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Stars snap Coyotes' winning streak with a 4-0 victory

by John Kreiser
Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars said goodbye to their fans until after the Olympics with their best performance in a long time -- and terminated the Phoenix Coyotes' six-game winning streak in the process.

Turco made 34 saves for his 39th career shutout, rookie Jamie Benn had his first two-goal game, and the Stars beat the road-weary Coyotes 4-0 on Saturday night.

The Coyotes started a four-game trip with a 4-2 win at the American Airlines Center on Sunday, won in shootouts at Nashville on Tuesday and Chicago on Friday, but were no match for the revved-up Stars, who don't play at home again until March 2.

"Tonight was our best performance by everybody in a long time," Turco said. "There wasn't anything that was missing for us. And when we score four goals, I like our odds."

Turco was sharp in his third consecutive start en route to his third shutout of the season. During his last three games, Turco has stopped 97 percent of the shots he's faced and has posted a 1.01 goals-against average.

"He was strong, he made some real big saves," captain Brenden Morrow said. "The guys did a good job of cleaning up in front of him and when it did get by, he was athletic enough to reach behind and make that second save."

The Stars start a three-game trip in Chicago on Tuesday, and they'll have to start winning some games away from home to get into the top eight in the West. They're 10-2-0 in their last 12 at the AAC, but 1-10-2 in their last 13 on the road.

"This is a huge road trip," Stars forward Steve Ott said. "Our road record has been shameful. We need to change that."

Phoenix won the first three games of the season series, including a 4-2 decision on Jan. 31, by a total score of 12-6 under former Dallas coach Dave Tippett. But they didn't have much energy after their 2-1 shootout win at Chicago less than 24 hours earlier. James Neal converted a pass from Loui Eriksson 3:36 into the game, then sent Eriksson away for a shorthanded breakaway goal at 18:33. Benn scored twice in the second period to put the game away.

"Our whole group looked tired tonight without a doubt," Tippett said. "Last night's game took a huge toll on us. We went to overtime, then late travel. And you've got a fresh team sitting here, you know they're going to come hard at you."

Canadiens 5, Penguins 3

Montreal finally made life easy for goaltender Jaroslav Halak, limiting Pittsburgh to 21 shots and getting two goals from Brian Gionta to end a five-game losing streak to the Penguins and stay in sixth place in the East.

Halak had faced 47 shots in back-to-back wins over Vancouver and Boston, but saw less than half that as the Canadiens carried the play almost all afternoon.

"We were initiating the play," Gionta said. "We weren't sitting back and waiting for them to come to us. Against a team like that, so skilled, so offensively talented, you need to initiate the play and get them back on their heels."

Tomas Plekanec finished with a goal and two assists, Scott Gomez and Mathieu Darche also scored for the Canadiens. Pascal Dupuis, Bill Guerin and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins, who had won two in a row and outscored the Canadiens 12-4 in three previous victories this season.

The goal was especially sweet for Darche, a 33-year-old Montreal native who got a Callup due to injuries.

"It was a special feeling scoring in the Bell Centre for the Canadiens," Darche said after scoring his second NHL goal and the first at home. "It was a rush of adrenaline and it was nice because it gave us an extra goal lead. With a team like Pittsburgh you never have too many goals because you know they have the firepower to come back."

Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals before lifted in favor of Brent Johnson in the third period. Darche and Gionta scored in the final 20

"I don't think we played a very good game today as a team, and that's a very disappointing way to lose a match," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Canucks 3, Bruins 2 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Boston's losing streak reached 10 games as the Bruins blew a two-goal lead and lost in a shootout for the second time in less than 48 hours.

Pavol Demitra tied the game with 4:42 left in regulation and scored the only goal in the shootout as the Canucks pulled even at 2-2-0 on their 14-game road trip.

The Bruins haven’t gotten two points in a game since edging San Jose 2-1 in a shootout on Jan. 14. They will try to avoid matching the longest skid in franchise history -- the 1924-25 team lost 11 straight -- when they play Montreal on Sunday afternoon. They haven’t won in Boston since beating Philadelphia 2-1 in overtime in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, or at TD Garden since blanking Atlanta 4-0 on Dec. 30.

"I think both goaltenders played well tonight and certainly kept their teams in the game,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Again, with that 2-0 lead we really had to try to find a way to get that third goal. It didn’t happen, so eventually it came to the shootout again.”

Demitra beat Tuukka Rask on Vancouver’s first shootout attempt. Roberto Luongo made saves on Blake Wheeler and David Krejci, then poke-checked Patrice Bergeron on Boston’s final attempt.

The Canucks have split the first four games of their marathon trip.

"Two-and-two and 1-3 are two totally different things,” Luongo said. "We want to make sure we are better than .500 … on the road trip. Our road record is not where we want it to be (12-13-1) and we have to find ways to be better on the road like we were tonight.”

