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Senators still seeking first win under new coach

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
The Ottawa Senators finally scored a goal for new coach Cory Clouston. They're still working on getting him a win.

Nick Foligno's goal late in the second period against Boston goaltender Tim Thomas was Ottawa's first in 95:54 under its new coach, and third-period goals by Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza put the Senators in position for their first win under Coulston. But Chuck Kobasew netted a power-play goal with 4:02 left in regulation, and P.J. Axelsson scored in the fifth round of the shootout to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory on Wednesday night.

It was Boston's fourth consecutive victory -- and the fourth loss in a row for the struggling Senators, who are last in the NHL in goals and 28th in the overall standings.

But Clouston, who took over when Craig Hartsburg was fired Sunday, said he could see improvement from his first game, a 1-0 loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"There were a lot of good things done tonight," he said. "Obviously we're disappointed in the outcome of the game with the shootout loss, but I thought our guys showed a lot of character. I thought there were some strides and some improvement in our puck possession and the things we've been trying to preach to these guys."

The Senators were blanked in Clouston's NHL coaching debut, and things weren't any better for most of the first two periods against Boston. Blake Wheeler made it 1-0 by beating Brian Elliott during a power play at 11:46 of the first period, and Zdeno Chara's blast from the blue line found the net at 10:27 of the second for a 2-0 lead.

Foligno pumped some life back into the Scotiabank Place crowd when he became the first Senator to score a goal for his new coach. Foligno made a great individual effort to get around defenseman Dennis Wideman before beating Thomas with a backhander at 15:54.

"It's obviously disappointing to lose but we did some great things tonight and I think that's the most important thing," Foligno said. "We've just got to continue to do those things, and I thought we took it to them for the majority of the night."

 
 


The goal seemed to relax Ottawa, which came out storming in the third period and scored two quick goals to take the lead. Daniel Alfredsson snapped a shot past Thomas' glove 58 seconds into the period to tie the game, and Jason Spezza put the Senators ahead for the first time with a power-play goal at 3:33.

"As the game went on, we seemed to run out of gas," said Boston coach Claude Julien, whose team won 3-1 at Philadelphia on Wednesday. "We didn't have the jump we'd like to have.

It looked like the Senators might give Clouston his first NHL win, but Antoine Vermette was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Michael Ryder at 14:54, and Kobasew banged in a rebound at 15:58.

"We were lucky to have some solid goaltending and got a good goal," Julien said.

The untimely penalty was the kind of thing that's happened to Ottawa all season long.

''We got really unlucky on the penalty,'' Alfredsson said. ''I thought we controlled the game well, but the power play gave them life and a chance to come back.''

In the shootout, Thomas made brilliant glove stops on Spezza and Dany Heatley before Axelsson beat Elliott with a backhander for the win.

"They were better than us tonight," Axelsson said. "We were lucky to get away with two points."

Panthers 3, Islanders 2 | Video

Florida ended the Islanders' four-game winning streak, but not without a few anxious moments after nearly blowing a pair of two-goal leads.

Richard Zednik's highlight-reel goal 12:39 into the second period proved to be the winner. He got by Radek Martinek at the blue line, cut into the zone and hopped over defenseman Brendan Witt before tapping the puck between Joey MacDonald's legs as he landed on the ice to give Florida a 3-1 lead.

"It was a two-on-one and I know I’m going to shoot or go in the middle," Zednik said of his eighth goal of the season. "That’s when the D went down, so I have to go over him. I skipped over him and I shot it right away and it went under the goalie."

Even his teammates were impressed.

"That takes some skill, not only to flip the puck over a guy but to jump over (a defender) because the puck was rolling," center Gregory Campbell said.

Trent Hunter's power-play goal at 14:51 cut the deficit to one, but the Islanders were unable to get the equalizer despite intense pressure in the final minute.

Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, whose team has picked up points in 25 of its last 32 games, gave credit to Zednik.

