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Wild survive late rally by Caps

by Brian Compton /
The first 54 minutes were exactly what the Minnesota Wild were striving for. The last 6 probably have Wild coach Jacques Lemaire shopping for a pacemaker.
Nonetheless, Minnesota survived a late frenzy by the Washington Capitals and held on for a 4-3 victory at the Xcel Energy Center.
It was a memorable night for Minnesota rookie Cal Clutterbuck, who tallied his first 2 NHL goals. Clutterbuck scored 13:54 into the contest and then gave the Wild a 2-0 lead at 5:09 of the second via the power play.
''Sometimes you wonder along the way if it's ever going to come. You're working hard, and you're getting chances,'' Clutterbuck said. ''It's a great feeling. It motivates you to work even harder.''
Marek Zidlicky gave the Wild a 3-0 lead with a power-play goal at 3:07 of the third period. With Minnesota on a 2-man advantage, Zidlicky took a pass from Marc-Andre Bergeron and ripped a slap shot past Jose Theodore, who stopped 29 of 33 shots. James Sheppard appeared to have put the game away when he tallied his first goal in 48 games at 7:17.
But the game was far from over.
Matt Bradley got the Caps on the board with his third goal of the season with 5:17 left in the third. Alexander Ovechkin followed with a tally of his own with 3:53 remaining, as he ripped a shot from the top of the left circle to make it 4-2.
And then, Nicklas Backstrom beat Niklas Backstrom to get the Capitals within a goal with 1:44 to play for his 16th point in his last 9 games.
''This is an explosive team,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said of Washington. ''If you give them a little life, they're coming, they're coming.''
The Capitals were missing star forward Alexander Semin (back), top defenseman Mike Green (shoulder) and veteran center Sergei Federov (ankle) again, an extra hurdle to clear on this 5-game trip on which they gave up 26 goals. The Capitals went 1-3-1 and took home 5 points.

Three more players were hurt in this one: defenseman Jeff Schultz (finger) and center Boyd Gordon (back) in the first period and defenseman John Erskine in the second period, prompting center Brooks Laich to volunteer for blue-line duty.

"That's what it came to,'' Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''We had the four out there. They were just dying. We just have to go back and regroup and get it done. It's very positive the last 6 minutes, what you can do when you put your mind to it.''

Islanders 4, Canadiens 3, SO| VIDEO
After Montreal defenseman Ryan O'Byrne scored on his own goal with 4:47 left in regulation, New York stole a second point in the shootout on goals from Richard Park and Bill Guerin in a wild affair at the Bell Centre.
O'Byrne blamed himself for the defeat afterwards, as he claimed he didn't know there was a delayed penalty on Islanders forward Sean Bergenheim. He fed the puck back to his own goal, only to find out that Carey Price headed to the bench for an extra attacker.
Parts of the sellout crowd of 21,273 booed for a long time after the goal and chanted O'Byrne's name in derision as the Canadiens filed off the bench toward the dressing room.
''I feel bad … I apologized to everyone in the room,'' said O'Byrne, who didn't see the ice for the remainder of the game. ''The fans are eager for victories and they had a right to react the way they did.''
The win was the second straight and fifth in six tries for the Isles, who picked up a 4-2 victory at Buffalo on Saturday night. They'll return home to face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. Joey MacDonald made 23 saves through overtime before denying Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Tanguay in the shootout.
''We were going shorthanded too, so it would have been tough for us to even get that first point," said MacDonald, who made his 11th straight start. "But strange things happen in 60 minutes, and we kept putting pressure on them to force (O'Byrne) to throw it back.''
Steve Begin, Josh Gorges and Maxim Lapierre scored for the Canadiens (11-5-3), who lost their second straight shootout but still have points in 4 of their last 5 games.
Guerin was credited with the game-tying tally, while Park and Trent Hunter also scored on the power play for the Islanders in regulation.
''I know it's tough because they expect a lot and we expect a lot out of ourselves as well,'' Gorges said of the Habs' fans. ''I know how it feels … I've put the puck into my net before. It's never intentional, it's a bad break, and nobody feels more sick to his stomach about it than Ryan does.
''I just thought to chant his name was tough, because I know how he feels and he'd give anything to take it back.''
Rangers 4, Coyotes 1 | VIDEO
Once again, New York fell behind early. But once the Rangers got going, they didn't look back.
Brandon Dubinsky ended a 14-game scoring drought and Nikolai Zherdev had 3 assists as the Blueshirts snapped a 2-game slide with a win against Phoenix at Madison Square Garden.
The Coyotes grabbed an early lead on Enver Lisin's second goal of the season just 4:08 into the game, but Blair Betts scored the first of 4 unanswered tallies by the Rangers at 13:33. Lisin's tally was the only blemish on the night for Henrik Lundqvist, who made 35 saves to help his team rebound after being outscored 10-4 in its previous two games. Lundqvist leads the NHL with 13 wins.
''The effort was good, the intentions were good, the outcome was great,'' Rangers coach Tom Renney said. ''When you are trying to turn things around and get yourself back on track, you can't do it all in one shift. We wanted to, but that doesn't work.''
The loss was the Coyotes' sixth straight, and they've scored only 10 times over that span. Fifteen of their 36 shots came in the opening period.
''We've got to keep going. That's our job,'' Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. ''Someone is going to have to have a big game. Whether it's our goaltending, whether it's some of our guys on the blue line or up front, someone is going to have to do something. We've got to find a way to win a game and kind of get this thing going back in the right direction.''
Dubinsky ended his personal skid when he beat Ilya Bryzgalov on a wraparound 1:15 into the second period. Dubinsky, who fought Coyotes enforcer Daniel Carcillo in the first period, got some help from Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who gave the puck its final push over the line as he tried to get it out of the crease.
"That's how Brandon plays. He's a feisty kid and a great teammate," Renney said. "He stands up for himself and he stands up for his teammates. He plays a hard, firm game of hockey."

