For one of the few times this season, the Detroit Red Wings
couldn’t seal the deal.
The Wings spotted Minnesota a 4-2 lead early in the second period, tied the game before intermission and went ahead on Dan Cleary’s goal with 1:08 left in regulation ( 700K ). But Minnesota’s Eric Belanger forced overtime by scoring 19 seconds later ( 700K ), and shootout goals by Brian Rolston and Marian Gaborik gave the Wild a 6-5 victory Thursday night before a stunned crowd at Joe Louis Arena.
''We had the lead in the final minute and 99.9 percent of the time, we close out the game,'' Cleary said.
Detroit began the night with at least 10 more points than any team in the NHL, had won four in a row and was playing a team that had lost two straight on the road.
''Every once in a while you need a reminder in life that you've got to work hard and you've got to work for 60 minutes,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Jiri Hudler gave the Wings the lead when he beat Josh Harding in the second round of the shootout. But Rolston and Gaborik beat Chris Osgood for the victory ( 700K ).
It was a tough night for Osgood, who earlier in the day was named to the Western Conference All-Star team. He gave up a goal on the first shot he faced and allowed a season-high five goals on just 28 shots.
''Things had been going so well for me and the team,'' said Osgood, who made 23 saves one day after agreeing to a new three-year contract. ''I've had some lucky breaks and so have we, but this was the first time all year that the puck was ricocheting around and going in our net.''
Martin Skoula ( 700K ), Gaborik ( 700K ), Todd Fedoruk ( 700K ) and Matt Foy ( 700K ) had goals in regulation for the Wild, who were sold earlier in the day to former Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold.
''It was a busy day, winning a game against this team, which we don't do too often, and getting new owners,'' coach Jacques Lemaire said. ''It's a big day.''
Henrik Zetterberg ( 700K ), Valtteri Filppula ( 700K ), Dallas Drake ( 700K ) and Kronwall ( 700K ) scored for Detroit, which scored four times against Nicklas Backstrom but just once in 27 shots against Harding.
''If he wouldn't have made the saves that he did, I know there's no way,'' Lemaire said.
Minnesota beat Detroit for just the seventh time in 27 meetings since entering the NHL in 2000. The Red Wings won the first two meetings this season by a combined score of 9-1.
''We don't win here very often. I don't think any team does,'' defenseman Nick Schultz said. ''It's one of the hardest buildings to play in and they are the elite team in the league now.''
Flyers 6, Rangers 2 | Video
Scott Hartnell’s second career hat trick didn’t come exactly the way he envisioned it, both in quality and location. Not that he minded.
''It probably would've been cooler at home to see all the hats flying on the ice,'' he said after scoring three straight goals as the Flyers overcame a 2-0 deficit at Madison Square Garden. ''I'll take them where I can get them.''
Combined with a one-goal, two-assist effort in Philadelphia's 4-1 win at Atlanta on Tuesday, Hartnell has six points in two games.
''When you get a goal, they seem to come in bunches,'' said Hartnell, who had scored just four goals in his previous 16 games. ''The first one was a lucky one. You'll take those any day of the week. The third one, I made a nice move and put it in.
''Most importantly, it was a big two points for us.”
It was two points that got away from the Rangers, who appeared to be on the way to an easy win when fourth-liner Ryan Hollweg scored his first two goals of the season in the opening period ( 700K, 700K ). Instead, they fell to 0-4-1 in their last five games and dropped into a last-place tie with the Islanders in the Atlantic Division.
''We handed this game over,'' coach Tom Renney said. ''Tonight we had no chance. ... We allowed them to take over the game.''
The Rangers led 2-0 before getting into penalty trouble at the end of the first period. Mike Knuble got the Flyers on the board 40 seconds into the second period during a two-man advantage ( 700K ), and goals by Stefan Ruzicka ( 700K ) and Hartnell ( 700K ) less than two minutes apart midway through the period put the Flyers ahead to stay.
