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Stamkos sets up pair as Lightning double up Rangers

by Brian Hunter

The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers will help get the NHL regular season started when they meet in Prague, Czech Republic, in a little over a week. In the meantime, they’re getting to know each other well during the preseason and Tampa has held the upper hand.

Newcomer Ryan Malone capitalized off the rebound of a Steven Stamkos shot and Martin St. Louis scored just 2:18 later as the Lightning rallied for three goals in the third period to defeat the Rangers 4-2 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

New York outshot Tampa Bay 47-25 and led 2-1 on goals by offseason acquisition Dan Fritsche and rookie Lauri Korpikoski, but it didn’t hold up. The Rangers dropped to 1-4 in the exhibition season and have been held to two goals in all five games.

Stamkos set up the tying goal in the third with a breakaway that was stopped by Stephen Valiquette. Malone was there for the follow at 2:18. St. Louis would later roof a shot for the go-ahead goal. Stamkos also assisted on Evgeny Artyukhin’s empty-netter.

Chris Gratton scored in the first for the Lightning and goaltender Karri Ramo went the distance in stopping 45 shots.

Capitals 5, Hurricanes 2

The Washington Capitals’ preseason home opener was a microcosm of their 2007-08 season – poor start but a fantastic finish, keyed by none other than Alexander Ovechkin.

Ovechkin’s successful penalty shot in the second period brought the Capitals back from a 2-0 deficit to tie and he completed their run of five unanswered goals with a power-play marker in the third before an announced crowd of 13,266 at Verizon Center.

Youngsters Harrison Reed and Ryan Bayda got the Hurricanes off to a quick start by scoring on the man advantage in the first period, but they dropped their second straight to their Southeast Division rivals following a 4-1 loss in Raleigh on Wednesday.

Michael Nylander, who missed much of last season with a shoulder injury, got the Washington comeback going by scoring on the power play 6:06 into the second. Ovechkin beat Daniel Manzato on a penalty shot to tie it, then Nylander put the Capitals in front 2:20 into the third. Chris Bourque extended the lead less than four minutes later.

Red Wings 4, Bruins 3

Playing without captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who is expected to miss the next several games after breaking his nose in Wednesday night’s action, the defending Stanley Cup champions picked up their first victory of the preseason on Brad Stuart’s goal midway through the third period.

Henrik Zetterberg, Brett Lebda and Cory Emmerton also scored as Detroit captured a game played in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Lidstrom, who was injured in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Montreal Canadiens, is expected to be out at least through the weekend.

P.J. Axelsson, Jeremy Reich and Martin St. Pierre had the goals for Boston, which played in Halifax for the second time in four days. The Bruins routed the Canadiens 8-3 on Monday.

Flyers 4, Islanders 0

Recently-signed veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin stopped all 18 shots he faced over the first two periods and starter Martin Biron completed the shutout with six saves in his 20 minutes of action as the Flyers won for the second time in three games.

Mike Richards, Joffrey Lupul, Mike Knuble and Jeff Carter all scored for Philadelphia in a neutral-site game in London, Ontario. Richards and Lupul added assists for two-point nights.

After defeating the Boston Bruins in overtime Tuesday to give new coach Scott Gordon a win in his debut behind the bench, the Islanders faltered despite 22 saves from Yann Danis.

Thrashers 4, Predators 2

Grant Stevenson, who last played in the NHL during the 2005-06 season, had a three-point effort for Atlanta to put a damper on Nashville’s preseason debut at Sommet Center.

Stevenson, who had 10 goals and 22 points in 47 games for the San Jose Sharks in his only year in the League, notched a pair of goals and assisted on Junior Lessard’s power-play goal in the second period that turned out to be the game-winner.

Garnet Exelby also scored for the Thrashers, who got 36 saves in net from prospect Ondrej Pavelec.

Two young players who hope to contribute for the Predators this season stated their cases. Defenseman Kevin Klein got the Predators on the board and Ryan Jones also tallied. Klein has one career goal in 18 games over parts of three seasons for Nashville, while Jones was acquired in an offseason trade with the Minnesota Wild for Marek Zidlicky.

Avalanche 4, Stars 2

T.J. Hensick, looking to build off a promising start to his NHL career, scored the go-ahead, power-play goal in the third period as Colorado doubled up Dallas at American Airlines Center.

Hensick, who registered six goals and 11 points in 31 games and also got into two postseason contests as a rookie, converted a Ryan Smyth pass at 5:56 to put the Avalanche in front. Matt Hendricks added an empty-netter with 13 seconds remaining.

Smyth and Brian Willsie also scored for Colorado, sandwiched between Dallas goals by Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow.

Marty Turco played the first two periods for the Stars before being replaced by rookie Matt Climie. Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft combined to stop 24 shots in net for the Avalanche.

Flames 3, Coyotes 1

Mike Cammalleri gave the fans at Pengrowth Saddledome a sight they hope to see often during the coming season, as his goal early in the second period turned out to be the game-winner as Calgary topped Phoenix.

Cammalleri, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on draft night, totaled 34 goals and 80 points two seasons ago, and the Flames are hoping he will bounce back from just 19 goals and 47 points last season. Matthew Lombardi and Andre Roy also scored as Calgary built a 3-0 lead.

Viktor Tikhonov provided a moment of excitement for the Coyotes in the third period when he beat goalie Curtis McElhinney for his first goal. Tikhonov, the grandson of the legendary Russian player and coach, was selected in the first round of the June draft by Phoenix with the 28th pick.

Oilers 3, Panthers 2 (SO)

Fans in Edmonton can breathe a sigh of relief – the Oilers’ dominance in the shootout hasn’t completely gone by the board.

After losing their first two tiebreakers of the preseason, Edmonton prevailed against Florida on the strength of Marc-Antoine Pouliot’s goal in the third round Thursday night at Rexall Place.

After Kamil Kreps’ backhander went wide of Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon, Pouliot skated in and put a backhander past the Panthers’ Craig Anderson to end the game. Earlier in the shootout Michael Frolik scored for Florida and Gilbert Brule answered for Edmonton.

The Oilers set an NHL record last season for shootout success by going 15-4 and Garon was a perfect 10-0 while stopping an eye-catching 30 of 32 shot attempts.

Radek Dvorak and Anthony Stewart rallied the Panthers with goals in the third period after Tyler Spurgeon and Robert Nilsson had staked the Oilers to a 2-0 lead.

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