Girardi increased the Rangers' lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal at 7:37 of the third period, and Scott Gomez -- who returned to the lineup after missing 5 games with a leg injury -- notched an empty-net goal with 27.9 seconds left.

''It's exciting to be back,'' Gomez said. ''I probably provided a little comedy on the bench. All you want to do is be a part of it, and you hate it when you're not in the lineup.''
Meanwhile, the Coyotes would like any reason to smile, as they're experiencing their worst stretch since they lost 6 in a row from Feb. 7-19, 2007. Their 4-game road trip concludes on Wednesday at Columbus.
''It's a tough scenario for our young guys to go through because I can see they're getting a little bit frustrated,'' Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. ''We can't find ways to score goals right now.''
Panthers 3, Hurricanes 2 | VIDEO
Gregory Campbell's goal with 2:18 remaining in the second period proved to be the game-winner, as Florida opened its 3-game homestand by ridding itself of a 2-game skid.
Ville Peltonen and David Booth also scored for the Panthers, while Tomas Vokoun made 27 saves. Michael Leighton made 19 saves for Carolina, which lost its second straight.
''There wasn't a lot of clean opportunities on either side,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. ''I thought it was pretty tight-checking.''
Campbell broke a 2-all tie when Peltonen's wrist shot through traffic glanced off his body and got by Leighton low to the glove side. The goal originally was credited to Peltonen, but there was a scoring change after the game.
"It's one of those games where we felt like we had the play but we just didn't generate enough scoring chances.  The effort is fine, but we've got to get results." -- Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour

''I think that one might have gone off of (Campbell), so give the credit to (him),'' Peltonen said. ''It was a good screen.''
Booth, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, opened the scoring at 7:04 of the first period when he beat Leighton with a low wrist shot. It was his 10th goal of the season. Peltonen made it 2-0 at 15:45, when he swatted Radek Dvorak's rebound past Leighton for his second goal of the season. It was his second goal in as many games after being blanked for the first 18.
''There's an old saying,'' Peltonen said. ''When you find yourself in a deep hole the first thing you have to do is stop digging. Start again, start fresh. It's a mental thing in those situations. You've got to keep working. It's not easy, but it's pretty simple."
The Hurricanes stormed back with 2 goals in the first 2:13 of the second period. Tuomo Ruutu got Carolina on the board just 25 seconds into the period, and Chad LaRose followed with his sixth goal of the season less than 2 minutes later. Carolina fired 7 shots on goal in the first 3 minutes of the period and nearly took the lead when Joni Pitkanen's blast went off the goal post.
''It's one of those games where we felt like we had the play but we just didn't generate enough scoring chances,'' Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour said. ''The effort is fine, but we've got to get results.''
Panthers forward Richard Zednik left the game in the second period with an apparent arm injury. He did not return and is expected to miss a few weeks.

