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Team effort halts skid for Columbus

by Brian Compton
Columbus Blue Jackets' Rick Nash, right, works against Chicago Blackhawks' Rene Bourque during the third period.
The circus’ annual November visit to the United Center doesn’t make this the Chicago Blackhawks’ favorite time of the year.

With the circus taking over their home arena through Thanksgiving weekend, Denis Savard’s club began a six-game road trip on Wednesday. As of now, this year’s trip seems destined to go as well as all the others — the Hawks haven’t had a winning record on the annual November road swing since 1997.

A visit from the Blackhawks was just the tonic for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who entered with a four-game losing streak. Coach Ken Hitchcock knew it would take a team effort to overcome the young and energetic Hawks, and that’s exactly what he received. Rick Nash, Sergei Fedorov and Jason Chimera each had a goal and an assist, and Pascal Leclaire made 16 saves as the Blue Jackets ended their slide with a 4-2 victory over Chicago at Nationwide Arena.( 700K)

The Blackhawks were unable to match the emotion they showed in Sunday’s impressive 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. After Duncan Keith gave Chicago a 1-0 lead 12:24 into the game ( 700K ), the Blackhawks didn’t have much to cheer about the rest of the way. The loss snapped Chicago’s three-game winning streak.

“'We did get the first goal, but I just didn't like the way we played,” Savard said. “We didn’t protect our blue lines. We had chances to get pucks in behind their ‘D’ and we didn't. We’ve got to want to do that.”

Columbus tied the game just two minutes later when Nash got his 12th goal of the season. A shot from Fedorov deflected off Blackhawks’ defenseman Brent Seabrook to Nash, who fired it past Chicago goaltender Patrick Lalime to make it 1-1 ( 700K ).

''It was a good game. I thought we battled hard,'' Nash said.

Fedorov gave Columbus its first lead of the night just 60 seconds into the second period, deflecting Adam Foote’s blast from the point past Lalime for his fourth goal of the season ( 700K ). Dan Fritsche made it a two-goal game less than nine minutes later when he took a pass from Chimera and roofed a backhander over Lalime to make it 3-1 ( 700K ).

Chimera helped the Blue Jackets pull away when he scored on a breakaway at 9:49 of the third period ( 700K ). He took the puck at his own blue line, raced down the left wing and fired a slap shot from the circle over Lalime’s glove to give Columbus a 4-1 lead.

“Sometimes, you close your eyes and shoot and good things happen,” Chimera said. “Every dog gets his bone once in a while. It was nice. It was at the end of a shift and I didn’t have the speed I wanted to. I saw the top shelf, and I just tried to bury my head and shoot it.”

Dustin Byfuglien beat Leclaire with 2:31 left in regulation on a slap shot that went off the Blue Jackets’ netminder’s glove and into the net ( 700K ). Leclaire improved to 8-4 on the season.

“We competed. We’re like any young team – you make mistakes. But we competed really hard tonight,” Hitchcock said. “That’s the way we have to play to win. What was really nice for me was that we came back from a 1-0 deficit and took the lead, and kept it. We’re still making mistakes, but we’re not making mistakes of effort. We had more people on board tonight. It was good to see.”

Lightning 6, Hurricanes 1 | Video
Attention, Southeast Division: Vincent Lecavalier is on a roll.

Carolina found that out the hard way, as Lecavalier set a franchise record with a five-point performance (three goals, two assists), leading Tampa Bay to an impressive victory over its divisional rival at the St. Pete Times Forum.

It was Lecavalier’s sixth consecutive multi-point game for the Lightning, who have followed a

Vincent Lecavalier congratulates Johan Holmqvist after the Lightning defeated the Hurricanes.

six-game slide with a four-game winning streak to eclipse the .500 mark at 9-8-1. Lecavalier has 11 points during the winning streak.

“We were playing well, and we thought we were playing well,” Lecavalier said. “We were dominating some games, and were still losing them. We weren’t really down. We knew that it would come. Finally, it did. But we definitely have to keep going.”

Lecavalier was especially dominant ( 700K ) in the second period, when he scored a pair of goals ( 700K ) and assisted on tallies by Paul Ranger ( 700K ) and Martin St. Louis ( 700K ). Five of Tampa Bay’s six goals came in the middle period.

''I couldn't find him in the first period,'' Lightning coach John Tortorella said of Lecavalier. ''It's unbelievable how he played in the second period.''