"There’s a guy…I haven’t given enough credit to lately," he said. "He's really battling hard. He's doing a lot of the little things well away from the puck and he's starting to get rewarded at the net, too. That's the kind of contributions we need."

The Panthers, who lost 3-1 on Long Island five nights earlier, looked much livelier in the rematch, outshooting the Isles 10-6 in the first period and taking a 2-0 lead on goals by defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Karlis Skrastins.

Bouwmeester beat MacDonald to the glove side with a slap shot from the point at 5:41 for his sixth goal in 11 games. Skrastins scored at 16:53 on a screened slap shot from the high slot.

The Isles got one back at 8:22 of the second period when rookie Josh Bailey beat Tomas Vokoun with a one-timer from the top of the right circle during a power play.

Despite the streak, the Islanders are still last in the overall standings.

"I thought we played a good second and third period," Bailey said. "The first period was kind of sloppy, but the last 40 we played real well. We were back to doing the things we were doing when we had that little winning streak. It's a positive we battled right to the end and made a game out of it."

Predators 4, Ducks 2 | Video

Nashville did its part to keep up with the pack in the Wild West playoff scramble, winning its third in a row behind a 28-save performance by Pekka Rinne, who has taken over the No. 1 goaltending job.

"I haven't really changed anything," the Finnish rookie said. "The more games you play, the more you get used to the speed of the NHL and the shooters."


PEKKA RINNE
GOALTENDER - NSH

SHOTS: 30 | SAVES: 28
SAVE PCT: .933 | GAA: 2.00

Dan Ellis will play Friday night against Minnesota -- though he'll have to be good to match Rinne's recent performances.

"Obviously, you want to play as much as possible," said Rinne, who will get a break after five starts in a row. "I know we are going to rotate a little bit. But you have to play well. And if you don't, the other guy is going to play."

With 51 points, Nashville is tied with Los Angeles and Colorado for 12th in the West -- but all three teams are only four points behind the four teams tied for the last three playoff spots. Anaheim is fifth, two points ahead of that quartet -- but the Ducks have played anywhere from two to five games more than all the other playoff contenders.

Jason Arnott put Nashville ahead to stay by firing a rebound past Jean-Sebastien Giguere 1:08 into the second period. The Predators made it 3-1 when Martin Erat beat Giguere with a wrist shot at 11:22. Anaheim's Corey Perry got his second of the night at 18:54, snapping a low shot past Rinne from the lower left circle.

But Vernon Fiddler hit the empty net with 1:11 left.

The Predators won a lot of battles against one of the NHL's biggest teams, bringing a smile to coach Barry Trotz.

"That's how you score now is in the hard areas," Trotz said. "Those hard areas are right in front of the goaltender, in the crease and from the back door. The blue paint out there is where we want to be."

It was a frustrating night for Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, whose team lost 3-0 at Minnesota on Wednesday.

"We played with everything we had," he said. "You have to like the effort of our hockey club."

Giguere played his first full game since Jan. 14. He had played only 15 minutes since then -- in a Jan. 21 game against the New York Islanders in which he was lifted after allowing two quick goals.

"It's nice to go one full game and have some positives to build on," said Giguere, who stopped 30 shots. "I felt my energy was good. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a better second half."

Avalanche 3, Stars 2 | Video

Colorado ended a disappointing eight-game homestand on a positive note thanks to Cody McLeod, who continues to prove he's more than just an enforcer. McLeod circled the net and banked a shot that went off Marty Turco's skate and over the goal line with 7:11 left in regulation, breaking a 2-2 tie.

McLeod and St. Louis' David Backes are the only players with more than 10 goals and 100 penalty minutes.

"You throw pucks at the net and sooner or later they're going to go in," McLeod said.

Turco took full blame for the goal, which ended Dallas' five-game winning streak.

"Went under my stick and off my foot into the net," Turco said of McLeod's shot. "Not much more to it. It's going to happen. You've got to be committal to that effort to staying low. ... Just a bad goal at a terrible time of the game for us."

McLeod said the goal was the same kind he usually scores -- not exactly a thing of beauty.

