable with the hockey club already," Recchi said. "I hope to continue to help and help us get some wins."
Ilya Kovalchuk scored at 16:44 ( 700K ), during a 5-on-3 power play, to put Atlanta ahead for the first time. But after one of Atlanta’s 18 turnovers, Lucic helped the Bruins pull even when he set up Murray’s goal.
"To come back and score at the end of the period is always how you get the momentum," Murray said. "I think we had the momentum when we came out for the third and played pretty solid."
Auld, who joined the Bruins a week ago, stopped 23 shots to win his third game in as many starts for Boston.
"There is no doubt that we have to be happy under the circumstances," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's a credit to the guys in there."
Blackhawks 6, Kings 3 | Video
It took five tries, but Chicago finally won a game in December. Martin Havlat scored twice and Patrick Sharp and rookie Jonathan Toews each had a goal and two assists at the United Center, as the Blackhawks ended a four-game losing streak.
After Tuomo Ruutu opened the scoring 3:11 into the game ( 700K ), Havlat ( 700K ) and Duncan Keith ( 700K ) scored 34 seconds apart as Chicago took a 3-0 lead in the first 14:06 and chased Jean-Sebastien Aubin.
"They came out hard and played physical, setting the tone, and we weren't completely ready for that," Kings center Michal Handzus said.
Handzus put L.A. on the board with a shorthanded goal at 19:05 of the opening period ( 700K ), but Havlat made it a three-goal game again 5:05 into the second period ( 700K ) when he beat Aubin’s replacement, Jonathan Quick, to the stick side with a wrist shot during a two-man power play.
After missing 22 games with a shoulder injury sustained on opening night, Havlat has five goals and three assists in seven games.
Patrick O’Sullivan poked in a rebound late in the second ( 700K ) and set up Anze Kopitar’s wrist shot past Nikolai Khabibulin 6:36 into the third ( 700K ), cutting the margin to one goal. But Patrick Kane’s shot went off Toews and into the net just 42 seconds later ( 700K ), and Toews set up Sharp for an insurance goal at 17:54 ( 700K ).
Canucks 3, Ducks 2 | Video
No Roberto Luongo
? No Brendan Morrison
? No problem for the Vancouver Canucks
, who got a 33-save effort from backup goalie Curtis Sanford
and first-NHL goals by two callups to win in Anaheim.
Mason Raymond and Jason Jaffray set up each other’s first NHL goals and the Canucks held on to beat the Ducks for the second time this season. Anaheim outshot the Canucks 16-1 in the third period, but Sanford — playing because Luongo is sidelined with a rib injury — came up big several times down the stretch.
“I thought for two periods we were really good,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “Curtis played great. We were hanging on in the third period and he made some great saves.”
Morrison’s consecutive games streak ended at 542 when he didn’t dress. He’s slated to have surgery to fix a wrist injury that has hampered him since training camp.
Raymond finished off a pass from Jaffray 17:35 into the game to put Vancouver in front. “It’s one I’ll always remember,” said Raymond, who had played nine games earlier this season, earning one assist.
Daniel Sedin made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later, stealing a pass by Chris Kunitz and beating Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the slot.
Jaffray, playing in his first NHL game, made it 3-0 at 4:54 of the second period. He tried to pass the puck from behind the net into the slot, but it hit a stick and Jaffray scooted out, picked up the loose puck and whipped it past Giguere. Raymond got an assist on the play.
“It’s an incredible feeling to get that out of the way,” said Jaffray, a 26-year-old who was undrafted and had been in the minors since 2002. “To be able to get an assist in the first period and a goal in the second exceeded expectations.”
Vigneault said getting goals from the two newcomers was a big boost.
“For those two young men to come in and score their first two goals was great,” he said.
The Ducks came to life when Chris Pronger cut the margin to 3-1 at 5:51, ripping a slap shot from the top of the left circle into the top corner. But though they dominated the second half of the game, the Ducks didn’t score again until Mathieu Schneider’s deflected slap shot got past Sanford with 1:31 remaining in regulation. Sanford, signed during the summer to back up Luongo, is 4-1-0 as a Canuck.
“The start was a stumbling block,” Pronger said of his team’s slow start. “We played with a lot more fire and determination in the second and third periods, but it wasn’t enough.”
The Ducks are hoping to have Scott Niedermayer back in the lineup within the next few days. He’s been skating with the team but watched Wednesday’s game from the press box.
“He looked pretty good,” Pronger said. “Guys who can skate like that don’t lose it.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used in this report.