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Ward shines as 'Canes blank Sens @NHL
Cam Ward was on top of his game Wednesday night, and that was bad news for the Ottawa Senators.

Zach Boychuk scored his first two goals of the season, and Ward made 37 saves as the Carolina Hurricanes earned a 4-0 win at Scotiabank Place.

Both of Boychuk's goals came in the first period. Ward made the lead stand, especially in the third when he stopped 18 shots.

"He's not bad. We'll keep him," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "He has been that good and has played miraculous on some nights."

Patrick Dwyer had a goal and an assist in the win and Erik Cole also scored for the Hurricanes (17-15-4), who pulled to within four points of eighth place in the Eastern Conference and two points clear of the tenth-place Senators (16-18-4).

"That's half our road season done now and we're two games over .500 on the road. We have 26 home games left and we play pretty good at home so this was an important win for our team," Maurice said.

Dwyer scored the only goal of the third period and Cole the only one in the second after the Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes.

The first period belonged to Boychuk who scored his first of the game on a wraparound at 9:54 and then beat Brian Elliott over the left shoulder at 13:12 with the Hurricanes on the power play.

"We came out strong in the first period and our game-plan was to get shots to the net so we were throwing everything to it," Boychuk said. "We were lucky enough to get a few early to set us up for the rest of the game.

"(Ward) has been great for us and in a lot of our wins he's our best player. We need that and we're happy to have him on our squad."

The Hurricanes halted a three-game slide Tuesday with a 4-3 over the Maple Leafs in Toronto before making their way to Ottawa.

"Really pleased with our game. I wasn't very excited about the overall game (in Toronto). It was just so sloppy but I tonight I thought we were pretty well organized," Maurice said. "We gave up more (shots) in the third than we wanted to, but maybe a little fatigue had set in at that point from back-to-back nights."

The Senators, meanwhile, needed a win not only to jump ahead of the Hurricanes, but also to maintain the momentum they were building with a pre-Christmas win in Minnesota and then a Boxing Day win at home over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"That was not a good enough effort to win a game, that's for sure," said Senators forward Mike Fisher.
"We didn't bury it when we had opportunities and we gave up too many easy goals. They got out to that early lead and we didn't respond. For whatever reason we're not scoring goals and we need to. It's as simple as that."

Ottawa was playing the first of what is likely to be several games without forward Jason Spezza, who injured his shoulder in the Pittsburgh game when he was hit into the boards by Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.

Letang was given a minor penalty on the play but no further disciplinary action from the NHL, a decision criticized by Senators GM Bryan Murray on Tuesday.

The Senators are now 39-17-1 with Spezza out of the lineup over the past four seasons.

Rangers 3, Devils 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Two nights after bombarding the New York Islanders with a season-high 52 shots in a 7-2 win, the Blueshirts allowed a season-high 44 shots and let goalie Henrik Lundqvist do his thing in a victory at New Jersey.

Lundqvist made a season-high 43 saves and the Rangers handed the Devils their sixth straight loss. New Jersey is still winless since Jacques Lemaire took over as coach last week.

"It's all about finding a way to win these types of games," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Hank gave us a chance with his play and then we got better as the game went on. We're not going to be perfect every night. There are going to be nights like this. They controlled it on us early on, but our goalie gave us a chance."

Lundqvist admitted the Rangers were clearly not at their best in winning for the fifth time in seven games (5-1-1).

"It feels better than playing well and losing," said Lundqvist, whose previous season high in saves was 40 in a 3-0 win over Florida on Nov. 26. "As the game went on, I felt better and felt I had a chance to get to everything. I knew that in no way it was going to be an easy game. They're not a bad team, despite their record."

Defenseman Michal Rozsival scored the winner on a second-period shot that deflected off Devils defenseman Andy Greene.

Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky also scored for New York, which is 3-0 against the Devils this season and has outscored them 8-2.

"We knew that they had their struggles this year, but they're still capable of turning it on," said Dubinsky, who scored into an empty net to ice the game in the closing seconds. "We didn't want it to be against us. We expected them to come out hard. We can't play our best every night, but with Hank back there, we found a way to steal this one."

Since the start of the 2007-08 season, New Jersey has lost 20 of 28 meetings with New York.

Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who played their best game since Lemaire replaced John MacLean three games ago.

However, the NHL's lowest scoring team (62 goals) was denied time and time again by Lundqvist in losing for the 11th time in 12 games this month. The six-game losing streak is a season high for New Jersey.