Ducks 4, Avalanche 1

Teemu Selanne scored a pair of power-play goals, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 29 saves as Anaheim breezed past Colorado at the Honda Center.

"I think it was a very solid 60 minutes," Giguere said. "Nice goals, good PK (penalty killing), our power play was rolling. That is the way we need to play, especially at home."

Ian Laperriere had the lone goal for the Avalanche, who have dropped 3 of their last 4 contests. Peter Budaj stopped 16 of 19 shots before being lifted for the final period. Andrew Raycroft gave up a goal on 5 shots in the third.
"We've just been struggling to score goals lately … I would say the last 7 to 10 games," said Colorado defenseman Ruslan Salei. "We're getting our chances. It's just a matter of time when we start scoring again. Until then, it's pretty tough to win games when you score one or fewer goals. It's too much relying on your goalie."
Anaheim put up the first 3 goals of the night and never looked back. Selanne scored his 11th of the season at the 10:19 mark of the first. With the Avalanche penalized for too many men on the ice, the Ducks took advantage as Corey Perry fed Selanne for an easy tap-in. It was Selanne's his 200th career power play goal.
Chris Kunitz followed with a power-play goal of his own just over 3 minutes later, and Chris Pronger made it 3-0 with his fifth goal of the season at 6:51 of the second period.
"The second period I thought was our best all year," Giguere said. "We just controlled the play and spent most of the period in their zone. When you do that, things are going to go your way. There is no doubt about that."
Laperriere deflected in Jon-Michael Liles' shot 2:13 into the third period, but Selanne struck again at the 11:17 mark on a blast from the slot.
"We have to get that feeling back that this is our barn and getting points from here is going to be tough," Selanne said. "The last 3 years, we’ve had a really good home record. The home advantage is huge. The good start, especially in your building is huge. We did a better job today and we have to keep doing that more often here."

Canucks 3, Red Wings 2, OT | VIDEO

Curtis Sanford looked just fine in his first start since Roberto Luongo's groin injury, and Sami Salo scored 2:33 into overtime on Monday to lift Vancouver past Detroit at GM Place.
Daniel Sedin and Taylor Pyatt scored in regulation for the Canucks, who have won 4 straight. Salo also recorded an assist on Pyatt's tally late in the third to tie the game, while Sanford, who is holding down the fort until Luongo's return, stopped 32 of 34 shots for the victory.
"It shows that we can battle through adversity," Sanford said. "We're dealing with it head-on right now. We've got some key players out and we've had some key injuries in the last couple weeks. We're finding a way to get it done and guys are really stepping it up and playing hard."
Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk tallied for the Red Wings, who had a 5- game winning streak snapped. Chris Osgood allowed 3 goals on 24 shots in the loss.
"It shows that we can battle through adversity.  We're dealing with it head-on right now. We've got some key players out and we've had some key injuries in the last couple weeks. We're finding a way to get it done and guys are really stepping it up and playing hard." -- Curtis Sanford
Datsyuk's power-play goal with 3:35 left in regulation had the Wings on track for their sixth straight victory. But Daniel Sedin tied the game 1:10 later, as he deflected Salo's point shot in mid-air and the puck bounced past Osgood.
The goal gave Sedin 400 points for his career, beating his twin brother Henrik to the mark. Henrik has 399 career points, but was not involved in the goal.
In overtime, the Canucks threatened early as Willie Mitchell's shot hit Ryan Kesler and then rolled into the post while Pavol Demitra swiped at it. Salo, who missed the past 2 games with the flu, won it for the Canucks after Detroit's Johan Franzen was whistled for interference. Vancouver outshot the Wings 8-0 in overtime.
"It's tough to make plays when they're really tight as a 5-man unit," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "You try to get the puck out to the point, and it's tough to get the puck through. They played a strong defense and still, I think we had enough chances for more than 2 goals. We couldn't pull it off tonight."

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

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