Jeff Hamilton ( 700K ) was the lone Hurricane to solve Tampa Bay goaltender Johan Holmqvist, who finished with 28 saves. Despite its hot start to the season, Carolina (11-5-3) has struggled against the Lightning. The Hurricanes have only lost twice in their last six games — but both of those losses came at the hands of the Lightning. Former Tampa netminder John Grahame allowed five goals on 13 shots in the second period for Carolina.

''Their best players were their best players again tonight, and our best players have got to be better,'' Hurricanes center Eric Staal said. ''That's kind of what it boils down to.''

Sharks 4, Stars 3, SO | Video
One day after a major shakeup in their front office, Dallas rallied in the third period — only to lose in what had been the Stars’ specialty: a shootout.

Just 24 hours after GM Doug Armstrong was relieved of his duties in favor of Brett Hull and Les Jackson, the Stars erased a 3-1 deficit with two goals during a 58-second span in the third period. Brenden Morrow cut the deficit in half with his eighth goal of the season at 5:33, and Niklas Hagman tied it shortly with his eighth tally.

“We’re giving teams the lead and fighting back in the third,” Morrow said. “It was a real good effort, and it got us a point.”

But after a scoreless overtime, the Sharks came up big twice in the shootout thanks to goals from Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau against Stars goalie Marty Turco. Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen came up empty against San Jose netminder Evgeni Nabokov, resulting in the fourth straight home loss for Dallas.

''It's a big win,'' Setoguchi said. ''Unfortunately we gave up a two-goal lead. (The shootout) was a little nerve-racking. I made a little move and got off a quick shot.''

As for the Stars, Turco admitted there is still some shock around the locker room following Tuesday’s drastic change.

“It’s still fresh. It just happened,” Turco said of the changes in the front office. “It’s tough to put a finger on anything. Immediately, it’s a drastic change. It’s rock bottom for this team and something somebody thought needed to be done. For us, just to get out there and play, that’s what we do. We know we can be a lot better. We didn’t expect one big change to make a difference overnight. We’re in it all together for the long haul.”

San Jose erupted for three goals in the opening period. Torrey Mitchell opened the scoring at 9:33 ( 700K ), capitalizing on a turnover by Turco, whose no-look pass behind the net wound up right on Jeremy Roenick’s stick. Roenick fed Mitchell for the easy tally.

Niklas Hagman tied it at 15:49, but Setoguchi put the Sharks back on top at 18:04 ( 700K ), and Marleau gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead 59 seconds later ( 700K ) following a miscue by Stu Barnes.

“A couple of bobbles early put us behind the eight-ball,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “But I liked the way our veterans led the way in the third period. It’s something to build on, but we certainly have some work to do.”

Oilers 1, Canucks 0, SO | Video
Nothing is going right for Vancouver on home ice.

Nothing is going in, either.

Edmonton goalie Mathieu Garon stopped all 29 shots he faced in regulation and overtime — and another three in the shootout — as he outdueled Roberto Luongo at GM Place.

Vancouver's Alex Burrows takes a hit from Edmonton's Zack Stortini during first period.

With the loss, the Canucks (8-8-1) dropped to 2-6-1 on home ice and had their three-game win streak snapped. Ales Hemsky scored the lone goal in the shootout for Edmonton, which won back-to-back games for the first time since reeling off two straight to begin this season.

"We've got to win at home, that's the bottom line," said Luongo. "It doesn't matter how we do it. If we've got to take a shootout and win it 1-0 then that's what we've got to do."

Garon stood tall all night long, but he was especially strong in the opening period ( 700K ), when the Oilers were outshot 16-5. He did get some help, as Brendan Morrison hit the goalpost less than three minutes into the game. Ryan Kesler also found the iron in the final moments of the second period.

Luongo came up big in the third, robbing Shawn Horcoff twice from point-blank range ( 700K ) for the best of his 19 saves. He also made a glove save on a shot from the point by Dick Tarnstrom during a power-play chance for the Oilers.

In overtime, Luongo was able to get his glove on a shot from Andrew Cogliano ( 700K ), while Garon stopped a chance from Kesler from in close ( 700K ), which forced the shootout.

In the breakaway session, Garon made sure Vancouver’s offensive woes continued, as he stopped Byron Ritchie, Morrison and Kesler. Luongo thwarted Raffi Torres and Sam Gagner, but Hemsky fired a backhand shot over Luongo’s shoulder, giving Edmonton (7-10-1) its first win over Vancouver since Dec. 4, 2006 — a span of eight games. It was the Canucks’ first loss of the season within the Northwest Division (6-0-1).

"I just took the shot and tried to go to my backhand," said Hemsky. "I tried to get it up and I got it."

Material from wire services and team media were used in this report.

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