"There were a lot of positives," said Devils center Jason Arnott, who had a power-play shot go off the crossbar with a little more than two minutes to play. "We played hard. It just didn't go our way. We started doing more things that Jacques has been telling us and it paid off. If we play like that, we are going to win hockey games."

Lemaire criticized the Devils before the game for not being in shape and it showed in the third period when New Jersey managed seven shots in the final period despite having two power plays.

Lundqvist faced only a couple of serious threats in the final 20 minutes with the best coming on a deflection down low by Jamie Langenbrunner and another on Ilya Kovalchuk's power-play slap shot.

Despite being outshot 36-17 in the first two periods, the Rangers held a 2-1 lead on goals by Boyle and Rozsival.

Rozsival put the Rangers ahead with less than 7 minutes left in the second period on a fluke goal. Dubinsky centered the puck from behind the net and Rozsival's shot from the top of the right circle hit off the arm of Greene and deflected past Brodeur.

"That's par for the course for this year," Brodeur said. "Just another bad goal, a bad bounce to bad us."
Boyle, who had never scored more than four goals in any of his first three NHL season, got his 14th just 47 seconds after Zajac gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 6:31. Boyle took a pass in the left circle from Ruslan Fedotenko and scored on a shot that went off Brodeur's glove.

The Devils' goal came after they peppered Lundqvist with a flurry of shots. The goalie stopped every one until Zajac swatted the rebound of Mattias Tedenby's shot into the net.

Tedenby had a chance to tie it at 2 less than a minute after Rozsival scored, but Lundqvist stopped his breakaway attempt, twice glancing over his shoulder to make sure the puck wasn't in the net.

Wild 5, Sharks 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Kyle Brodziak scored twice and Brent Burns had the winner in the Wild's comeback victory against San Jose at the Xcel Energy Center.

"It's not fun getting booed in your home rink. It's embarrassing, and guys have a lot of pride," Brodziak said. "When you hear those sorts of things, we definitely deserved it. So tonight was a big step forward for us."

The Wild trailed 3-2 and appeared headed toward another home loss after not capitalizing on a 4-minute power play to start the third-period.

But Chuck Kobasew, Burns and Brodziak scored in a 5-minute span and the Wild overwhelmed the suddenly reeling Sharks in the final period.
"It's not fun getting booed in your home rink. It's embarrassing, and guys have a lot of pride.  When you hear those sorts of things, we definitely deserved it. So tonight was a big step forward for us." -- Kyle Brodziak
Joe Thornton, Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau scored for San Jose, which has allowed seven third-period goals in its last two games.

"It's unacceptable," Thornton said. "It's ridiculous now. That's not how you're going to win games and win the postseason."

The Sharks appeared to be rolling after winning four straight before the holiday break. But a 4-0 loss to the Kings on Monday and another third-period meltdown Wednesday have killed that momentum.

Four of the five goals scored by the Wild came directly in front of the net.

"Disappointed with our net play, not only in the net, but around the net," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We need to be much more authoritative. We have some big bodies, we have some people that have played there for many years. We have to be a lot cleaner in that area."

The Wild had a three-game winning streak before the break, but dropped their first two since.
The Wild also have not given their fans much to cheer about at home. By beating the Sharks, the Wild won for just the third time in their last nine home games.

"The emotions were high in the game," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "We knew going in that we were probably going to get a good push from San Jose early on because I know they're coming off a disappointing loss, and we got that."

Burns scored the winner when his wrist shot sailed through goalie Antero Niittymaki's legs. Brodziak scored a minute later when Niittymaki lost track of Martin Havlat's shot and left the net wide open.

The Wild scored early in the first on an ugly power play. After Minnesota failed to get a shot during the first 1:55 of the man-advantage, Brodziak scored after Pierre-Marc Bouchard prevented Douglas Murray from clearing the zone.

Thornton's 5-on-3 goal tied it 5 minutes later and Setoguchi gave the Sharks the lead early in the second when the puck bounced off his arm and in.

The Sharks played without center Joe Pavelski and defensemen Torrey Mitchell. Both stayed back in San Jose because of lower-body injuries.

The Sharks rushed the net late in the third period, but Niklas Backstrom denied them every time. The Finn finished with 29 saves.

"Once the game settled down, we figured out a way to have some success," Richards said. "Nik made some big saves for us when we needed him to."

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