"Just kind of crash and bang and go to the net hard," he said. "I think anybody's going to score if they go to the net hard -- get dirty around the net, get rebounds. Definitely a little bit of luck around there, too, maybe. You're not going to get bounces if you don't work hard."

Both teams were unable to hang on to one-goal leads before McLeod put Colorado ahead to stay.

Steve Ott put Dallas ahead with 40 seconds left in the opening period, reaching out with his stick to deflect Matt Niskanen's shot behind Peter Budaj. Milan Hejduk tied it 13:11 into the second period when he took a pass from Ryan Smyth, cut toward the net and beat a sprawled Turco.

Marek Svatos put Colorado ahead for the first time with a power-play goal 42 seconds into the third period, but Loui Eriksson tied it at 8:02 when he whipped Toby Petersen's pass behind Budaj for his 25th goal.

Colorado beat Calgary and Dallas to finish an eight-game homestand with a 3-5 record. They are in a three-way tie for 12th in the West -- but just four points behind Dallas, Minnesota and Edmonton, which are tied for the last three playoff spots. The Avs play 10 of their next 12 on the road.

"Big wins for us. We were really cold for a while," Hedjuk said. "We came up with two big wins against two pretty hot teams lately. That should definitely help our confidence.
We have 30 games left and every game is huge for us. We need points bad."

Stars coach Dave Tippett wasn't happy with very much of what he saw from his team.

"That wasn't even close to the standard I know we can play," a disappointed Tippett said. "We didn't execute very well, and we expect more from this group."

Oilers 2, Blues 1 (SO) | Video

The Oilers used last season's specialty, the shootout, to get the extra point at St. Louis. Robert Nilsson and Sam Gagner scored for Edmonton, while Dwayne Roloson stopped T.J. Oshie and Brad Boyes in the breakaway competition.

The win put the Oilers into a three-way tie for the last three playoff spots in the West, but with six more teams within four points of a postseason spot.


DWAYNE ROLOSON
GOALTENDER - EDM

SHOTS: 34 | SAVES: 33
SAVE PCT: .971 | GAA: 0.92

"I thought we played a gritty game," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said after his team ended a two-game slide. "It was an important win. We were starting to slide the other way. We've got to get it turned around, and we got it turned around."

The game was scoreless until 16:46 of the second period, when Sheldon Souray took a drop pass from Nilsson and zipped a wrist shot over Chris Mason for his 13th goal of the season. It was Souray's first goal since Jan. 3 against Dallas.

St. Louis tied it at 5:29 of the third. With Boyes in the penalty box for interference, Jay McClement beat Roloson high on the stick side for his eighth goal of the season and fourth in his last four games.

"Their one goal was a perfect shot," MacTavish said of the only shot to beat Roloson, who finished with 33 saves.

However, neither team could score again.

"We had our chances but they had their chances too," McClement said. "Mason bailed us out a few times. We can't be leaving our goaltenders out to dry there."

The Oilers, who won an NHL-record 15 shootouts last season, improved to 3-2 this season. The Blues lost for the fourth time in 10 shootouts.

"We battled for a point," Mason said. "I'd like to be a little more patient in the shootout. I think I'm flinching a half-second too early."

Blackhawks 5, Flames 2 | Video

Chicago's eight-game trip through North America continues to go well. The Hawks improved to 4-1 through five games and completed a sweep of the two Alberta teams -- and a sweep of the four-game season series with the Flames for the first time since 1993-94.

Adam Burish broke a 2-2 tie when he deflected Matt Walker's shot behind Miikka Kiprusoff at 11:28 of the second period after some hard work by Andrew Ladd. Colin Fraser and Troy Brouwer added third-period goals for the Hawks, who've won their last three -- at San Jose, Edmonton and Calgary -- after beating Anaheim and losing 5-2 at Los Angeles. They visit Vancouver on Saturday.

"It's been a real good trip for us," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "If you discount one period in L.A., I think it's been pretty solid."