Hartnell scored at 1:54 ( 700K ) and 8:49 ( 700K ) of the third period to complete his hat trick before Simon Gagne added a power-play goal in his return after missing 30 games after sustaining his second concussion ( 700K ).
'''I got hit twice pretty hard, a couple close to the head, and I responded pretty good. I passed my first test,'' Gagne said.
It was an awful night for Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed at least four goals for the eighth time in 14 games after doing that once in the previous 24.
''I don't know what happened,'' Lundqvist said. ''We were off to a really good start. It slipped out of our hands and we never got it back.''
At the other end, Antero Niittymaki excelled in his third straight start, making 39 saves and making the case for more playing time. He has stopped 120 of 125 shots in the three games.
''It's not a big deal or anything,'' Niittymaki said. ''We're starting to win some games, and whoever is playing next game hopefully we will win.''
Devils 4, Hurricanes 1 | Video
New Jersey’s big red machine rolled over the flu-riddled Hurricanes in Raleigh as Patrik Elias scored to break a 1-1 tie in the second period and Martin Brodeur made 20 saves to help the Devils to their seventh win in nine games.
Brodeur allowed two goals or less for the seventh time in his last eight games. The Devils have allowed just 99 goals this season; they are the only team in the Eastern Conference that has allowed fewer than 100.
|The Devils are the only team in the Eastern Conference that has allowed fewer than 100 goals this season.
“It was a solid, disciplined game, right through the whole lineup,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said.
Travis Zajac’s first-period power-play goal put the Devils ahead ( 700K ), but Aucoin tied it 2:54 into the second period when he lifted a rebound over Brodeur ( 700K ).
Elias gave New Jersey the lead for good at 17:59 after the Devils' Jamie Langenbrunner made a nice play to stay onside at the blue line ( 700K ). Elias skated down the left side and beat Cam Ward with a slap shot from the near the faceoff circle.
''It happened quick,'' said Elias, who has four goals in his last seven games after getting only six in his first 32. ''I knew the pass was there and I just let it go and it went in.''
Brian Gionta ( 700K ) and Sergei Brylin ( 700K ) added third-period goals as New Jersey stayed a point in front of Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division.
''It was one of our good games,'' Brodeur said. ''We just did the right things out there. We got the first goal again.''
Carolina dressed only 17 skaters because of injuries and a flu outbreak that sidelined four players, including defenseman Glen Wesley and forward Ray Whitney. Callup Keith Aucoin had the only goal for the Hurricanes, who’ve scored just twice while losing three in a row.
Carolina coach Peter Laviolette wasn't using the absences as an excuse.
''We were gross,'' he said. ''I don't know — it's frustrating. When you step on to the ice, it's about competing in a lot of different areas: It's about competing in your skating; it's about competing in the physical play; it's about being mentally ready; it's about playing smart, playing hard, fighting for pucks. We did none of it. If we did do it, we lost in all areas. It’s completely unacceptable.”
Panthers 3, Thrashers 2, SO | Video
No one is better at finding the net than Ilya Kovalchuk. The Atlanta sniper increased his League-leading goal total to 36 with a third-period goal against Florida, but missed the net in the shootout — and the Panthers’ Olli Jokinen followed by beating Kari Lehtonen for the win ( 700K ).
With the shootout tied at 1-1, Kovalchuk raced in, cut to his right and then back to his left before letting it go.
''I was just trying to read him. I thought he was going to shoot five-hole,'' goalie Vokoun said. ''Once he started going over, I knew he was going to shoot it back where he came from. He missed the net.''
Then it was Jokinen's turn — and he didn't miss, ripping off a shot that beat Lehtonen on the stick side, just as teammate Nathan Horton had done in the opening round of the shootout.
''You don't want to go there,'' Jokinen said, referring to the extra period and shootout. ''You want to win two points in regulation.''
But the Panthers will take the win, just their second in seven games. The Thrashers also are struggling, losing six of nine, and their hold on second place in the Southeast Division dropped to just one point over Florida.