Luongo finished with 41 saves and the final one might have been the best -- he robbed Michael Ryder on a backhander an instant before the end of overtime.

"We went through the exact same thing last year where we outplayed the opposition a number of times but couldn’t get the win,” coach Alain Vigneault said.

Ryder and Zdeno Chara had power-play goals for the Bruins in the first period. Mason Raymond cut the margin to 2-1 in the second. Demitra forced overtime when he tipped a Tanner Glass shot past Tuukka Rask.

Already without the services of defensemen Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart, the Bruins lost Johnny Boychuk in the first period when a Mikael Samuelsson slap shot hit him in the left side of the. Boychuk was helped off the ice, did not return, and Julien said he wouldn’t travel with the team to Montreal; however, Ference could return after missing 14 games with a groin injury.

Sharks 4, Predators 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Team Canada fans had to be smiling after watching Dany Heatley get the game-winning goal midway through the third period to give the Sharks a win at Nashville.

From the right boards, center Joe Thornton found Patrick Marleau on the goal line to the right of the net where he slid a pass through the crease. Heatley had an easy tap-in for his second power-play goal of the game and 32nd goal of the season.

All three players are members of Canada's Olympic Team and figure to play together later this month in Vancouver.

Brad Staubitz and Rob Blake also scored for San Jose, and Evgeni Nabokov made 35 saves. J.P. Dumont scored twice and Joel Ward once for the Predators.

"I thought we settled down a little bit in the third period, and we were good enough at that point to win," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "The way it was going, you didn't know if a one-goal lead was going to be enough."

Ward scored on a breakaway at 17:35 of the second to give the Predators a 3-2 lead, but Blake swatted home a rebound with 24 seconds left to send the teams into the locker room tied at 3-3 -- and give the Sharks a big boost.

"We scored and we were up, and they kept coming back," Ward said. "It would have been nice to get the momentum swinging our way, but we had a few costly errors and it put us behind."

Lightning 2, Flames 1 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

Like the Little Engine That Could, the Tampa Bay Lightning keep finding ways to win. This time, they got a goal from low-scoring defenseman Andrej Meszaros 1:58 in overtime to beat the Flames.

"It's a huge sign being able to win a game like this," Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis said.

Meszaros' winner came from the left circle completed Tampa Bay's comeback from a 1-0 deficit after the second period. The Flames led 1-0 going into the final 20 minutes on a first-period power-play goal by defenseman Mark Giordano.

But after managing just 10 shots through two periods, the Lightning came out strong and tied the game 60 seconds into the final period on a goal by Steven Stamkos, who whipped home a backhander from the left circle to extend his scoring streak to nine games.

"They got some momentum and they're a good offensive team," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. "Once they get a little jump, especially at home, they start bringing it.

"We'll take the positives and move on."

It wasn't the prettiest win, but the two points moved the Lighting into sole possession of seventh place in the East

"That was one of the toughest games for grinding it out," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "Everybody contributed. That's the kind of team we have to be."

Thrashers 4, Panthers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

The Thrashers got an early return from their end of the Ilya Kovalchuk trade when Niclas Bergfors scored the go-ahead goal with 4:26 left. Evander Kane added an empty-netter to help the Thrashers end a three-game losing streak.

Bergfors, playing his second game for the Thrashers after coming from New Jersey in the Kovalchuk deal, scored on a 15-foot blast that went between goalie Tomas Vokoun's legs. Bergfors had 14 goals this season -- but none in calendar year 2010.

"It had been a month since I scored a goal," he said. "It was great. It means a lot."

Actually, it was Dec. 30 against Pittsburgh.

"Very opportunist," Atlanta coach John Anderson said of Bergfors. "I was telling him after the second period, don't be afraid to be a hero. Lo and behold. Great shot, great play."

The game started about 45 minutes later late because the Thrashers didn't arrive from Washington until 6 p.m. ET due to the snow that has covered much of the Mid-Atlantic reason. Radek Dvorak scored twice in the first period to give Florida a 2-0 lead, but the Thrashers' Max Afinogenov and Bryan Little countered in the second.

"We had the game under control. We were up by two goals, then the game shifted a little bit to their side," Dvorak said after Florida lost its third in a row and fourth in five games.

"We have to keep pushing and pressing and play our game," he said. "In the end, it's 4-2. We have to learn from that."

Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Claude Noel is 2-for-2 as an NHL coach -- and suddenly, the Columbus Blue Jackets are having fun again.

Steve Mason stopped 28 shots for his third shutout of the season, and Rick Nash and Raffi Torres scored against the NHL's top penalty-killing team, giving the relaxed Jackets their second win in as many games since Noel replaced Ken Hitchcock.

"We're having some fun out there," forward R.J. Umberger said. "Guys are playing with a lot of jump and confidence."

Anton Stralman had a goal and an assist, and Milan Jurcina scored on a lucky bounce to snap an 87-game goal-less streak. Jake Voracek tied a career high with three assists.

