For the Ottawa Senators
, Tuesday night was plain and simple: Win, or lose your grip on the Eastern Conference playoff race.
understood, as the Sens’ forward scored once in regulation and again in the shootout, helping his team snap a three-game skid with a 3-2 victory
over the reeling Philadelphia Flyers
at Scotiabank Place.
''That was huge for us,'' Vermette said. ''The standings are tight right now, we all know that, but we battled hard and we found a way to win.''
With the victory, the Sens remained locked with the Montreal Canadiens
atop the conference standings. The Habs erased a 5-0 deficit on Tuesday night in a historic 6-5 shootout win over the New York Rangers
. Ottawa plays the first of four games in six nights on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets
''Hopefully we can build on this game and go forward and get our game going,'' Vermette said.
While Philadelphia was able to rally after falling behind 2-0, the loss was the Flyers’ eighth straight. They mustered only 11 shots on goal through the first two periods. Goalie Martin Biron
made 33 saves, but stopped only one of three in the shootout, where Jason Spezza
notched the game-winner.
and Scottie Upshall
found the back of the net against Senators goalie Ray Emery
, who finished with 23 saves.
''Marty was key and we need him to step up,'' forward Danny Briere
said. ''It's been a tough time for our goalies, not that they're playing bad, but the wins are hard to come by.''
Bruins 3, Hurricanes 2, SO | Video
After watching a 2-0 lead slip away in the final 1:03 of regulation, Boston avoided what would have been a horrific loss when David Krejci scored in the third round of the shootout to hold off Carolina at the RBC Center.
''For 59 minutes, I thought we played some pretty good hockey,'' Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ''It's unfortunate that some mistakes at the end ended up hurting us, as far as going into overtime and into the shootout. We had our best players out there, and they didn't do the job in that last minute.''
The Bruins benefited from two power play goals against the NHL’s worst penalty killing unit, as they were able to prevent the Hurricanes from sweeping them in a season series for the first time.
But Carolina was able to salvage a point thanks to late goals from Ray Whitney and Erik Cole. Whitney made it a 2-1 game on a slap shot with 1:03 to play, and Cole followed that up when he beat Tim Thomas (45 saves) on a wrister with 42.9 seconds remaining.
''I thought we were really attacking and it was just a matter of time,'' said Hurricanes center Eric Staal, who had two assists. ''It just ended up being the last minute.''
Carolina coach Peter Laviolette was hoping for a better fate, considering his team fired 47 shots on goal. But Thomas flirted with a shutout until the injury-depleted Hurricanes stormed back in the final minute.
''I feel like we don't get rewarded tonight for what we did,'' Laviolette said. ''You fire 47 shots on net, you certainly wouldn't think you'd have to wait until the last minute to try and tie up a hockey game.''
Penguins 3, Panthers 2 | Video
Ryan Malone scored twice in the final 3:20, as Pittsburgh gained a first-place tie with the New Jersey Devils in the Atlantic Division by rallying to beat Florida at Mellon Arena.
''Off the bat, for whatever reason, it takes us a while to get going and sooner or later that might come back to bite us,'' said Malone, who has 11 points in his past nine games. ''But right now, we're happy with the two points. That was the main thing tonight, to get the W.''
David Booth and Brett McLean scored for the Panthers, who took a 2-0 lead into the third period only to lose for the fourth time in five games.
''We stuck to our game plan early and often and were doing the little things correctly,'' Florida defenseman Bryan Allen said. ''But for whatever reason, we're kind of almost scared out there to play confident and stick to the system, and we turned the puck over and missed assignments and then the puck is in the net a few times.''
The Pens, meanwhile, improved to 15-16-1 when an opponent scores first and won for the sixth time when behind heading into the third.
''We got it going eventually; we knew we could do it,'' said Pittsburgh’s Colby Armstrong, who also scored. ''I don't think anyone in here panicked. We might have gotten a little flustered there in the second period, but nobody panicked. It was a team effort in the third period, but we have to start playing 60 minutes.”
Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 1 | Video
Making his 17th start in the last 18 games, Vesa Toskala made 26 saves, while Dominic Moore had two assists as Toronto skated past Columbus at the Air Canada Centre.
"I think it was a pretty solid game from us," Toskala said. "Not many turnovers, everybody was helping each other out there. Pretty good game."
All four goals were scored in the opening period. Carlo Colaiacovo gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead 5:41 into the game, when he fired a low wrist shot through a screen that beat Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire.
Nik Antropov put the Leafs up by a pair with a power play goal at 15:13. Only six seconds after Ron Hainsey was whistled for holding, Antropov knocked down a loose puck and swatted it past Leclaire to make it 2-0.