Walker finished with three assists, only one fewer than he had in his previous 37 games this season.

"We physically dominated them," said Chicago's Dave Bolland, who scored the Hawks' first goal. "We knew it was going to be a tough one coming in here because the last time we beat them. We came out stronger and we did what we were told in the first 10 minutes, we came out and played hard and set the tone."

Calgary, which was unable to score on four second-period power plays, lost for the season-high third time in a row in regulation.

"We need to have better effort from everyone," Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "We need to start winning one-on-one's and puck battles. We need to be responsible with the puck, especially in our own zone. We're allowing way too many chances whether it's off the rush or allowing guys in the middle of the ice."

It was an especially tough night for Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who finished minus-4.

"We've got to be better as a group, we've got to work harder, and I've got to be a lot better," Iginla said. "Being out there in those key situations, I'm not contributing enough."

Both teams scored twice in a wide-open first period.

Bolland put Chicago ahead just 42 seconds into the game on Dave Bolland's tip-in. Todd Bertuzzi tied it by beating Nikolai Khabibulin on a breakaway at 6:28. Ladd's one-timer beat Kiprusoff just 17 seconds later, but Dion Phaneuf pulled the Flames even again at 14:05 with a turnaround wrist shot after a turnover by the Hawks.

Khabibulin finished with 29 saves, including all 22 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes.

Hurricanes 4, Sharks 3 (SO) | Video

Two nights after one of their most disappointing losses of the season, the Hurricanes rebounded with perhaps their biggest win, rallying from two goals down to beat the League-leading Sharks in a shootout.

Sergei Samsonov's goal won the breakaway competition and gave the 'Canes a big two points after they lost 4-3 in Vancouver on a shorthanded goal with less than two minutes left in regulation. As they did two nights earlier, the Hurricanes overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to tie the game at 3-3 -- but this time, they made the comeback pay off.


SERGEI SAMSONOV
LEFT WING - CAR

GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 3 | +/-: 0

"It was a big win for us after we let one get away in Vancouver," said center Matt Cullen, whose penalty-shot goal at 4:55 of the second period gave Carolina some life after San Jose took a 2-0 lead. "For us to respond like this against one of the best teams in the League is big for us. It's a big boost, and it says a lot about this team."

Samsonov beat Evgeni Nabokov with a backhander after Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu scored in the first round of the shootout and San Jose's Milan Michalek tied it in the third round.

The win kept the Hurricanes one point behind eighth-place Florida in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They finish a Western trip Saturday at Phoenix.

The Sharks had four days off following a 4-2 home loss to Chicago on Saturday. They dominated play for much of the first half of the game, but were sloppy with the puck and paid the price.

"It was a game we gave away," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "Their three goals were the result of three turnovers. At this time of year, we can't let that happen."

Added coach Todd McLellan: "The three goals they got, we assisted on every one."

Ryane Clowe's goal 12:23 into the game put San Jose ahead, and Alexei Semenov's point shot through a screen beat backup goaltender Michael Leighton 3:10 into the second period for a 2-0 lead.

But Cullen was hooked on a breakaway and beat Evgeni Nabokov with a wrister on the penalty shot. Marc-Edouard Vlasic's goal at 7:16 restored San Jose's two-goal lead, but Samsonov's goal at 14:50 made it a one-goal game again, and Ray Whitney converted Cullen's pass at 7:30 of the third period for the tying goal after the Sharks got sloppy in their own zone.

"We had a lot of energy on the bench," said Cullen, who got extra ice time due to the absence of Rod Brind'Amour and a lower-body injury that knocked Eric Staal out of the game. "It was a good win as far as everybody chipping in together. We had a little bit of adversity with Staal out and Rod going home.

"It's big. The boys pulled together, we played an ugly road game and got a nice win."

With 14 of their next 20 games away from the friendly confines of the Shark Tank, this was a game the Sharks didn't want to lose.

"We can't let teams off the hook when we've got them down," Clowe said. "We have to be better at putting them away. They came at us hard and outplayed us in the third period."

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





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