''We should have never gone to overtime,'' said Thrashers captain Bobby Holik, whose second-period goal gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes ( 700K ).
Rostislav Olesz tied the game at 6:36 ( 700K ), but Kovalchuk made a brilliant play from behind the net and tucked the puck past Vokoun at 9:09 ( 700K ).
Florida wasn't done, tying it at 2 on Kamil Kreps' goal with 7:06 ( 700K ). The Panthers have now won two straight in Atlanta after a winless streak of 11 games.
Senators 3, Sabres 2, SO | Video
Ottawa warmed up for its showdown with Detroit on Saturday by handing visiting Buffalo its eighth straight loss when Dean McAmmond scored on the sixth round of the shootout. McAmmond fired a wrist shot past Jocelyn Thibault into the top left corner after each team scored once in the first five rounds ( 700K ).
''How many times have you ever seen me deke a goalie out in a game?'' McAmmond said. ''I was going to go glove hand but he was taking it away. That's my strong shot, but I just think I caught him a little bit trying to adjust and I ended up beating him.''
Martin Gerber, who stopped 22 shots during the game, then denied Jochen Hecht on Buffalo's sixth attempt to give Ottawa its third straight win.
Shean Donovan ( 700K ) and Daniel Alfredsson ( 700K ) scored in the second period to give the Senators a 2-0 lead. But Clarke MacArthur scored early in the third for Buffalo ( 700K ), which is in the midst of its longest skid in five years, and Daniel Paille tied the game with 7:08 remaining when he took Paul Gaustad’s pass and beat Gerber with a 35-foot wrist shot ( 700K ).
''I think it was really important to get that win,'' Gerber said. ''It's definitely not the way you want to get it, but at the end of the day you've got to be happy with it. You don't want to blow a 2-0 lead but they created some chances at the end and they worked hard for it.''
The Sabres, who hadn't lost eight in a row since Jan. 25-Feb. 13, 2003, began their 0-4-4 slide with a 5-3 loss to Ottawa on Dec. 26.
With Maxim Afinogenov and Derek Roy already sidelined, Buffalo had to do without center Tim Connolly, who is hampered by a groin injury. Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek did not return after the second period because of back spasms.
''I thought we put up a real good battle with a depleted lineup,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ''We went into the third period without Spacek, and (he) probably shouldn't have played the second period, and with the guys we had out up front I thought the effort we got, we had them on the ropes in the third period and we missed a couple of opportunities to put them away — but we got rewarded again for sticking with it.''
The Senators, who lead the Eastern Conference with 60 points, host league-leading Detroit on Saturday in a matchup between the NHL's top two teams.
''It's going to be a big game,'' Ottawa center Jason Spezza said. ''I haven't had much time to think about it since this one just ended, but I'm sure (Friday) the excitement will build up. They've got a good hockey club and we know we can't make as many mistakes as we made tonight, but I'm sure we'll be sharper.''
Canadiens 5, Bruins 2 | Video
Montreal is on a roll, especially against the Bruins. The Canadiens got two goals from Mathieu Dandenault as they improved to 5-0-2 in their last seven games overall and beat Boston for the eighth straight time.
''It was a team effort tonight,'' Canadiens defenseman Roman Hamrlik said. ''In the short term it's OK if two lines are scoring, but in the long term we need more. Tonight we had them all go.''
Thomas Plekanec ( 700K ) and Maxim Lapierre ( 700K ) scored 54 seconds apart midway through the first period to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead as Montreal dominated the opening 20 minutes. Plekanec’s goal was one of two scored by the NHL’s top power-play unit in its six chances.
''They are a highly skilled hockey team and when they get a chance to showcase those skills, they do,'' Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his club fell to 3-7-1 in its last 11 games. ''That is why they are the top power-play unit in the NHL.''
Alex Kovalev increased the lead to 3-0 when he scored the second power-play goal of the game ( 700K ), beating Tim Thomas high on the glove side with 6:42 remaining in the second. Kovalev has eight points in the last five games.