Jurcina opened the scoring 2:17 into the game, and Nash reached the 25-goal mark by scoring on the power play at 15:32. Strahlman and Torres added goals in the first 2:09 of the third period, giving the Blue Jackets their largest margin of victory this season.

Mason, last season's Calder Trophy winner, won back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 17. His 13th career shutout gave him the Blue Jackets' franchise mark.

"I don't think it was the best game we've played," said Noel. "We can play a lot better than this," he said.

The loss was the fourth in a row and second in two nights for the Sabres, who retained first place in the Northeast Division because Ottawa lost at Toronto. Buffalo, playing its third game in four days, is just 2-7-1 since Jan. 19.

"The message is we have to put it behind us," coach Lindy Ruff said. "There have been games where we have played well and lost and games where there have been a lot of breakdowns and a lot of frustration. The message is we are a better team than we are playing right now."

The win came in front of a huge throng of visiting Buffalo fans who swelled attendance at Nationwide Arena to 18,576.

"Obviously Buffalo had their share (of fans)," Mason said. "But our fans completely took over the game. It's always fun playing at home, to have the home-ice advantage for an extra while is going to be great. We just have to keep taking advantage of it."

Blackhawks 2, Blues 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Maybe the Hawks needed to go back on the road to rediscover their swagger. After losing two consecutive home games following a successful eight-game trip, the Blackhawks got 34 saves by Antti Niemi and a goal and an assist by Jonathan Toews to win at St. Louis.

"I don't think we've been very happy with the way we've been playing since Carolina and maybe even before that," said Patrick Sharp, who also scored for the Blackhawks. "We definitely weren't panicking in our locker room, but tonight was a must-win. We wanted to come out and have a good effort against a tough opponent, so getting the early lead was big for us and I think we battled the rest of the way."

The Blackhawks, 0-2-1 in their previous three games, scored a pair of first-period goals and held the Blues off the rest of the way, including killing off St. Louis' 41-second two-man advantage.

Chicago was the last team in the NHL to drop three in a row this season.

"We worked hard, got off to a good start and we knew it was going to be a tight game for three periods," said Toews, whose goal made it 2-0 at 15:51 of the opening period. "That's a good win, and that's the kind of effort we need to keep showing up with every night."

The Blues, who got a late goal from Alex Steen and 28 saves from Chris Mason, fell to an NHL-worst 9-16-5 at home. They won 3-2 at Chicago on Wednesday but have dropped back-to-back games at Scottrade Center to the top two teams in the West -- San Jose and the Hawks.

"I thought we had very good energy and I thought there was good, physical play early on in that period," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "... The disappointing part in the middle there was our execution of the 5-on-3. We have some situations where we want to go to. ... We've got to make sure we stick to the plan."

Avalanche 3, Oilers 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Craig Anderson continued his domination of the Oilers, dropping 20 shots for his third shutout against Edmonton this season as the Avs solidified their playoff standing in the West by winning for only the second time in six games.

Anderson has six shutouts this season -- half of them against the 30th-place Oilers.

"He's been amazing for us," said Wojtek Wolski, whose goal midway through the second period opened the scoring. "It's outstanding, what he's doing. He keeps us in every single game."

Oilers coach Pat Quinn has no idea why Anderson has his team's number.

"We've got nice scouting reports on him, but we haven't been able to solve him," Quinn said. "We didn't put much pressure on him in the first two periods, but in the third when they needed him, he made a couple of big saves.

"He's a sharp young man, and it looks like he's improving."

Wolski took a pass from Matt Duchene and ripped a shot from the right faceoff dot that Jeff Deslauriers got a chunk of but couldn't stop from trickling into the net at 9:33. It was his first goal in seven games -- and a big relief.

"When you're supposed to be a goal-scorer and you haven't scored in seven games, it's frustrating," Wolski said. "You just keep putting it toward the net and eventually it will go in."

The Avs kept firing away at Deslauriers -- they outshot Edmonton 42-20 -- but couldn't beat him again until Ryan Wilson's nothing-special shot from near the left boards past the top of the circle slipped through his legs with 2:54 to play. Brandon Yip added an empty-netter with 30 seconds to play.

"I thought we played a solid game for 60 minutes and got good results," said Avs coach Joe Sacco, whose team is sixth in the West with 70 points, six ahead of ninth-place Detroit.

Quinn absolved his goaltender of any blame for the loss.

"He let a couple of squeakers go in, but he made so many good (saves)," Quinn said. "We should have been better in front of him."

Hurricanes 3, Islanders 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Rookie Justin Peters stopped 34 shots to win his NHL debut as the Hurricanes handed the punchless Islanders their seventh consecutive loss.

Jussi Jokinen, Patrick Dwyer and Joni Pitkanen scored for Carolina, which won for the second time in two nights.

For's complete game story, click HERE

Material from team and national media and wire services was used in this report

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