"We're really desperate right now," said Leclaire, who finished with 22 saves. "We're not playing the way we want to play, and since the (All-Star) break, we haven't played the hockey we did before. We've got to get back to it, because there aren't a lot of games left, and other teams are playing well."
Nikolai Zherdev gave the Blue Jackets life when he cut the deficit in half just 30 seconds after Antropov’s tally. With the teams back at even strength, Zherdev took a pass from Michael Peca and beat Toskala with a snap shot. Chad Kilger scored just over a minute later to restore Toronto’s two-goal lead.
Predators 5, Oilers 4 | Video
Once again, Nashville played a tight game. Once again, it came out on top.
J.P. Dumont and Scott Nichol each had a goal and two assists, as the Predators picked up a rare regulation victory over Edmonton. While Nashville has won four of six, its last two games entering Tuesday’s action had gone to overtime.
Dumont broke a 4-4 tie with just 1:55 remaining in regulation, when he came out from behind the net and backhanded a shot past Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon.
"I think the past couple of games, we have battled pretty hard," Edmonton's Robert Nilsson said. "We just need to find ways to win games. We scored four goals. And when we score four goals, we should win."
Nashville held a 3-1 lead until Edmonton responded with three unanswered tallies. Denis Grebeshkov, Sam Gagner and Marty Reasoner found the back of the net in a span of 2:18 to put the Oilers in front. The lead was short-lived, though, as Jason Arnott tied things up just 23 seconds later.
''We have a lot of stuff to clean up, especially the way we played away from the puck,” Dumont said. “That's usually the best part of the game for us playing good two-way hockey. We have to look forward and make sure we take care of that.''
Canucks 3, Wild 2, OT | Video
The Sedin brothers once again stole the show on Tuesday night.
Daniel Sedin took a pass from twin Henrik and ripped a shot past Nicklas Backstrom 3:18 into overtime, lifting Vancouver to a much-needed victory at Minnesota.
"They're world-class players, and definitely a first line on any team," Wild forward Brian Rolston said. "They're definitely a force to be reckoned with."
Both Sedins assisted on Markus Naslund’s power play goal with 5:19 remaining in the third period, which erased a 2-1 deficit. Roberto Luongo then came up huge as he made four big saves on a late Minnesota power play to help send the game to overtime.
"Tonight, we came back, Roberto needed to be really good at the end when they went on that power play. We found a way to win it in overtime," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "They obviously wanted this game badly, probably thinking if they win they take us out of the equation, but we stood right in there."
Minnesota held a 1-0 lead after the first period despite being outshot 13-3. Marian Gaborik scored on the power play 19 minutes into the contest. Backstrom finished with 34 saves for the Wild.
"He gave us a real good chance to win the game, even with the way we were playing, but he didn't have a lot of support," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "It would be real easy to say we got a point and we didn't play that bad. But we're at home, this is a big game, a four-point game, and you've got to come out better than this."
Blues 5, Blackhawks 1 | Video
St. Louis finally got its power play going, as it scored three times with the man advantage en route to an easy victory over visiting Chicago.
"I don't know what the difference is," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "We're not doing anything different, we're not teaching anything different.
"Pucks are just going in for us right now."
With the win, St. Louis is now 4-0-1 in their last five games. Manny Legace made 18 saves in his 17th straight appearance. Keith Tkachuk had a goal and two assists for the surging Blues, who are back in the playoff hunt.
Trailing by only a goal after 40 minutes, the Blackhawks crumbled and allowed three goals in the third period. They were outshot 12-4 in the last 20 minutes.
"We were talking about having a good start, but we've got to play 60 minutes to win these games," Chicago forward Martin Havlat said. "Obviously, we took too many penalties.
"Other than that, it's tough to say."
Flames 4, Coyotes 1 | Video
Dion Phaneuf had his first two-goal game of the season, while Jarome Iginla had two tallies and an assist as Calgary cruised at Phoenix.
The win was just what the doctor ordered for Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who entered Tuesday’s action with 10 goals allowed on his last 51 shots. Kiprusoff redeemed himself against the Coyotes, as he made 24 saves in the victory.
''Feels good to come up with a win,'' Kiprusoff said. ''We played a smart game, and a very good road game. We lost two in a row and can't lose three straight.''
Phoenix – which had its three-game winning streak snapped – did not put forth the type of performance that coach Wayne Gretzky was looking for. After Derek Morris tied the game 6:51 into the second period, Phaneuf scored 30 seconds later and the Flames never looked back.
''They played like this was a playoff game and we played like it was a September exhibition game,'' Gretzky said. ''They beat us to every loose puck. They took hits to make plays and we showed no grit. We only had a handful players who showed up.''