Aaron Ward ( 700K ) and Milan Lucic ( 700K ) scored for the Bruins to cut the margin to 3-2 before Dandenault’s pair gave the Canadiens some breathing room ( 700K, 700K ) as they improved to 5-0 against the Bruins this season.
''They were very physical in the third, but Dandenault's first goal was huge and we regained the momentum,'' said Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet, who made 22 saves.
Blues 4, Stars 2 | Video
Hours after being named to the Western Conference All-Star team, Manny Legace showed why he deserved the honor, stopping 24 shots as St. Louis beat the visiting Stars.
''He played well,'' Stars center Brendan Morrow said of Legace. ''He made himself big. He was square to the shots and they had some guys that were pushing us around and clearing the rebounds.''
The 34-year-old goaltender, a first-time All-Star, has allowed only four goals in his last 319 minutes.
|St. Louis goalie Manny Legace was named to his first All-Star game on Thursday, before beating the Stars 4-2.
''A childhood dream,'' Legace said of playing in the midseason game. ''I've been watching it all my life growing up in Toronto. It's always been a dream to go to the All-Star Game.''
Brad Boyes scored twice and Paul Kariya had a goal and two assists for St. Louis, which extended its point streak to six games. Keith Tkachuk had the other goal for St. Louis, winners of three straight.
Dallas’ Mike Ribeiro, playing in his NHL 400th game, scored a goal and assisted on one by Antti Miettinen.
The Blues hit the halfway point of their season at 22-14-5, eighth in the Western Conference. A year ago, St. Louis was 13-21-7 at the midway point and in 15th place in the conference.
Legace said that the team has carried over its play from last year when Andy Murray took over as coach.
''I think we picked up where we left off,'' Legace said. ''I don't think we surprise teams any more.''
Dallas coach Dave Tippett didn't believe his team did enough to earn a win.
''We had some spurts where we were around it, but we couldn't get ahead in the game,'' Tippett said. ''We didn't have enough players on board to pay the price to win tonight.''
Kariya set up Boyes’ goal 8:01 into the game ( 700K ) and scored one of his own at 14:22 to put the Blues ahead 2-0 ( 700K ). Ribeiro scored 3:46 into the second period ( 700K ), but goals by Tkachuk ( 700K ) and Boyes ( 700K ) midway through the period made it 4-1 after 40 minutes.
Miettinen scored on a two-man advantage with 1:31 left ( 700K ).
"We didn't finish enough, and we gave up too many quality opportunities, which they capitalized on," Tippett said.
Sharks 3, Canucks 1 | Video
If there’s a team Vancouver doesn’t want to see in the playoffs, it’s the Sharks, who completed a sweep of the four-game season series as Joe Thornton assisted on all three goals to move San Jose back into a tie with Dallas for the Pacific Division lead.
San Jose scored first late in the opening period on a remarkable effort by Mike Grier, who forced a turnover and led an odd-man rush before feeding Craig Rivet and screening Luongo while the defenseman scored his fourth goal ( 700K ). Rivet has three goals in five games after getting just two in his first 35 games this season.
“I was letting the forwards be guinea pigs and go to the net,” Rivet said. “I just got the shot off.”
Rivet and Thornton set up Jeremy Roenick’s goal 5:06 into the second ( 700K ) and Milan Michalek banged Thornton’s rebound past Roberto Luongo 6:15 into the third ( 700K ). Ryan Kesler’s goal with 7:35 to play spoiled Evgeni Nabokov’s shutout bid ( 700K ).
Grier said the key to beating the Canucks is getting the jump on them.
“They’re a good defensive team,” he said. “When you get a lead on them, you make them change your game.”
Kesler said his team should have lots of energy for Friday night’s home game against Phoenix.
“We all know we have more to give,” he said. “We didn’t give any effort tonight. We didn’t come to play early, and it hurt us. They won every battle, and we took too many undisciplined penalties.”
The Sharks won their second in a row at home and improved to 8-9-4 at HP Pavilion. Grier said he and his teammates are getting more comfortable at the Shark Tank.
“They guys are starting to relax here at home,” he said. “They’re playing their game and not worrying.”
Oilers 5, Coyotes 2 | Video
The Oilers were banking on a five-game homestand to save their season — and so far, so good. Ethan Moreau ( 700K ) and Kyle Brodziak ( 700K ) scored 28 seconds apart in the first 2:15 as the Oilers won their third straight game at Rexall Place to stay in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
"We knew what a crucial point of the season this was," Brodziak said after Edmonton’s fourth win in five games overall. "Five games at home, especially playing some teams that we are going to be battling with for those last playoff spots. We knew tonight was a huge test and we did a good job in it."
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish says there is an improved mood in the locker room after back-to-back wins over the New York Islanders and Coyotes — both in regulation, something the Oilers hadn’t done in their previous 16 games.
"We've talked about confidence being the most important thing in the game and getting the goal scoring we've had in the last two games really solidifies the confidence on our team," he said. "There are a lot of good things happening right now. We've got more confident players on the team right now than we've had at any point so far."
Sheldon Souray’s power-play goal midway through the first period made it 3-0 ( 700K ), and Robert Nilsson ( 700K ) and Denis Grebeshkov ( 700K ) scored in the second period as the Oilers gave Mathieu Garon a relatively easy night.
Keith Ballard ( 700K ) and Nick Boynton ( 700K ) scored for Phoenix, which snapped a five-game winning streak overall and a six-game streak on the road.
"It was a tough start for us," Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. "It was one of those starts where we weren't ready to play."
Kings 5, Leafs 2 | Video
Toronto’s Southern California nightmare continues. One night after being routed in Anaheim, the Leafs spotted the NHL’s worst team a 4-0 lead after one period and couldn’t catch up despite getting 50 shots on goal.
Dustin Brown scored two power-play goals ( 700K, 700K ) and Kyle Calder ( 700K ) and Alexander Frolov ( 700K ) also scored during the Kings’ big first period as Los Angeles rebounded from a 7-0 loss to Nashville two nights earlier. The Kings routed goaltender Andrew Raycroft, scoring their four goals on just 11 shots.
''Obviously, we were pretty embarrassed by the loss the other night, but we swept that aside and got ready for tonight,'' goalie Jason LaBarbera said. ''We knew we had to come out with a good start, and we did.''
Rob Blake made it 5-0 when he beat Vesa Toskala 6:41 into the second period ( 700K ). The Leafs owned the rest of the game, outshooting the Kings 44-13 over the final two periods, including 25-7 in the third. But LaBarbera made 48 saves, allowing only Nik Antropov’s power-play goal at 15:08 of the second period ( 700K ) and Darcy Tucker’s goal at 11:41 of the third ( 700K ).
''I'm not going to lie to you, I'm a little tired right now,'' LaBarbera said. ''It was kind of funny how the game went. In the first period, I was kind of like, 'I don't know what's going on,' and then they ended up with 50 — which is kind of interesting. But it's fun to play in a game like that because it makes you battle and play that much harder.''
The Leafs have lost four in a row and have been outscored 19-6 during the losing streak. They’ve been held to fewer than three goals 10 time in their last 12 games, and are 2-8-2 during that stretch.
“We’ve got to work harder and play a full 60 minutes,” Leafs forward Matt Stajan said. “We can’t come out and play a first period like that. It’s unacceptable.”
It was the second time in three games that the Leafs lost despite getting 50 or more shots. They were beaten 3-2 by Philadelphia at home on Saturday despite taking 56 shots.
''We're shooting pucks,'' center Alex Steen said. ''That Philly game, I thought we were shooting a lot from the perimeter and weren't getting enough bodies in front of the net. Tonight we did, but we still couldn't find a way to get it by their goalie.''
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.